On the Airline "Can't Fly" List? Here's a Tip

This was shared by Congressman John Lewis, who was told by the airlines (after being stopped 35 different times and kept off several flights:

Add your middle initial to your name when booking tickets.
I suppose this means that while "bin Laden, Osama" might get stopped, "bin Laden, Osama Elvis" would not. Now there's security!

Another Swift Boat Vet Says the Swift Boat Bushies Tell Lies

CHICAGO - A Chicago Tribune editor who was on the Vietnam mission for which John Kerry (news - web sites) received the Silver Star is backing up Kerry's account of the incident.

William Rood, 61, said he decided to break his silence about the Feb. 28, 1969, mission because reports by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are incorrect and darken the reputations of veterans who served with Kerry, according to a report in the Tribune's Sunday editions.

Rood, an editor on the Tribune's metropolitan desk, said the allegations that Kerry's accomplishments were overblown are untrue. Kerry came up with an attack strategy that was praised by their superiors, Rood said.

"The critics have taken pains to say they're not trying to cast doubts on the merit of what others did, but their version of events has splashed doubt on all of us," Rood said in a 1,700-word first-person account published in the newspaper. "It's gotten harder and harder for those of us who were there to listen to accounts we know to be untrue, especially when they come from people who were not there."
Or as Michelle Malkin would say, "Have you ASKED if Mr. Rood shot himself? I wish someone would! Don't you want to KNOW? And while you're asking questions, ask if I'm a fool or an idiot. I think I'm just a fool but SOMEONE SHOULD ASK! Don't you want to KNOW?"

[ed. note: Trust us, Michelle, we know.]

Your Insecurity Watchlist for August 21st

[ed. note: as a service to you - all three and a half members of our devoted public (and the half person knows who he is) - we will reprint these warnings whenever they are issued... and they will be issued every day Bush is running neck and neck with Kerry]

The Department of Bushland Insecurity, ever concerned with how you vote your safety, advises you to beware of the following as you go about your normal, everyday, boring, poor, non-Bushian lives today:

    * Terrorists named Senator Ted Kennedy
    * People who yell at Michelle Malkin when she lies speaks truth
    * People who are not devoted to Rush Limbaugh
    * People with the letter "e" in their name
    * People who won't go to church tomorrow (no, synagogues, mosques, Buddhist temples, and Applebee restaurants do NOT COUNT)
    * Drugs to "cure" erectile dysfunction
    * Colors other than righteous red, Jerry Falwell white, and Bush blood blue
    * Bath tubs
    * Garlic
    * Any journalists who aren't paid by the Rev. Moon
    * Toyotas

If you encounter any of the above, please contact our department ASAP and we promise to investigate them immediately if they are silly, and in 10 years if they are serious.

Bush Economy Equals Rising Poverty

Mr. Bush says he doesn't understand how poor people think, but I suspect they don't quite get him either. From Reuters via The Times:

More Americans likely slid into poverty in 2003 and the gap between the rich and poor widened, economists said on Thursday in a report that could fuel Democrat criticism of President Bush.

While the nation's official poverty rate will not be released until next week, the left-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research estimated 700,000 Americans were added to the ranks of the poor last year, based on early numbers.

That takes the number of poor in the United States to about 36.4 million, from 35.7 million in 2002.

The poverty line is set at an annual income of $9,573 or less for an individual, or $18,660 for a family of four with two children, according to the Census Bureau.

Using Census Bureau data for the first half of 2003, economist Heather Boushey said the percentage of the U.S. population living in poverty rose to 12.8 percent, up from 12.7 percent in the first half of 2002.

Children were even more likely to be poor, the study showed, with poverty rising to 18.8 percent of children in 2003 from 18.6 percent in 2002.

The poverty rate tends to track the overall economy, rising during a recession and falling in boom times. It has increased each year since 2000, sparking criticism from Democrats that Bush's economic policies are skewed to benefit the rich.

But Bush's economic team has argued he inherited the 2001 recession from former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, and that three rounds of tax cuts have since spurred the economy's recovery and kick-started job growth.

The official poverty rate is set for release on Aug. 26. Boushey said it will likely be slightly different than her calculation because it will include a full 12 months of data and is taken from a separate but similar Census survey.

In past years, there has been only a slight gap between six months of one survey and a full year of the second.

The study also showed the median household income rose 3.6 percent to $48,216 in the first half of 2003 from the same period in 2002 -- though when inflation is taken into account, incomes rose a smaller 1.1 percent.

