PRESIDENT BUSH DISPLAYS THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT: AN END-OF-THE-YEAR QUOTE
"A submarine could take this place out."
George W. Bush in conversation with a tour guide on November 18th
at the Clinton Library.
As Bush and the guide looked out at the river the guide said one would normally see fisherman there. Bush supplied the thoughtful response above.
From Salon.com "Counterinaugural at the Clinton library" By Sidney Blumenthal, 11-25-04.
TAKE THEM AT THEIR WORDS
A miscellany for our times by Bruce J. Miller, editor, TAKE THEM AT THEIR WORDS, Shocking, Amusing, and Baffling Quotations from the GOP and Their Friends, 1994-2004. Academy Chicago Publishers, ISBN 0-89733-521-x
Sunday, November 28, 2004
PRESIDENT BUSH DISPLAYS THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT: AN END-OF-THE-YEAR QUOTE
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
THE REPUBLICANS’ PARTY: IN VISA THEY TRUST
According to Adam Nagourney (“Bush Campaign Manager Views the Electoral Divide’” The New York Times, 11-19-04) Ken Mehlman bragged about the Bush victory at a recent meeting of Republican governors in New Orleans:
“ 'We did what Visa did,’ Mr. Mehlman said. ‘We acquired a lot of consumer data. What magazine do you subscribe to? Do you own a gun? How often do the folks go to church? Where do you send your kids to school? Are you married?' "
'Based on that, we were able to develop an exact kind of consumer model that corporate America does every day to predict how people vote - not based on where they live but how they live,’ he said. ‘That was critically important to our success.’"
" If you drive a Volvo" said Mehlman, "and you do yoga, you are pretty much a Democrat. If you drive a Lincoln or a BMW and you own a gun, you’re voting for George Bush."
I assume that the specific examples Mehlman used were a lame attempt at humor. The Republicans, except for the occasional gaffe, do not open their playbook to the public. They are too canny to give us their actual data.
However, it was a very revealing joke.
Never mind the tired 1960’s allusion to “Volvo” and “yoga,” a throwback to Nixonian rants against hippies, bums on college campuses, and Jane Fonda. (No one under the age of 40 would know what he was talking about, something he is certainly aware of.)
What astonishes me about Mehlman’s comment is that most of the American public, the once great middle class, has been left out of his little equation entirely:
Volvo + Yoga = Democrat
BMW/Lincoln + gun = Republican
Look around: the average American does not own a Volvo, a BMW, or a Lincoln.
Not too many years ago, such a comment might at least have carried the veneer of a “made in America” pitch, something like, “If you drive a Chevy and own a gun you’re a Republican.”
But the Republicans are partying hearty, singing the praises of Visa and BMW, whistling past the graveyard of manufacturing plants (and the decent jobs they offered), mountains of personal and government debt, an economy propped up by foreign investment, and crumbling public schools. The are rockin’ and rollin’ out new Pell grant cuts (Bush claimed during the debates he supported increased funding), and hiding odious provisions in the omnibus spending bill.
And speaking of automobiles and public transport, Kenneth M. Mead, the Inspector general of the Transportation Department has issued a report saying that “we are playing Russian roulette” with the Amtrak system in not providing adequate funding. The report suggests that Congress scale back the popular program or appropriate the needed funds. One need only read between the lines to see that a breakdown in the operation of the entire system could take place, or even catastrophic accidents resulting in casualties.
But, using Republican calculus, let’s see, 24 million people used Amtrak in 2003, but few, if any, of these own a Volvo, a BMW or a Lincoln, so who cares?
To quote Rep. Jay Kim (R-CA, “You and I are driving cars. Why should we pay for Amtrak?” Wall Street Journal, 3-13-97.
The eroding middle class may no longer be called “a silent majority,” but an invisible one.
And that brings me to the amazing story told by Dennis Loy Johnson in his recently published 109-page book, THE BIG CHILL, the Great Unreported Story of the Bush Inauguration Protest.
Just as middle class Americans became invisible in Mehlman’s revealing boast about GOP election prowess, Johnson shows how the major media worked with those in power to hide the massive inauguration protest from the American people.
Johnson, a journalist and short-story writer, joined the protests against the Bush seizure of power in Washington, D.C. in January, 2001.
