Thank Mr. Bush

You know, at the last debate, the president did us a favor. He said, "Well, yeah, I know we promised with the shortage last year that we'd have plenty of flu vaccine this year and we fucked up, but it's all your own fault because you won't vaccinate the drug manufacturers against law suits."

OK, right, the president never admits to any fuckup, and words like "vaccinate" and "manufacturers" wouldn't exactly roll off that platinum coated tongue of his. But that's really what he was telling us.

So if Chiron - the British manufacturer whose entire lot (more than half of what was to be the U.S. supply) was caught by the Brit officials as contaminated - had managed to get its shipment to us, and we received contaminated vaccine which caused even more problems than the flu itself, Mr. Bush would have been fine if Chiron didn't pay a cent for your illness or death.

But at least we know this before the election. Perhaps a few of us will even wonder if Mr. Bush's folks - not exactly the best advocates for Mom and Pop America we've ever seen grace the White House - didn't sort of arrange to put most of our eggs in one basket with a foreign manufacturer so that we could have this catastrophic even so Mr. Bush could point out the need for Pharma and the docs to be protected regardless of what damage it does to the patients.

Now, I'm not a litigious person. It would take willful or gross neglect or error to probably ever spur me to lodge a medical law suit. I suspect a lot of you are like me. Sure, we all know some people who abuse the system terribly, and juries in one state down south are famous for returning huge verdicts on borderline cases. But that's not most of us. Still, we'd like some system in place so that if somebody really fucks us over, we've got some means of redress. We don't want to become millionaires; we just want to make sure mortgage payments and medical bills get met if there is indeed someone or some company at clear and evident fault.

President has done us a favor in reminding us yet again how many ways he's willing to screw with us to make his fat cat friends happy. Remember that as you worry about the flu, or sit in a long flu shot line, and especially as you go vote on November 2nd. Remember, too, that the president told you that even though you pay for him and his cronies in Washington to receive unprecedented health care, that you're not worth it. Recall how he mocked Kerry? So if that level of care is so unaffordable, perhaps we shouldn't pay for the prez or Congress to have it either.

Powerful Statement

TBogg brings us this very powerful statement via The Populist:

Where does it go from here? The nightmare misadventure in Iraq is over, beyond the reach of any reasonable argument, though many more body bags will be filled. In Washington, chicken hawks will still be squawking about "digging in" and winning, but Vietnam proved conclusively that no modern war of occupation will ever be won. (Vietnam clip) Every occupation is doomed. The only way you "win" a war of occupation is the old-fashioned way, the way Rome finally defeated the Carthaginians: kill all the fighters, enslave everyone else, raze the cities and sow the fields with salt.

Otherwise the occupied people will fight you to the last peasant, and why shouldn't they? If our presidential election fails to dislodge the crazy bastards who annexed Baghdad, many of us in this country would welcome regime change by any intervention, human or divine. But if, say, the Chinese came in to rescue us -- Operation American Freedom -- how long would any of us, left-wing or right, put up with an occupying army teaching us Chinese-style democracy? A guerrilla who opposes an invading army on his own soil is not a terrorist, he's a resistance fighter. In Iraq we're not fighting enemies but making enemies. As Richard Clarke and others have observed, every dollar, bullet and American life that we spend in Iraq is one that's not being spent in the war on terrorism. Every Iraqi, every Muslim we kill or torture or humiliate is a precious shot of adrenaline for Osama and al Qaeda.

Jon Stewart Begs Media to Stop Hurting America By Being Partisan Hacks

Oooooo, this is a must read.

Can I write in Jon for president?

Serious GOP Election Fraud with the Justice Department Burying it?

Read Josh Marshall.

O'Really, O'Reilly?

Did anyone else catch the very strange interview Bill O'Reilly did with Ann (Annthrax) Coulter (the toxic toothpick, says Jame Wolcott) on his show Thursday night? I caught part of it on (again, I think - I was busy working) Keith Olbermann's Countdown on MSNBC.

It was the day the story about him and his producer really broke, and yet he's on quizzing Ann about her attire and whether she's trying to be seductive and... well, it was just unusually weird, even for O'Reilly.

Of course, that's Ann's stock in trade. Her Web site, last I knew, featured a montage of photos of her in all these racy clothes - something you might expect from a movie star but not from a conservative columnist who lives to tell other people they have no morals.

If I were Ms. Mackris' attorney, I would probably get a copy of that interview. And if I were Bill O'Reilly's psychiatrist, I would adjust the dosage upward.

What Bush and Rumsfeld Have Pushed the Troops to Do

From CNN:

The U.S. military said it is investigating whether members of a reservist unit in Iraq broke military code when they failed to follow orders to take part in a dangerous refueling mission. The military said all 19 members of the Army's 343rd Quartermaster Company were told to report to duty Wednesday to deliver fuel from Tallil, Iraq, to Taji, an area just north of Baghdad. But some soldiers refused to take part in the mission.
When I heard this tonight, I immediately though that this is probably NOT a rare occurrence. There have been numerous cases of Rumsfeld's plan leaving troops out there with no bullets in the middle of a battle. Remember this on November 2.

Homeland Security: You're Not Safer, But The Honchos are Making Out Big Time

Either I'm looking in all the wrong places or I imagined this story but....

