October 2004
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Posted October 31, 2004
0.000000001% in the polls, and climbing

Ms_Blog and I spent our Saturday afternoon at a Halloween party, cooking a spaghetti dinner and desserts for ex-homeless people who now live in low income housing. Afterward, I reflected that, in one day, we had each accomplished more for those people than George Dubya has done for them during his entire Misadministration. In that light, we are more qualified than Dubya to be President. So if your state is firmly in the Kerry column on Tuesday, why not write-in Ms_Blog for President, and yours truly for Veep? Thanks in advance for your vote.

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Posted October 29, 2004
Glen Garry, Glen Dubya

The hometown paper has broken a story about the College Republicans, who have been caught bilking seniors for millions of dollars— with 90% and more of funds raised being spent on "expenses":

Fund-raising group milks vulnerable senior citizens

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Posted October 28, 2004
U.S. news crew footage of Al Qaqaa

KSTP, Channel 5 in Minneapolis-St. Paul, had a crew embedded with the 101st Airborne. They have posted footage that appears to show the Al Qaqaa Explosives Mart fully-stocked on April 18, 2003:

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS video may be linked to missing explosives in Iraq

By the way, the original Al Qaqaa story at MSNBC has been updated again, and no longer resembles early versions. It is now headed "Iraqis: Munitions site looted after U.S. arrived; U.N. agency says U.S. was warned site was vulnerable in 2003."

Air America Seattle: Day 4 report card. After three days as "Seattle's progressive talk, AM 1090 KYCW," Seattle's newly minted Air America affiliate switched to its new call letters today—a recorded station ID bumper now proclaims "KPTK." That said, I find the practice of inserting the Jones Network's Ed Schultz during Noon-3:00 to be annoying, as it results in Seattle getting Randi Rhodes and The Majority Report on tape delay. While Schultz is just as good a midday host as Rhodes, he would really rock in the 7-10pm slot. Then at 10, Seattle lefties could make the easy switch from the pugnacious Schultz to the fire-poke-poked-in-your-face Mike Webb over at KIRO 710.

The other items of note are the odd programming artifacts that have carried over from the old country/western format, namely the Washington State University football coach's show and the daily fix of NASCAR Today. Contractual obligations aside, hearing the Official Football Team of the Right Side of the Cascade Mountains on Progressive Talk, not to mention the drawl of good ol' boys talkin' about race cars, is just plain weird.

Mike Webb archived audio stream

Speaking of KIRO, a Presidential Preference poll in progress right now (1400 PDT) on has Kerry trouncing W, 60.8% to 39.2%. Remember, visiting the web site doesn't obligate you to listen to the egregious Dori Monson Show.

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Posted October 27, 2004
GOP plans to challenge black voters

In case the swirl of rumors and reports about election-day dirty tricks has you confused: here's the BBC scoop from last Tuesday that disclosed the vote-suppression plans being readied by Republican'ts.

Two e-mails, prepared for the executive director of the Bush campaign in Florida and the campaign's national research director in Washington DC, contain a 15-page so-called "caging list".
    It lists 1,886 names and addresses of voters in predominantly black and traditionally Democrat areas of Jacksonville, Florida.
    An elections supervisor in Tallahassee, when shown the list, told Newsnight: "The only possible reason why they would keep such a thing is to challenge voters on election day."
    ...Florida law allows political party operatives inside polling stations to stop voters from obtaining a ballot.
    They may then only vote "provisionally" after signing an affidavit attesting to their legal voting status.
    Mass challenges have never occurred in Florida...
    ...US federal law prohibits targeting challenges to voters, even if there is a basis for the challenge, if race is a factor in targeting the voters.
    The list of Jacksonville voters covers an area with a majority of black residents.

    ...Republican spokespersons claim the list merely records returned mail from either fundraising solicitations or returned letters sent to newly registered voters to verify their addresses for purposes of mailing campaign literature.
    Republican state campaign spokeswoman Mindy Tucker Fletcher stated the list was not put together "in order to create" a challenge list, but refused to say it would not be used in that manner.
    Rather, she did acknowledge that the party's poll workers will be instructed to challenge voters, "Where it's stated in the law."
    There was no explanation as to why such clerical matters would be sent to top officials of the Bush campaign in Florida and Washington.
    In Jacksonville, to determine if Republicans were using the lists or other means of intimidating voters, we filmed a private detective filming every "early voter" - the majority of whom are black - from behind a vehicle with blacked-out windows.
    The private detective claimed not to know who was paying for his all-day services. Source; watch the Greg Palast report

'Explosive' story gets worse for Bush. NBC has since updated the Al Qaqaa arms depot story, but the essential facts are the same.

First, the obfuscation. The story further develops the Misadministration's claim that the HMX and RDX could have been removed before the arrival of U.S. forces.

U.S. defense officials said Tuesday that the materials could have vanished during a period of about three weeks, between March 15, 2003, when inspectors for the IAEA confirmed that at least some of the materials were still stored under IAEA seal at Al-Qaqaa, and April 4, when U.S. troops [3rd Infantry] arrived.

Note the "could have." The right wing media takes "could have" and makes it "were."