Many of us first heard about the fact that Bush was unable to walk to the site of his swearing-in ceremony (the usual practice ever since Jimmy Carter did it) because of the massive protests from Michael Moore’s film, Fahrenheit 911. Johnson explains what happened and saw first hand the trucks of journalists speeding past the protesters with out so much as taking a snapshot.
He explains how the mainstream media for the most part (The Washington Post and NPR being exceptions to the rule, and NBC and CBS at least acknowledged the protests took place) embargoed the news of this massive protest, while the police, who said they would, in the words of D.C.’s Deputy Chief of Police Terence Gainer (on NPR’s All Things Considered) wear only “soft hats” and allow marches in certain places reneged on the deal, and, wearing riot gear, broke up crowds, cracked some heads, and tried to keep protesters out of sight of the VIP’s.
The New York Times ran numerous stories about the inauguration and surrounding festivities, but only R.W. Apple, Jr. mentioned the protests. In an e-mail to Valerie Merians—-Johnson’s wife--Apple agreed that the Times made a “mistake” in not covering the demonstrations.
“And television, too” says Johnson, “prevailed in misreporting the facts of the most crucial photo-op of them all--the presidential stroll...On ABC anchorman Peter Jennings noted that it was a ‘good tradition for the president to get out and be closer to the people,’ setting up his sidekick commentator Michael Beschloss, a presidential historian, who then asked viewers to imagine if the new president hadn’t been able to do that—if he ‘had had to remain, for security reasons, locked inside that car…’ Incredibly, he went on, apparently speaking for himself and Jennings, ‘I think that would have made a statement that we probably wouldn’t have wanted to see.’
“And there you have it: The statement that had, in fact, been made, had been deemed inappropriate for viewers. Neither Beschloss nor Jennings reported—-or perhaps more frighteningly, understood—-that, indeed, the new president had not followed the ‘good tradition’ and had, in fact, decided to ‘remain, for security reasons, locked inside that car’ until he was beyond the ‘people’ and in a private, barricaded, militarized compound where, as ABC’s own Terry Moran put it from within that very compound itself, ‘The only thing I see are cowboy hats.’
It will be interesting to see what the media cover this coming January.
But, more to the point, will the observations of Ray Beckerman and others, who observed the voter discouragement techniques first hand, be the grounds for further actions by the Democratic Party and investigations by the mainstream media? The major media outlets made clear that many people in Ohio waited for as long as 10 hours to vote. This is a major scandal in and of itself.
Even more important are the questions raised by “mistaken” exit polls and the “glitches” and statistical oddities given to us by the electronic voting machines, both optical scanners and touch-screeners.
One thing is for sure: even if the mainstream media and politicians don’t care enough for our democracy to prevent its subversion, questions of legitimacy will dog this president for his entire term.
Let me close with the words of Michigan State Rep. John Pappageorge, (R-Troy) who was quoted in the Detroit Free Press last July, "If we do not suppress the Detroit vote, we're going to have a tough time in this election."
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE: WISE WORDS FROM REPUBLICANS
John Ashcroft railing against court decisions limiting President Bush's powers:
"The danger I see here is that intrusive judicial oversight and second-guessing of presidential determinations in these critical areas can put at risk the very security of our nation in a time of war." November 12, during a speech at the Federalist Society.
[Ashcroft likes to say "there is no king but Jesus." When did Bush become king?]
Alan Keyes explaining why he would not call Barack Obama to congratulate him:
"I'm supposed to make a call that represents the congratulations toward that which I believe ultimately stands for and will stand for a culture evil enough to destroy the very soul and heart of my country?" Chicago Tribune, "From Keyes No Congratulations" by Liam Ford. 11-5-04.
[Anyone who disagrees with Keyes is "evil."]
From a letter written by Jonathan Bush to the New York Times Book Review protesting the publication of a review of THE FAMILY by Kitty Kelley:
"Answer this, if you will: How in the world will able, dedicated people want to serve in elected office if laws in this country permit the likes of Kelley to spread her slander at will while bragging that she has been sued but never lost a case?"
[Put her i' th' stocks!]
