Saturday, October 02, 2004
My source on the inside at the White House provided me this transcript of one of the president's rehearsals for Thursday's debate. We can clearly see here, for the first time, the president's thought process, reasoning, and, in a breath of fresh air, some of his non-presidential interests. I hope this serves as a study in better understanding this complex man and the many forces that make him up.
ADVISER. All right, Mr. President, let's go over some of these questions again.
BUSH. Ah man, but why? I never lost a debate in my life. I'm indestroyable! Like Hulk Hogan.
ADVISER. Well, we all think there are still a few gaps to fill in.
BUSH. All right, go for it then. Let's fill them gaps up good.
ADVISER. OK. Here's a potential question you may be vulnerable on: 'Given the rising death toll of American troops, the shaky status of planned elections in Iraq, and the influx of terrorists and insurgent groups there, some wonder whether the war has been worth it. What would you say to the parents of children now fighting in Iraq?'
BUSH. My fingers smell funny.
ADVISER. Mr. President...
BUSH. Smell like barbecue sauce. Wanna sniff 'em?
ADVISER. Sir. This is serious.
BUSH. Right. Parents. Of children. Well first of all, we don't allow any children to fight in wars. It's way too dangerous over there. I mean, people are getting killed. A lot! So we've been very careful to make sure that no children be administered in the army. It's hard work. And children just want to play. So we have a pretty strict age limit of 16 for any soldiers over there--
ADVISER. No, no, Mr. President--
BUSH. Dang. It's 15 in'nt? Man, 15. 15. We're very precautious about not letting any young white kids onto the battlefield for any combat-related combat. I mean it wouldn't make much sense to let them fight anyway, cause they probaly couldn't even lift most of the guns they got. Those things are heavy and awesome. So I'd tell the parents not to worry about their children. Going to war. Until they're 15. Then they're mine. Freedom.
ADVISER. No, sir. We mean children who are over there fighting right now.
BUSH. Well, see, you're being tricky now. If they're fighting in the war how can they be children? See? I just said 'No children allowed.' It's like at an amusement park. You got to be a certain height to ride the roller coaster. For this you just got to be a certain age. That's a law right? I should make that a law. You think we could get a roller coaster by the White House sometime?
ADVISER. No sir.
BUSH. Scrambler, then? That thing's cool. Not the tea cups, though. I hate them.
ADVISER. Mr. President. The American people don't want to think about children getting killed in war, so don't bring that up at all, okay?
BUSH. You brought it up, man! Not me. I didn't bring that up.
ADVISER. Just don't talk about little kids at all, all right?
BUSH. Fine. What about dinosaurs?
ADVISER. There is no reason to talk about dinosaurs. At all. None.
BUSH. But I've never lost a debate. Not even one. Not even a tie. I'm, like, 94-0. I can do whatever I want, can't I Dickie boy?
CHENEY. Yes sir, 94-0.
BUSH. I'm the champ, man. Float like a butterfinger, sting like a...
ADVISER. A bee.
BUSH. Of course I know it's sting like a bee. I know that! Man.
ADVISER. Mr. President, your opponent has accused you of diverting much needed resources from the war on terror to an unwise and dangerous invasion of Iraq, leaving Osama bin Laden at large and neglecting security at home. What's your response.
BUSH. Shut up.
ADVISER. I'm sorry?
BUSH. You suck. You smell like puke and I hate your puke face.
ADVISER. Mr. President, no. No! You cannot say that in a debate.
BUSH. Why not? You started in on Osama. It's not my fault they didn't find him. How am I supposed to know where he is? He's wiley. Always has been. I remember one time he egged our house in Kennebunkport and we knew it was him, but we couldn't find him all night till he showed up in the garage making out with one of the servants.
ADVISER. Mr. President, you can't talk about Osama like that.
BUSH. I didn't say anything bad about him. He's a riot! Man, I saw him drink a snare drum full of Jagermeister once before punching his hand through the bathroom door.