Then an account is added of the first American unit said to have occupied Al Qaqaa:

On March 15, said Melissa Fleming, a spokeswoman for the IAEA, "the seals on the doors on the bunkers were checked at many of the bunkers to see if they were still there and hadn't been tampered with, and that was the case."
    The war in Iraq began March 20. Army officials told NBC News on condition of anonymity that troops from the Army's 3rd Infantry did not arrive at Al-Qaqaa until April 4, finding "looters everywhere" carrying what they could out on their backs.
    The troops searched bunkers and found conventional weapons but no high explosives, the officials said.
    ...The [U.S.] Iraq Survey Group discovered that the stockpiles of HMX and RDX were missing on May 27. Source

It's the anonymous officials again! Whenever they show up it's a good idea to check other sources. Like this one from the Boston Globe:

Associated Press Correspondent Chris Tomlinson, who was embedded with the 3rd Infantry but didn't go to Al-Qaqaa, described the search of Iraqi military facilities south of Baghdad as brief, cursory missions to seek out hostile troops, not to inventory or secure weapons stockpiles.
    ...The enormous size of the bases, the rapid pace of the advance on Baghdad and the limited number of troops involved, made it impossible for U.S. commanders to allocate any soldiers to guard any of the facilities after making a check, Tomlinson said. Source

And a Fox interview with Dana Lewis, another reporter who was with the 101st and working for NBC, recounted at Newshounds:

"Most of the bunkers were locked at that point, you could NOT get inside... I can remember seeing hangars full of rockets, I've never seen so many rockets in one place..."
    Brit asks if Dana had seen any IAEA seals on any bunkers? Dana replies he's had them described to him, and he certainly saw wires and locks, but he doesn't recall ever seeing any IAEA seal, but "it doesn't mean there weren't any of them."
    Next he was asked if there was any sign that this facility had been looted prior to his and the 101st's arrival [on April 10]. Short answer, no. It might have been AFTER he was there but had not up until that point. Source

But the 3rd Infantry had reported "looters everywhere" on April 4. However, the 3rd said the looters were carrying stuff "out on their backs"; you can't carry 380 tons of explosives on your back. Lewis had just been questioned about the bunkers; so he certainly meant the bunkers had not been looted.

So the account by NBC's Lai Ling Jew is corroborated. And what about the controversy about the timing of this story? The Righties are blaming Kerry, CBS, and the New York Times for breaking this so soon before the election. Just remember that the IAEA letter to the UN was sent Oct. 10, and that the IAEA was notified by the interim Iraq government:

Iraq's Ministry of Science and Technology told the IAEA that the explosives were looted sometime in the seven weeks after U.S. forces showed up in Al-Qaqaa, when they presumably could have taken steps to secure the materials. Source

Six more days.

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Posted October 26, 2004
Today's right-wing media slant

The Bush Misadministration is claiming that the 380 tons of HMX and RDX explosives, missing from the Al Qaqaa installation, were already missing when U.S. troops arrived 3 weeks into the invasion. Dutifully, the housetrained mainstream media is citing an NBC report that supposedly backs up Bush's story.

But has anyone bothered to read the actual NBC report? Apparently not, because the correspondent's account of the army's visit to Al Qaqaa hardly counts as corroboration. The Bushies would have you focus on the end of the first paragraph below—but you should keep on reading:

Timing of theft of Iraq explosives remains a mystery
...An NBC News crew that accompanied U.S. soldiers who seized the Al-Qaqaa base three weeks into the war in Iraq reported that troops discovered significant stockpiles of bombs, but no sign of the missing HMX and RDX explosives.
    Reporter Lai Ling Jew, who was embedded with the Army's 101st Airborne, Second Brigade, said Tuesday on MSNBC TV that the news team stayed at the Al-Qaqaa base for about 24 hours.
    "There wasn't a search," she told MSNBC, an NBC cable news channel. "The mission that the brigade had was to get to Baghdad. That was more of a pit stop there for us. And, you know, the searching, I mean certainly some of the soldiers headed off on their own, looked through the bunkers just to look at the vast amount of ordnance lying around.
    "But as far as we could tell, there was no move to secure the weapons, nothing to keep looters away."
    At the Pentagon, an official who monitors developments in Iraq said U.S.-led coalition troops had searched Al-Qaqaa in the immediate aftermath of the March 2003 invasion and confirmed that the explosives, which had been under IAEA seal since 1991, were intact. ...
    But other Pentagon officials, also speaking on condition of anonymity, suggested that the explosives could have been hidden elsewhere before the war. Source

That last anonymous official must have been Rummy; how can something already confirmed as being there have been hidden elsewhere?

"There wasn't a search"; "vast amount of ordnance lying around"; "no move to secure the weapons"; other U.S. troops reported the explosives "were intact." Got it? The NBC report does not vindicate the Misadministration.

Seven more days.

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Posted October 23, 2004
Kerry 1, Bush 0

Suspicious of automated ballot readers, this year I am voting by absentee and have already discharged my responsibility. Choke on it Dubya!
      Ten more days.

Joe Wilson en Francais. Just in time for Halloween, take a look at the scarrry two-part Canadian documentary, The World According to Bush.

