Thursday, September 30, 2004

Kerry's Steadfastness Wins Debate

USA TODAY - John Kerry has a reputation, invoked so often that it invites parody, of being a strong closer in his political campaigns. But in Thursday night's first presidential faceoff, Kerry also came across as a strong opener.

With both Kerry and George W. Bush fenced in by the rigid debate format, the Democratic challenger took the early offensive in a showdown that quickly became the Florida fisticuffs. Quickly invoking Osama bin Laden, Kerry described the war against Saddam Hussein as a diversion from the struggle against terrorism. "This president," Kerry declared, "has made, I regret to say, a colossal error of judgment. And judgment is what we look for in a president."

Bush initially watched Kerry with his lips pursed, seemingly annoyed by the onslaught. A president, any president, normally receives automatic deference from his questioners whether they are reporters or ordinary citizens. For Bush, the confrontation with Kerry represented the first time as president that he had been directly challenged in a format that made his rival a political equal...

Both candidates were quick to react to the missteps of their rivals. When Kerry resurrected a refrain from his convention speech ("help is on the way"), Bush pounced: "Help is on the way. But it's certainly hard to tell when he voted against the $87 billion supplemental to provide equipment for our troops." The president, fusing the Sept. 11 attacks with the war against Saddam Hussein, said he never dreamed of sending troops into combat until "the enemy attacked us." That gave Kerry an opening to remind voters, "Saddam Hussein didn't attack us. Osama bin Laden attacked us." Finally, an exasperated Bush responded, "First of all, I know Osama bin Laden attacked us." . . .

Rather than measuring the candidates on personal characteristics such as likability, the more relevant question is whether Kerry came across as Bush's equal as a would-be commander in chief. While there were moments when Kerry in his aggressiveness seemed transported back to his former career as a local prosecutor, he managed to achieve the steadiness and consistency that had eluded Al Gore in his 2000 debates with Bush. Kerry's no-nonsense approach may not have won him Mr. Congeniality honors, but it reflected his personality as a serious man striving to take possession of the Oval Office at a sobering moment in the nation's history.

Kerry 1, Bush 0

If you watched this debate......



.....you'd know John Kerry mopped the floor with our pResident.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Manufacturing Consent

CNN Circles the Wagons on Polling

COLUMBIA JOURNALISM REVIEW - Disputes over polling techniques, once the exclusive province of statistic geeks and partisan bloggers, heated up and spilled over to the public domain today.

The well-financed liberal advocacy group, MoveOn.org, inserted the issue into the campaign by taking out a full-page ad in The New York Times which accuses Gallup of "refusing to fix a longstanding problem with their [sic] likely voter methodology," and criticized two media outlets, CNN and USA Today, each of which pays Gallup for the polls and the right to release the results.

MoveOn's ad argues: "Gallup's methodology has predicted lately that Republican turnout on Election Day is likely to exceed Democrats' by six to eight percentage points. But exit polls show otherwise: in each of the last two Presidential elections, Democratic turnout exceeded Republican by four to five points. That discrepancy alone can account for nearly all of Bush's phantom 14-point lead," reported by Gallup a couple of weeks ago.

Often, CNN covers contentious issues like this with sound bites from both sides, treating both positions roughly equally. But not this time. After all, a blow to Gallup's reputation as a reliable polling service is also a blow to CNN. So, on the network's "Inside Politics" this afternoon, it dealt with the issue this way:

Anchor Judy Woodruff began by briefly outlining MoveOn's complaint: "[R]ecent polls have shown George W. Bush leading John Kerry and MoveOn.org claims Gallup's polling techniques exaggerate Republican support." Woodruff then gave Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport almost three minutes to respond, uninterrupted, to the charges. Naturally, Newport defended Gallup's methodology, but essentially asked viewers to take it on faith that he knows what he's doing.

End of segment.

With that nifty sign-off, CNN implicitly confirmed a criticism of itself that was leveled in the MoveOn ad: the charge that CNN winds up "acting as unquestioning promotional partners [with Gallup], rather than as critical journalists." For this was not the journalism of a disinterested party with no ax to grind. This was PR.

-----------------

I hate polls, as I think the media too often turns the latest "numbers" into the story rather than investigating the differences between a set of candidates. Another thing I don't like about them is that their release (whether accurate or not) can influence how undecided people vote (if they even bother to vote at all). Personally, I think most of the polls you see on TV are simply inaccurate.

Consider this: There are something like 169 million people in this country with cell phones. The pollsters don't call these numbers. They also don't poll newly registered voters either (and registration drives have been fierce in this election cycle, especially for the Democrats). For example:


AFP - The New York Times, which compared registration data from January through July 2004 to the same period four years earlier, found new registration up 250 per cent in heavily Democratic areas of Ohio, compared to 25 per cent in Republican strongholds.

In Florida, where Al Gore lost to George W. Bush by a mere 537 votes after a recount battle was halted by the US Supreme Court, the Times examined voter rolls in 60 of 67 counties. It found new registration up 60 per cent in strongly Democratic areas and just 12 per cent in strongly Republican ones.
Just something to keep in mind.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Trinkets

The Smartest Invention Ever

The How F**king American Are You Quiz

Guide to Making Hand Shadows on the Wall

Posters from the WPA

TODAY IN HISTORY:

1901 -- Philippines: Guerrillas ambush US troops at Balangiga, killing 48 US soldiers. General Jake Smith orders his troops to kill everyone on the island. Following his butchery in Balangiga, "Hell Roaring" Jake was promoted to brigadier general and put in charge of the Samar campaign to pacify our "little brown brothers." In Samar, Smith earned fame with his orders to "kill everyone over the age of ten" and make the island "a howling wilderness." In May of 1902, Smith was court-martialed and was retired with no punishment.

Debates for Dummies

Bush, Kerry camps tussle over which candidate has less intelligence

ANDY BOROWITZ, NEWSWEEK - In what some political insiders are calling an attempt to lower expectations in the days leading up to the first presidential debate, the White House today announced that President George W. Bush has an IQ of 67.

"The president is far, far less intelligent than is commonly thought," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters. "Even the simplest tasks remain well beyond his reach."

Reinforcing the impression that the president will be overmatched in Thursday's debate with Sen. John Kerry, McClellan showed reporters never-before-seen footage of Bush oafishly tumbling from his mountain bike.

"What a moron," McClellan said.

The White House spokesman said that Bush cannot possibly be expected to do well in a debate with Kerry, who McClellan said "has an IQ of 193" and "is widely considered the best debater on the planet."

But within minutes of the White House press conference, Kerry spokesman Joe Lockhart fired back, telling reporters, "John Kerry is much stupider than he looks."

As evidence of Kerry's idiocy, Lockhart referred to the floral-patterned windsurfing pants the senator wears while enjoying his favorite water sport.

"His a-- looks enormous in those pants," Lockhart said. "What kind of a moron would leave the house with his a-- looking like that?"

Elsewhere, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said today that it was unfair to compare the upcoming Iraqi elections to those held in America, "except for Florida."

Sunday, September 26, 2004

New Receiver for the Chiefs!

While trying to set my fantasy football lineup this morning, I stumbled across this link (which has nothing to do with football) and was immediately reminded of the Kansas City wide receivers. He has the moves of Kennison and the arms of Morton.

Wow.

Friday, September 24, 2004

A Girl's Guide to Geek Guys

Ha ha ha ha ha.... thanks, Billy.

A Girl's Guide to Geek Guys

By Mikki Halpin and Victoria Maat

So, your crush on the bass player from Vibrating Sandbox has finally died a whimpering death and you're wondering where to go from here. All the sinister dudes are either dating a series of interchangeable high-school riot girls in baby doll dresses and an overdose of manic panic, or permanently shacked up with some bitter old lady who pays all the bills. Which will it be, a wifely prison or a humiliating one night stand? Into this void of potential mates comes a man you may not have considered before, a man of substance, quietude and stability, a cerebral creature with a culture all his own. In short, a geek.

Why Geek Dudes Rule

They are generally available.
Other women will tend not to steal them.
They can fix things.
Your parents will love them.
They're smart.

Where The Geek Dude Lurks

While they are often into alternative music, geek dudes tend not to go to shows too often. Instead you'll find them hanging out with their friends, discussing the latest hardware revolution or perfecting their Bill Gates impressions. You know how some people wear t-shirts with their favorite bands on them, thus showing that they went to certain shows? Well, geek dudes wear t-shirts with the logos of different software companies on them, thus showing that they are up on the latest, um, releases. A small, though convivial, rivalry may be detected here amongst the geek dudes. Try wearing one yourself and see if he strikes up a conversation. Of course the best way to meet a geek dude is through the Internet. All geeks harbor a secret fantasy about meeting some girl in cyberspace, carrying on an e-mail romance in which he has the chance to combine an activity he is comfortable with, computing, with one he is very uncomfortable with, socializing. To many geek dudes, cyberdating is just an advanced form of some kind of video game, but they are frustrated by a lack of players. Their lack is your strength....

One Last Thing

Because they have been so abused and ignored by society, many geeks have gone underground. You may actually know some and just haven't noticed them. They often feel resentful, and misunderstood, and it is important to realize this as you grow closer to them. Don't ever try to force the issue, or make crazy demands that he choose between his computer and you. Remember, his computer has been there for him his whole life; you are a new interloper he hasn't quite grasped yet. Geek dudes thrive on mystery and love challenges and intellectual puzzles. Don't you consider yourself one? Wouldn't you like a little intellectual stimulation or your own? We thought so.