ADVISER. You're supposed to say he's a cold-blooded killer and you want him dead or alive.
BUSH. Oh, we're just playin' around. We always play pranks on each other. Like the USS Cole thing. When Osama pulls a prank, he pulls a prank, boy!
ADVISER. Ok, let's lay off that for a while. That needs some work. Let's stay on message. One of the things we'll have to hammer home is that Kerry is a flip-flopper, that he's sending mixed messages and that his core beliefs change with the wind based on the political zeitgeist.
BUSH. Oh, whatever Shakespeare!
BUSH. You know, Shakespeare? The writer? You're talkin' all fancy writer. 'Changes with the wind.' You wanna maybe take me out to dinner and a movie next? Ha!
ADVISER. Mr. President. It's important that we create the image that he has no clear conviction, that you are steady in unsteady times, that you are the one with the vision to protect--- Mr. President? Mr. President, put down that Game Boy.
BUSH. Take a chill pill, amigo. It's Mario Kart, for Pete's sake! I'm just maxin' and relaxin' before the big fight. 94-0, baby! Whoo-eee!
ADVISER. You haven't answered one question seriously, you have no working knowledge of the subject matter, you're testy, you're fidgety, you're immature, short-tempered, egotistical, close-minded and arrogant!
BUSH. And they love it! Yassir! Check this out: Freedom. Terrorist. Flip flop. Sun tan. Homeland. Security. Spreading freedom. Hard work. September the 11th, 2001. Democracy. Madman. Dinosaurs. Robots. Freedom.
ADVISER. I told you there's no reason to talk about dinosaurs. Or robots.
BUSH. But they're awesome! Kids love 'em.
ADVISER. I know they're awesome, Mr. President.
BUSH. And fierce. With fangs.
ADVISER. Yes they certainly were, but there's no reason to talk about dinosaurs out of the blue like that.
BUSH. What about robots?
BUSH. But can't I just slip it in there real quick, like, 'We're working hard to protect Americans from the world's deadliest weapons -- robots -- and spread freedom, bla bla bla.' See, that works!
ADVISER. No it doesn't. It sounds like you're scared of robots.
BUSH. Well, duh! Aren't you? Some of those things are scary, man, and if you don't take them seriously, they will destroy you. (Impersonating Arnold Schwarzennegger) Are you Sarah Connor? (President makes laser noises and yells like a woman.)
BUSH. Come on! Look, I'm doing the mixed messages thing so just let me mention robots. Just once.
ADVISER. Absolutely not.
BUSH. I hate you.
ADVISER. That's fine. But we have to do this. You'll understand when you're older.
BUSH. I wish you were dead.
ADVISER. Mr. President...
BUSH. ... 94-0...
ADVISER. Okay. Come out from behind the lectern now. Come on. You're the leader of the free world, right? That means something, doesn't it? You're very powerful. Mr. President?
ADVISER. All right now. We need to go over a few more things and then you can go back to sleep. So. Don't talk about the soldiers. Don't talk about invading Iraq. Do NOT talk about Osama bin Laden. At all. Don't talk about homeland security. And do not even mention dinosaurs.
BUSH. What about---
ADVISER. -- Or robots.
ADVISER. Eventually you're going to have to discuss one of your weaker subjects, domestic issues.
BUSH. I hate doing dishes. America is a land of automatic dishwashers.
ADVISER. (Long, audible sigh.) Okay. You say that Americans should be able to invest their Social Security wages into the stock market, but others say that unnecessarily damages a proven social program, and given the market's volatility, could wind up hurting millions of ordinary Americans trying to save for their future. What do you say to that?
(Long pause. Loud chewing noises. A cough.)
BUSH. Dinosaur robots.