Streaming, Part 1
Streaming, Part 2

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Posted October 22, 2004
"really embarrassed to be related to the president"

A clip from Genius Journalist Sandeep Kaushik's (of The Stranger) other gig with the Boston Globe:

Bush relatives use website to show support for Kerry
6 second cousins protest policies
- - - -
   Six blood relatives of President Bush who support John F. Kerry's bid for the presidency have launched a website to publicize their sharp disagreements with Bush's policies.
    The site,, consists of personal statements from a group of decidedly liberal second cousins of the president, none of whom knows him personally.
    The introduction to the site opens with the slogan, "Because blood is thicker than oil!" and states: "As the election approaches, we feel it is our responsibility to speak out about why we are voting for John Kerry, and to do our small part to help America heal from the sickness it has suffered since George Bush was appointed President in 2000. We invite you to read our stories, and please, don't vote for our cousin!"
    Hilary House, 39, a third-year law student at the University of Washington, put together the site with the participation of three of her six siblings: Sheila House, Tracy Cannon, and Chris House. The four are children of Mary Bush's son Francis House III, now deceased...
    Francis House was friendly with George Bush senior... Though Francis House shared his family's decidedly liberal political views, he voted for Ronald Reagan... and for his cousin during his successful 1988 presidential race.
    "His family connections still tied him to the Republican Party," said Chris House, 36, a high school English teacher in Olympia, Wash. ''My dad at heart was a social liberal, but he was constantly pressured by his mom that you've got to vote along family lines." Source

Kerry wins poll of kids. The significance in the following report is that kids of newly registered voters are not ignored (new registrants are ignored in surveys of adults):

An unusual opinion poll that has correctly predicted the winner of the last four presidential elections has given Democratic challenger Kerry 57 percent against 43 percent for Bush, according to results released on Wednesday.
    The Nickelodeon cable channel, better known for programs "SpongeBob Squarepants" and "Jimmy Neutron," conducted "Kids Vote," an online survey of almost 400,000 children on Tuesday.
    Nickelodeon, a unit of Viacom Inc., has organized its poll every election since 1988, and has a 100 percent record of picking the winner.
    "The 'Kids' Vote' seems to work as a good barometer of the actual presidential vote because, developmentally, kids between the ages of two and 11 share the same opinions and outlooks as their parents," said Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon Television. Source

Eleven more days.

Air America lands in Seattle! It's not my KVI idea, but Air America is taking over Seattle's country music-format KYCW 1090-AM—so it's kind of like taking over a conservative station. It all starts at 12:01 AM on Monday, October 25, when the call letters switch to KPTK ("Progressive Talk").
      The switch is appropriate; locals will remember that 1090 was the old KING-AM, owned by the progressive, civic-minded Bullitt family.

Article: Air America lands here Monday

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Posted October 21, 2004
CIA Report Points 9/11 Finger (but it's a secret)

Excerpts from a column by Robert Scheer reveals Job 1 for Porter Goss:

The Bush Administration is suppressing a CIA report on 9/11 until after the election, and this one names names...
    "It is infuriating that a report which shows that high-level people were not doing their jobs in a satisfactory manner before 9/11 is being suppressed," [said] an intelligence official who has read the report... "the report is potentially very embarrassing for the Administration, because it makes it look like they weren't interested in terrorism before 9/11, or in holding people in the government responsible afterward."
    ...Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice), ranking Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, said she and committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) sent a letter fourteen days ago asking for it to be delivered. "We believe that the CIA has been told not to distribute the report," she said.
    ...release of the report, which represents an exhaustive seventeen-month investigation by an eleven-member team within the agency, has been "stalled." First by acting CIA Director John McLaughlin and now by Porter J. Goss, the former Republican House member (and chairman of the Intelligence Committee) who recently was appointed CIA chief by President Bush.
    The official stressed that the report was more blunt and more specific than the earlier bipartisan reports produced by the Bush-appointed September 11 commission and Congress. Source

Twelve more days.

Welcome back to the show. Our guest is Miro Sorvino, star of Triumph of Love, now out on DVD. Ms. Sorvino, welcome.
   Hi, great to be here.
Mira, tell us about Triumph of Love.
   Well, it's about a princess who inherited a kingdom her father stole. She wants to make things right by finding the prince who is the heir of the previous king, and making him fall in love with her so they can rule together.
Sounds great. What's the twist?
   Well, the prince, Aegis-
Is that Greek?
   Yes. Aegis has been brought up by his guardian, Hermocrates, who's played by Ben Kingsley, to hate the princess and women in general.
Ooooh, inconvenient! Wait, is Hermocrates a Greek name too?
So it's set in Greece?
   No. France.
Ancient France?
   No, the Renaissance. I think. An exact era wasn't really established. The costumes are Renaissance...
And I understand there are some wonderful costumes.
   Yes! Now this is fun. Because, you see, the Princess has to dress as a young man to become close to the Prince and Hermocrates. One thing leads to another, and soon Hermocrates, the Prince and Hermocrates' sister Leontyn are all in love with my character!
Posing as a boy?
   Yeah... Well, not with Hermocrates...
So Aegis... is gay? How's he supposed to fall in love with the Princess?
And Leontyn—that's French. Why is her name French, while the others are Greek?
   I don't know.
The whole female-in-male-drag thing is quite Shakespearean.
   Yes, it was delightful-
I wouldn't say that.
   -we even had a theater "audience" in modern dress that appeared several times in the film, watching the performers.
That was a strange choice. I mean, it's already obvious you're going for a Shakespeare-in-the-park feel. Why club us over the head with an anachronistic "audience"? That didn't really work, did it?
   I- I suppose not. Look, can you ask about me and my co-star, Ben Kingsley?
Sure. What was it like to vomit all over Sir Ben's career?
I mean, one minute he's wearing Hindu robes and expounding about logic and scientific principles, the next minute he's chasing you around a formal garden like Benny Hill. His character is supposed to be the greatest philosopher in the world, but he chucks it all the second your Princess bats her eyes and speaks to him in that voice that's only an octave lower than the one you used in Mighty Aphrodite.
   Hey! I worked hard on this movie! I thought it was charming! The producer was Bernardo Bertolucci, for chrissakes!
Yeah, has he finally gone senile? I mean, come on: The Dreamers? What the hell was that supposed to be? The only thing missing was a stick of butter. But I see we're out of time. The movie is Triumph of Love, the star is Mira Sorvino. Thank you for being with us.
   You su- are so kind.
By the way, that Oscar win for Aphrodite—that was a mistake, right? You can tell me.