Together with the rising poverty rate, the increase in the median household income suggests the gap between rich and poor is widening, Boushey said.

``Families above the average are seeing an increase (in income), but the families at the bottom are seeing a drop,'' she told journalists.

The report also found the number of Americans with health care coverage likely fell in 2003 for the third year in a row, as unemployment grew and employers cut back on health benefits.

Captain Codpiece Indeed

From the Valley Advocate:

Earlier this year Bibles were sent to all U.S. soldiers in the combat zones of Afghanistan and Iraq. The soldiers had repeatedly requested more and better equipment. The shielding on their Humvees was so thin, for example, that they'd taken to rimming them with sandbags. Instead, they were equipped with Bibles, inside of which was a form letter encouraging them to pray for Pres. Bush. Not only that, the letter asked that they send Bush a note (on their own dime, no less!) telling him they were praying for him.

Though I would wager most of those soldiers did indeed direct some righteous oaths and epithets in the general direction of the White House, Bush will be needing the prayers of someone, anyone, real soon. Not only will he be out of a job by November, time will weigh heavy on the hands of ex-president No. 43. He's a relatively young man, certainly young enough to get a sense of how history will treat him.

Historians will be unkind to Captain Codpiece. The staggering excesses of his four miserable years -- not just blackly comic twists like the Bibles with the pray-for-me notes (a scene that could be seamlessly inserted into Catch-22 ) but all the other, more serious crimes committed on his watch -- will come to light pronto. As soon as next January, the Kerry team will be able to assess the damage done by Bush's piratical regime to the good ship USA.
Catch-22 (and 43) are alive and well during the Bush Administration.

Michele Malkin: "I'm an Idiot. No. Wait. I'm a Fool. Or Am I Both?"

Yesterday, I posted about Malkin saying that perhaps Kerry shot himself so he could leave Vietnam early and how Keith Olbermann said, "she made a fool out of herself."

Well Malkin cried foul, saying it was improper for Olbermann to call her an idiot. But he didn't.

Unfortunately, Malkin gets all of her "facts" this straight.

I wonder if someday Michele and her buddy, Ann Coulter, will come out of the closet, announce they're lovers and that their gay marriage is planned for the Rose Garden of the White (and oh, they do mean WHITE) House. They should get Jerry Falwell to officiate, have Grover Norquist and Karl Rove give away the brides, and Rush Limbaugh provide "color" commentary during the honeymoon.

"Oh sweet mystery of love at last I've found you...."

Abu Ghraib: The Stink and Torture Came from Top Brass

No one is paying attention to this either, but it's more clear with every passing day that Abu Ghraib, the prison abuses and deaths came from the top down.


Iraqi Soccer Team to Bush: Don't Use Us to Promote You

From the New York Daily News:

The Iraqi soccer team featured in a Bush campaign ad says it considers the President a killer who should remove U.S. forces from their country immediately.
Midfielder Ahmed Manajid even said if he wasn't playing soccer at the Olympics, he would be home in Fallujuah trying to kill American soldiers.

"Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign," Iraqi midfielder Salih Sadir told Sports Illustrated in a story posted yesterday online. "He can find another way to advertise himself."

A week ago, the Bush camp began airing the touchy-feely TV ad that paints Iraq's and Afghanistan's participation in the Olympics as an example of democracy growing worldwide. And, on the campaign trail, President Bush has cited Team Iraq's impressive start in Athens.

The Iraqis say enough already.

"How will [Bush] meet his God, having slaughtered so many men and women?" Manajid told the magazine. "He has committed so many crimes."
And after all he personally has done for them, too. Da noiv!

Ted Kennedy on "Can't Fly" List

So who here thinks it's just a strange accident that Senator Ted Kennedy, one of the most outspoken Bush Administration critics, happened to end up on an airline's "can't fly, might be a 78-yr-old terrorist" list? Mind you, with an airline who had flown zillions of times over the years. And remained on that list so that he was stopped way more than once?

Now now. Stop glancing around nervously at one another.


Subscribers to MoveOn.org's mailing lists may have found their interest in the anti-Bush political site a matter of public record.

A Web page misconfiguration left dozens of the liberal political group's subscriber pages easily searchable through simple Google queries. Each page included a subscriber's name, e-mail address and the mailing lists to which he or she is subscribed. CNET News.com confirmed that several related searches turned up more than two dozen individual subscriber pages.

"This is extremely disturbing," said one subscriber, when contacted through e-mail. The subscriber asked that his or her name not be used. "I'm not sure if I should be worried or not, but I am," the person said.
That last paragraph reminds you of what privacy is like in the Bush years.