One more from Billy: ImaginaryGirlfriends.com

Map of Springfield, USA (The Simpsons)

Bid to Save Tax Refunds For the Poor Is Blocked

WASHINGTON POST - Congressional negotiators beat back efforts yesterday to expand and preserve tax refunds for poor families, even as they added $13 billion in corporate tax breaks to a package of middle-class tax cuts that could come to a vote in the Senate today.

What People Really Think About Politics

This is a fairly long post. Most of you don't like reading long posts - you've got more important things to do with your time than read my diatribes and "interesting" tidbits. But I felt this article from The New Yorker was incredibly interesting. I recommend you read the whole thing (or at least the section I've excerpted below). Let me know what you think. Thanks. ~ L

LOUIS MENAND, NEW YORKER - In every Presidential-election year, there are news stories about undecided voters, people who say that they are perplexed about which candidate’s positions make the most sense. They tell reporters things like “I’d like to know more about Bush’s plan for education,” or “I’m worried that Kerry’s ideas about Social Security don’t add up.” They say that they are thinking about issues like “trust,” and whether the candidate cares about people like them. To voters who identify strongly with a political party, the undecided voter is almost an alien life form. For them, a vote for Bush is a vote for a whole philosophy of governance and a vote for Kerry is a vote for a distinctly different philosophy. The difference is obvious to them, and they don’t understand how others can’t see it, or can decide whom to vote for on the basis of a candidate’s personal traits or whether his or her position on a particular issue “makes sense.” To an undecided voter, on the other hand, the person who always votes for the Democrat or the Republican, no matter what, must seem like a dangerous fanatic. Which voter is behaving more rationally and responsibly? . . .

Skepticism about the competence of the masses to govern themselves is as old as mass self-government. Even so, when that competence began to be measured statistically, around the end of the Second World War, the numbers startled almost everyone. The data were interpreted most powerfully by the political scientist Philip Converse, in an article on “The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics,” published in 1964. Forty years later, Converse’s conclusions are still the bones at which the science of voting behavior picks.

Converse claimed that only around ten per cent of the public has what can be called, even generously, a political belief system. He named these people “ideologues,” by which he meant not that they are fanatics but that they have a reasonable grasp of “what goes with what”—of how a set of opinions adds up to a coherent political philosophy. Non-ideologues may use terms like “liberal” and “conservative,” but Converse thought that they basically don’t know what they’re talking about, and that their beliefs are characterized by what he termed a lack of “constraint”: they can’t see how one opinion (that taxes should be lower, for example) logically ought to rule out other opinions (such as the belief that there should be more government programs). About forty-two per cent of voters, according to Converse’s interpretation of surveys of the 1956 electorate, vote on the basis not of ideology but of perceived self-interest. The rest form political preferences either from their sense of whether times are good or bad (about twenty-five per cent) or from factors that have no discernible “issue content” whatever. Converse put twenty-two per cent of the electorate in this last category. In other words, about twice as many people have no political views as have a coherent political belief system.

In election years from 1952 to 2000, when people were asked whether they cared who won the Presidential election, between twenty-two and forty-four per cent answered "don't care" or "don't know." In 2000, eighteen per cent said that they decided which Presidential candidate to vote for only in the last two weeks of the campaign; five per cent, enough to swing most elections, decided the day they voted.

Seventy per cent of Americans cannot name their senators or their congressman. Forty-nine per cent believe that the President has the power to suspend the Constitution. Only about thirty per cent name an issue when they explain why they voted the way they did, and only a fifth hold consistent opinions on issues over time.

Rephrasing poll questions reveals that many people don't understand the issues that they have just offered an opinion on. According to polls conducted in 1987 and 1989, for example, between twenty and twenty-five per cent of the public thinks that too little is being spent on welfare, and between sixty-three and sixty-five per cent feels that too little is being spent on assistance to the poor. And voters apparently do punish politicians for acts of God. In a paper written in 2004, the Princeton political scientists Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels estimate that "2.8 million people voted against Al Gore in 2000 because their states were too dry or too wet" as a consequence of that year's weather patterns. Achen and Bartels think that these voters cost Gore seven states, any one of which would have given him the election.

In the face of this evidence, three theories have arisen. The first is that electoral outcomes, as far as "the will of the people" is concerned, are essentially arbitrary. The fraction of the electorate that responds to substantive political arguments is hugely outweighed by the fraction that responds to slogans, misinformation, "fire alarms" (sensational news), "October surprises" (last-minute sensational news), random personal associations, and "gotchas." Even when people think that they are thinking in political terms, even when they believe that they are analyzing candidates on the basis of their positions on issues, they are usually operating behind a veil of political ignorance. They simply don't understand, as a practical matter, what it means to be "fiscally conservative," or to have "faith in the private sector," or to pursue an "interventionist foreign policy." They can't hook up positions with policies. From the point of view of democratic theory, American political history is just a random walk through a series of electoral options. Some years, things turn up red; some years, they turn up blue.

A second theory is that although people may not be working with a full deck of information and beliefs, their preferences are dictated by something, and that something is elite opinion. Political campaigns, on this theory, are essentially struggles among the elite, the fraction of a fraction of voters who have the knowledge and the ideological chops to understand the substantive differences between the candidates and to argue their policy implications. These voters communicate their preferences to the rest of the electorate by various cues, low-content phrases and images (warm colors, for instance) to which voters can relate, and these cues determine the outcome of the race. Democracies are really oligarchies with a populist face.

The third theory of democratic politics is the theory that the cues to which most voters respond are, in fact, adequate bases on which to form political preferences. People use shortcuts - the social-scientific term is "heuristics" - to reach judgments about political candidates, and, on the whole, these shortcuts are as good as the long and winding road of reading party platforms, listening to candidate debates, and all the other elements of civic duty. Voters use what Samuel Popkin, one of the proponents of this third theory, calls "low-information rationality" - in other words, gut reasoning - to reach political decisions; and this intuitive form of judgment proves a good enough substitute for its high-information counterpart in reflecting what people want.

(more...)

Bush and Faux Masculinity

DAVE FORD, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE - War is both a reality and a metaphor. When it comes to decoding American manhood, war's realities -- missiles, tank-mounted long-barreled guns, rifles (some with bayonets) and aspects of penetration and domination -- suggest metaphors that might have made Freud chuckle.

Alas, the father of modern psychoanalysis is not with us. But Bay Area psychologist and author Dr. Stephen J. Ducat is. His book "The Wimp Factor: Gender Gaps, Holy Wars and the Politics of Anxious Masculinity", released this month, looks at the sometimes debilitating effects on U.S. politics and foreign policy of a "femiphobic" masculinity -- one split off from all things "feminine."...

"The Wimp Factor" suggests that American hyper-masculinity - as seen in, but not limited to, the Bush administration, Christian fundamentalism and right-wing U.S. policy - has created a contentious political landscape in which more and more men are becoming conservative. In campaign battles, politicians, meanwhile, "feminize" their opponents to establish macho credibility and call into question their opponents' manhood...

Ducat said that men with the extreme type of masculinity afraid of characteristics traditionally considered feminine -- self-reflection, attunement to others, appreciation for human interrelatedness -- may become sociopaths: those possessed of a guilt-free capacity to hurt others for personal gain.

"The Bush administration is the most sociopathic American administration in my lifetime," Ducat said, citing the administration's unilateral assault on Iraq and, leading up to it, apparent falsehoods about weapons of mass destruction and Iraqi ties to al Qaeda...

Woman Arrested Over Bookmark

JAY CRIDLIN, ST PETERSBURG TIMES - For the past month, Kathryn Harrington has stared down the possibility of a criminal trial, a $10,000 fine and the stigma of being deemed a security risk at Tampa International Airport. The reason? She had a bookmark with her as she passed through airport security screening.

"It was a bookmark," Harrington said. "It's not a weapon. I could not understand why I was being handcuffed and put into a police car. I cried for hours." . . .

Harrington and her college-aged sons were flying home from a vacation in Orlando and Sarasota Aug. 17 when airport screeners found the bookmark - an 8.5-inch green leather strap with lead weights at each end - in Harrington's purse on Aug. 17. She'd carried the $9.99 bookmark on several flights since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, even through Tampa International Airport, but screeners had never noticed it.

This time, screeners thought the bookmark resembled a weighted police weapon, known as a sap or slungshot, used to knock suspects unconscious. . . . Harrington was questioned about the bookmark, then handcuffed and driven to an airport police holding cell. . .

According to the TSA's official prohibited items list, anyone who brings any banned item to a screening checkpoint, even accidentally, may be criminally or civilly prosecuted. Even items that are not specifically listed, but could be considered dangerous, are illegal.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Cat Stevens, on Watch List, Diverts Plane

AP - A London-to-Washington flight was diverted to Maine on Tuesday when it was discovered passenger Yusuf Islam - formerly known as singer Cat Stevens - was on a government watch list and barred from entering the country, federal officials said.

United Airlines Flight 919 was en route to Dulles International Airport when the match was made between a passenger and a name on the watch list, said Nico Melendez, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration. The plane was met by federal agents at Maine's Bangor International Airport around 3 p.m., Melendez said.

Homeland Security Department spokesman Dennis Murphy identified the passenger as Islam. ``He was interviewed and denied admission to the United States on national security grounds,'' Murphy said, and would be put on the first available flight out of the country Wednesday.

Officials had no details about why the peace activist might be considered a risk to the United States.