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Posted October 15, 2004
"What, me Pago?"

The Bush Misadministration keeps climbing higher—at least that's what its budget deficit is doing. The Treasury has announced that the 2004 deficit will be $413 billion, and that the debt cap (that may be the "budget cap" in the 3rd debate that Dubya wildly accused Kerry of voting "277 times to waive") needs to be hiked.

Awash in red ink... Treasury Secretary John Snow made the announcement... he had stopped borrowing funds and would run out of time and gimmicks by mid-November.
It would be the third hike in four years as the federal debt has risen by $1.8 trillion since 2000. In that time, federal finances have also swung from a $127 billion budget surplus to the $413 billion deficit for the 2004 fiscal year, which Snow also announced Thursday.
...House and Senate Republican leaders refused Snow's request in August to raise the limit before this year's election. The last increase—a $934 billion hike —was voted just 16 months ago... ... ...Democratic leaders said Thursday they would press for Congress to revive rules requiring that any tax cuts or new spending be matched by comparable spending cuts.
    Maya MacGuineas, president of the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, endorsed that measure. "Congress should at the very least use the must-pass legislation of increasing the debt ceiling as a chance to also resurrect meaningful spending caps and pay-as-you-go rules," she said. Source

Eighteen days.

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Posted October 14, 2004
Come back to Pago Pago

It's surprising how comfortable the idea of the Presidential Debate Miniseries has become. By last night's third and final installment the characters had become as familiar as a favorite sitcom. There's Kerry the straight man, the wise voice of reason. Bush is the goofy sidekick, the wacky neighbor, the Tommy Flanagan. His chimpanzee smirk is accentuated by the staring, Dondi-like eyes. Of course, you'd probably stare like a hungry orphan too if you'd been caught lying, again, about who benefited from your tax cuts,

W: [Kerry] talks about middle-class tax cuts. That's exactly where the tax cuts went. Most of the tax cuts went to low- and middle-income Americans.

about Pell grants (and ungrammatically at that),

W: Got four more years, I've got more to do... to continue to expand Pell Grants to make sure that people have an opportunity to start their career with a college diploma.
Kerry: ...They've cut the Pell Grants and the Perkins loans to help kids be able to go to college. ...
W: Whew! Let me start with the Pell Grants. In his last litany of misstatements. He said we cut Pell Grants. We've increased Pell Grants by a million students. That's a fact.
Kerry: But you know why the Pell Grants have gone up in their numbers? Because more people qualify for them because they don't have money. But they're not getting the $5,100 the president promised them. They're getting less money.

about what he said about the search for Osama,

W: Gosh, I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those- exaggerations.

about No Child Left Behind,

W: ...only a liberal senator from Massachusetts would say that a 49 percent increase in funding for education was not enough. We've increased funds.

Kerry: You don't measure it by a percentage increase, Mr. President, you measure it by whether you're getting the job done. Five hundred thousand kids lost after-school programs because of your budget... $89 billion last year to the top 1 percent of Americans, but kids lost their after-school programs. You be the judge.

and about veterans,

W: Of course we're meeting our obligation to our veterans, and the veterans know that.

But when you get past the other obfuscations—his sudden affection for Canadian pharmaceuticals, his excuse for not extending the assault weapons ban, ducking the jobs question—Bush's biggest "tell" was revealed in his response to Kerry's statement about pay-as-you-go fiscal responsibility:

Schieffer: Senator Kerry, ...You pledged during the last debate that you would not raise taxes on those making less than $200,000 a year. can you... keep that pledge without running this country deeper into debt...?

Kerry: I'll tell you exactly how I can do it: by reinstating what President Bush took away, which is called pay as you go. During the 1990s, we had pay-as-you-go rules. If you were going to pass something in the Congress, you had to show where you are going to pay for it and how.
W: He talks about pago. I'll tell you what pago means, when you're a senator from Massachusetts, when you're a colleague of Ted Kennedy, pago means: You pay, and he goes ahead and spends.

"Pay as you go" is such an alien concept to Dubya, he can't even say it.