I believe Keith Olbermann did a story tonight on how the Department of Homeland Security - the people who brought us "buy duct tape" but leave the ports wide open - is awarding record high bonuses, including departmental "life time achievement" awards. Lifetime achievement for a department that has been in full existence for about two years, and has done nothing but award fat, no-bid contracts to people like Asa Hutchinson's disgraceful brother.

If someone sees this story in print, please give a holler. Thank you.


If Only They Whisked Him Off to Guantanamo Bay...

From CNN:

President Bush's chief political strategist appeared Friday in front of a grand jury looking into who leaked the name of a covert CIA agent.

After his testimony, Karl Rove declined to comment as security guards whisked him away.

Federal prosecutors have been trying to determine whether a crime was committed when someone released the identity of Valerie Plame to the news media. President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell have also been interviewed, though none was summoned before the grand jury, according to The Associated Press.

Such a disclosure is illegal if it is intentional.

Speaking of Assholes

Will everyone please STOP sending money to Martha Stewart in prison? She has nearly $400 million dollars which buys a lot of cigarettes and candy.

This Flu Nonsense Can Make You Sick

I don't know what it's like in your corner of Bush's merry woods, but watching New York news stations from here is nothing but people battling to get flu shots.

Every news reports features elderly (and far from it) people running all over the tri-state area trying to get shots. Then they yell at each other, "I'm more deserving of this shot than you are!" Then they yell at the younger people, who yell back, "I'm 27. You're 90. You've lived your life!" Then the middle-aged people arrive and insist they deserve the shots most because they pay the taxes to support the young and the old. People at one place had camped out overnight in the rain and under-40-degree temps. Smart!

Nothing brings out the worst in people faster than a) religion and b) a shortage of anything (even if it's something they wouldn't normally want).

Funny thing is - I suspect most of these crazy people are placing themselves far more at risk waiting for hours out in the cold and rain in huge crowds of other people than they are from the flu. The fastest way to get ill is to feel overtaxed while you're in a big crowd of strangers - especially those with such poor manners they probably don't cover their mouths when they cough and likely don't wash their hands frequently either. [In fact, if humans weren't such total slobs, infectious disease of any type would be much less of an issue. The simple act of washing your hands frequently can save lives.]

Too bad there is no vaccine against stupidity. If there was, people wouldn't be standing in line for hours to get it. Which is a shame really (glancing at picture of the president).

You Can Be an Atheist and Still be an American

With atheism being the fastest-growing "religious denomination" in America, vastly undercounted in the last census at about 30 million, is it any surprise that both candidates stated, for the first time in history as far as I know, that one can be an atheist and still be an American (wiping my sweaty brow in a sign of visible relief)!
I hear what Coturnix is saying here. I just find it sad that it's taken this long to get a presidential candidate to even publicly hint it's OK.

I don't believe Bush believes it is OK (yet it's one of his smaller lies, when you stop to consider Iraq, Election 2000, and a few thousand others). Kerry is smart enough to realize that it is.

BTW, Coturnix posts at a new blog I found called Science and Politics. One can only hope that politics doesn't ruin science as much as politics have ruined religion (or is it the other way around?).

What's Good for Tom Delay is Bad for America

From the local newspaper here in VT (the Times Argus):

Tom DeLay, the House Majority Leader from Texas who regularly rides roughshod over his opponents, regularly undermines the concept of public service as an honorable endeavor.

Idealism has no place on DeLay's agenda. Rather, his personal and political philosophy is "if it's good for Tom DeLay and the Republican Party, it's good for the United States." Compared to him, Newt Gingrich was a marshmallow.

But the shabby world of Tom DeLay is under attack, and it will be interesting to see how his colleagues in Washington respond. Will they bend to his will in an acknowledgement of his tremendous power (and control over campaign funds), or will they remember that they were elected to serve all their constituents and not the agenda of one man?

The bipartisan House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, better known as the ethics committee, has chastised DeLay three times for violating House rules. Democrats, smelling blood, want their Republican colleagues to boot DeLay from his leadership post, but the GOP managed to defeat a proposal to hire an outside counsel to investigate DeLay's behavior.

Interestingly, the reliably conservative organization Judicial Watch last week demanded that DeLay lose not only his post as majority leader but also his seat in Congress. That's a measure of how unpopular the powerful Texan has become in Washington, even among right wing ideologues.

Last week, the ethics panel voted unanimously – remember, it's a bipartisan committee – to rebuke DeLay for summoning the Federal Aviation Administration to interfere in a Texas political dispute and for hosting a fund-raiser attended by corporate executives who had a strong interest in the formulation of the Bush administration's federal energy bill.

Earlier, the same panel chastised DeLay for allegedly trying to persuade another Congressman to vote his way on the Medicare bill. DeLay was accused of promising to endorse the other man's son in a pending election provided the father voted for the controversial bill.

Separately, three of DeLay's closest associates have been indicted in a criminal investigation into alleged laundering of corporate money to Texas legislative campaigns through a committee DeLay founded. If Delay were to be indicted, house rules would dictate that he resign as majority leader.