Pssssst? Is Anybody Monitoring This?

The Federal Communications Commission voted 5-0 last week to prohibit businesses from offering broadband or Internet phone service unless they provide police with backdoors for wiretapping access. Formal regulations are expected by early next year.

But the commissioners didn't give the FBI and its allies at the Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration everything they wanted.
Right. They didn't get everything they wanted: AOL said it could not deliver the technology necessary to allow John Ashcroft to personally sodomize anyone he didn't like through AIM.

Maybe he can just sodomize chubby little Michael Powell instead.

How Many Ways is This Baa-aaa-aad?

The Times says that the US is now supporting some of Israel's development of West Bank land that it supposed to go back to the Palestinians. So when Israel went against the agreement with us, our "tough" response was to say, "Great idea!" (My mother never said that to any of my detours from the her agreed upon rules, trust me.)

Granted, most of the US won't pay a bit of attention to this. The same cannot be said for the Arab world, as well as some savvy Israelis who realize the recipe cook-off for disaster is well underway. Nor can we miss other parts of the world where people seem to need no excuse to further their anti-Semitism.

Now here's a strange bit of trivia to ponder. Anti-semitism is the so-called nice terminology for being biased against Jews. But Palestinians are semitic, too. Sure, lots fall into the category of actually being anti-Semitic because they don't care for either camp.

Me? I'd love to see a time when Israelis and Palestinians could peacefully co-exist. But it sure won't be anytime soon, even after Sharon and Bush go bye-bye, whenever that happens.

Despite President's Denials, Anti-Kerry Ad Has Direct Ties Back to His Team

Believe it or not, I'm genuinely disappointed to learn that it appears that the whole "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" (there's a name considering the Swiss cheese nature of their claims) anti-Kerry campaign goes right back to the White House.

From The Times today:

A series of interviews and a review of documents show a web of connections to the Bush family, high-profile Texas political figures and President Bush's chief political aide, Karl Rove.

Records show that the group received the bulk of its initial financing from two men with ties to the president and his family - one a longtime political associate of Mr. Rove's, the other a trustee of the foundation for Mr. Bush's father's presidential library. A Texas publicist who once helped prepare Mr. Bush's father for his debate when he was running for vice president provided them with strategic advice. And the group's television commercial was produced by the same team that made the devastating ad mocking Michael S. Dukakis in an oversized tank helmet when he and Mr. Bush's father faced off in the 1988 presidential election.

The strategy the veterans devised would ultimately paint John Kerry the war hero as John Kerry the "baby killer" and the fabricator of the events that resulted in his war medals. But on close examination, the accounts of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth' prove to be riddled with inconsistencies. In many cases, material offered as proof by these veterans is undercut by official Navy records and the men's own statements.

Several of those now declaring Mr. Kerry "unfit" had lavished praise on him, some as recently as last year.

In an unpublished interview in March 2003 with Mr. Kerry's authorized biographer, Douglas Brinkley, provided by Mr. Brinkley to The New York Times, Roy F. Hoffmann, a retired rear admiral and a leader of the group, allowed that he had disagreed with Mr. Kerry's antiwar positions but said, "I am not going to say anything negative about him." He added, "He's a good man."

In a profile of the candidate that ran in The Boston Globe in June 2003, Mr. Hoffmann approvingly recalled the actions that led to Mr. Kerry's Silver Star: "It took guts, and I admire that."
The really terrible folks behind the book from this group, the lashing out at a man who actually bothered to serve when Mr. Bush (and Mr. Cheney) were too privileged to do so, all of this, I thought, had the possibility that the president - while benefiting from it - had no real connection to it. Politics is replete with this kind of stuff, even if this is more vile than usual.

After all, to attack a veteran for actually serving at a time when so many men and women are in dangerous combat in a scenario that seems not so unlike Vietnam is really beyond the pale. For that reason, especially, I am geniunely very sad to learn that the Bush people are arm-in-arm with this nonsense.

And yes, this is different from the MoveOn ad I talked about yesterday and the Democrats. While MoveOn clearly does not want Mr. Bush reinstalled in the WH, the only real edge to their ad is that Mr. Bush just left his military obligation. And he did. He was missing for a good part of his service, at a time when other men who disappeared were then shipped into combat, and then he just stopped going altogether. It's not like the Viet Cong were leading bombing raids on downtown Houston.