Nineteen days.

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Posted October 12, 2004
Because Bush has made us safer

Missing Iraq technology raises alarm
Concerns are growing that high-precision equipment in Iraq that could be used to make nuclear weapons has been "systematically" disappearing, and may present a new proliferation risk.
    The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has told the UN Security Council of the "widespread and apparently systematic dismantlement" of buildings in Iraq that once housed key dual-use items. Because UN inspectors have been all but barred from Iraq since March 2003, they must rely primarily on satellite imagery to track the missing equipment.
    Among them are precision milling and turning machines and electron-beam welders that before the war were tagged with IAEA seals and monitored to ensure that they were not used for an illicit weapons program.
    Analysts say the missing equipment could be useful to a nation or terrorist group bent on building a nuclear bomb. The fact that it's now unaccounted for also raises questions about the quality of protection of such sensitive sites by US-led forces in Iraq.
    The Bush Administration declared that preventing the proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction know-how and material was an aim of the US-led war.
    "It's very troubling that any of this stuff should be unprotected, let alone go missing," says Mr. [Jon] Wolfsthal [, a proliferation expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington]. "If one of these things went missing in the US, there would be a massive criminal investigation ... and people going to jail."
    In a letter to the Security Council, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei... says that "none of the high quality dual use equipment or materials" that are missing have been found.
    The items "may be of proliferation significance," warned Mr. ElBaradei.
    Though US officials said their fear of "a mushroom cloud" nuclear blast was a top reason for toppling Saddam Hussein, in the aftermath of war US troops permitted the extensive looting of critical sites, including Iraq's nuclear facilities at Tuwaitha, south of Baghdad...
    "We don't know where it is [says IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming]. All we can do when we watch these things from the sky, is see that if the building is gone, the equipment inside is gone."
    The speed and number of sites that have been dismantled leads the IAEA to believe that it is "systematic," says Fleming.
    "Some of the looting is very strategically timed," says CEIP's Wolfsthal. "They're stealing only specialized items - that would suggest it wasn't just the work of looters, but that there was some strategic purpose." Source

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Posted October 11, 2004
Debate Night

Ms_Blog and I attended Vessel at On The Boards, so we saw about 45 minutes of the Friday debate. The best shorthand characterization I can think of goes like this: Bush would lie; Kerry would describe his specific proposals; Bush would babble "don't believe him," "he can run but he cain't hide," and the ever popular "liberal"—although without accenting the first syllable like Poppy Bush ("LIB-eral... a THOUsand points of light... na guh d't"—sorry, had to). I like Kerry's proposal that would allow ordinary citizens to buy the same health coverage as members of Congress. I defer to Buzzflash and Salon for detailed commentary:

Scott Rosenberg
Watch Out for Those Killer Drugs from Canada
To The Woodshed

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Posted October 7, 2004
Snatching sleaze from the jaws of integrity

I oppose the planned West Seattle-Crown Hill "Green Line" monorail, but I can no longer support the Monorail Recall Initiative, I-83. Today the news has broken that the initiative backers want to switch the monorail car-tab revenue stream to Sound Transit light rail should I-83 pass.

This is a breathtaking display of hypocrisy. For months the recall organizers have criticized the monorail project on some valid points, including mushrooming cost, insufficient revenues, questionable administration and planning, lack of effect on congestion, and impacts on business and residences along the route.

With today's announcement, the recall campaign is ignoring the fact that those same problems are also true of the light rail program. The recall campaign is implicitly saying that those problems are OK as long as the train is on two rails, the project is feeding off of a larger taxing district, and the negative impacts affect predominantly minority Southeast Seattle—and as long as the agency screwing the taxpayers is Sound Transit.

So vote No on I-83. Not so much to say Yes to monorail, but to give a satisfyingly cathartic FU to the shadowy group of reptiles who claim they want to save us from one ineffective, overpriced, poorly managed and credibility-bankrupt train project, but then turn right around and want to shove another, equally egregious choo-choo train down our throats.

See Personal Rapid Transit
Articles: Reroute monorail tax dollars, critics say
Monorail foes say initiative would boost light rail

Reaming of the President. Last night David Kay and Scott Ritter were on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360. The normally lightweight Cooper asked the right questions, and the former weapons inspectors' comments went right to the heart of the Administration's lying rationalizations about the war:

COOPER: David Kay, is it just speculation and innuendo and rumor that Saddam Hussein intended to develop WMD programs if he could?

DAVID KAY: I don't think it's just speculation, although, I'm equally unhappy with the concept of intent... Charles Duelfer makes it clear... this is based on... a statement Saddam Hussein has made to his FBI interrogator and... senior Iraqi [former] officials who we interviewed...
    The issue is not whether someone has said this. Saddam had a lot of intentions... but he didn't have that capability. Intentions without capability is not a real threat. The real thing we should focus on is what were his capabilities at the time of the Gulf War.

COOPER: Maybe they sent the weapons out over, you know, to some other country. But what I don't get if he didn't have the weapons, there weren't any weapons to trans-ship to some other country.