----------------------

If you don't know who Cat Stevens is, you need to expand your musical taste (but for those who only know the Top 40, he wrote the original version of the song "The First Cut is the Deepest," now covered on the radio by Sheryl Crow). One of my favorites:

Moonshadow (Cat Stevens)

I'm being followed by a moonshadow
Moonshadow, moonshadow
Leaping and hopping on a moonshadow
Moonshadow, moonshadow
And if I ever lose my hands
Lose my plough, lose my land
Oh, if I ever lose my hands- Oh, if...
I won't have to work no more
And if I ever lose my eyes
If my colours all run dry
Yes if I ever lose my eyes
I won't have to cry no more.
Yes, I'm being followed by a moonshadow
Moonshadow, moonshadow
Leaping and hopping on a moonshadow
Moonshadow, moonshadow

And if I ever lose my legs
I won't moan and I won't beg
Oh if I ever lose my legs- Oh if...
I won't have to walk no more
And if I ever lose my mouth
All my teeth, north and south
Yes, if I ever lose my mouth- Oh if...
I won't have to talk...
Did it take long to find me
I ask the faithful light
Did it take long to find me
And are you going to stay the night
Leaping and hopping on a moonshadow
Moonshadow, moonshadow
Moonshadow, moonshadow
Moonshadow, moonshadow

The Preacher and the Slave

NEW YOUTH - The IWW (the "Wobblies") concentrated much of their efforts on organizing the migratory and casual laborers of the lumber and construction camps. In between jobs these migrants would gather in the Skid Rows of Chicago, Portland, Seattle and other cities they used as a "base of operations." There on the street corners was the inevitable Salvation Army band anxious to save lost Wobbly souls.

But the Wobblies were more interested in filling their stomachs than in saving their souls, and they ridiculed the Salvation Army hymns with biting parodies aimed at what came to be known as "pie in the sky" preaching....

The most successful of these parodies was Joe Hill's masterpiece, "The Preacher and the Slave," more widely known as "Pie in the Sky" -- a devastating take-off on the hymn "Sweet Bye and Bye."

The Preacher and the Slave (Joe Hill, 1911)

Long-haired preachers come out every night,
Try to tell you what's wrong and what's right;
But when asked how 'bout something to eat
They will answer with voices so sweet:

CHORUS:
You will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky;
Work and pray, live on hay,
You'll get pie in the sky when you die.

The starvation army they play,
They sing and they clap and they pray
'Till they get all your coin on the drum
Then they'll tell you when you're on the bum:

- Chorus -

Holy Rollers and jumpers come out,
They holler, they jump and they shout.
Give your money to Jesus they say,
He will cure all diseases today.

If you fight hard for children and wife --
Try to get something good in this life --
You're a sinner and bad man, they tell,
When you die you will sure go to hell.

Workingmen of all countries, unite,
Side by side we for freedom will fight;
When the world and its wealth we have gained
To the grafters we'll sing this refrain:

FINAL CHORUS:
You will eat, bye and bye,
When you've learned how to cook and to fry.
Chop some wood, 'twill do you good,
And you'll eat in the sweet bye and bye.

Listen to it.

"Top 10 Bush Tax Proposals"

As read by John Kerry last night on Letterman:

10. No estate tax for families with at least two U.S. presidents.

9. W-2 Form is now Dubya-2 Form.

8. Under the simplified tax code, your refund check goes directly to Halliburton.

7. The reduced earned income tax credit is so unfair, it just makes me want to tear out my lustrous, finely groomed hair.

6. Attorney General (John) Ashcroft gets to write off the entire U.S. Constitution.

5. Texas Rangers can take a business loss for trading Sammy Sosa.

4. Eliminate all income taxes; just ask Teresa (Heinz Kerry) to cover the whole damn thing.

3. Cheney can claim Bush as a dependent.

2. Hundred-dollar penalty if you pronounce it "nuclear" instead of "nucular."

1. George W. Bush gets a deduction for mortgaging our entire future.

Kerry: Bush Wanted Debate 'Life Lines'

AP - Why did it take so long for the Bush and Kerry campaigns to agree on a debate schedule? Sen. John Kerry had the answer for television's Regis Philbin, who has hosted the quiz show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"

"The big hang-up was George Bush wanted to get life lines, you know, so he could call somebody," the Democratic candidate for president quipped Tuesday while appearing on "Live With Regis and Kelly."

NY TIMES - Negotiators for President Bush and Senator John Kerry agreed on Monday to three 90-minute debates beginning Sept. 30... The two campaigns essentially went along with recommendations by the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates - except that the topic for the first debate will be foreign policy and domestic security rather than the economy as the commission had suggested. The final debate, which the commission had said should be about foreign policy, will now be about the economy...

With a guaranteed television audience of tens of millions, the debates could be pivotal given the closeness of the presidential race. National polls are mixed, with some showing a dead heat and others showing a modest lead for Mr. Bush.

In a poll by the Pew Research Center, 29 percent of those surveyed said the debates would matter in deciding how they would vote. Sixty-eight percent said their minds were already made up.

Debate Schedule

Sept. 30 at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla.

Oct. 8 at Washington University in St. Louis

Oct. 13 at Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz.

Oct. 5 - VP debate at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland

The Politics of Faith - Part Deux

I answer a couple of questions posed to me:

this is an audio post - click to play

Monday, September 20, 2004

How Driving Relates to Politics

I just got back from phone-banking for the Kerry-Edwards campaign and saw this quote...

"If you want to go backwards, you put it in 'R,' and if you want to go forward, you put it in 'D.' " ~Senator Tom Harkin

...Thought I'd share. ;-)

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Lifespan Crisis Hits America

Recommended reading for those of you also going into the healthcare field:

OBSERVER - Bloated, blue-collar Americans - gorged on diets of fries and burgers, but denied their share of US riches - are bringing the nation's steady rise in life expectancy to a grinding halt. Twenty years ago, the US, the richest nation on the planet, led the world's longevity league. Today, American women rank only 19th, while males can manage only 28th place, alongside men from Brunei.

These startling figures are blamed by researchers on two key factors: obesity, and inequality of health care. A man born in a poor area of Washington can have a life expectancy that is 40 years less than a woman in a prosperous neighbourhood only a few blocks away, for example.

'A look at the Americans' health reveals astonishing inequalities in our society,' state Professor Lawrence Jacobs of Minnesota University and Professor James Morone, of Brown University, Rhode Island, in the journal American Prospect .

Their paper is one of a recent swathe of studies that have uncovered a shocking truth: America, once the home of the world's best-fed, longest-lived people, is now a divided nation made up of a rich elite and a large underclass of poor, ill-fed, often obese, men and women who are dying early...

Indeed, America only just scrapes above Mexico and most East European nations. This decline is astonishing given America's wealth. Not only is it Earth's richest nation, it devotes more gross domestic product - 13 per cent - to health care than any other developed nation. Switzerland comes next with 10 per cent; Britain spends 7 per cent. As the Boston group - Alicia Munnell, Robert Hatch and James Lee - point out: 'The richer a country is, the more resources it can dedicate to education, medical and other goods and services associated with great longevity.' The result in every other developed country has been an unbroken rise in life expectancy since 1960. But this formula no longer applies to America, where life expectancy's rise has slowed but not yet stopped, because resources are now so unevenly distributed.

Jacobs and Morone state: 'Check-ups, screenings and vaccinations save lives, improve well-being, and are shockingly uneven [in America]. Well-insured people get assigned hospital beds; the uninsured get patched up and sent back to the streets.' For poor Americans, health service provision is little better than that in third world nations. 'People die younger in Harlem than in Bangladesh.'

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Word

"I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education."
~Wilson Mizner

The Politics of Faith - Audio Version

this is an audio post - click to play

For the visually impaired (or for those too lazy to actually read my posts), here's an audio version of "The Politics of Faith," as read by me.

The Politics of Faith

How George Bush Capitalizes on Your Trust

I'm sitting in my apartment on a Friday night and don't have too much to do or talk about, but I just had an interesting thought, so if it's possible, I thought I'd try to convey this epiphany to you and ask for your comments about it.

In case you didn't know by now, I think our government's leaders and the policies they choose to enact are fairly important to this nation's future, and unless you're really dense (or this is the first post of mine you've ever read), it's rather obvious I don't like the guys who are running the show right now one bit.

In wondering about WHY anyone would support George W. Bush for president, I think I've stumbled upon part of the reason...

Faith.

I'm sure most of you who read my blog ascribe to a particular religious belief, and to be perfectly honest with you, that's fine by me. Personally, I'm an agnostic (meaning I believe that if there is a God, he'd be outside the comprehension of mankind). My friend Richard wrote recently on his own beliefs and I agree very strongly with him:
"I'm agnostic. I can build a case for or against god. Because of this, I can neither confirm nor deny his existance. I refuse to follow the advice of Pascal:

'Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists.'

for I believe this cheapens the entire situation. Merely believing because it's safer to believe and be wrong than to not believe and be wrong just doesn't seem right to me."

Put simply, I think there's a vast difference between what is spiritual (which comes from within a person) and what is religious (which comes from an organized group of men telling you what to believe). There are a lot of people out there who would disagree though, saying you can't have spirituality without religion. These people are wrong, in my view, and that brings me to my next point:

How Faith Affects Electoral Politics

I have a lot of friends who "like" George Bush. When I press them about the reasons WHY they like George Bush, however, I rarely get an intelligent answer back (even though the people I ask usually are pretty intelligent). They often take the position that they can support pResident Bush (and the Iraq War, for example) because "they trust the guy."

This viewpoint is very difficult to argue with, because at its core is the issue of FAITH, which can be defined to mean: a "belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence."

In other words, I could say, "There was no justification to invade and occupy a sovereign nation on the grounds we used for Iraq," and then quote a story discussing the concerns of British intelligence before the war:
TELEGRAPH - MI6 opposed revealing details of its intelligence and, at any event, it didn't back up the claims Mr Blair wanted the dossier to make. The latest Joint Intelligence Committee assessment, dated Friday, March 15, said information on Saddam's weapons of mass destruction was "sporadic and patchy".