"He's always survived incidents that have been spread out one at a time," Lou Dubose, the coauthor of "The Hammer: Tom DeLay — God, Money, and the Rise of the Republican Congress," told a reporter last week. But, Dubose added, "I think he's in real trouble down here."

His Democratic counterpart, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, said DeLay "will go to all lengths to abuse power and to undermine even a bipartisan, unanimous decision of the ethics committee." Rep. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, predicted House Republicans sooner or later will send DeLay packing.

Predictably, DeLay loyalists say he looks after "his team" and that he helps in their campaigns. Rep. Mark Foley, a Florida Republican, described DeLay as "the classic country-club manager. He's always making sure members' needs are cared for." What about the public's needs? Foley never mentioned them.

DeLay's critics say he uses his position to punish, financially, any colleagues who don't support him on issues important to him. But those who do dance to DeLay's tune know their powerful leader will help raise lots of money in campaign donations.

Don't expect politics to ever be as pristine as they are described in high school civics texts, but if the Republicans in the House would stand up to Delay, it would do wonders to burnish the image of an essentially decent profession.


Nightline Goes to the Vietnam Village in Swift Boat Controversy

The villagers say that Kerry did what he was supposed to have done and did not kill a single, unarmed child as the Swift Boaters insist. They have O'Neill, one of the Swift Boater authors, going ballistic ("How dare you interview the Vietnamese?").

Bill O'Reilly and His Penis-Shaped Vibrator a Woman Gave Him

[Ed. note: See Smoking Gun for the lawsuit filing.]

I haven't posted on the suit filed against Faux Newz personality (no journalist there) Bill O'Reilly largely because I'm never real comfortable with trying to guess what really happened in a situation where just two people are involved and both give very different versions of the events.

Sure, as a woman, especially one working in largely male-dominated fields, I've been on the receiving end of a bunch of really inappropriate behavior. Not so much the jokes because both men and women engage in banter we should probably avoid in a work setting but more finite situations where men with control over my job specifically suggested my career would be better served if I played the game they wanted. I hate this when it just involves office politics, but when it involves a married boss pushing himself on you knowing full well you don't want to get him mad which can get you fired faster than having sex with him.

Yet, even with the memories of my own nasty experiences still relatively fresh in my mind, it's not easy for me to always assign the woman as the victim and the male as the agggressor. While women are less apt to buy a man a dildo and try to pin him against a desk, some women engage in sexual harassment, too. In some cases, I've seen women I had previously respected quite a bit to pressure a male subordinate into a relationship he didn't seem to want. Just as bad as male-to-female harasssment? You bet.

I've seen a few other women I worked with seem to gladly grab at the little perks they felt would come from an otherwise-unwanted sexual liaison with a nale a work who then only filed complaints or lawsuits once those perks were no longer supplied. Of course, I was also mad at these women too because each one who gladly paid footsy with the boss as long as she liked the extras made it much tougher on those of us who would not play the game.

There's also a difference - in my mind - between a boss or authority figure crossing a line once who, after being rebuffed, stops engaging in this horseshit, and one who is told No any number of times but continues forward just like you said "oh please yes!"

The Paula Jones case, for example, completely floored me because here you have a woman who purported to be on the receiving end of a request by then governor Bill Clinton to engage in something. But that's all even she said happened. When she said no and left (by her account), that was it. Her job was not affected, Clinton did not approach her again, and he took no for her answer during their own brief meeting. That she was later used (and was gladly bought) by the anti-Clinton evil elves to try to end a presidency is just lunacy. That anyone agreed to pay her a cent is even worse.

I've read through the Smoking Gun information on the O'Reilly harassment suit and I'm sorry to report that nothing I read in there about Bill's alleged behavior surprises me. We already know he's callow, pompous, pious when it suits him while seeing no problem when he does the very thing he wants to punish others for, and likes to throw his weight around. From what I read in the court papers alone, what he did was egregious. About the second time he suggested buying a dildo, I would have suggested he shove his own somewhere deep and dark.

But the woman knew what O'Reilly was like. She left the company and then came back at O'Reilly's request. She indicates he may have promised to behave, but he did so at the same time she says he continued this boorish behavior. She also chose to work for Faux, which has a reputation. None of the networks does a hot job of having women of all ages in strong roles, but Faux is completely dominated by right-wing white men. The Faux women are afterthoughts (while the Faux blacks and Latinos downright hard to find).

Based on what I've read so far, I'd like to see O'Reilly punished for his behavior (it was wrong) but I'm not sure it rises to the level of a lawsuit properly seeking tens of millions of dollars for a woman who probably must take some responsibility for how her decisions kept placing her in situations where O'Reilly could do this (fool me once, shame on you...). I'm not saying she drove O'Reilly to do this, but that the choices she made once he started (as alleged) allowed the sitution to go on longer than it had to. Read: If I don't want to get fucked, I won't go to work in a whorehouse. Faux is a whorehouse for the pious righties.