SCOTT RITTER: You can't ship that which wasn't produced. Right now we have a lot of people who are desperate to justify the Bush administration's decision to go to war with Iraq. They'll focus on issues such as intent. And you'll also hear that although we haven't found the weapons or weapons of manufacturing capability, they could have been shipped across the border. But again, you can't ship that which you haven't produced. You can't bury that which you haven't obtained or produced. And what the Duelfer report shows, is that in 1991, the Iraqi government destroyed all of its weapons of mass destruction capability. By 1995, the manufacturing base had been dismantled and turned over to the United Nations. That there was no capability to manufacture this...

COOPER: David, this report cites several companies that violated U.N. sanctions trading with Iraq when they weren't supposed to. But apparently, the version that's going to be released publicly isn't going to name the American companies that does [sic] that. Why is that?

KAY: Well, I think it's a mistake. I'm sure someone will justify it in legalese, by saying you can't publicly indict someone before a grand jury has indicted them for a crime. But we're perfectly willing to do that about French companies, Russian companies and the Chinese companies. I actually think we need to lay on the table all the companies involved...

COOPER: Scott, ...the president said today... there was risk, a real risk that Saddam Hussein would pass weapons or material or information to terrorist networks. In the world after September 11th, that was a risk we could not afford. Do you believe that's true?

RITTER: Look, if Saddam Hussein was actively preventing the United Nations from doing its job, if we had hard evidence that he not only retained weapons of mass destruction capability, was seeking to reacquire this and that he had links with terrorist organizations hostile to the United States, the president's words would have credence. Unfortunately, for the president none of that is true... the overwhelming body of data collected by the United Nations [indicated] Iraq was fundamentally disarmed, that the programs were dismantled.
    ...You know, the president keeps talking about Iraq's failure to comply. Clearly these weapons were destroyed in 1991. What on earth justified the continuation of economic sanctions throughout the decade of the 1990s that led directly or indirectly to the death of 2.2 million Iraqi citizens.

COOPER: Just want to make sure we cover all the angles, David Kay, do you agree there was a risk, a real risk that Saddam would pass information or materials to terrorist network?

KAY: Anderson, I think the president has a real case. It's not so much that Saddam would do it. What I found when I went into Iraq in May of last year is a vortex of corruption... There was a real risk. Not that weapons, which I agree didn't exist, but that the weapons technology might well be sold by scientists who was [sic] trying to keep alive, trying to help his family or trying to get out of a decaying Iraq.

COOPER: But that's what our ally Pakistan did, right?

KAY: That's A-Q-Khan to the T, yes, indeed it is.

Source (third commercial break)

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Posted October 6, 2004
"John Edwards, I am your father"

What need is there for me to do truth squad duty on the Darth Cheney-John Edwards debate, when all of a sudden some of the mainstream media are right there doing it for me?

Knight Ridder Papers
Washington Post Debate Referee
Arms Threat Was Waning, Report Says
CNN Fact Check
CBS/AP Just The Facts

So much for the elephant's memory. I was surprised that Cheney would criticize Edwards for missing floor votes, and then admit to showing up only once a week to preside over the Senate—"most Tuesdays." But the one thing I thought Cheney scored on was when he said that was the first time he'd met Edwards. But this morning the AP reports that the two had met at least twice before, in 2003 and 2001. At Truthout, William Rivers Pitt posts a frame from CSPAN of the latter event.

"You cannot succeed in this effort if you're not willing to recognize the enormous contribution the Iraqis are increasingly making to their own future." —Dick Cheney
Finally, sobering facts as counterpoint to Cheney's rosy assessment of Iraq. It seems that of all our tax dollars intended for reconstruction,

As little as 27 cents of every dollar... has actually filtered down to projects benefiting Iraqis, a statistic that is prompting the State Department to fundamentally rethink the Bush administration's troubled reconstruction effort.
    Between soaring security costs, corruption and mismanagement, contractors' profits, and U.S. governmental costs, reconstruction funding is being drained away, leaving little left to improve the lives of Iraqis, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and International Studies. ... One senior U.S. official... suggested as little as a quarter of the funding is reaching its intended projects.
    But administration officials, lawmakers and think tanks say major changes are needed not only in what the reconstruction money is spent on but also how it is spent. Too much money has been filtered through major American businesses such as Halliburton Co. and Bechtel Corp. [on administration and management costs]... and not nearly enough has gone to smaller, more decentralized reconstruction efforts that could be handled by Iraqis, they say.
   ...Iraq Revenue Watch, a watchdog group funded by liberal philanthropist George Soros, analyzed contracts worth more than $5 million that have been funded with Iraqi oil revenue over the past year. Of the 39 contracts so far, U.S. and British firms have received 85 percent of the value, the group said. Iraqi firms have received 2 percent. Source

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Posted October 5, 2004
CBS's memo probably legit

Blue Lemur has a new development in the Bush Air National Guard story. It seems there is another, authenticated memo that has the same typography characteristics of the "discredited" memo was used by CBS.