It was barely able to back up the claim that Saddam had any sort of weapons programme, confining itself to concluding: "We believe Iraq retains some production equipment, and some small stocks of chemical warfare agent precursors, and may have hidden small quantities of agents and weapons. There is no intelligence on any biological agent production facilities."

I could continue to debate my side until blue-in-the-face, backing my claims up with a variety of sources and multitude of facts. This is not just true of the illegal war against Iraq either; Bush manages to screw up just about everything he touches, so it's no surprise that I'm opposed to a majority of his policies.

But what's the point of arguing with others (even though logic and facts back my positions up) if they're just going to shrug off your concerns by saying, "Hey, none of that matters. I personally BELIEVE what my government told me and have FAITH that they want to do the right thing"? It's like trying to reason with a three-year-old.

Seriously, I can think of only two reasons why anyone would vote for Bush, so if you fit into one of these two categories, go ahead and vote for him:

1. You make a TON of money (e.g., over a million dollars a year) and have no social conscience - you don't care about homeless children or women who have suffered from domestic violence (these people are nothing but "welfare queens," as Ronald Reagan might say).

2. You are a fundamentalist Christian who believes the second-coming is close-at-hand. You believe America would be better off as a Christian-led theocracy. You have no problem with George Bush saying: "I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn’t do my job."

If you don't fit into one of these two categories, then I would suggest you study the issues more closely. Maybe you'll find the evidence supports Bush and his policies, but I doubt it. In the event that your research proves me wrong, I'd love to hear your thoughts on matters. Just don't tell me that you're voting for Bush because you "like the guy."

Friday, September 17, 2004

The Looming Draft

MSNBC - Elect John Kerry, Vice President Dick Cheney warned voters in Iowa two weeks ago, and America will get hit again by terrorists.

Elect George Bush, some Kerry surrogates said last week, and you or your children will be drafted to fight in Iraq...

Warning college students
In a speech at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, former Georgia Sen. Max Cleland told students they might find themselves pressed into military service if Bush wins a second term.

"Pay attention ... to what you've got going on in Iraq. That, ladies and gentlemen, is Vietnam. I've seen this movie before. I know how it ends. It does not end pleasantly," he added. Cleland has been in a wheelchair since 1968 when he lost both legs and one arm in a grenade accident in Vietnam.

Former Kerry rival Howard Dean, now traveling the country to drum up support for Kerry and raise money for Democratic candidates, said last week at Brown University in Providence, R.I., "I think that George Bush is certainly going to have a draft if he goes into a second term, and any young person that doesn't want to go to Iraq might think twice about voting for him."

Networks Not Sure Presidential Debates Interesting Enough

MEDIA FOR DEMOCRACY - Three presidential debates have been proposed by the Commission on Presidential Debates. John Kerry has agreed to all three. President Bush has yet to commit to any. Network executives are still weighing whether to show up at all. And their track record isn't encouraging. In 2000, Fox skipped the first of the presidential debates, opting to air the premiere episode of "Dark Angel." NBC gave local stations the choice to air the 2000 Major League Baseball playoffs instead of the debates. Many NBC affiliates did.

Last week, Media for Democracy -- along with other members of the Public Interest, Public Airwaves Coalition -- called on the ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox networks to make an immediate commitment to air all the presidential and vice presidential debates. As yet, there's no response from the network heads.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Band of Snuggly Brothers


WONKETTE - Kerry, reunited with the teddy bear he rescued from a hail of enemy bullets on the Bay Hap River. The bear will tour swing states on Kerry's behalf in October.

Papa Bush: much, much smarter than his son

DAILY KOS - Bush I, in a 1998 speech to Gulf War veterans:

Had we gone into Baghdad -- we could have done it, you guys could have done it, you could have been there in 48 hours -- and then what? Which sergeant, which private, whose life would be at stake in perhaps a fruitless hunt in an urban guerilla war to find the most-secure dictator in the world? Whose life would be on my hands as the commander-in-chief because I, unilaterally, went beyond the international law, went beyond the stated mission, and said we're going to show our macho? We're going into Baghdad. We're going to be an occupying power -- America in an Arab land -- with no allies at our side. It would have been disastrous.

Junior acts like a teenager who thinks his parents are lame, who just don't get it, and then hangs out with the wrong crowd who get him in trouble (the neocons).

(Via RudePundit.)

Iraq Getting Worse Despite Administration Doublespeak

USA TODAY - With each passing day, the U.S. war in Iraq is looking bleaker and the Bush administration's rosy scenario less convincing. Just how bad the insurgency in Iraq has become was underscored by a classified intelligence report prepared for President Bush in July and leaked this week. Its outlook for the country by the end of 2005 is tenuous stability at best, civil war at worst...

As the U.S. presidential election approaches, the administration has good political reasons to paint the best possible picture of Iraq — particularly since it has few good options for bringing the insurgency under control any time soon. But a White House that hides the truth about a worsening conflict from the American public only loses support for its mission. Vietnam showed that.

This week, even some Republican senators began breaking ranks with the administration's upbeat assessments of the war. Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., described Iraq as "beyond pitiful. It's beyond embarrassing. It's now in the zone of dangerous."

R.I.P. Johnny Ramone

I wanna be sedated....

Hurricanes and Climate Change

WIRED - Hurricane Ivan is among the most powerful Atlantic storms in recent history, and more such storms are likely in the future due to global warming, say climate experts. "Global warming is creating conditions that (are) more favorable for hurricanes to develop and be more severe," said Kevin Trenberth, head of the climate analysis section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

While few climate and hurricane experts are willing to go that far publicly, there is little debate that the Earth is retaining more of the sun's energy than in the past. Emissions of gases such as carbon dioxide act as an extra blanket that keeps some of the sun's energy from dissipating into space. The extra energy from this "greenhouse effect" has already warmed the Earth by about 1 degree Fahrenheit, according to the 2001 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report is based on evidence and research from more than 2,500 scientists from about 100 countries...

Hurricanes need exactly the right conditions to form, and warm water and high water-vapor levels are just two of the ingredients, said David Battisti, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Washington. However, global warming is greatly increasing the odds in favor of more intense and more frequent hurricanes and cyclones, Battisti said. Where these storms will appear is very difficult to predict. Traditional hurricane zones may not see any increase while countries that have never experienced them will, he said.

Choice Bits from Kitty Kelley's Book

UNDERNEWS - Page 252: George H.W. Bush comes to the rescue when his sons run afoul of Andover honor codes. Jeb violates the school's alcohol ban, but he's allowed to finish his degree after his father intervenes. Years later, Kelley writes, school officials catch W.'s younger brother Marvin with drugs, but dad talks them out of expulsion and secures for his son an "honorary transfer" to another school.

Page 253: At Andover, George W. Bush writes a morose essay about his sister's death. Searching for a synonym for "tears," he consults a thesaurus and writes, "And the lacerates ran down my cheeks." A teacher labels the paper "disgraceful."

Page 261-68: A frat brother says Bush "wasn't an ass man." Another friend concurs: "Poor Georgie. He couldn't even relate to women unless he was loaded. There were just too many stories of him turning up dead drunk on dates."

Page 309: At Harvard Business School, which W. attends from 1973 to 1975, a professor screens The Grapes of Wrath. Bush asks him, "Why are you going to show us that Commie movie?" W.'s take on the film: "Look. People are poor because they are lazy."

Page 266: George W. and cocaine. One anonymous Yalie claims he sold coke to Bush; another classmate says he and Bush snorted the drug together. Sharon Bush, W.'s ex-sister-in-law, tells Kelley that Bush has used cocaine at Camp David "not once, but many times." (Sharon has since denied telling Kelley this.)

Page 304: While working on a 1972 Alabama Senate campaign, Bush, witnesses say, "liked to sneak out back for a joint of marijuana or into the bathroom for a line of cocaine."

Page 575: A friend says Laura Bush was the "go-to girl for dime bags" at Southern Methodist University.

Page 252: George W. hangs a Confederate flag in his dorm room at Andover.

Page 268: W. on Yale's decision to admit women: "That's when Yale really started going downhill."

Page 598: George W. to McCain during the nasty 2000 South Carolina primary: "John, we've got to start running a better campaign." McCain: "Don't give me that shit. And take your hands off me."

MUCH MORE

Kofi Annan Calls Iraq War Illegal

INDEPENDENT - Tony Blair last night suffered a fresh blow after Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, said the war in Iraq was "illegal". Speaking on the BBC World Service, Mr Annan said the war was "not in conformity" with the UN Security Council or with the UN Charter. Asked if there was legal authority for the war on Iraq, Mr Annan said: "I have stated clearly that it was not in conformity with the security council, with the UN charter."

"From our point of view and from the Charter point of view, it was illegal," Annan said. He also raised concerns that persistent violence in Iraq puts in doubt the national elections scheduled for January.

Suggestion: Let's Feel Better About Our Genitals.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Decipher This

GUARDIAN - Can anyone, man, woman or Batman, decipher this Sun headline, which we include in capitals so as not to give away more than the paper itself? RAT NICKS POP NAT'S NEW HITS.

The essential, as with Latin, is finding the verb. Is it pop? Have some rattish fellows called Nick popped Nat's new hits? Maybe the headline is in the imperative, imploring us to inform on these Nicks, and subsequently pop Nat's new hits? No, wait: there's a bad fellow, a "rat" who has stolen ("nicked") some fizzy drinks ("pop") - maybe even some booze. All wrong. In fact, a pop singer called Natasha Bedingfield has had her laptop, containing some new songs, stolen from Heathrow airport.