Wonkette's Debate Blog Not Bad Either


    9:04PM: Why don't they just let the candidates pander for a bit, rather than waste time on the first question pandering? Oh wait. . . it's ALL pandering. . .
    9:08PM First "nuisance" bite, Kerry responds with "outsourcing"! Dueling words-made-to-sound-like-they're-bad.
    9:09PM: Kerry is all about killing terrorists. Hunting and KILLING. But will he torture them? Will he rip off their heads and shit down their necks? I just don't think he's sincere.
    9:10PM: For vaccines we relied on ENGLAND!!!!?!?!? Wait, where's Canada and their pretend drugs? Come back Canada!!!
    9:11PM: Awesome: The President hasn't gotten a flu shot. . . because of frivolous lawsuits.
    9:12PM: "A plan is not a litany of complaints." No, a plan is a series oversimplified slogans and focus-grouped sound-bites!
    9:16PM: Bush: "Paygo means. . . you pay. . . and he goes away and spends your money." Oh, god. That's really fucking clever. Pay. . . GO! You pay... he goes. See: You PAY. HE GOES. No, wait, let's break it down. . .
    9:20PM: Kerry: Tony Soprano reference. Someone is going to wake up with John Kerry's head under the covers. . .
    9:24PM: Bush: Whoo! Did he really just say whoo? It's the cheerleader in him.
    9:27PM: Q: Is homosexuality a choice? A: I am not a gay.
    9:29PM: WHAT?!?! Dick Cheney's daughter is a gay!?! Shit. This changes everything.
    9:31PM: BREAKING: John Kerry is Catholic.
    9:32PM: JOHN KENNEDY ALSO CATHOLIC. Coincidence?
    9:34PM: Bush: "Buggy and horse days"? Is he talking about the gays again?
    9: 39PM: Schieffer says that Kerry has a "massive plan." Yes . . . you can tell by the size of his hands.
    9:40PM: Kerry is boring me with his Litany of Health Care Complaints.
    9:43PM: NOTE TO READERS: We saw the foam, too. The voice in Bush's ear told him to wipe it off.
    9:45PM: Kerry is against accepting invitations to disaster; yeah he just RSVPs and then never shows up.
    9:50PM: Bush: "He forgot. . . " (Shit, it's not Poland. . . I know he forgot Poland. . . )
    9:51PM: Shorter Bush: "Nothing bad is my fault."

The Christopher Walken-Moderated Presidential Debate

Now that would be interesting (and thanks to Wonkette for the link):

The world is a weird, weird place -- full of psychotics who may or may not mean us harm. We need a President who can help us make our way through this maze of insanity. But, how do we pick such a person? That is the purpose of the Walken debate. The stage is a living room set with the candidates on a soft, uncomfortable couch. The lights are dim. Christopher Walken sits across from the candidates in a straight-backed chair. At 9:oo, he begins:
    The way your dad looked at it, this watch was your birthright. He'd be damned if any of the slopes were gonna get their greasy yellow hands on his boy's birthright. So he hid it in the one place he knew he could hide something: his ass. Five long years, he wore this watch up his ass. Then when he died of dysentery, he gave me the watch. I hid this uncomfortable piece of metal up my ass for two years...

Bush's Jim Baker and Iraqi Influence Peddling

From NBC:

In meeting after meeting, President Bush's special envoy, former Secretary of State James Baker, has lobbied world leaders to reduce the crushing debt owed by Iraq.

But at the very same time, a high-powered consortium — including Baker's firm, the Carlyle Group, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and other Washington heavyweights — has been pitching a seemingly conflicting proposal. The plan urges one of the wealthiest nations in the Middle East to maximize what it collects from Iraq.

How? By hiring the consortium.

“I don't care how eminent the people are, or the groups, this is as bald-faced influence peddling as you are ever going to see anywhere," says international finance expert Jerome Levinson, a law professor at American University in Washington, D.C.

The target: the oil-rich kingdom of Kuwait, which is owed tens of billions of dollars in reparations from Iraq arising from Saddam Hussein's invasion in 1990.

In a series of documents, the consortium warns that Baker's diplomatic mission puts the billions Iraq owes Kuwait in "imminent jeopardy." It says Albright's "unique experience and political access," the Carlyle Group's "roster of political stars," and other assembled talent could conduct high-level negotiations to "protect" Kuwait's interests.

Bill Arkin, an NBC News analyst and expert on Iraq, calls the documents, first obtained by "The Nation" magazine, an unusually revealing window into how Washington really works.

"Former government officials are using their positions and using their experience to essentially strong arm a small country into hiring them to ensure that they will get what they're already due," says Arkin.


Tonight's Debate

At different moments in the debate, I thought both candidates were holding their own (yes, I have a low expectation point for Bush). But I was aghast at the lying about health care, Pell grants, his continuing absurdity about abstinence and the economy, the lack of culpability on everything.

My favorite comment of the night comes from a reader on Atrios:

If I were Laura Bush, I'd be involved in and abstinence program, too!
I'd also concur with the people asking, "WTF are maternity group homes?"

As for people crying foul over Kerry raising Mary Cheney, I'm sorry, I realize that children are considered not fair game. But Mary isn't a child, she campaigns for her father, AND she holds a government position in an administration who wishes gays would just "get treated" and stop being gay. She's fair game. Not because she's gay. Because she's part of this crew. Bush and company created the double standards so they can't whine about the Democrats noting it.

Lynndie England Gives Birth

Ms. England, you may recall, is the young woman at the heart of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal (the lady with the leash and dozens of embarrassing phots of her engaging in sex at the prison in front of prisoners).