Put as much lipstick on the pig of that fact as you want and it's still, indeed, a pig. And it matters more the more Mr. Bush's henchmen denounce Mr. Kerry's service in combat. By accounts of Mr. Bush's "break" from military service supposedly to work on a GOP campaign, other workers on the campaign said Mr. Bush just shook hands a lot and bragged about his incredible capacity to drink himself stupid. Sure sounds like a better gig than most men his age were getting in and out of Saigon.

Hostage Journalist to Be Released?

Fox News (I know) is reporting that Micah Garen, the freelance NY journalist held by Iraqi captors, may be released later today. But no information was provided on why his captors would let him go (although, of course, I sure hope they do). No word on his translator also taken with him.


No Word from Hostage Journalist

There has been no word today about the captured journalist - or his translator - whom an Iraqi group is supposed holding on the condition that the U.S. remove its troops. Much of the 48 hour deadline has now elapsed and, of course, there is no way the U.S. would even consider such a thing.

The Summer of Ugh

I've been wondering if other people were noticing it, too: a summer when the stakes (real stakes, not just status symbols) all seem so terribly high but the news, such as it is, runs non-stop Olympic fluff stories, Amber Frey (a slightly shoddier piece of fluff but I suppose it's really too early for her to get pregnant by another married man), terror alerts that change with the president's poll numbers, Bush wearing work-style shirts for the first time in his privileged life, shark attacks, Michael Jackson, Paris Hilton, and the venom of the political ads.

People are tense. You can feel the undercurrent even up here in so-called bucolic Vermont.

Companies are still having massive layoffs (Fleet Bank announced 1500 job cuts on Thursday, and they're just one) even if they get no coverage and almost everywhere, there are hit-and-miss stories of people losing their benefits, even if they're still on the job. Foreclosures, bankruptcies, and other types of financial default are way on the rise, as appears to be different forms of robbery.

There's a smell of fear and desperation in the air, even as the media focuses on the few people who are living high because they manufacture weapons, war, fear, and social sodomy.

Nice people who happen to show up at a Bush rally sporting anything less than slavish Bush-licking behavior get arrested, tossed out, threatened. People who force their "Our country is best no matter how bad we are" mentality on us also spring up everywhere leading boycotts against people who don't their view; for them, liberty is the right to tell everyone else to shut up.

But a lot of good Republicans I've talked to are noticing the smell, too. And no, the smell isn't just Bush or just Kerry. It's a certain sense that neither candidate stands up for more than they side-step, that neither is terribly representative of them, that America may be a little too far along a very bad road to easily turn it around, even with the best of leadership. At the same time, we've had very bad leadership for four years and even though many of us think that Kerry will do a better job than Bush, we realize that a) he's not perfect b) the ultra right nut quotient has grown too powerful (to the point where the rest of the world sees America as all those types) and c) politics rarely helps the people.

Parents should feel quite apprehensive as the new school year closes in. I don't think any president has ever abhorred the proper education of non-rich children as much as the current administration. Each year, the public school system is bled ever drier while the Pentagon grows fatter.

Michele Malkin: Not Content to Be the Budget Ann Coulter in Pastels

Author and columnist Michele Malkin probably doesn't impress anyone - except perhaps herself - with her intellect, her objectivity, or her wit. But even she hit a new low tonight on MSNBC's Hardball when she suggested that John Kerry may have shot himself in Vietnam just so he could come home early.

As Keith Olbermann put it later on Countdown, she pretty much made a major league fool of herself. Thankfully, that seems to be what Ms. Malkin is aiming for.

"Bush Lets Others Do the Dirty Work"

Hard to imagine.

But here's the charge by Kerry concerning the Swift Boat lies and more.


More on Charter Schools

Devastating for Bush? What about the kids?

From The Times' editorial page:

The Bush administration's education program received a devastating setback this week when long-awaited federal data showed that children in charter schools were performing worse on math and reading tests than their counterparts in regular public schools. Among other things, the data casts doubt on a central provision of the No Child Left Behind Act that encourages the states to hand over failing schools to commercial companies and nonprofit community groups that want to run them as charter schools.

Such schools can circumvent some union rules and customary management methods while operating outside the influence of school boards and state authorities.

The new data is consistent with what states like Michigan and California have already learned about the pitfalls of the charter process. There have been individual success stories among the charter schools, but no one seems to have found the key to replicating them on a wider basis. And eliminating the much-criticized educational bureaucracy seems to have created at least as many problems as it has solved.

