2004-06-27T13:03:00-04:00

Circular Firing Squads

This time, it isn’t the Democrats. Yay!

There’s a minor snit being made about a new ad on georgewbush.com. In fact, I even received an email from the DNC about it.

The snit boils down to this: the Bush campaign is “floating” an ad on their website. There are several snippets of good speeches from Al Gore, Howard Dean, and JFK himself. Those snippets are juxtaposed around a few other snippets from an ad that was submitted to moveon.org in a contest last fall – one which contained some images of Hitler. Now, the DNC is (wink wink,nudge nudge) crying foul, the same way the RNC did last fall.

After watching the ad myself, I wondered what the DNC snit was about? I mean, go view the ad yourself. I swear it should say, “I’m John Kerry, and I approved this message” at the end. What the hell is the Bush campaign thinking putting this ad on the web? Then I got it.

The DNC gets it! Make a media stink, get a bunch of people to watch the ad (both sides of the aisle), and maybe chip away another GOP vote or two, because the Gore and Dean snippets are particularly powerful. Let the Bush Campaign pay for DNC ads!

Heh. Smart guys, those DNC staffers. For the price of an email and a little free media publicity via press release, the DNC gets a great ad.

Morons, those RNC staffers.

Go view the ad and tell me what you think.

Sunday, June 27th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

2004-06-27T00:02:00-04:00

Fahrenheit 9/11

Ok, I’m sitting here on Saturday night, halfway into a half pint of my good friend, Mr. Daniels, and writing a blog entry about my impressions of Fahrenheit 9/11. I think I needed it (the JD) just to calm down a bit after returning from the movie.

I’ll give you a quick description of the movie in a single word: powerful.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, was moved (but not shocked) at some of the scenes, and the entire theatre (sold out and standing room only), as far as I could tell, stood up and clapped and cheered for 2 full minutes as the closing credits started to roll.

Just to set the scene, I went to the 5PM showing with three of my best like-minded friends. Signs on the theatre door proclaimed that the rest of the showings for the day were already sold out. Thank God for fandango.com.

Folks, regardless of what you might think of Michael Moore, he’s an artist and a storyteller. That might be the highest compliment that you can pay any movie maker.

Based on my own knowledge of the topics, he was fairly spot-on in most areas of the film. I’d like to see the film again – there’s so much crammed into 120 minutes. Moore succinctly packages much of what many of us already know into those 120 minutes. And he does it sooooo very well.

Fahrenheit 9/11 was an affirmation of my loathe for BushCo. I think the most powerful part of the film was right after the opening credits rolled, and the screen went dark for four or five minutes. All you were left with was the audio, and your own mental images of that moment in time. And you probably know what I’m talking about, even if you haven’t seen the movie (no ‘spoilers’ here). It was unbelievably powerful. Five minutes of dark screen with nothing but audio to refresh your mental imagery. And more importantly, the lost opportunities for real change.

What’s more striking is that it brought back for me how this asshole who is running (ruining?) our country had his countrymen (and the world) in the palm of his hand – and instead of true leadership, George W. Bush squandered the whole political fortune that was dropped into his lap. Instead of using that fortune for the collective good, he reverted to his true typecasting: a tragic Willie Loman-esque character. Only Dubya still has people telling him he’s not “tragic”.

One of the more interesting acts for me was that of the footage from inauguration day, 2001. I’d never seen the footage of all those protestors at Bush’s inauguration, or the eggs hitting the incoming pResident’s limo. You never saw that footage. You never saw the speedup of the limos, and the SS running alongside out of concern for the soon-to-be Boy King. You never heard that Bush was the first pResident-select that chose not to walk part of the way up Constitution Avenue to Capitol Hill to take the oath of office. Monkey Boyâ„¢ rode the motorcade all the way, sanitized for his protection. And I sat wondering if he paid attention to the protest signs all along the way…

So, adding to the firepower of F911 was the footage you’ve never seen – because the press wouldn’t air it or talk about it at the time (or even now).

Let me backtrack for a moment. In the leadup to the inauguration, there was congressional certification of election results from 2000. This is something (again) I’d never really seen. I’ve heard Donna Brazille talk about the complete Floridian coup / disenfranchisement in 2000, but I hadn’t really seen the congressional response in action. With then Vice President Albert Gore presiding over the congressional certification of election results, the Congressional Black Caucus, one by one, took the podium to protest. All it would have taken was one single Senator to stand up and object to the results to deny certification. Not one damn Senator would stand up and object to the coronation…er…certification. And it would have only taken one.