A lot of unkind thoughts ran through my mind when I saw the story, but I also feel she's as much of a victim herself as the military has chosen to victimize both the soldiers and the prisoners. Our government condoned, perhaps insisted on the disgusting treatmnt and brutality shown there. So let me turn this around.

I have a wish for Ms. England and her baby. I hope the baby never experiences either what the prisoners of Abu Ghraib suffered or the situation into which Ms. England found herself placed. I also hope this child knows more humanity than Ms. England showed toward the prisoners. One day, I suspect this child may have questions about his mother's role and with that, I hope Ms. England has appropriate answers.

Yet on that last point I wish the same thing for Mr. Rumsfeld and Mr. Bush. They will never admit their culpability in this, so it may be too much to hope that Ms. England can. These men have enjoyed wealth, privilege and the finest of educations and yet none of that prepared them to be human in the face of war or to show real leadership rather than brutality and force, masqueraded by spin to call it "liberation" and "protection".

Prepping for the Debate

Wow. I'm not sure I can take another presidential debate. Watching Mr. Bush ignore legitimate questions posed by the American people is painful.

However, General J.C. Christian shares some ideas to help:

We have to be on our toes for tonight's debate. It's very probable that Our Furious Leader will go into a violent fit of rage, pull a piece from his waistband, and shoot Bob Schieffer. We can't prevent it from happening--killing is how Our Leader deals with frustration. We can, however, try to put a positive spin on it. I've created the following talking points to help you do just that.
    * Our Leader suspected that Schieffer had a weapon of mass destruction in his pocket.
    * Zell would have called Our Leader a pussy if he hadn't defended the family honor.
    * Sure, Our Leader killed a respected journalist on national TV, but Kerry forgot Poland. The liberal media is showing its bias by not reporting that too.
    * Did you see that perfect military style shooting stance?
    * Hey, didn't the terrorist threat level just go to red?
    * Yes, it's true that no one found WsMD in his pockets, but he had weapons of mass destruction program related activities stuffed in his sock.
    * You may have noticed that the handgun he used was a .50 cal. Desert Eagle Mark XIX. It's the most powerful handgun in the world. You can tell a lot about a man by the caliber of his gun.
    * Schieffer is a French name, isn't it?
    * Our Leader isn't afraid to exercise his God-given Second Amendment rights on the campaign trail.

If You Don't Live Paralyzed by Fear, You Don't Understand the Threat

That seems to be the message of the president's campaign now: that unless you live your live totally paralyzed by fear or made completely blood-lusting because of it, you don't get it.

Is that really what America should do? Can we afford even 20 more days of a president who wants to manipulate us into doing nothing more than sitting there and nodding at him?

A fricking Boy Scout would handle Iraq and homeland security better than Mr. Bush.

Sinclair: Every Car Bomb in Iraq is Like an Ad for John Kerry

I thought Sinclair was pretty off base last spring in throwing such a fit about broadcasting the names of dead Iraq soldiers and then I was upset when I heard about this "news event" with the anti-Kerry film. But I didn't know upset until I heard the Sinclair spokesman say that if running their anti-Kerry film helps Bush, then every car bomb in Iraq promotes Kerry.

This has verged into pure insanity. Should insane people be allowed to use our air waves for their political/power gain?


Bush: Let's Not Elect Him in 2004 Either

Story here.

Take a Deep Breath

Repeat after me: Kate, shorter posts. Less vitriolic. Remember what the doctor said about your blood pressure.

Those in the GOP Who Consider BiPartisanship "Date Rape"

The Poor Man brings us this:

The answer was a big cosmic mystery to President Bush and Dick Cheney in the last debates, but the Boston Globe has done a bit of reporting, and it seems like it might have something to do with the way Republicans have weilded political power. This might also explain why we are running up huge deficits paying for jacked-up federal programs that don't really work. It's a three-part series, well worth reading in its entirety, but here is a summary of the major findings:
    The House Rules Committee, which is meant to tweak the language in bills that come out of committee, sometimes rewrites key passages of legislation approved by other committees, then forbids members from changing the bills on the floor.

    The Rules Committee commonly holds sessions late at night or in the wee hours of the morning, earning the nickname "the Dracula Congress" by critical Democrats and keeping some lawmakers quite literally in the dark about the legislation put before them.

    Congressional conference committees added a record 3,407 "pork barrel" projects to appropriations bills for this year's federal budget, items that were never debated or voted on beforehand by the House and Senate and whose congressional patrons are kept secret.

    Bills are increasingly crafted behind closed doors, and on two major pieces of legislation -- the Medicare and energy bills -- few Democrats were allowed into the critical conference committee meetings, sessions that historically have been bipartisan.

    The amount of time spent openly debating bills has dropped dramatically, and lawmakers are further hamstrung by an abbreviated schedule that gives them little time to fully examine a bill before voting on it.

    The dearth of debate and open dealing in the House has given a crucial advantage to a select group of industry lobbyists who are personally close to decision-makers in Congress.
This kind of cronyism and partisanship is very bad news for everyone. It wouldn't matter if the party engaging in it was the Dems, the Greenies or the Naderites: it's bad practice that is designed to give the ruling class their power while doing nothing for the people they're (at least ostensibly) elected to represent. Increasingly, however, we're not showing up at the polls, and those who get elected by the sometime minority of us who do treat their victory like it's their fast track to fame and fortune, their due. We pay them and corporations and special interest groups really pay them. Then we let them leave Congress and become lobbyists or Halliburton execs.