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE WEEK (See Last Sentence)
From The New York Times,
Sunni Party Leaves Iraqi Government Over Falluja Attack By EDWARD WONG
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Nov. 9 - In the first major political backlash over the assault on Falluja, the country's most prominent Sunni political party said Tuesday that it was withdrawing from the interim Iraqi government, while the leading group of Sunni clerics called for Iraqis to boycott the nationwide elections scheduled for early next year.
The moves seemed to promise that popular protest against the American-led attack on the city, which is predominantly Sunni Muslim, is likely to grow in coming days.
A widespread Sunni boycott of the January elections, if one comes to pass, would threaten the legitimacy of the outcome. It would also undermine the main rationale for the attack on Falluja: to drive insurgents out of the city so residents could freely take part in the elections.
The Sunni Arabs, who make up about 20 percent of the population, were ousted from power with the toppling of Saddam Hussein. They have expressed ambivalence about taking part in the elections, though American and Iraqi officials say their participation is crucial to the entire democratic enterprise, and to defeating the insurgency.
The developments on Tuesday will almost certainly dampen voter turnout, but to what degree is unclear..." (Italics Mine)
Thursday, November 04, 2004
AN ELECTION MOST FOUL
While televised chatterers debate whether Kerry carried enough angels on his lapel pin, serious questions about the integrity of the 2004 presidential election are, for the moment at least, being ignored.
As Napoleon Solo of the 1960's television show The Man from Uncle once said, "sometimes the most obvious is the most devious." And what is obvious is the plan on the part of Republican state administrations to retard the election process, suppress voter turn-out and make it inconvenient for Democratic constituencies to vote. Whether it was J. Kenneth Blackwell of Ohio insisting all new registrants file forms on 80-pound paper (a requirement that was rescinded) or Mary Kiffmeyer's last-minute implementation of a cumbersome new computer system in Minnesota the intention was clear.
Blackwell, despite large numbers of new registrants, appears to have provided fewer voting machines and polling places than in 2000, based on the anecdotal evidence of post-election television interviews with voters. Many people waited more than 10 hours to cast their ballots. This in and of itself is a scandal largely glossed over by the media and treated as a human interest story: "isn't it great to see how determined people were to cast their votes." (Broadcasting from "Democracy Plaza" the reports took on an eerie, Orwellian cast.)
In a rare moment of candor Tom Brokaw described the election as "a nightmare" and expressed admiration for the fact that there were no tanks in the streets, no violence, with everything resolved in a peaceful manner. In the context of network "journalism," this observation at least acknowledged that something had gone seriously wrong.
Now to the less obvious and more substantial means of election-fixing. Dailykos makes some essential observations:
Florida numbers vs 2000 - something is wrong
by Buck Mulligan
Wed Nov 3rd, 2004 at 02:22:13 PST
Bush 2,912,790 Bush 3,836,216
Gore 2,912,253 Kerry 3,459,293
Nader 97,421 Nader 32,035
Other 40,193 Other 28,382
= 7,355,296 (2004) - 5,963,657 (2000) = 1,392,639 new voters (99% precincts counted, no provisionals or absentees).
So, we have 1.39 million new voters, and Kerry loses by 376,923 votes? Thus, he lost an overwhelming majoirty of them, or he lost an overwhelming majority of regular voters - much, much more than Gore lost.
We have 77,197 fewer third party votes, but Kerry loses the vast majority of these?
Exit polling numbers show that Kerry had more Hispanic and Cuban support than Gore did, and Kerry lost?
Most exit polls in Florida showed Kerry leading, yet he loses by a massive 5%?
WWW.BLACKBOXVOTING.ORG has organized a massive FOIA request:
Voting without auditing. (Are we insane?)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON Nov 3 2004 -- Did the voting machines trump exit polls? There’s a way to find out.
Black Box Voting (.ORG) is conducting the largest Freedom of Information action in history. At 8:30 p.m. Election Night, Black Box Voting blanketed the U.S. with the first in a series of public records requests, to obtain internal computer logs and other documents from 3,000 individual counties and townships. Networks called the election before anyone bothered to perform even the most rudimentary audit. America: We have permission to say No to unaudited voting. It is our right.