There’s so much more to talk about regarding F911. The Sunday talkie’s will be full of it. But at the end of the day, it’s the affirmation thing I talked about earlier for we liberals who actually follow this stuff. Fuck it if the brownshirts miss it. Every single person who sees the Willie Loman I see in George Bush needs to see this movie.

Quit listening to the noise machine. Fahrenheit 9/11 is perhaps the most important political statement I’ve seen in my 50 years on the planet. And Mike Moore’s the messenger, in all his glorious bias.

Sunday, June 27th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

2004-06-26T09:30:00-04:00

**If You’ll Be My Bodyguard,

I could be your long-lost pal…

Call him Al…

Meanwhile, Ireland’s Taoiseach, Mr. Ahern is smiling and waving, but the people of the Emerald Isle are having none of it. (Link to The Guardian)

Quote: “…this weekend’s visit by George Bush, the US president, has turned tradition on its head. Irish lawyers have signed a petition against Mr Bush and suggested he should be arrested as soon as he arrives. Clerics have questioned the president’s morals and the leader of the Irish senate has boycotted a US embassy dinner to mark his visit. Anti-war protesters say they are being censored by a government desperate to keep a lid on demonstrations. The terrorism risk has resulted in the biggest security operation in the country’s history.” The above photo comes from an Irish Times article on the “state visit” – Iraq handover to dominate summit talks with Bush

I mentioned this morning over at the Whiskey Bar, that I thought Ireland a strange stupid choice for such a PR moment for the Little Smirk. He’s already had one unbecoming interview, and the Irish people know something about what it’s like to be an occupied people, and they don’t like it. But we know Gray Matter Rove believes only in images with the sound turned down — AND — he gets to pick the images, of course. I can’t wait for the coverage of the protests to hit the Irish media. I’ll post a few in a bit.


Update: for The Doc … hehehe I’m hunting wabbits! Paul Simon channels Dubya:

“I need a photo opportunity.

I want a shot at redemption.

Don’t wanna end up a cartoon

In a cartoon graveyard.”

**”You Can Call Me Al”, by Paul Simon

Update:from Reuters — Protesters invoke Shakespeare to blitz Bush

Update, 4:30 AM PDT: Photos from the Dublin, Ireland protests

Saturday, June 26th, 2004 by Kate Storm |
Category: Uncategorized

2004-06-26T08:32:00-04:00

“If you think Dick Cheney is cursing today, wait until you hear what he says on Nov. 2,” he said.

That’s John Kerry quoted in today’s LA Times. He was in Ohio and Stark County bemoaning job losses in Massilon, home of the Tigers and the famous Paul Brown. Also nearby Canton is home of Timken, whose owners are among the nation’s biggest Bush supporters and also laid off hundreds of workers recently. I know Massilon. Massilon is not Democrat country, but I would urge Kerry to visit early and often. When these guys get upset at their Republicans, you’ll see some fireworks.

So, Dick Cheney dropped the “F” bomb on Pat Leahy, and now he’s going around strutting about it. Would that play in Massilon? Nope, that is values country. This CNN article shows the Cheney strut. He talks about how Leahy had questioned Cheney’s integrity concerning Halliburton. Many of you reading here are wondering where that integrity resides.

One thing you’ll notice in that article, is that while Cheney puffs up his chest and justifies a personal attack on the Senate floor, he will not actually admit to saying that word. He continues in his role as Designated Weasel. And there is one thing the farmers and hard workers of Massilon, Ohio don’t like — weasels.

I guess it is all in the definition of the word “sleaze.”

Saturday, June 26th, 2004 by SpinDentist |
Category: Uncategorized

2004-06-26T00:28:00-04:00

Froomkin Touches all the Bases

Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post usually cranks out a pretty good product. With both the Cheney meltdown yesterday, and now a Bush implosion today, Dan’s having himself a good old time. Lots of testy, testy, testy words to read here.

If you’re video minded, make sure that you click on the link that features an Irish TV interview with an incredibly snarky Dubya. Here’s an excerpt from Froomkin’s column:

Shawn Pogatchnik writes for the Associated Press: “President Bush defended his decision to invade Iraq and insisted most of Europe backed the move during a tense interview Thursday on Irish television.

“On several occasions during the 15-minute interview, Bush asked RTE correspondent Carole Coleman not to interrupt him.