In addition to poor academic performance, there have been many cases of financial and administrative failures. Some charter schools have been forced to close after being cited for financial irregularities that resulted from a lack of oversight by the states and the local school boards. In some cases, charter schools that boasted about high student achievement have been unwilling to share test data that would support their claims. Others have been accused of generating better scores by screening out the disabled and dumping weaker students back into the public system.

The new data that came to public attention this week was unearthed from a mound of federal reports, where it seemed to have been buried. While government officials denied that they were trying to hide the report, there's no denying that it casts a cloud on the gospel of privatization pushed by the Bush administration.

Gosh, a Journalist Actually Asked a Question

I was half listening to "Nightline" while I worked just now, and I heard someone (I didn't see the reporter or name listed, and by the time I checked, it was John Burns of the New York Times) say (paraphrasing), "In fact, there have been so many rumors about Iraq Prime Minister Allawi's acts of violence that a journalist actually asked Allawi about them."

Pardon me? Is it a new concept that if you're hearing rumors about someone newsworthy that you would actually ask that person about it? And then, let's do something really radical.

Whether or not the person denies it, the journalist might actually check into the facts behind the rumors, independent of the person's acknowledgement or denial. If you did both of those strange things, you might actually earn the [bleeping] title of journalist.

Yes, I know. The press corps has spent four years asking Mr. Bush what they should say and making certain Karl Rove's OK with it, but journalists used to do silly things like research and ask questions. If they don't, you tend to think of the bloody "news" report as a press release.

New York's Response to Protestors

First, they're giving protestors a goodie basket if they're good peace protestors.

So while the Bushophiles plot more war and corporate crap in Madison Square Garden, the protestors can get a bargain at Applebee's.

Then, they've identified 56 "potentially very dangerous anarchists" and assigning 7 cops per protestor to follow them around 24/7.

You know, I don't know a single person planning any violence in NY. I do know many, however, who plan to go to protest the GOP platform. And New York's leadership are acting like spineless savants (see? you thought I was going to say sycophants... ha!) to the Bushies.

Can't let the president see or hear anything that implies he's not doing just an absolutely perfect job.

Boycott Bruce

Marilyn O'Grady, trying to unseat Charles Schumer (she's equally pompous, but the accent is really tough on the ears), is behind anti-Bruce Springsteen ads, saying everyone should boycott the Boss because he's holding "vote for change" concerts.

So we're supposed to listen to her opinion, but we're not supposed to listen to his. Got it.

Dolt. No. Not a dolt. A dolt isn't dangerous and could probably see the hypocrisy in this woman's narrow minded Bush ass licking. This woman wouldn't know democracy if it bit her pointy nose off.

"A Movie Full of Sex, Nothing Simulated About It"

Story here.

New York Journalist Threatened with Death in Iraq

Micah Garen is a 36-year-old on assignment in Iraq (on assignment for who, I don't know) who was taken hostage late last week along with his translator. Video shows him in jail pajamas, kneeling, before his captors. Kidnappers' demand: US leaves Iraq in 48 hours.

Strange thing is that CNN, The Times, and other venues have nothing about this case.

The Move On Swift Boat Rebuttal Ad

I just saw it for the first time. I thought it was pretty powerful. And boy, is it being denounced on Hardball right now.

Kerry's denouncing it, too (of course).


Gee, my horoscope today says my financial picture "is goo."

I think that's the first time a horoscope has ever proven accurate for me because my financial situation is definitely goo. (Cough)

The Bush Economy, you know.

Goo goo gotchoo.

A New Font on the Blog Block

Welcome to Flip Side Down. Scroll down to see interesting photo, too.

Chanel Number 5: The New Terrorist Ploy

They actually shut down an airport because of perfume.

Those who feel safer with these lugnuts in charge must be drinking the doctored Kool-Aid.

GOP Rep. Doug Bereuter: One of the Few Men with Balls in Congress Says Iraq Was a Mistake

And of course, the Bush sycophants (it's my word of the day) are jumping all over him. Unfortunately, Mr. Bereuter found his smarts just before he leaves Congress but still, good for him.

The Ruination of Public Schools

Maddi's post over the The General (JC Christian, thank you very much) gets it right about the abomination of vouchers and public schools. A new report out actually indicates students in many charter schools do more poorly on standardized tests than those in under-funded public schools.

Leaving education to corporations is a terrible idea. Having Rod Paige, idiot and Bush sycophant, as Secretary of Education is a travesty.

I thought kids were our most valuable asset. Wouldn't you want them to have better than the Bush Administration and the extreme right wing wants to give them (more Pledge of Allegiance, less math)?