U.S. Stretching Reserves, Nat'l Guard in Iraq

[SAM SMITH - Even though U.S. military spending is at Cold War levels, you would never know it in the field where 40% of the troops in combat are National Guard and Reserves. Where did the money go? How can we be spending such huge sums and not have the troops to handle two minor league nations?]

REUTERS - They once were dubbed "weekend warriors," but Americans serving in the National Guard and Reserve are being used extensively in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - far more so than in the Vietnam War. Roughly 40 percent of the U.S. forces deployed for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are part-time troops called to active duty from the military's reserve components, primarily the Army National Guard and Reserve. . . By comparison, just over 7,000 Army National Guard soldiers were deployed to Vietnam out of the 2 million Americans who served in that long war in an era when some young men signed up for Guard duty to avoid combat.

Deconstruction of the Day

WONKETTE - Governor Jeb Bush adds a codicil to the Schwarzenegger girly-man argument:

"This is not the time to be defiant or let people know that you're a macho man . . .," Gov. Jeb Bush said. "This . . . is a powerful, powerful force of nature that you shouldn't be messing with."

Gotcha. So don't be a girly-man in the legislature but do be a girly-man in a hurricane.

Sleight of Hand - What an "Ownership Society" Really Means

NY TIMES EDITORIAL - When President Bush talks about an "ownership society," hold on to your wallet. The slogan, like "compassionate conservative" before it, is sufficiently vague to mean many things to many people, and the few details that Mr. Bush has provided - encouraging more home ownership and offering new tax-sheltered savings plans - seem innocuous enough. But in tax terms, "ownership society" means only one thing: the further reduction, if not the elimination, of taxes on savings and investments, including taxes on dividends and on capital gains on stocks, bonds and real estate. That, in turn, means, by definition, a shift in the tax burden onto wages and salaries - or, put more simply, a wage tax.

The regressive results would be appalling. The richest 1 percent of Americans earn just about one-tenth of total wages and salaries, but almost half of all income from savings and investments - income that would be largely, perhaps entirely, untaxed in an "ownership society." In contrast, taxable wages and salaries make up almost all of the income of most Americans.

The Bush camp has been floating the idea that what the president is getting at is a consumption tax. But the administration is not talking about a true consumption tax, which would apply to spending regardless of where the money comes from - from your paycheck, cashing in your stocks and bonds, selling your house, or borrowing. It is, in effect, talking about a tax on wages.

Properly understood, a consumption tax is intended to increase national savings by making it relatively more attractive to save than to spend. The main argument against it is that it hits hardest at low-income and middle-income families, who tend to spend most of what they earn. But as Peter Orszag, an economist at the Brookings Institution, pointed out in a recent speech at Georgetown University, Mr. Bush's de facto wage tax would be the worst of all worlds: it would have all the regressive aspects of a consumption tax and none of its potential for increasing national savings....

In the past nearly three years of economic recovery, the distribution of economic growth has become more skewed than at any other time in modern memory. Currently, 47 percent of growth is flowing to corporate profits, by far the largest share than that in any of the other eight post-World War II recoveries. Fifteen percent goes to wages and salaries, the smallest share of economic growth in more than 50 years. To make matters worse, the share of compensation that is devoted to health and pension benefits is far larger during this recovery than in any other, representing a further squeeze on the wages and salaries of ordinary Americans. In 2004, take-home pay as a share of the economy dropped to its lowest level since 1929, when the government started keeping records.

All of this would make the drive for a wage tax laughable, if only it were a joke. And yet, when he says "ownership society," a wage tax is exactly what Mr. Bush is driving at.

Demented Voters Have High Turnout

WASHINGTON POST - Florida neurologist Marc Swerdloff was taken aback when one of his patients with advanced dementia voted in the 2000 presidential election. The man thought it was 1942 and Franklin D. Roosevelt was president. The patient's wife revealed that she had escorted her husband into the booth. "I said 'Did he pick?' and she said 'No, I picked for him,' " Swerdloff said. "I felt bad. She essentially voted twice" in the Florida election, which gave George W. Bush a 537-vote victory and the White House.

As swing states with large elderly populations such as Florida gear up for another presidential election, a sleeper issue has been gaining attention on medical, legal and political radar screens: Many people with advanced dementia appear to be voting in elections -- including through absentee ballot. Although there are no national statistics, two studies in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island found that patients at dementia clinics turned out in higher numbers than the general population.

About 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia. Florida alone has 455,000 patients, advocates estimate.

Concern is growing that people with dementia may be targets for partisan exploitation in nursing homes and other facilities. Even without abuse, family members and caregivers may unduly influence close elections. . .

Ott surveyed 100 patients at a Rhode Island dementia clinic after the 2000 presidential election and found that 60 percent had voted. In another survey, Jason H.T. Karlawish and other researchers found that 64 percent of patients attending a dementia clinic in Pennsylvania had voted in the same election.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Kitty Kelley Book is #1



THE GUARDIAN - After weeks of bracing by the Bush White House, the category 5 storm has hit: Hurricane Kitty. Bestselling author Kitty Kelley's withering portrait of the Bush dynasty, The Family, is landing in bookstores on Tuesday - more than 720,000 copies of it. And the White House is already on high alert. "This book is fiction and deserves to be treated as such," snarled Republican spokeswoman Christine Iverson, as the RNC fired off an anti-Kelley talking-points memo to friendly media assets.

The media blowback against Kelley, author of controversial biographies of Nancy Reagan and Frank Sinatra, has already begun. On the Monday morning Today Show, host Matt Lauer showed how tough an interviewer he can be when not questioning presidents and other potentates, pressing Kelley on who she's going to vote for in November ("Who're you voting for?" Kelley shot back) and the timing of the book's publication, weeks before the November election ("Why not? It's relevant," countered the author, who's been working on the book for four years).

The hottest dispute sparked by the book involves the allegation that George W Bush, who claimed to be clean and sober at the time, snorted cocaine with one of his brothers at the Camp David presidential retreat when his father was president. One of Kelley's sources - and the only one on the record - was Sharon Bush, the deeply aggrieved ex-wife of W's younger brother Neil. She is now in strong denial mode, even though her own publicist, who was present at a lunch where she told Kelley the story, confirms the accuracy of Kelley's account...

While the Camp David coke party is getting the headlines, Kelley's book is filled with many other tawdry stories about the Bush dynasty (from prostitutes to affairs, illegal drug use to covered-up abortions)...

But, as one of W's Yalie frat brothers tells Kelley, it's not the substance abuse in Bush's past that's disturbing, it's the "lack of substance ... Georgie, as we called him, had absolutely no intellectual curiosity about anything. He wasn't interested in ideas or in books or causes. He didn't travel; he didn't read the newspapers; he didn't watch the news; he didn't even go to the movies. How anyone got out of Yale without developing some interest in the world besides booze and sports stuns me." New Yorker writer Brendan Gill recalls roaming the Kennebunkport compound one night while staying there looking for a book to read - the only title he could find was The Fart Book....

While Kelley is being savagely attacked as a tabloid sleaze queen, her book is more heavily researched and documented than Bush advocates allege. On occasion, she relies on sources that are less than reliable - inserting the story Hustler publisher Larry Flynt tried to put in media play about a girlfriend's abortion that W allegedly paid for before it was legal. Kelley says she decided to put the story in her book after interviewing the two investigators Flynt had hired to track down the story. But despite her flaws, Kelley has vigorously pursued leads about the powerful American dynasty - from Bush senior's shady CIA past to W's missing National Guard records - that the rest of the media should have.

From an interview between Kelley and Salon:

[S:] What do you think W will do if he loses in November? Will he happily go back to baseball?
[KK:] No. You know something that I have found out from this family after four years - he doesn't plan to lose. They know how to win - no matter what.
[S:] What does that mean?
[KK:] That means these people can put the Sopranos to shame.
[S:] Does that mean vote stealing?
[KK:] That's a bit overt. But nothing will stand in the way of these people winning. Nothing. You start out looking at the Bush family like it's The Donna Reed Show and then you see it's The Sopranos.

-----------------------

Kitty Kelley is probably not the most respected journalist in town, but to her credit, she has never been successfully sued for libel despite her alleged "tabloid" style of reporting, meaning she knows what she's doing. I thought this article was interesting, in as far as it presents a different picture of "Georgie" than what you might typically see. But the biggest question I'm left with is this: Why is Norm MacDonald (of SNL fame) hanging out in a Bush family picture?