We really need to raise the bar on who gets to Washington and then cut off the venues by which they can screw us over on their way to becoming overnight millionaires. Washington shouldn't be all about power and money unless that's all we want to represent. Is it?

Yes, there will be less people interested in becoming Congress people if the system is no longer weighted to make not-exceptionally-bright bug exterminators from Sugarland, Texas into one of the most powerful men in the country who continues his evil deeds despite the number of times his corruption and impropriety have been documented and sanctioned. Only Tom DeLay could take money for childrens' charities, spend it on caviar and his daughter's hot tub to promote his own agenda, and still sit there reminding us he is the government.

Or, as a Texas associate jokes, "Down here we like to say Tom couldn't have been a very good bug exterminator because he's still crawlin' around."

But perhaps the people who go to Washington should represent our interests' more as the people who pay them than they do the corporations who pay them so the corps don't have to pay taxes and can use the U.S. military like their own private security force. If you want an abuse of the military, there's one right there. But it also abuses the system that we can use soldiers to protect the factories built by American companies who took their jobs to third world countries who then get tax breaks from Congress for doing.

That corporate tax bailout yesterday - with a huge subsidy provided for a manufacturer in Denny Hastert's hometown but with other huge subsidies for tobacco, for fish and tackle manufacturers, for companies that cut jobs here and send them overseas - disguised as "business growth incentive" to improve employment was patently obscene. It reeks of Tom, Denny, Bill Frist and most certainly of Bush desperation.

Just One Question about the Debates: Why Do All the Moderators Suck?

This is a serious question.

None of the debate moderators: ABC's Charlie Gibson, CBS' Bob Schieffer, or PBS' Jim Lehrer or Gwen Ifill is a particularly strong journalist or strong interviewer. See Daily Howler for a discussion on Schieffer who claims to come from conservative Texas Dems but whose brother has been very Bush-friendly. Schieffer admits a bias toward down-home boys. I don't think he means Kerry.

Charlie Gibson, to quote someone this week but I don't remember who (sorry), is a "lovable doofus".

Gwen Ifill spent weeks it seemed gushing over her new friendship with National Insecurity director Condi Rice (they had dinner together!), while Jim Lehrer lost ALL my respect when he said of the Iraq war (and I'm paraphrasing but the intent is the same, I believe), "How could journalists question the president's judgment in the leadup to the war? That's not our role!"

Well, gee, Jim, what is your role? Bending over and taking it up the ass? I thought that was Scott McClellan's role! Or maybe your role is just to roll over and play sycophant to the whims of the powerful and privileged.

Either way, Jim, you're in the wrong profession. You're a little old to be a whore. Go open a tea house or write more cheesy novels. You aren't a journalist, sweetie.

No moderator has handled these debates well, followed up on questions evenly, or called the president - although Gibson kept asking Kerry to explain things - to account for one of his misstatements. These debates may be entertaining, but they have very little to do with what the American people need to know, and the moderators chosen were apparently picked for their deference to power.

Who would I have liked to see? Good question. Amy Goodman of Pacifica/Democracy Now. Even Keith Olbermann or someone else who can think and watch the president chew gum at the same time.

Mr. Bush? You Can Run But Not Hide

Even today, even at my age, even after having my teenage years dominated by the nastiness and corruption of power that was Watergate, I feel a pull to be respectful to the man who holds the desk in the Oval Office. But I'm afraid I simply cannot respect a man who has disrespected the country, its soldiers, the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the rest of the world.

You might be able to steal a win on November 2nd (but I still hold out hope that the American people won't let that happen, not again) but please be aware that come Judgment Day, your daddy isn't going to be able to pull in his Saudi pals to bail you out and God really is going to have a few things to say to you on that day. This time, it won't be just rhetoric to make up to please your real righty friends.

God will remember all those things you did, all the ways you hurt and lied in a way that was designed to give you whatever you wanted, to hell with the cost to others.

To borrow from what the TV character Maude used to say, "God is going to get you for that, Dubya."


Good for the Philly Inquirer

I thought they summed it up well in their editorial throwing their support behind John Kerry:

The choice is vivid. The stakes are vast.

Our nation is threatened by jihad warriors who scoff at boundaries. It stumbles toward a fiscal ruin that will punish our children. The rules that protect our air, water and health are weaker than we know. When 45 million of our neighbors fall ill, they have no insurance card to hand to the doctor.

We boast of exporting liberty and rule of law, yet watch them erode at home. A hooded prisoner on a box has replaced a soaring lady with a lamp as the global icon of America's intentions. Our national discourse has grown peevish, choking on distortion and bile.

On Nov. 2, we can return to office the man who, since 2001, has spawned some of those ills and shown a shaky touch at healing the others.

Or we can go a new way, one alert to fresh global challenges yet rooted in the approaches that made the 1990s so productive. We can elect Democratic nominee John F. Kerry.

Dear fellow citizen, this is as important an election as any in which you've had a chance to vote.