So Much for a Captain Taking Responsibility for His Ship

From CNN:

The captain of the Staten Island Ferry that crashed into a maintenance pier in October, killing 11 people and injuring more than 70 others, will avoid prosecution in an unusual cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors.

Michael Gansas, 39, pleaded not guilty to the charge that he lied to investigators during his arraignment Wednesday in federal court in Brooklyn.
This was a horrendous and unnecessary crash. The captain failed to be where he was supposed to be at the time of the docking.

But in a move straight out of the Bush Administration "the leader is never at fault" handbook, the captain walks away with 200 hours of community service. And walk away is a LOT more than many of the victims of that crash did.


GOP: Bill Clinton Served the Nation with Distinction

Here's a switch (also from last night's Hardball) in which Bush operative Matthew Dowd, trying to defend charges that Bush and Cheney are chickenhawks, says:

Bill Clinton served the presidency with distinction without having served in Vietnam or in a war.
Now, this is desperation when they resort to saying anything nice about Clinton just to serve their purposes.

Read the whole transcript, and you'll see that Chris Matthews actually came down hard on Dowd for doctoring Kerry tapes then shown to the GOP.

The Potential Damage in Bush's Troop ReDeployment Plan

Wesley Clark on last night's Hardball, and note that his comments merely scratch the surface of the problems inherent in the Bush plan:

Well, I think a lot of the forces in Europe are already in the Middle East, Chris. They‘re on a rotation schedule. What this plan gives is a rationale for pulling one brigade from the Korea two-brigade force structure. So it gives us an additional brigade to throw into Iraq.

I think the plan damages U.S. national security. I don‘t think it does a thing to offset the kinds of pressures that are leading people to talk about a draft. And worse than that, in the immediate near future, it undercuts our ability to deal with the North Korean problem and further deepens the split with our traditional allies in Europe.


About Those Troop Arrangements Bush is Making

Several people, including Barry McCaffrey, have sounded off as none too happy about Bush's plans to bring 70,000 troops home from Asia and Europe. "Unilateral fortress" and "reneging on five decades of agreements with NATO" were just a few of the things said today.

This won't affect those in actual battle zones either, although one wonders if some of those freed from service in South Korea or Germany won't wind up in Iraq or Afghanistan. From Bush's speech today, it sounds like lots of jobs will be cut, and we'll impact the finances of those services that have been provided around bases in other countries.

Don't assume this is an easy, neat solution Bush has cooked up. Let's face it: the only embarassingly stupid and easy things he HAS had a hand are his daughters and the way in which he goes to war (act big, let others sweat and bleed the details).

More on the Laci Peterson Murder Trial

You know, when a black man is on trial for murder, his trial may last a day or two, with little preparation ahead of time from his court-appointed attorney.

But in the Peterson case (and I'm sorry, but I'm going to wretch if I see my five thousandth grinning photo of the chubby little Laci) with some relatively affluent people, the prosecution is in its 11th (!!!) week of presenting its case, and appears to want to spend two whole weeks on tapes where the only thing Amber Frey manages to elicit from the defendant is that, "I did wrong by you, Amber."

Gee, don't the people of California have better things to spend money upon? I thought they were in a financial crisis.

The people do have better ways to spend their money. But the prosecution is trying to make the right happy by trying this man for the death of his unborn baby and to get themselves in the newspaper and on TV every day. They saw millionaire lawyer Mark Geragos join on the case and they turned this mess into another OJ. But even in OJ, there was more physical evidence.

Now we listen to all the talking heads saying these Amber tapes indict Peterson. Ludicrous. Besides, Amber didn't need Scott to ruin her life. She's done a gorgeous job of it herself.

Yes, There is a Pill for Everything!

Thanks to my friend, Rusty, who shared this (but none of the goddamned pills).

Shoot to Kill

John Burns of The Times on PBS tonight says that Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi has essentially issued shoot to kill orders on any journalist trying to move independently through the city of Najaf. Now exactly whom Allawi issued the orders to considering many Iraqi forces have quit now rather than kill fellow Iraqis remains unclear but there's some speculation that American forces would abide by this order. Journalists embedded with American troops are supposedly not affected.

This is the "free" Iraq when journalists trying to cover events in Najaf face execution? What is Mr. Allawi concerned they will see and report? That's the essential question to be asked here or why else would Allawi issue such a heinous order?

Just How Liberal Is John Kerry?