Monday, September 13, 2004

Military Records of Prominent Figures

(From Alternet's News Log)

DEMOCRATS

- Richard Gephardt: Air National Guard, 1965-71.
- David Bonior: Staff Sgt., Air Force 1968-72.
- Tom Daschle: 1st Lt., Air Force SAC 1969-72.
- Al Gore: enlisted Aug. 1969; sent to Vietnam Jan. 1971 as an army journalist in 20th Engineer Brigade.
- Bob Kerrey: Lt. j.g. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam.
- Daniel Inouye: Army 1943-'47; Medal of Honor, WWII.
- John Kerry: Lt., Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V Purple Hearts.
- John Edwards: did not serve.
- Charles Rangel: Staff Sgt., Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea.
- Max Cleland: Captain, Army 1965-68; Silver Star & Bronze Star, Vietnam.
- Ted Kennedy: Army, 1951-1953.
- Tom Harkin: Lt., Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74.
- Jack Reed: Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91.
- Fritz Hollings: Army officer in WWII, receiving the Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons.
- Pete Peterson: Air Force Captain, POW. Purple Heart, Silver Star and Legion of Merit.
- Mike Thompson: Staff sergeant, 173rd Airborne, Purple Heart.
- Bill McBride: Candidate for Fla. Governor. Marine in Vietnam; Bronze Star with Combat V.
- Gray Davis: Army Captain in Vietnam, Bronze Star.
- Pete Stark: Air Force 1955-57
- Chuck Robb: Vietnam
- Howell Heflin: Silver Star
- George McGovern: Silver Star & DFC during WWII.
- Bill Clinton: Did not serve. Student deferments. Entered draft but received 311.
- Jimmy Carter: Seven years in the Navy.
- Walter Mondale: Army 1951-1953
- John Glenn: WWII and Korea; six DFCs and Air Medal with 18 Clusters.
- Tom Lantos: Served in Hungarian underground in WWII. Saved by Raoul Wallenberg.
- Wesley Clark: U.S. Army, 1966-2000, West Point, Vietnam, Purple Heart, Silver Star. Retired 4-star general.
- John Dingell: WWII vet
- John Conyers: Army 1950-57, Korea

REPUBLICANS

- Dennis Hastert: did not serve.
- Tom Delay: did not serve.
- House Whiip Roy Blunt: did not serve.
- Bill Frist: did not serve.
- Rudy Giuliani: did not serve.
- George Pataki: did not serve.
- Mitch McConnell: did not serve.
- Rick Santorum: did not serve.
- Trent Lott: did not serve.
- Dick Cheney: did not serve. Several deferments, the last by marriage.
- John Ashcroft: did not serve. Seven deferments to teach business.
- Jeb Bush: did not serve.
- Karl Rove: did not serve.
- Saxby Chambliss: did not serve. "Bad knee." The man who attacked Max Cleland's patriotism.
- Paul Wolfowitz: did not serve.
- Vin Weber: did not serve.
- Richard Perle: did not serve.
- Douglas Feith: did not serve.
- Eliot Abrams: did not serve.
- Richard Shelby: did not serve.
- Jon Kyl: did not serve.
- Tim Hutchison: did not serve.
- Christopher Cox: did not serve.
- Newt Gingrich: did not serve.
- Don Rumsfeld: served in Navy (1954-57) as aviator and flight instructor.
- George W. Bush: six-year Nat'l Guard commitment (in four).
- Ronald Reagan: due to poor eyesight, served in a non-combat role making movies.
- Gerald Ford: Navy, WWII
- Phil Gramm: did not serve.
- John McCain: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross.
- Bob Dole: an honorable veteran.
- Chuck Hagel: two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star, Vietnam.
- Duke Cunningham: nominated for Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, Silver Stars, Air Medals, Purple Hearts.
- Jeff Sessions: Army Reserves, 1973-1986
- JC Watts: did not serve.
- Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer.
- G.H.W. Bush: Pilot in WWII. Shot down by the Japanese.
- Tom Ridge: Bronze Star for Valor in Vietnam.
- Antonin Scalia: did not serve.
- Clarence Thomas: did not serve

PUNDITS & PREACHERS

- Sean Hannity: did not serve.
- Rush Limbaugh: did not serve (4-F with a 'pilonidal cyst.')
- Bill O'Reilly: did not serve.
- Michael Savage: did not serve.
- George Will: did not serve.
- Chris Matthews: did not serve.
- Paul Gigot: did not serve.
- Bill Bennett: did not serve.
- Pat Buchanan: did not serve.
- Bill Kristol: did not serve.
- Kenneth Starr: did not serve.
- Michael Medved: did not serve.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Telescope Snaps Distant 'Planet'

BBC - Astronomers working in Chile think they may have taken the first direct image of a planet circling another star. The star, called 2M1207, is 230 light-years away and is very much smaller and fainter than our own Sun. The pictured companion is 100 times fainter still and tested the technical limits of the Yepun telescope.

Astronomer Christophe Dumas said: "It is a strange feeling that it may indeed be the first planetary system beyond our own ever imaged."

And Anne-Marie Lagrange, from the Grenoble Observatory, France, said: "Our discovery represents a first step towards opening a new field in astrophysics: the imaging and spectroscopic study of planetary systems...

"Such studies will enable astronomers to characterise the physical structure and chemical composition of giant and, eventually, terrestrial-like planets."...

Working at the limits of its ability, the Yepun telescope was able to obtain a spectrum of the faint red object seen alongside 2M1207. The spectrum showed the signatures of water molecules and confirms that the object must be small and light.

The researchers are not completely certain the object is an associated planet but they believe that further observations will prove this. These observations will take a year or so. In the meantime, the astronomers are referring to the object as a "giant planet candidate companion".

My preference is for research dollars to go toward telescopes more so than manned-missions to the Moon/Mars. Too bad our current pResident disagrees.

Proof Love at First Sight Exists

BBC - Love at first sight may not be just for old romantics, according to scientists. People decide what kind of relationship they want within minutes of meeting, a study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships said.

Researchers at Ohio State University paired off 164 students, focusing on same-sex friendships - but said it could be applied to dating. Report co-author Artemio Ramirez said it suggested speed dating had value as people did not want to waste time.

"It's almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. We make a prediction about what kind of relationship we could have with a person and that helps determine how much effort we are willing to put into developing a relationship...

"Earlier research had assumed there was a cumulative effect that happens in the first days of meeting that helps determine how relationships will develop. But we're finding that it all happens much sooner than that - literally within a few minutes."

Maybe I just don't make a good first impression. ;-)

Latest MO Poll (SUSA)

Missouri

SurveyUSA (PDF). 9/7-9. MoE 3.9%. (8/18 results)

Bush 48 (48)
Kerry 47 (46)

Senate

Bond (R) 57 (55)
Farmer (D) 37 (38)

Governor

Blunt (R) 48 (49)
McCaskill (D) 47 (44)

Bush Goes Negative on Jesus

From Mad Magazine:

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Censorship in Action

The Top 25 Censored Stories of 2003-2004

Thanks to my pick for CIA Director, Porter Billy, for the link. Recommended: #11.

Wealth Inequality in 21st Century Threatens Economy and Democracy

Thanks to Billy'n'Villy for this enlightening article.

PROJECT CENSORED - In the late 1700s, issues of fairness and equality were topics of great debate - equality under the law, equality of opportunity, etc. Considered by the framers of the Constitution to be one of the most important aspects of a democratic system, the word “equality” is featured prominently throughout the document. In the 200+ years since, most industrialized nations have succeeded in decreasing the gap between rich and poor.

However, since the late 1970s wealth inequality, while stabilizing or increasing slightly in other industrialized nations, has increased sharply and dramatically in the United States. While it is no secret that such a trend is taking place, it is rare to see a TV news program announce that the top 1% of the U.S. population now owns about a third of the wealth in the country. Discussion of this trend takes place, for the most part, behind closed doors.

During the short boom of the late 1990s, conservative analysts asserted that, yes, the gap between rich and poor was growing, but that incomes for the poor were still increasing over previous levels. Today most economists, regardless of their political persuasion, agree that the data over the last 25 to 30 years is unequivocal. The top 5% is capturing an increasingly greater portion of the pie while the bottom 95% is clearly losing ground, and the highly touted American middle class is fast disappearing.

According to economic journalist, David Cay Johnston, author of “Perfectly Legal,” this trend is not the result of some naturally occurring, social Darwinist “survival of the fittest.” It is the product of legislative policies carefully crafted and lobbied for by corporations and the super-rich over the past 25 years...

As always, America’s economic trends have a global footprint—and this time, it is a crater. Today the top 400 income earners in the U.S. make as much in a year as the entire population of the 20 poorest countries in Africa (over 300 million people). But in America, national leaders and mainstream media tell us that the only way out of our own economic hole is through increasing and endless growth—fueled by the resources of other countries...

As rich countries strip poorer countries of their natural resources in an attempt to re-stabilize their own, the people of poor countries become increasingly desperate. This deteriorating situation, besides pressuring rich countries to allow increased immigration, further exacerbates already stretched political tensions and threatens global political and economic security.

(more...)

Sympathy

Sympathy (Rare Bird)



Now when you climb into your bed tonight
And when you lock and bolt the door
Just think of those out in the cold and dark
'cos there's not enoguh love to go round

And sympathy is what we need my friend
And sympathy is what we need
And sympathy is what we need my friend
'cos there's not enough love to go round

Now half the world hurts the other half
And half the world has all the food
And half the world lies down and quietly starves
'cos there's not enough love to go round

And sympathy is what we need my friend
And sympathy is what we need
And sympathy is what we need my friend
'cos there's not enough love to go round
'cos there's not enough love to go round

Bush Attacked Nat'l Guard Service of Others

MISLEADER - The White House is currently attacking those who raise questions about President Bush's National Guard record. They say the questions about Bush's failure to fulfill his commitment are "dirty politics." Yet a look at the record shows that it was President George H.W. Bush - and his top campaign strategist George W. Bush - who tried to smear the National Guard and military record of their opponents.

As reported in the August 23, 1988 Los Angeles Times, then Vice President George H.W. Bush's campaign co-chairman John Sununu went on national television to impugn an opponent's dealings with the National Guard during Vietnam. Sununu specifically claimed Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-TX) had improperly helped get his son into the Texas National Guard during Vietnam. Bentsen's son served in the very same National Guard unit at the very same time as George W. Bush. The Bush campaign's attacks came just days after Bush's allies on Capitol Hill launched a vicious attack on Gov. Michael Dukakis (D-MA) for receiving a draft deferment during the Korean War.

At the time of the coordinated attack, George W. Bush was serving as a senior adviser to his father's campaign.