The Bush Economy: Corporations Pay Less, You Pay More in Taxes

Congratulations to Congress, passing the so-called biggest corporate tax overhaul in 20 years to "create jobs" by "cutting corporate taxes".

Then remember that Enron and lots of high-flying corps paid NOTHING in taxes those same years you paid between 20 and 45% of your income to the government. Cutting corporate taxes from $0 now to give them more corporate welfare at a time of the most significant US debt in our history is just such a wise, Bushian move.

Then get mad enough to remember these Republicans in November. Send 'em back home to actually work for a living (for a change).

Stem Cells

From the time I first switched on CNN around 7 this morning, I heard numerous references to the stem cell debate made topical because of the death of Christopher Reeve who was an ardent activist for this research.

But hours of these references went by without a SINGLE mention of the serious handicaps placed on this research by President Bush in 2001. In fact, we were told back then that he spent the entire month of August 2001 off - just prior to 9/11 - to "struggle" with this important issue. His plan (which wasn't much of one) amounted to curtailing federally funded research to one of a set number of genetic lines, many if not much of which has since been found to be contaminated with other genetic material and thus unusable for adequate research.

Bush wanted to appease the religious right. But in truth, it's just one of a whole series of stupid moves he's initiated to hand the reins of science over to people who believe that men have one less rib because God created women from one.

Here's the kicker. When CNN finally discussed the "politics" of the stem cell debate this afternoon (hours after they started), it was on "Inside Politics" and seemed to be framed on whether the stem cell debate could hurt John Kerry. What?

The majority of Americans have shown an interest in what stem cell research can offer. But it's a minority - and evangelicals may have lots of children and be very vocal but they're still a minority of Americans - that will stop at nothing to stop this research.

Among those who have taken advantage of early stem cell research are the wealthy and powerful people who back Bush in his desire to keep such research from benefiting you. See, unless you have oodles of money, your only hope to benefit is through federally funded programs or the rare private foundation research study that lets you in.

But the extreme right doesn't like knowledge. Keeping people stupid and mad helps to keep them controlled, I guess. Just ask Rush, Falwell, and Schafly.

So we get to see the First Stepford Wife (aka Laura) coming out to say "good Christians understand that life is very precious, right up to the point where we decide to kill you" and that stem cells are bad because the research kills babies. Unfortunately, stupidity kills more babies, and the far right and the Bushies' abstinence plan helps create those babies. Abortions and stem cell research must be illegal for you, but it's these fat old white men who make it illegal or unobtainable for you who can then turn around and pay for stem cells and they can arrange abortions for their daughters and girlfriends.

OK, I'm not being very articulate on this because I'm so mad. The president and the government rush out to embrace Reeve for political gain even at the same time they make sure mere mortals can never benefit from stem cell research.

Atrios Asks: What's Behind the Tie?

I noticed this the other night when I was standing right next to the large TV screen but couldn't make out detail long enough to be sure it wasn't part of his tie. But click here and you'll see it sure looks like a cable. One of the New York weather guys used to wear his control (for communication from the producers) down his tie and would get caught on the cable; but this one appears to end in the president's jacket pocket (inside).

Goodnight, Christopher Reeve

I was shocked just now to learn the actor died of heart failure.

While I was not always sure of his acting, I thought he was a class act after his catastrophic accident that left him a quadriplegic, breathing only with help. His outspokenness about the need for stem cell research and other issues was great. He seemed amazingly honest about the process by which one must try to reclaim their lives after such a devastating change.

I'm sorry he didn't get his wish, his dream, to once again live away from his wheelchair. Condolences to his family.

Also, a word about Robin Williams. Whether this remains true or not, it was said in the past that Robin picked up a lot of Reeve's bills because the two men had been close friends. That is friendship. While to Williams who has earned a very good living the amount may not have seemed a great deal, it must have meant everything to the Reeves.


Michigan Editorial Column Asks Good Question

In his stump speeches, President George W. Bush repeatedly declares that the world is a different place because of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Never mind that Bush is blatantly using Sept. 11 as the foundation for his re-election campaign. The world really is different because of what happened that day.

What the president's campaign ignores, though, is that the world also is a different place, and ever-changing, since the United States invaded Iraq last year. The nuances of foreign policy that applied two years ago don't apply today.

While Bush prefers to live in a nerve-racking world where Sept. 11 is frozen on the calendar, most Americans have lived and learned these past three years. The presidency, like life, is an evolving, learn-as-you-go affair and need not maintain the illusion of infallibility.

By the way, why is it that admitting you're wrong is a sign of leadership in every institution except the Bush White House?

Karl Rove: "We've got a couple of surprises we plan to spring" in October

Gee, really? Josh Marshall brings us this link to a revelation by Bush's brain (the one, who like Cheney, wasn't quite up to getting through college the).

Hmmm... I wonder what it is. Could it be...:

    * Bush successfully saying nuclear?
    * Bush mastering a two-syllable word?
    * Rumsfeld ordering troops to attack Blue states?
    * Attacking Iran?
    * Announcing they've discovered Kerry's communist illegitimate French baby?
    * That anyone not voting for Bush will be arrested as a terrorist suspect?

More on Is Bush Wired?