Do I think John Kerry, as the Republicans keep telling us, is the most liberal member of the Senate? Hell, no. John Edwards isn't either. Heck, the only way I can define either man as a liberal at all is if I balance them against the wave of far-to-the-right conservatives.

In fact, I suspect if you measured their record of votes against the ever-shrinking moderate Republicans on the Hill, Kerry and Edwards would come very close to matching them. The GOP, however, just keeps hammering the same lies over and over again, hoping they'll stick for people who have a tough time with the concept of liberalism.

But Paul Waldman at Gadflyer looks at this subject in far more detail. It's a good read.

An Embarrassment of Amber Tapes

Trying to avoid hearing any part of the Amber Frey-Scott Peterson recordings of their conversations is futile; they've been played on every station today, almost always with the commentator saying how bright the mistress is in trying to elicit information from her lover, what a poor little victim she is.

But listen a little more, and the tapes tell you that Amber's been down this road before. She always seems to be the other woman - the easy bedmate and never the bride; the one who keeps conceiving children out of wedlock with men involved in other relationships. Amber is also the one who insists that evil men are at fault for all her problems.

All of this is most embarrassing, but it hardly proves that Scott killed his wife, Laci. From them, you learn that Scott's a liar and a skunk (quite different from being a killer), that Amber slept with him on the first date and seemed quite happy to assume this "wealthy businessman" would place her on his white steed and ride her off to a beautiful sunset.

These tapes are getting a lot of play because they're salacious. It's like peeking into someone's private drawers and discovering naughty little secrets.

Bull to those saying that these tapes will convict Scott. Sure, they might. Juries can do some really narrow-minded things. But proof of infidelity and lies just doesn't add up to conclusive proof of anything.

Scott deserves to be found guilty if real evidence indicates he did indeed murder his pregnant wife. But screwing around and "victimizing" a professional victim like Amber just isn't a death penalty offense.

Looks Like Chavez Survived Venezuelan Recall

I'm glad Carter was there monitoring it; I trust his organization's results (and suspect the Bushies, who have been funding efforts to try to oust the embattled head of Venezuela, are even less pleased with the former president than usual). From CNN:

Former President Jimmy Carter, in Caracas to help monitor a referendum on President Hugo Chavez, said Monday returns show an effort to recall Chavez failed.

His monitors conducted a quick count at polling sites and the results were "almost exactly the same as the results" provided earlier by the National Electoral Council, Carter said at a news conference.

The council said 58 percent voted Sunday against removing Chavez from office -- thereby allowing him to complete the remaining two years of his term.
Do I think Chavez is the best person to lead Venezuela? Oh, probably not. But the more the Bushies (who funded Chavez' short-term ouster a few years ago) push to get him to go, the more Chavez appears to rise in the polls there. This is also how Bush's anti-Castro initiative has gone.

More than anything, I'm impressed with how Venezuelans turned out in record numbers to cast their vote, despite threats of violence and threats that their votes would not count. If they can turn out in such numbers despite the heat and national turbulence, why can't the American people do the same on November 2nd.

The Post's Iraq War Pre-and Peri-War Coverage

I was about to drop a note here on this, considering The Post (following the New York Times doing something quite similar in May) is now saying they were not critical enough of the "Bush facts" in the lead-up to the war with Iraq.

However, I found that Kash at Angry Bear had a post up already, and our thoughts are (mostly) alike:

Today's Washington Post has a lengthy article examining their coverage of the Bush administration's assertions about Iraq during the period leading up to the war. They contritely conclude this:
    In retrospect, said Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr., "we were so focused on trying to figure out what the administration was doing that we were not giving the same play to people who said it wouldn't be a good idea to go to war and were questioning the administration's rationale. Not enough of those stories were put on the front page. That was a mistake on my part."

    Across the country, "the voices raising questions about the war were lonely ones," Downie said. "We didn't pay enough attention to the minority."
I agree. But does it really do anyone any good to simply admit -- over a year later -- that they shouldn't have just regurgitated the administration's spoon-feeding all over the front page every day? Will they apologize to the families of nearly 1,000 US soldiers who have needlessly been sacrificed as a result of insufficient questioning of the Bush administration about the rationale for war? Will major media outlets like the Washington Post actually change their behavior in the future?

Now that I think about it, of course they will. If Kerry is elected, at least.
Actually, I'm very much afraid that if Bush decides tomorrow to go after Iraq or Cuba or - God forbid - North Korea, these newspapers will do the same damned thing all over again. Some liberal media.