Powerful stuff. For those of you who believe that Kerry "won," or that Bush lacks a breadth of experience and knowledge, I advise you to go over this transcript again. Peek into the soul of the man. Paleontology is one of the most respected disciplines out there, and it is clear the President finds pleasure in rigorous debate therein. He's also clearly able to relate to young people, and his interest in future advances in automaton technology is just the sort of curious optimism we need to move forward. So before you make a judgment on what you saw the other night, or allow the pundits to sway your opinion, let this settle in. And may God continue to bless America. And robots.
Friday, October 01, 2004
Damfacrats has some nice examples of John Kerry's more well-crafted turns of phrase last night.
"But we didn't use American forces, the best trained in the world, to go kill [Osama]. The president relied on Afghan warlords and he outsourced that job too."
"This president thought it was more important to give the wealthiest people in America a tax cut rather than invest in homeland security. Those aren't my values. I believe in protecting America first."
"Almost every step of the way, our troops have been left on these extraordinarily difficult missions. I know what it's like to go out on one of those missions when you don't know what's around the corner."
"I've had one position, one consistent position, that Saddam Hussein was a threat. There was a right way to disarm him and a wrong way. And the president chose the wrong way."
"... or you have the president's plan, which is four words: more of the same."
"But this issue of certainty. It's one thing to be certain, but you can be certain and be wrong."
To which I might add "I made a mistake in the way I talk about the war. The President made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which do you think is worse?"
And when he described all the ways in which homeland security has suffered, outlining the chemical plant vulnerability, the disparity in water cargo inspections, then looked into the audience and asked, "Do you feel safer America?"
"But-- but-- he's sending mixed messages! And they're all mixed up! Like a chocolate and vanilla swirl at the DQ! No one can tell which is which because they're mixed... up... messages...!"
This was at the heart of the surreality of the whole affait: Bush's main point was that you cannot disagree with the war now, even if it was a mistake because it would send the wrong signal to the troops. Yet Kerry's argument, and the thing many Americans feel, is that we never would have had this situation if Bush hadn't invaded a sovereign fucking nation, and he is unwilling to change course or admit anything has gone wrong (except, of course, that he had no idea the American army would be so awesome and kick ass so fast.) There's a debate about a nonsubject while the subject that ought to be debated is almost entirely conceded already: Iraq is a disaster. This is not, apparently, in question.
It gets at the crux of the Administration, the campaign and American politics as a whole. The reality versus the illusion, and BushCo is all about illusion. Even if the Democrats are enmeshed in destructive American greed and machinations, they're still more related to reality than the Repubs are, and the facade is obviously falling. Witness Bush writhe and sweat and clutch desperately to the same tired sound bites. It's time for him to hand over the reigns to some apt surrogates, because I wonder if he is even able to believe the talking points anymore. Being no relationship between what he says and what is actually taking place, I can see why this would be hard for the poor guy.
And yet, this all somehow remains a debate. Surreal.
Ya done good. Even the skiddish wonks on Fox News admitted as much. Bill Kristol, who's idea the friggin' Iraq war was, gave you a tip of the hat. You were strong and composed and... tall. Watching the spit-screen on C-Span 2 was a sight to behold. Bush looked like he was 16 years old and is wondering if he got his girlfriend pregnant.
"Of course I know Osama bin Laden attacked us. I know that!"
But, John, Bush mentioned something about mixed messages, and I also heard Rudy G. ad Karen Hughes repeat the same thing, and Joe Scarborough's Fair, and a few others, so I get the feeling they might hit on that a little in the coming days. Just a hunch. But don't even dignify it. No one seems to want you to explain and backtrack anyway, so move forward, as you did tonight, and hit him where he lives. You did it effectively.
Wait. None of you is John Kerry. Crap.