From Is Bush Wired:

Some writers say Bush seemed "wired" last night! AP has a photo showing a rounded hump between Bush’s shoulder blades. Other posters saw a boxy lump at his abdomen that made the right side of his suit hang funny. He reached into his jacket in that area a couple of times as if to adjust something.

Another poster notes the Reuters photo on NPR’s home page, of Bush’s right ear (into which Kerry is whispering congratulations to Rove.) The poster thought it looked as if something is in there. Could the person who used NASA imaging technology to sharpen the other photo (NOT the ones we used -- we took only the straight stuff off the Fox video feed) take a look at this and report back? Maybe it's just some gum he was saving for later.

Cryptome.org has an interesting analysis of Debate 1's box-shaped bulge, 28 time-stamped video images of it, and a link to the kind of device used for remote prompting.

As to the times in which viewers heard a voice other than the president's speaking his words, i.e. on the night of 9/11 and during the Bush-Chirac press conference: there may be an innocent explanation for the two voices. A poster explains it may be a voice used for live subtitling, in which a "re-speaker" repeats what is being said into a voice recognition engine in order to generate text.

Somewhere at Sometime....

Blogger will actually publish the new poll I put up.

Tell Sinclair Where to Shove it

From Kos:

From what I'm hearing, the local Sinclair stations have no say in airing the anti-Kerry program. Doesn't matter, the harder we hit them, the more they'll pressure HQ to back off the program.
But if you want to go straight to the top, here are the three who made the decision:

    mhyman@sbgnet.com (Mark Hyman, host)
    dsmith@sbgnet.com (David Smith, president)
    jdefeo@sbgnet.com (Joe Defeo, news director)
    Main telephone: 410.568.1500
    Main Fax: 410.568.1533

As a fun aside, Atrios notes that David Smith, conservative stalwarth, likes the hookers.
    The president of Baltimore-based Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., which owns the local Fox television affiliate, was arrested Tuesday night and charged with committing a perverted sex act in a company-owned Mercedes, city police said.
So yeah, your typical hypocritical brand of conservatives.
Let's get a list of advertisers, people. They need to get some tough love as well.

And someone get the information for MSNBC. The Chris Matthews panel for Friday's debate was disgraceful. We need to demand balance, not a gaggle of Republicans.

Get Those (Creative) Juices Flowing

Diana at Democracy for California invites us to enjoy a few minutes of our weekend by partaking of Alain Chang's work in Flash. Sounds like a good idea, and I liked what I saw. I immediately had to share it with two friends who do similar work.

Check the link to Diana for more examples of this creator's work.

More Violence in Iraq

CNN is reporting this:

At least 17 people, including seven women, were killed today by a car bomb in Baghdad, according to Iraqi police. A second car bomb exploded near a U.S. military convoy in southern Baghdad, Iraqi police said. One U.S. soldier was wounded in that blast, the U.S. military said. Also today, the military announced that a U.S. Marine was killed Saturday in Al Anbar province.

Bush Wired at Debates to Get Answers

This story has reached the point where CNN and the New York Times are discussing it (CNN would have discussed it sooner had it been Kerry). But the president - who showed no great respect for the format on Friday night - could have proved everyone wrong had he whipped off his jacket. That he did not, and that his answers were notably better at the second, would seem to only add fuel to the fire.

Sinclair Wants to Steal the Vote

From Salon:

CBS News spikes a story on the Bush administration potentially deceiving the American people about Saddam Hussein's nuclear capabilities before the war -- a story set to run in September -- because it would be, Andrew Heyward said, "inappropriate" during the presidential campaign.

But conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group is forcing its stations, which reach nearly one-quarter of the country's TV households, to pre-empt their programming days before the election to air a film that attacks John Kerry's anti-war activism.

From the Los Angeles Times:

"Sinclair's programming plan, communicated to executives in recent days and coming in the thick of a close and intense presidential race, is highly unusual even in a political season that has been marked by media controversies. Sinclair has told its stations -- many of them in political swing states such as Ohio and Florida -- to air 'Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal,' sources said. The film, funded by Pennsylvania veterans and produced by a veteran and former Washington Times reporter, features former POWs accusing Kerry -- a decorated Navy veteran turned war protester -- of worsening their ordeal by prolonging the war. Sinclair will preempt regular prime-time programming from the networks to show the film, which may be classified as news programming, according to TV executives familiar with the plan."

"Sinclair stations are spread throughout the country, in major markets that include Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Las Vegas; its only California station is in Sacramento. Fourteen of the 62 stations the company either owns or programs are in the key political swing states of Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where the presidential election is being closely fought. Station and network sources said they have been told the Sinclair stations -- which include affiliates of Fox, ABC, CBS, NBC, as well as WB and UPN -- will be preempting regular programming for one hour between Oct. 21 and Oct. 24, depending on the city. The airing of "Stolen Honor" will be followed by a panel discussion, which Kerry will be asked to join, thus potentially satisfying fairness regulations, the sources said. Kerry campaign officials said they had been unaware of Sinclair's plans to air the film, and said Kerry had not received an invitation to appear."

Sinclair, you may recall, ordered its seven ABC stations not to air the Nightline program that featured the names and photos of soldiers killed in Iraq -- because Sinclair officials said the program "appeared to be motivated by a political agenda."