The Kerry campaign and the DNC were warned repeatedly by various parties that touch-screen voting machines made by Diebold and other companies were not trustworthy. The New York Times ran a series of editorials about this problem and other problems that could prevent the execution of a fair election (This series often contained hard news, and so I will never figure out why more of them weren't run on the front page).
Despite these warnings, the DNC conducted the campaign without directly confronting the e-voting threat.
In addition to the deliberate attempt on the part of Republican secretaries of state to discourage voting, there have been countless reports of irregularities in various states, and most importantly, there is an unexplained discrepancy between exit polls and actual results.
If there is truly a free press in this country, if investigative reporting still exists (and I see evidence that it hasn't died out completely) now is the time when news organizations must step up to the plate and do their jobs.
What in the hell is going on?
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"Big, big, big day. Look at all the losers: Bin Laden, George Soros, moveon.org, Hollywood, Old Europe, the United Nations, MTV, liberalism, the mainstream media, Dan Rather, Bruce Springsteen, and terrorists everywhere. The winner yesterday: America, the United States of America."
--Rush Limbaugh during his radio broadcast.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
THE REPUBLICAN PARTY'S "POORLY TAILORED" PRESIDENCY
The blatant efforts of J. Kenneth Blackwell, the Ohio Secretary of State, to limit voter turnout would make us laugh if it weren't for the fact that the outcome of this election is so important.
Blackwell was prevented from imposing his 80-pound-paper-only rule for new registration forms, but the GOP has succeeded in ovecoming court rulings striking down their right to place multiple vote-challengers in black neighborhoods. Like Eva, the persistently suicidal character in Absurd Person Singular, Blackwell keeps trying to fix things his way, no matter what. Who knows what else he is doing that has been overlooked in plain sight or in secret?
Now we learn that Prince Blackwell (dubbed Katherine Blackwell by Bev Harris) has issued an edict banning photographers and reporters from polling places, including the Akron-Beacon Journal, a newspaper that has been visiting polling places during elections for the last 30 years. Representatives of the media (including exit pollsters) will not be allowed within 100 feet of a polling place.
No exit polls? What is Blackwell hiding?
Indeed, what sort of guidelines are being followed by the Republican Secretaries of State nation-wide? In Minnesota, in Florida, and in other states where the GOP controls the office of the Secretary of State , efforts to slow down the election and/or the registration process and impede voting have been ongoing.
On July 17, 2003, The Washington Post uncovered a scandal involving members of RAGA, the Republican Attorneys General Association:
"Republican state attorneys general in at least six states telephoned corporations or trade groups subject to lawsuits or regulations by their state governments to solicit hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions, according to internal fundraising documents obtained by The Washington Post..."
This was clearly a coordinated and organized unethical (if not illegal) fund-raising operation about which the participants were unapologetic and suffered no consequences.
Will anyone in this nation's vast media empire investigate the Secretaries of State, the offices of the Republican Governors, and the GOP to find out if actions were coordinated to suppress voters, retard the voting process, destroy the registration forms or absentee ballots cast by Democrats?
When Bush was recently asked by Charles Gibson of ABC about the clearly visible rectangular bulge under his jacket during the first presidential debate, Bush said "I'm embarrassed to say it's a poorly tailored shirt."
The entire Bush presidency has been well-tailored, using advertising imagery to to hide the foul stench of death, incompetence and greed in Iraq and Afghanistan; the revocation of international treaties and environmental rules at home, the job losses, and increasing instability of the middle class.
Bush's "poorly tailored shirt," a pathetic trick to cover up the desperate actions of a man who was never fit to be president, and whose incompetence and lack of empathy has resulted in the death of more than 10,000 Americans with thousands more seriously wounded, and 100,000 Iraqis, according to a study recently published in the British Journal Lancet.
The poorly tailored shirt is in rags as the policies Bush said would lead to peace and the worldwide embrace of democracy have brought their opposites.
This poorly tailored and illegitimate presidency has brought us much in the way of sartorial entertainment along with disaster and insecurity. Bush in his cowboy outfits, his flight suit, and now Bush's advisers dressed as hunters in a lame attempt to turn Kerry into Dukakis.
If Bush's advisers had spent as much time planning the wars they have waged as they did in selling them, perhaps we wouldn't be in such a hideous mess.
If it is true that "what goes around comes around" Bush will soon be a private citizen.