Thursday, September 30, 2004
Yes, a few of us old sawhorses are getting together for some laughs and a few beers this evening to watch the two men who would rule the free world trade tag lines and sweat a bit in the hot lights. I imagine we'll all snuggle up together, we three men, and make cutting remarks with our mercury wit. I'll run out during the commercial break, grab the freshly-popping pop corn and check on the 7-layer dip, and then it's back round the television for full-color, flatscreen democracy. At the end of the night, when the others have left, and the TV is off, I'll still be picking popcorn kernels from the sheets, getting misty eyed that we live in a country that thrives on brisk debate and progress, competing in an Olympics of ideas, thought and understanding-- not despite our diversity, but because of it. I'll laugh about one of my friend's funny remarks but remember that, despite it all, those men up there are looking out for us, and being able to laugh at oneself is the most important thing.
The debates were hijacked from the truly independent League of Women Voters in 1986.Commentary by Connie Rice for the Tavis Smiley Show on NPR.
"The League of Women Voters ran these debates with an iron hand as open, transparent, non-partisan events from 1976 to 1984," Rice says. "The men running the major campaigns ended their control when the League defiantly included John Anderson and Ross Perot, and used tough moderators and formats the parties didn't like. The parties snatched the debates from the League and formed the Commission on Presidential Debates -- the CPD -- in 1986."
The secretly negotiated debate contract bars Kerry and Bush from any and all other debates for the entire campaign.
"Under what I call the Debate Suppression and Monopolization Clause of the contract, it is illegal for the candidates to debate each other anywhere else during the campaign," Rice says. "We need a new criminal law for reckless endangerment of democracy."
All members of the studio audience must be certified as "soft" supporters of Bush and Kerry, under selection procedures they approve.
"It's not enough to rig the debate -- they have to rig the audience, too? The contract reads: 'The debate will take place before a live audience of between 100 and 150 persons who... describe themselves as likely voters who are soft Bush supporters or soft Kerry supporters.' We should crash this charade and jump up in the middle to declare ourselves hard opponents of this Kabuki dance."
Fortune 100 corporations are the main funders of the CPD-sponsored debates, and the CPD's co-chairs are corporate lobbyists.
The CPD is run by Frank Fahrenkopf, a pharmaceutical industry lobbyist, and Paul Kirk, a top gambling lobbyist," Rice says. "And the biggest muliti-national corporations write the checks that fund the CPD -- Phillip Morris, Anheuser-Busch and dozens more. The audience may have to be silent and motionless, but the corporate sponsors can have banners, beer tents, Budweiser girls handing out pamphlets protesting beer taxes -- a corporate-sponsored circus to go along with the Kabuki Debates. Could we get a more fitting description of our democracy?"
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Flip flops are in style this season, and the Bay State brand by JFKerry has been under everyone's feet. But now a new designer is pushing in on the senator's hot fall line: W, the latest trend to hit the beltway, is sending a message loud and clear: "We won't let you keep the flip flop market all to yourself!" and people everywhere are listening.
An examination of more than 150 of Bush's speeches, radio addresses and responses to reporters' questions reveal a steady progression of language, mostly to reflect changing circumstances such as the failure to discover weapons of mass destruction, the lack of ties between Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network and the growing violence of Iraqi insurgents.
Whether such shifts constitute a reasonable evolution of language to reflect the progression of war, or an about-face to justify unmet expectations, is a subjective judgment tinged by partisan prejudice.
Yet a close look at the record makes it difficult to support Bush campaign chairman Ken Mehlman's description of the upcoming debate as a "square-off between resolve and optimism versus vacillation and defeatism.''
Kerry said during a speech at New York University last week ...[that]Bush has offered 23 different rationales for going to war. "If his purpose was to confuse and mislead the American people, he succeeded.''
The count comes from a study conducted by an honors thesis written by a University of Illinois student, which actually attributed 19 rationales -- none mutually exclusive -- to Bush and four others to members of his administration.
Most of the rationales were on the table from the beginning. What changed was the emphasis.
Oct. 7, 2002
Speech before the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Cincinnati
"Saddam Hussein is harboring terrorists and the instruments of terror, the instruments of mass death and destruction. ... Knowing these realities, American must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.''