A newly released document from President George W. Bush's military records lends credence to rumors that the recent flap over 'forged memos' was in fact engineered from within the White House...
    ...the timing of the release shows that the White House deliberately withheld a genuine document which contained the characteristics of the memos which are said to have been forged. From the beginning, Bush's supporters have claimed that typewriters of the period could not produce the documents.
    The document in question was released to an independent researcher as part of a Freedom of Information Act request in 2000,
    The document is a memo written to Bush notifying him of his promotion to First Lieutenant. Dated Feb. 19, 1971, it was typed more than a year before the first of the CBS memos.
    And, like the CBS memos, this document uses a proportionately spaced font and has the characteristics of a document produced on contemporary computers using Microsoft Word.
    even though Defense released Bush's flight records on Sept. 10, just when the memo controversy was gaining steam, and another 200 pages of records on Sept. 17th, [Defense] did not release the proportionately spaced memo at either point.
    It was not until Sept. 24, under a federal court order, that the Pentagon finally released the proportionately spaced document, even though this document had been released in 2000. Source

You wearin' a wire? This post at Indymedia New York raises an interesting though IMO unlikely theory about Bush's poor debate performance. The post contains an audio clip of Dubya saying "let me finish" even though no one interrupted him. Poster "John Reynolds" speculates that someone—he guesses Karl Rove— was speaking to Dubya via an earpiece. Over at Blue Lemur, a video capture from the debate seems to show a lump under Dubya's jacket between his shoulder blades, the shape and size of a pack of smokes. Some internet posters claim they can see a wire running up to his ear.
     While delicious to theorize about, I really doubt this scenario. First, debate moderator Jim Lehrer could very well have been raising a finger or pencil, as though he were about to interrupt. Second, the 'lump' is really large for a receiver, you'd think they would use something tiny, and wireless. It could very well be a thick yoke from a pair of suspenders. Or some kind of special, super-secret, post-9/11 Commander In Chief toy.
     A much more likely—and simpler—explanation for Bush's bizarre behavior is that it was the performance of a man who didn't believe what he was saying. When you listen to the moderator or your opponent, and then try to remember what your debate coach said to say, or which one of your scripted talking points is the best match, you're going to stare blankly at the camera for a credibility-robbing 2-3 seconds. You're going to say "uh" a lot. Your ad libs will be bad. You're going to give the wrong answer to the wrong question.
     Because Bush was not speaking from conviction. When you speak from conviction you don't have to pause before answering, you don't have to think about your answer, because you know what you believe. If you say what you believe, then you answer questions- well, you answer the way John Kerry did.

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Posted October 2, 2004
Check on Karl Rove's whereabouts (or, "Wolf! Wolf!")

Today's "Oh My Side Hurts From Laughing" news comes from the sleepy Seattle suburb of Bellevue: person or persons unknown broke into Bush/Cheney state HQ, making off with several computers used by key staff members.

"Whoever did this was clearly looking for a body of information," said local Bush campaign spokeswoman Leah Yoon.
    Police said their investigation was still in the early stages. But so far, said department spokeswoman Jessamyn Poling, "there's no indication that it was politically motivated."
    State Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance called it a "Watergate-style break in," and said he suspects Democrats are behind it.
    "If you're just some burglar looking for computers to sell to buy drugs, you take every laptop in the office, maybe," Vance said. "But they knew exactly whose computers to get." Source

Uh huh. And what Watergate-style techniques did the evildoers employ? Stealth? Organization? Duct tape over the locks? Nope: the person(s) who broke into the office located, appropriately, in a Bellevue business park subtlely smashed the window with a large rock.

Oh yeah, Vance! Your enemies are diabolical! Sorry, but this one has dirty tricks all over it—and we all know whose party is better at those, don't we? Interestingly, the same news story makes note of a previous incident the campaign's 2000 location:

Four years ago, two pieces of office equipment were taken from Bush headquarters in the 700 block of 112th Avenue Northeast, a couple of blocks away from the campaign's current office... No suspects were found. Vance said the computer of that year's campaign director was stolen.

Man, crime seems to follow the Washington State Republican'ts! They should immediately take action to find and prosecute the criminals; an attack on Iraq, for instance.

1st Runner-Up. And here's another victimized Republican't, this time from Las Mesa, CA:

Assemblyman says computers stolen from district office could be "political" crime
Two computers were stolen from the district office of California Assemblyman Jay La Suer, and the La Mesa Republican speculated that the crime could be "political in nature."
    A receptionist arrived at La Suer's La Mesa office [on Jackson Street] Friday to find the door wide open. Staff later realized the lock had been broken on the front door and two desktop computers assigned to La Suer were missing. Everything else in the office, including the monitors attached to the missing desktops, was untouched.
    "It's interesting how things like this seem to happen at election time," La Suer said in a statement issued Monday. "It makes one wonder whether this crime is political in nature."
    "We call it Jacksongate," [La Suer district chief of staff Barry] Jantz said. AP, 9/20/2004

Yes, Assemblyman La Suer. The timing IS interesting. And the circumstances familiar.

Continuing with the -Gate motif, I delved into the archives and I found a mention of a campaign break-in from 2002.