Bush's Service Record Made-Up

BOSTON GLOBE - In August 1973, President Bush's superior officer in the Texas Air National Guard wrote a memorandum complaining that the commanding general wanted him to "sugar coat" an annual officer evaluation for First Lieutenant Bush, even though Bush had not been at the base for the year in question, according to new documents obtained and broadcast last night by CBS News.

The commander, the late Lieutenant Colonel Jerry B. Killian, wrote that he turned aside the suggestion from Brigadier General Walter B. Staudt, Bush's political mentor in the Guard. But he and another officer agreed to "backdate" a report -- evidently the evaluation -- in which they did not rate him at all. There is such a report in Bush's file, dated May 2, 1973.

"I'll backdate but won't rate," Killian apparently wrote in what is labeled a "memo to file." Initials that appear to be Killian's are on the memo, but not his name or unit letterhead.

The August 1973 document, dated as Bush was preparing to leave Texas to attend the Harvard Business School, represents the first apparent evidence of an attempt to embellish Bush's service record as his time in the Guard neared its end.

The four pages of documents also contain an August 1972 order from Killian, suspending Bush from flying status for "failure to perform" up to US Air Force and Texas Air National Guard standards and failing to take his annual flight physical. The suspension came three months after Killian had ordered Bush to take his physical, on May 14, 1972.

The documents also contain what appears to be Killian's memo of a meeting he had with Bush in May 1972, at which they discussed the option of Bush skipping his military drills for the following six months while he worked on a US Senate campaign in Alabama. During that meeting, Killian wrote that he reminded Bush "of our investment in him and his commitment."

CBS, on its Evening News and in an in-depth report on "60 Minutes," said it obtained the documents from Killian's "personal files." Anchorman Dan Rather reported that the White House did not dispute the authenticity of the documents and said the network had used document authorities to verify their authenticity.

The disclosures by CBS follow a report in yesterday's Globe that Bush signed documents in 1968 and in 1973 promising to fulfill specific training requirements or face a punitive order to active duty. The records examined by the Globe, and verified by several former military officers, show that Bush did not meet his commitments. Nor was he penalized.

Pocket Paradigm

SAM SMITH - Richard Cheney says the election of Kerry-Edwards might lead to a major terrorist attack. Could be. We don't really know. What we do know is that the election of Bush-Cheney certainly did.

Dems in Trouble - Red States More Fertile

WASHINGTON POST - High fertility correlates strongly with support for George W. Bush. Of the top 10 most fertile states, all but one voted for Bush in 2000. Among the 17 states that still produce enough children to replace their populations, all but two -- Iowa and Minnesota -- voted for Bush in the last election. Conversely, the least fertile states -- a list that includes Maine, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Connecticut -- went overwhelmingly for Al Gore. Women living in Gore states on average have 12 percent fewer babies than women living in Bush states.

Swing Sets Disappearing from Playgrounds

SCOTT SIMONSON, ARIZONA DAILY STAR - The swing set, beloved by generations of kids visiting the park, has fallen out of favor with Tucson-area park planners. Facing tougher federal safety and accessibility regulations - and a vast array of new types of equipment to choose from -local parks departments are leaving out swings as they renovate old playgrounds and build new ones.

Swing sets no longer are a standard feature in new playgrounds in the Tucson area, local parks officials said... Along with former playground stalwarts such as the endangered teeter-totter and the nearly extinct merry-go-round, swing sets have fallen victim to tougher federal safety regulations...

Other factors contribute to the slumping installation of swings in local public parks, including cost-conscious parks departments, the federal Americans With Disabilities Act and a belief that a newer generation of playground equipment can better help fight obesity and entertain children more safely.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

A Fascist Visits My Hometown: What I Learned

Steve Kraske reports for the Kansas City Star on B*sh's visit to Lee's Summit Tuesday morning. As you may or may not know, I hail from this suburb of KC, so when I discovered that Dim-Son would be speaking at one of the local high schools, I decided to let the Commander-in-Thief know he wasn't welcome around here.

I'm too tired to go into much detail right now, and I haven't found any good pics of the protesters this morning, but I will include part of an email I received from an elderly acquaintance of mine on Monday evening. I've got to hand it to Gene DeVaux for his straight-shooting:

"A couple of weeks ago, John Kerry and John Edwards passed through Lee's Summit, Missouri on the 'Freedom Train.' Security was scarce. Republican protestors were right behind those waiting to welcome the Train... How different it will be tomorrow when our acting President, George W. Bush speaks at Lee's Summit High School... The Republican Party issued tickets to supporters who want to see Bush at our public high school. Imagine, taxpayers being denied the right of access to, or even a view of, a school that their taxes support. Their taxes are higher now because of the Bush tax policy that has nearly bankrupted this country and our education system... Attached, you will find photos of the Yellow Belly's Barricade." (the trucks are from Yellow Shipping Co.)



But what about MY experiences this morning? Well, I'll hit the highlights before hitting the hay, but feel free to ask me for additional details if you like. First off, I estimated that the main throng of protesters numbered around 200 or so, though Bev Chapman of KMBC 9 News said around 300 showed up and I heard one fellow estimate close to 400, so the truth is probably somewhere in between. For what it's worth, there were over 100 cops lined up across the street opposite from us (and we were at least a thousand yards away from the stadium, too). I just hope the Republican party picked up the bill for all of the police overtime rather than Lee's Summit's taxpayers; this event was listed as a partisan rally (even though it was held in a public school), so the bill should belong to B*sh and Co.

Anyway, I recognized a bunch of the people protesting from either the John Knox Retirement Village, one of the activist groups I belong to, or from past protests/rallies I've attended, but there were a lot of new faces too. It was your typical mix, from college-aged kids (or should I say draft-eligible kids) to typical moms and dads, from union members to grandparents. Those disappointed and utterly disgusted with this administration certainly don't fit any one stereotype, although they all recognize the necessity and urgency of ousting the Chimp this November.

I spent the night beforehand making my signs: poster-board, Sharpies, a broom handle, and some tape can really do a lot. On one side, I drew the standard "W" being crossed out by a slash running through a red circle. On the other, I wrote the words: "SACRIFICE OUR SUVs, NOT OUR KIDS." I thought it was fairly self-explanatory (but if you don't get it, please email me and I'll try to explain its meaning to you - in a completely non-patronizing manner, I promise). The Republican crowds I walked past had a hard time making fun of it, so even they must have realized there's gotta be some truth to it.

All right, I'm getting quite tuckered out now, and I imagine you are too (this is a rather long post for me), but before you skim through the rest of my blog (if you even bother to do that), I need to share with you my favorite moment of the morning...

As I stood alongside MO-291, fellow protesters to my left and right, I happened to notice a family which had attended the B*sh speech walking behind us back toward their car. They must have left the event early, because I could still hear someone speaking on the main stage in the distance.

To tell you the truth, I probably wouldn't have even turned around and glanced at this ordinary-looking American family if it hadn't been for the sound of a voice which rang crystal-clear in the morning sky. But amidst a flock of protesters chanting anti-B*sh slogans to the passing cars, a single exclamation stood out above all the others.

"It's not me!" came the cry. "I don't support George Bush!"

Although any of the 300-or-so of us could have uttered that statement, I turned my head to the source of this triumphant vocalization and looked into the eyes of a little girl with red hair, no more than 8 or 9 years old. Her older sister carried a "W'04" sign; her parents wore conservative dress and stern countenances on their faces. Even so, this surprising cry of independence flew from the lips of a youngster whose bright blue T-shirt and pleading face sticks out in my mind to this very moment.

Having let out what must have been a liberating proclamation to the world, her brave act was in turn rewarded by the crowd of men and women around me (myself included), as we all roared a resounding approval back. She met our eyes, head held high, a smile perched on her angelic, freckled face.

B*sh may win in November; I pray that he does not. We may continue to remain a country of selfish ignorance and apathetic indifference to others; I pray that we do not.

But no matter the outcome of this election (though I believe it may be the most pivotal of our lifetimes), as long as the twin beacons of logic and compassion are able to shine through the fogs of a society in cultural decay--so long as the spirit of liberalism can exist in the mind of a little girl growing up in a household which supports B*sh--the dream of a better tomorrow, hope itself, will still survive. I pray that we may never forget this.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Also of Interest....

How Woodstock Came to Be

American Highway Project

Recording TV Before the VCR

Enjoy! It's Labor Day weekend for me.

60% Believe We Were Misled About WMDs and Iraq Links to Al Qaeda

HARRIS - A new Harris Poll finds a sharp increase in the proportion of adult Americans who believe that they were misled by the government's statements about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and Iraq's links to Al Qaeda. A 60 percent majority now believes that "what we were told . . . was misleading," up from 51 percent in June. Just over a third (37%) still believes that what we were told was "generally accurate" but this is down from 44 percent in June. However, only a minority believes there was deliberate deception.

Replies to five other questions about Iraq were generally very similar to those given in June, and on most of them, attitudes are still quite evenly balanced, with more or less equal numbers supportive of, and critical of, the government's positions.

Government Hides Mistakes By Classifying Information

MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN, ASSOCIATED PRESS - A former dictator's cocktail preferences and a facetious plot against Santa Claus were classified by the government to prevent public disclosure. Also stamped "secret" for six years was a study concluding that 40 percent of Army chemical warfare masks leaked. These, as well as other examples of classification were cited last week by members of Congress and witnesses at a House subcommittee hearing into the Sept. 11 commission's conclusion that secrecy is undermining efforts to thwart terrorists. Some classifications were made in error or to save face.