New Blog

Say hello to Exquisitely Boring Ruminations. Roy, the blogger, dropped by the other day and when I looked today, I found it interesting.

The Bush "Turning the Corner" Schtick

As my partner and I sat over breakfast yesterday morning, listening to some of the political round-up shows, he said something split between humor and seriousness:

"Sure, turn the corner once and you're headed in a new direction. Turn it twice, however, and you come very close to heading right back in the direction from which you've started. Turn the corner several times, and you're just circling the block (or the bowl)."

This is a paraphrase but I tell you, when he said it, an alarm bell went off in my head. All of Mr. Bush's "turning the corner" talk is definitely true because we are going around in circles. Vicious ones.

Those Who Keep Calling the Race a Dead-Heat When It's Anything But

From Josh Marshall:

"If Bush can win reelection despite the failure of his two most consequential -- and truly radical -- decisions, he will truly be a political miracle man. But as his own nominating convention approaches, the odds are against him."

Those are the words of Washington Post columnist David Broder in a column that appeared in Sunday's paper. And I reprint them because I think they mark a significant milestone simply because of Broder's role in defining conventional wisdom in Washington.

A few days ago I was talking to a friend about the coverage of the presidential campaign and how Washington's chattering classes have remained stuck in a mind-set that judges this a dead-even race -- or even one the president is bound to win -- long after the objective criteria -- to the extent there can be such a thing -- have said otherwise.

By objective criteria, I'm referring mainly to poll numbers which show Kerry consistently besting the president, though often by numbers which are in the margin of error for the given poll.

So Much for Free Speech (Even Before it Happens)

From The New York Times:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been questioning political demonstrators across the country, and in rare cases even subpoenaing them, in an aggressive effort to forestall what officials say could be violent and disruptive protests at the Republican National Convention in New York.

F.B.I. officials are urging agents to canvass their communities for information about planned disruptions aimed at the convention and other coming political events, and they say they have developed a list of people who they think may have information about possible violence. They say the inquiries, which began last month before the Democratic convention in Boston, are focused solely on possible crimes, not on dissent, at major political events.

But some people contacted by the F.B.I. say they are mystified by the bureau's interest and felt harassed by questions about their political plans.

"The message I took from it," said Sarah Bardwell, 21, an intern at a Denver antiwar group who was visited by six investigators a few weeks ago, "was that they were trying to intimidate us into not going to any protests and to let us know that, 'hey, we're watching you.' ''
What's that about terrorists hating us for our freedoms? Uh huh.

Chavez and Venezuela

Record numbers of Venezuelans turned out in staggering heat to vote on whether Chavez will be allowed to finish his term. If they can accomplish this, there's really no excuse for lots of Americans staying home on November 2nd.

The results of the Venezuelan vote, however, are not yet available.


National Sales Tax Madness

Max discusses the new Bush concept of replacing the income tax with a national sales tax, an idea that just seems staggering in its idiocy. Some have estimated that tax rate would need to be as high as 60% to work. Even much lower, you could have pockets of places - say New York City where you already pay a few types of sales tax - where the tax on a product could exceed the price of the product itself.

And with the geniuses in Washington, they'd write the tax code for this so that only essential goods would be taxed. After all, you wouldn't want poor Arnold Schwarzenegger to have to pay sales tax on a polka-dotted $70K Hummer when you can have working poor parents paying $4 in tax on every gallon of milk for their kids.

Must-Have Merchandise

Come on. Admit it. You want a bumpersticker like this, even if the thought of leaving your car parked somewhere public while displaying it makes you a wee bit nervous. So do it.

The General (as in J.C.) has other great stuff like this (and I don't usually get excited about slogan bumperstickers and t-shirts, at least not since puberty). All wicked smart. All designed by channeling his "inner Frenchman". Get yours here.

A Few Well Chosen Words About Our VP, Mr. Cheney

From Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA):

"When I hear this coming from Dick Cheney, who was a coward, who would not serve during the Vietnam War, it makes my blood boil," Harkin said. "Those of us who served and those of us who went in the military don't like it when someone like a Dick Cheney comes out and he wants to be tough. Yeah, he'll be tough. He'll be tough with somebody else's blood, somebody else's kids. But not when it was his turn to go."
Thank you thank you thank you to Oliver Willis for the pointer.

Chick... chick... chick... chickenhawk Cheney and his other priorities.

No, not everyone who chooses not to go to war is a coward. But Cheney never disagreed with Vietnam. He just did everything in careful calculation so the closest he got to Vietnam was walking past a recruiting poster in a post office.