Scott likens office burglary to Watergate
Audrey Scott is mad.
    The Republican candidate for county executive said the burglary of her campaign office in Lanham last weekend could prove to be the Watergate of Prince George's County [Maryland].
    Burglars broke into Scott's third-floor office sometime after 2 a.m. Oct. 11, and stole a laptop computer. The hard drive on the laptop contained valuable campaign data...
    while she has no proof that campaign workers from her Democratic Party opponent... had anything to do with the break in, she's not ruling anyone out.
    "I can't believe this," said Scott... Didn't they learn anything from Watergate? I chose an office on the third floor of the building, which doesn't have an elevator, strictly for security reasons." Source

Um, Audrey? The original Watergate building has lots of floors; the DNC's offices were on 6. And since you (and La Suer and Vance) seem to have forgotten: the original Watergate burglars in '72 were working for the Republican'ts. So if anyone should have learned anything, it's you. You saucy little revisionist.

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Posted October 1, 2004

(1954 PDT) Major League Baseball has a new all-time single season hits leader: Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners, with 258 hits. The historic hit occured seconds ago in the bottom of the third of today's game against Texas. I am watching as the normally staid Ichiro smiles widely. He is mobbed by his teammates. He goes over to shake hands with Frances Sisler Drochelman, 81, daughter of prior record holder George Sisler, who got 257 hits in 1920. He tips his hat to the frenzied crowd. Pure emotion. Pure class. And they said he'd be eaten alive in the Bigs.

Seattle P-I story... gallery

"I have had one consistent position." There are highly qualified and paid spinmeisters warping the results of last night's Presidential Debate in Coral Gables, so I'll refrain from adding my own interpretation. Instead, I'm just going to relate my gut reactions to the proceedings.

Kerry kicked Dubya's skinny little ass from the figurative opening bell. His "Yes I do" to Jim Lehrer's first question about whether he thought he could make America safer was firm, he said what Dubya has done wrong, and described his own plans. Bush's rebuttal was astonishing. His delivery was halting, his eyes darted around nervously; he was President Bobblehead. He had the look of a man who had had too many whisky sours.

As the evening progressed he hunched over further and further. At the start, his US flag lapel pin was even with the top his microphone; at the end it had dropped a good 2-3 inches.

Kerry rope-a-doped the rest of the way, allowing the increasingly red-faced Bush to wear himself out with lie after lie. He lied through his teeth about the number of voter registrations in Afghanistan; he lied that he and Kerry saw "the very same intelligence"; he lied about the number of Iraq security personnel who have been trained. He even lied, again, about Saddam and 9/11:

LEHRER: ...Does the Iraq experience make it more likely or less likely that you would take the United States into another preemptive military action?

BUSH: I would hope I never have to. I understand how hard it is to commit troops. Never wanted to commit troops. When I was running -- when we had the debate in 2000, never dreamt I'd be doing that.
       But the enemy attacked us, Jim, and I have a solemn duty to protect the American people, to do everything I can to protect us.

But this time Kerry was there to call him on it:

KERRY: Jim, the president just said something extraordinarily revealing and frankly very important in this debate. In answer to your question about Iraq and sending people into Iraq, he just said, The enemy attacked us.
       Saddam Hussein didn't attack us. Osama bin Laden attacked us.
Al Qaida attacked us. And when we had Osama bin Laden cornered in the mountains of Tora Bora, 1,000 of his cohorts with him in those mountains. With the American military forces nearby and in the field, we didn't use the best trained troops in the world to go kill the world's number one criminal and terrorist.
       They outsourced the job to Afghan warlords, who only a week earlier had been on the other side fighting against us, neither of whom trusted each other.
       That's the enemy that attacked us. That's the enemy that was allowed to walk out of those mountains. That's the enemy that is now in 60 countries, with stronger recruits.

All Dubya could do was blurt "of course I know Osama bin Laden attacked us. I know that." President Nathan Thurm.

Dubya kept stopping in midsentence to look down at his notes. Here's what I think were in those notes:

Index card 1: Flip-flop flip-flop. Mixed messages.
Index card 2: Support our troops!
Index card 3: It's hard work
Index card 4: Poland.
Index card 5: Our strategy in Iraq will work because it will work.
Index card 6: Vo-si-fer-us.

Significantly, Bush appeared to be losing his grip. Instance 1: After Kerry hit him on homeland security, Dubya wondered aloud how Kerry would pay for security programs, due to "a tax gap" (accompanied by a weird combination head-flop/half-shrug). This was a tacit admission that he would rather keep the tax cuts for the rich instead of adequately funding homeland security.
       Instance 2: After Kerry said that bin Laden is using the invasion to spread hatred of America around the world, Bush pounced as though he had found a chink in Kerry's armor. But what came out of Bush's mouth revealed that he had not understood what was said. Here's what Kerry said:

You know, Osama bin Laden uses the invasion of Iraq in order to go out to people and say that 'America has declared war on Islam'. We need to be smarter about how we wage a war on terror. We need to deny them the recruits, we need to deny them the safe havens, we need to rebuild our alliances.

And here's Bush's jabbering response:

Osama bin Laden idn't gonna determine how we defend ourselves. Osama bin Laden dudn't get to decide. The American people decide. I decided. The right action was in Iraq.

Kerry's theme seemed to be that Bush is an incompetent fool who lied us into war and can't admit he was wrong. For his part, Kerry could do no wrong. For christsakes, he even mentioned France as he made a masterful point about Bush having lost us the respect of foreign leaders. Kerry won point after point, again and again. That is how he is going to win; that is how we're going to take back our country.

And the answer to the question "What's he say to Tony Blair?" Arf-arf, ya lapdog.

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