“When Coleman said most Irish people thought the world was more dangerous today than before the Iraq invasion, Bush disagreed and responded, ‘What was it like Sept. 11th, 2001?’ “

Here’s the video of the interview with Coleman in the Map Room. Irish television viewers saw it prefaced by a report about how much Europe hates Bush, the “Toxic Texan.”

Carole Coleman pulled no punches in this 15 minute interview. This begs the question: why we don’t have any Carole Coleman’s working for networks on this side of the pond?

Bush’s remark about “this fella Allawi” is precious – and later he proclaims, “You’ve got democracy in Turkey, you’ve got a democracy emerging in Afghanistan, you’ve got a democracy in Pakistan…” Can you find the untruths in that prolaimation?

Seriously speaking, I think Bush’s handlers keep him wrapped in such a tight bubble, that the guy doesn’t even realize the depth to which many people actually despise him. After watching the interview with Ms. Coleman, you’ll perhaps understand more fully how the rest of the world sees our fearless leader.

He’s not only snarky, he’s scary. This is a side of George W. Bush that you don’t see on American TV, because no journalist working for American network television will challenge him like Ms. Coleman.

At the risk of being repetatively repetative, I urge you to watch this interview. The flat out disdain for reality and disrespect for anyone who challenges him should be of grave concern every American.

Update, 2:05AM – for those of you who can’t or don’t wish to view the interview, a transcript is available on the White House website at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/06/20040625-2.html (I’m not hot linking to it on purpose; you’ll have to cut and paste the url). Tip of the hat to Doug at Whiskey Bar for the pointer. But really, try to watch the actual video of the interview if you can. This is one of those things that you actually have to see to get the tone and nuance.

Picture, 1000 words, yada yada yada.

Saturday, June 26th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

2004-06-25T13:39:00-04:00

So Broke We Can’t Even Pay Attention …

That’s what we used to say back in the dark ages (the late 1960s when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth, and color TV had just recently been invented). I’m so broke I can’t even pay attention. Funny, we don’t hear that phrase from the White House these days. After all, the US government is accumulating debt like a teenager on a drunken spree with dad’s credit cards. So much for the fiscal conservatism of the current crop of politicians in power, eh?

I am struggling financially, and can’t imagine what it would be like if I had any credit card debt. I don’t have credit cards…I only have my mortgage and utilities and food and such — no car payment. (Credit is the road to slavery … ask me later if you’re interested in talking more about this).

I still feel the crunch of the debt that’s being passed down from the federal level — $8 Trillion … that’s TRILLION DOLLARS — to state to county to me. even so. It’s in your grocery bill, and sundry and unsundry other things. The personal IS political where YOUR money and your debt load is concerned.

Now add to the $8 Trillion … yes … that’s $8 Trillion of national debt, another estimated $2 Trillion in what they cutely call “consumer debt” … and I’m sure both those numbers are parsed to the max in the media. I’m not an economist — merely a skeptical brat when it comes to numbers coming to us from the Feds via their “courtly” scribes, um… stenographers.

From the Fear Factor Files, some articles on our cute and cuddly consumer debt: here, here, here and here.

“Neither a borrower, nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend” – The annoying Polonius to his hot-headed son Laertes in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Friday, June 25th, 2004 by Kate Storm |
Category: Uncategorized

2004-06-24T22:39:00-04:00

Negating the “Fear Factor”

We’ve all nervously chuckled at one time or another as terror alerts have been raised from ‘poppycock’ to ‘burnt umber’ to ‘chartreuse’. The Bush administration has become quite adept at manipulating America’s “fear factor” – especially when it comes to terrorism and your chances of becoming a victim in one way or another.

I’ve been doing a little statistics research (actually, about 5 minutes worth on Google, but that was enough). My inherent sense was that your chances of being personally impacted by terrorism are somewhere south of negligible, regardless of how much the ghost of Osama cranks up the threat machine noise. The bottom line is that the concept of terrorism scares the shit out of us. It’s the fear of the unknown, kind of like dying, I suppose. You don’t know when, where, or how it’s going to happen.

The fear of, as Don Rumsfeld says, the “unknown unknowns” is what drives us to distraction in our daily lives. My message, based on in-depth research? Calm the fuck down.