The CIA deleted the amount Iraqi agents paid for aluminum tubes from Page 96 of a Senate report on prewar intelligence. The report quoted the CIA as concluding that "their willingness to pay such costs suggests the tubes are intended for a special project of national interest." That price turned out to be not so high. On Page 105 of the same Senate report, the same security reviewers let the CIA's figure -- as much as $17.50 each -- be printed along with other estimates that the Iraqis paid as little as $10 apiece.

"There are too many secrets" and maybe too many secret-makers, said Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee's national security panel. There are 3,978 officials who can stamp a document "top secret," "secret" or "confidential" under multiple sets of complex rules. No one knows how much is classified, he said, and the system "often does not distinguish between the critically important and comically irrelevant."

"The tone is set at the top," Shays said. "This administration believes the less known, the better," added the Connecticut Republican, noting sadly he was speaking of a GOP administration. "I believe the more known, the better."

'Weird Al' Yankovic attacked by green moths

AP - Things got hairy for parody singer "Weird Al" Yankovic as a flock of unwanted fans rushed onstage during his performance at a state fair in southern Illinois. Green moths swarmed Yankovic, some nesting in his trademark long curly locks.

"My band asked me if I could find a concert where we would be attacked by insects," Yankovic told his audience Wednesday at the Du Quoin State Fair. "I said I would see what I could do."

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Comparing WWII and the Iraq War is idiotic...

Four Years of Failure

After Four Years:

* Bush Has a Record of Failure on Key Issues: Jobs, Economy, Health Care, Homeland Security and National Security.
* Bush Has Failed to Come Up With a Single New Idea To Change His Course of Failure.
* Bush Continued His Negative Campaign of Misleading about John Kerry’s Record.
* Bush Has Failed America

Bush Failed To Protect Our Homeland from Attack

First, Bush opposed the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. Since 9/11, he’s failed to adequately fund our nation’s first responders, cutting first responder training grants by nearly half in his 2005 budget. Bush has failed to secure the nation’s ports and borders, properly screen air and sea cargo, or create a unified terror watch list. Today, only 5 percent of the cargo coming into the nation’s ports is properly screened, most air cargo goes unscreened, and only one border agent is available for patrol per every 5 miles of the U.S. Canadian border. Bush has cut funding for first responder training by nearly half, cut port security grants by 75 percent, and has plans to cut DHS funding by $1 billion if he is re-elected. [www.omb.gov; Desert Morning News, 7/20/03; The Hill, 4/30/03; Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 8/01/04; Washington Post, 5/27/04]

Bush Failed America’s Kids by Breaking His Word on Education

In total, Bush’s budget requests have underfunded No Child Left Behind by $27 billion. Twenty-two state legislatures have considered over the past two years calling for changes in No Child Left Behind or opting out of the legislation altogether. Additionally, Bush has continually broken his 2000 campaign promise to increase Pell Grant awards to $5,100, leaving needy college students without the resources they need to pay for skyrocketing tuition costs. [www.ed.gov; www.nea.org; The Wallace Foundation, www.wallacefoundation.org; GAO, May 2003; Center for Education Policy, May 2004 Education Week, 1/7/04]

Bush Failed On Health Care: America Is Sicker Under Bush

The number of uninsured has swelled under Bush by 5.2 million to a total of 45.0 million, 15.6 percent of the total population. Since 2000, the percentage of Americans with health coverage through their job has dropped 3.2 percent to just 60.4 percent. [Census Bureau, Current Population Reports]

Families are paying $792 (49 percent) more in health expenses and individuals are paying $168 (50 percent) more than just four years ago. [Kaiser/HRET Survey of Employer Health Benefits 2003]

Although Bush signed his Medicare bill in December 2003, seniors will not see cheaper prescription prices when it is implemented in 2006, because it does nothing to control the rising cost of drugs. According to Consumers Union, “most beneficiaries will face higher out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs after full implementation, despite the benefit.” [Consumers Union, 11/17/03]

Bush Failed Our Troops With His Failure To Build A Real Coalition

At least 976 American troops have been killed in Iraq, accounting for nearly 90% of the casualties. The 138,000 American troops in Iraq comprise nearly 90% of the troops in the coalition. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) said about the Iraq war: “We weren’t prepared for an occupation. We made a tremendous amount of mistakes. We did essentially go after this in a unilateral way.” [Brookings Institution, “Iraq Index,” 9/1/04; CNN, “Inside Politics,” 7/1/04]

BUSH'S FAILURE TO HAVE A SINGLE NEW IDEA

Bush Leaves 99% of Country Behind On Jobs

In a desperate, last minute attempt to say something about the 2.7 million manufacturing jobs that have been lost, George Bush is renaming existing government programs as Opportunity Zones. Now, George Bush will pick 20 lucky communities to get tax credits for small businesses and job creation. He has nothing to offer the other 3,121 counties – 99 percent of America is left out of George Bush’s plan.

Bush Recycles Tired Social Security Privatization Scheme

In the 2000 campaign George Bush released his Social Security plans – it was four principles plus a Social Security Commission. This time around, George Bush is releasing the same exact plan. But he’s not telling you that his Commission already met, came up with a plan, and that it would cut benefits by up to 45 percent, borrow $2 trillion over the next decade to pay for the transition, and tax away 80 percent of the individual account that the worker supposedly owns. [Social Security Administration, Office of the Actuary, “Estimates of Financial Effects for Three Models Developed by the President’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security,” January 31, 2002 and CBO, “Long-term Analysis of Plan 2 of the President’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security,” 7/21/2004]

Bush’s Recycled Health Plan Actually Drives Costs Up

With health care premiums for families up 50 percent since George W. Bush took office, he failed to offer any new plans to help middle class families. The same old plans he offered will do nothing but increase costs and threaten coverage for millions of families. [Kaiser Family Foundation; CBO]

Bush Has Learned Nothing on Education In Four Years

Bush says he wants to reform America’s high schools, but he has had four years and has failed to do it. Bush can talk all he wants about new education proposals, but America’s families know that he hasn’t gotten the job done. Bush has fallen $27 billion short of funding No Child Left Behind and has allowed one-third of American students to drop out of high school. He has weakened accountability in high schools and pushed out low-achieving students. Yet again, President Bush is trying to cover up his record of failure over the last four years.

Bush Wants to Raise Taxes on Middle Class By Billions

Brookings Economist William Gale writes, “To replace all federal taxes on a revenue-neutral basis over the next 10 years would require a sales tax rate of about 60 percent.” To cover just income taxes, the national sales tax would have to be at least 26 percent. [William Gale, “A Note on the Required Tax Rate in a National Retail Sales Tax,” 8/12/04]

BUSH CONTINUES TO MISLEAD ABOUT JOHN KERRY'S RECORD

Bush Is Misleading About John Kerry and Prescription Drugs


John Kerry opposed Bush’s Windfall for the Drug Companies. He Worked in the Senate to Make Prescription Drugs Affordable. Kerry favors broad-based Medicare prescription drug coverage such as the one he voted for in 2002. [AP, 6/27/03]

Bush Is Misleading about John Kerry’s Plan to Cut Taxes

John Kerry and John Edwards Will Cut Taxes for 98 Percent of American Families and 99 Percent of Businesses. John Kerry strongly supports the sensible tax cuts for the middle class such as repealing the marriage penalty, keeping the child tax credit and tax relief for small businesses. John Kerry will repeal the tax giveaways to the rich and close the offshore loopholes which allow American companies not to pay their fair share. [“Kerry called for deeper tax cuts for the middle class than proposed by Bush,” AP, 3/10/04]

Bush Is Misleading About John Kerry and Reagan

Kerry Spoke Out against Ethical and Legal Lapses Of Reagan Administration. Kerry, a freshman senator from Massachusetts, the home state of Michael Dukakis, promised that in a Dukakis administration, "the government that makes the laws will not break the law. "And in the America of Jesse Jackson," he said, "the government that says no to drugs will not say yes to General Noriega." "It is time that we once again had a government of laws and not of law-breakers. It's time we had an attorney general of the United States who is an agent of justice and not the target of criminal investigation," Kerry declared. The liberal Democrat raised the ethics issue two days after a special prosecutor released a long-awaited report on Attorney General Edwin Meese III saying the nation's top law enforcement official "probably" violated federal law in his personal finances but committed no crimes in the Wedtech scandal. [AP, 7/21/1988]

Bush Is Misleading about John Kerry’s Votes on Iraq

Kerry Objected To Bush’s Failure to Develop a Real Plan in Iraq. Kerry opposed spending $87 billion -- at the expense of health care, education and domestic priorities here at home -- without a strategy that protects the troops and makes America safer. Rather than asking for shared sacrifice from Americans, Bush refused to repeal any of his tax cut for the wealthiest to pay for rebuilding Iraq. John Kerry, along with Joe Biden, proposed an amendment to spread the sacrifice.

"The people of Iraq will greet us with flowers." --Dick Cheney, April 2003



Fuhgeddaboutit!!!!!!!!!!!

E-Mail Addresses That Would Be Really Annoying To Give Out Over the Phone

In honor of my brand new GMAIL account (thank you, Val!!), I thought this would be an appropriate list for the day...

MICHAEL WARD, MCSWEENEY'S:

MikeUnderscore2004@yahoo.com
MikeAtYahooDotCom@hotmail.com
Mike_WardAllOneWord@yahoo.com
AAAAAThatsSixAs@yahoo.com
One1TheFirstJustTheNumberTheSecondSpelledOut@hotmail.com

And for those interested, I scored LukeMD@gmail.com. (Send me a message!)

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

Zell Miller challenges Chris Matthews to a duel.

Scroll down the page and click on the video feed under "From Chris Matthews." It's like watching Cotton Hill (the grandpa from King of the Hill). LOL