The next time Tom Ridge (or even John “I couldn’t beat a dead man for a Senate seat” Ashcroft) tries to stoke your terror fears, please refer to the following statistics as compiled by the San Diego Union, and share them with your scaredy cat friends and family. Here’s your statistical odds:

Of getting hemorrhoids: 25 to 1

Of being born a twin in North America: 90 to 1

Of being on plane with a drunken pilot: 117 to 1

Of being audited by the IRS: 175 to 1

Of having your identity stolen: 200 to 1

Of dating a millionaire: 215 to 1

Of dating a supermodel: 88,000 to 1

Of writing a New York Times best seller: 220 to 1

Of finding out your child is a genius: 250 to 1

Of catching a ball at a major league ballgame: 563 to 1

Of becoming a pro athlete: 22,000 to 1

Of being considered possessed by Satan: 7,000 to 1

Of finding a four-leaf clover on first try: 10,000 to 1

Of a person in the military winning the Medal of Honor: 11,000 to 1

Of winning an Academy Award: 11,500 to 1

Of striking it rich on Antiques Roadshow: 60,000 to 1

Of getting a royal flush in poker on first five cards dealt: 649,740 to 1

Of dying in a terrorist attack: 650,000 to 1

Of spotting a UFO today: 3 million to 1

Of becoming president: 10 million to 1

Of winning the California lottery: 13 million to 1

Of becoming a saint: 20 million to 1

Of a meteor landing on your house 182,138,880,000,000 to 1

So, your chances of becoming a victim of a terrorist attack are somewhere between that of making a ton-o-money playing Vegas Stud Poker and hitching a ride on a flying saucer. I’ll take those kind of odds any day of the week.

Sleep well tonight, America!

Friday, June 25th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

2004-06-24T22:35:00-04:00

Broken Clocks

June 24, 2004:

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Insurgents set off car bombs and seized police stations Thursday in a six-city offensive aimed at creating chaos ahead of next week’s handover of power to a new Iraqi government. U.S. and Iraqi forces took back control in heavy fighting that killed more than 100 people and wounded about 320.

May 24, 2004:

General Myers told the House Armed Services Committee that, far from calming the violence in Iraq, the June 30 turnover is likely to usher in a period of more turmoil, comments echoed by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker. ‘The threat will continue to intensify after June 30.’

It’s kind of refreshing (in an ironic sort of way) that they finally got something right. But then, even a broken clock is right twice per day.

Friday, June 25th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

2004-06-24T13:16:00-04:00

The Fine Art of Persuasion

Ralph Nader gets a lot of heat on these pages – not so much for his ideas, but for the fact that he’s disingenuous in trying to use the bully pulpit of consumer activism outside of the establishment rather than working for incremental change from the inside. His tactics were perhaps appropriate in the activist 60′s and 70′s; however, the strategies that Nader continues clinging to just don’t work in today’s government.

The Don Quixote-cum-Jedi force has always been strong in Ralph, but probably even more so in his legions of supporters. Tilting at windmills while you have the steering wind of a cheering section (no matter how small) at your back is also an ego stroking exercise. But Ralph’s idealized notion of how the system is supposed to operate,“in the public interestâ€, just doesn’t fit today’s political memes.

It’s human nature that as time goes by, we learn from life’s experiences. It’s part of growing up. Our ideals might not change, but our strategic approach evolves for achieving the goals that those ideals entail. A confrontational strategy (one that we might be forgiven for due to youth and inexperience) doesn’t necessarily translate to action as we gain real-life experience. Ralph Nader, for whatever reason, hasn’t embraced the need to modify strategy as both he and his causes have grayed.


Criticisms of Nader aside, his argument that both Republican and Democratic party office holders are often times just two sides of the same, beholden, coin is most certainly true. Our elected representatives, regardless of party affiliation, don’t even bother anymore to hide the obvious conflicts of interest in the “fuck Grandma Millie” era of big government. What’s more depressing is the way that many people, inside and outside of Washington, have come to accept that this is just the way the people’s business gets done.

Nader’s activist group, Public Citizen, released a report yesterday on recent changes to the Medicare system, with a focus on the new prescription discount card program. From the very beginning of discussions on the new plan, it was obvious that such changes were being driven by both the pharmaceutical and managed healthcare industries. During the congressional debate on the prescription discount card program, I recall listening to a congressman on CSPAN, from the House floor, claiming that in advance of what was almost a guaranteed passage of the bill, pharmaceutical companies had increased prices 25% to 35% across the board. Interestingly enough, this is almost exactly the same average discount that was being touted in the prescription drug program. So in essence, prices were raised, the bill was passed, seniors now have to pay for the card, prescription prices are basically the same, and the bottom line of the pharmaceutical companies just grew fatter.

Beyond the real lack of help to seniors in the prescription drug bill, one significant administrative point really jumps out of the Public Citizen report:

At least 11 top staffers who left the Bush administration lobbied for the drug industry and HMOs in 2003. White House and administration insiders working as lobbyists on the Medicare bill included several former top advisers to Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy Thompson. The exodus from the administration has accelerated since Bush signed the new Medicare law.

Bold. Brazen. Eleven top staffers who helped write the lion’s share of the Bush Administration’s healthcare and pharmaceutical legislation over the past three years now work for big pharma and managed healthcare organizations. $141 million in lobbying costs. And the list goes on and on. Yep, they know where their bread was (and is) buttered. Would the end result have been any different with a Democratic Party administration or congress? I rather doubt it.


The Public Citizen report is the reason I began this posting by going off on Ralph Nader. This is important stuff, and could most certainly be used to advantage in Democratic Party campaigns this fall for both the presidential and congressional races (although part of the problem is that the Democrats are not clean on these issues, either). And in this respect, I fully support Nader’s ideology, if not his methodology.

In a utopian model of the political world, Nader would work for incremental changes to both the laws and the deliberative process that leads to legislation. The best way to do this work would be within the party that’s most closely aligned with his goals, and certainly the Democratic Party fits this description. That he chooses to continue his Quixotic quest in the “marginsâ€, so to speak, almost ensures that he and his supporters will remain marginalized by both parties. And because Ralph and Public Citizen remain marginalized, the import and impact of the report are marginalized.

It’s easy to see, though, how even a veteran political operative like Ralph Nader can get jaded with an entire process that’s supposed to make life easier for people, but more often than not results in day-to-day life being more difficult for the average person.

Thursday, June 24th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

2004-06-23T22:08:00-04:00

What is Nader up to?

I was minding my business. Well, not really. I had MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough on in the background while reading an article linked off of Drudge about those torturous White House memos. (My dirty secret is that I also go to Drudge.) Anyway, Joe comes on and announces his guest, that Queen of Mean, Ann Coulter (who a friend of mine calls Skeletor). In a reaction almost as kneejerk as, well, a kneejerk, I got up and turned the channel to the Cubbies, where I can at least monitor whether we need to worry about the end of the world. (The Cubs winning the World Series, after all, is mentioned in the Book of Revelations, or so I am told.) My next thought was to immediately email Scarborough, and tell him why I turned off his show. Not an angry email, but just to let him know.

Anyways, as an odd internet caricature named “Stimpy” is wont to say (I’d give you a link to this delightful example of internet persona run amok, but you need to register to get into or view the Philadelphia Eagles Message Board.) What do I find on the MSNBC site but the following headlines right next to each other:

DEMOCRATS FILE CHALLENGE TO NADER

NADER URGES KERRY TO PICK EDWARDS

Now, the first article is careful to note that Arizona Democrats were the ones trying to decertify, and that the Kerry camp wasn’t involved.

Pederson said, “we are not speaking for the Kerry campaign, we are not speaking for the Democratic National Committee. This is strictly an effort by Arizonans to make sure that our presidential election in Arizona is legitimate and it’s legal.”

Pederson said he had told some Kerry campaign officials that “we were filing the lawsuit…. They said, ‘You’re on your own.’”

So the Kerry camp, at the very least, does not want to appear to be against the presence of Nader in the race, and Nader? Well, he’s advising Kerry on a running mate!

In an open letter sent Wednesday, the independent presidential candidate urged Kerry to choose John Edwards as his running mate, saying the North Carolina senator and former trial lawyer has been thoroughly vetted and is committed to protecting the right of consumers to sue corporations that harm them.

“(Edwards) has already gone through a primary campaign and has his rhythm and oratory (the “Two Americas” speech) all well-honed,†Nader wrote to Kerry. “After a slow start, Sen. Edwards closed fast and has won praise from the media.â€

Edwards, the last Democrat to bow out after Kerry’s series of primary wins, won several large verdicts before he was elected to the Senate. Nader said Edwards is committed to preserving a civil justice system that is under attack by “corporate supremacists.â€

LINK!

Is it true that Nader just wants to boost a fellow warrior against corporate America, or is Nader not long for this campaign, and ready to move his voters over to Kerry? Why an open letter, if not to show some kind of support for Kerry?

Anyways, as Stimpy would put it, it all looks good from here.

Thursday, June 24th, 2004 by SpinDentist |
Category: Uncategorized
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