Aug. 16, 2004
Speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Cincinnati
"Even though we did not find the stockpiles that we thought we would find, Saddam Hussein had the capability to make weapons of mass destruction, and he could have passed that capability on to our enemy, to the terrorists. It is not a risk after September the 11th that we could afford to take. Knowing what I know today, I would have taken the same action."
You're not the only one
With mixed emotions.
Salon.com has a nice piece today on the very nice piece CBS yanked because they're too scared of the bullies in the White House. The yellowcake disaster has two potentially explosive scandals wrapped into one incredible story: the lies that got us into Iraq and the outing of Valerie Plame, a federal offense. While these have been widespread and appeared sporadically on the front pages of newspapers across the country, never has a program like 60 Minutes explored the tale in full detail (a staggering 30-minute report) and now it looks like we'll never even get to see it.
One measure of the debacle is a "60 Minutes Wednesday" segment that millions of viewers now will now not see: a hard-hitting report making a powerful case that in trying to build support for the Iraq war, the Bush administration either knowingly deceived the American people about Saddam Hussein's nuclear capabilities or was grossly credulous. CBS news president Andrew Heyward spiked the story this week, saying it would be "inappropriate" during the election campaign.
Salon was given the videotape by CBS News on the condition that we report on it only shortly before it was to air.
A source close to CBS said [reporter Ed] Bradley was furious with the decision to spike the report and angry that the reputation of the "60 Minutes" Sunday program has suffered because of the missteps of the Wednesday version of the show. Bradley did not return phone calls seeking comment.
"Two years ago, Americans heard some frightening words from President Bush and his closest advisers," Bradley said in his introduction of the now-shelved report. "Saddam Hussein, they said, could soon have a nuclear bomb. Of course, we now know that wasn't true." Not only did Saddam not have a nuclear program, Bradley said, but "he hadn't for more than ten years. How could the Bush administration be so wrong about something so important?"
The answer, Bradley was to have told viewers, "has a lot to do with a single piece of evidence: A set of documents that appear to prove Saddam was secretly buying uranium ore." The mysterious surfacing of the forged Niger documents, Bradley said, helped "explain why President Bush and his cabinet delivered the frightening message we all heard in the early autumn two years ago." The broadcast then cut to video clips of Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice making public statements with eerily similar wording:
"We now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons," Cheney said in an address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Cut to Rumsfeld: "We do now know that Saddam Hussein has been actively and persistently" pursuing nukes." Then, Rice on a television talk show, insisted: "We do know that he is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon."
By showing the video clips in rapid succession, the television piece conveyed, in a manner beyond the printed word, how deliberate and practiced was the administration's sense of urgency.
Sounds pretty juicy, no? Sounds like something the American public would like to see, no? Sounds like actual reporting, no? But because CBS blew it so hard with the Bush-National Guard story (a story that didn't need any forged documents, alleged or not) they're putting their tail tween their legs and failing the American people and democracy.
I won't give up, though. If enough pressure is brought to bear, maybe the network will relent and air this piece. Here's a copy of the letter I sent to CBS News president Andrew Heyward -- and if he won't listen to me, who will he listen to?
Dear Mr. Heyward,
I've read with troubled dismay this week about your decision to kill a story vital to national security over apparent fears of a retalliation by the White House. It's disconcerting that a news organization like CBS can so easily bend to the will of right wing politics. Given the blow your network has already received over the Colonel Killian papers, I believe it is most important that you now act to regain credibility, not recoil from partisanship and bluster.
The yellowcake story has the potential to be one of the most important ever aired on American television; and your reasoning that it would be inappropriate to show so close to an election defies logic and befuddles the mind. Would this not be the most appropriate time to air it? Before we elect a president who may have deceived our country into war? This is an opportunity for millions of Americans to see the facts and judge for themselves, and no time for second guesses.
It would also be an opportunity for CBS to regain the respect of those of us who have watched you cringe in fear at the White House. From the moveon ad to the Superbowl, to this, a once stalwart and independent news source looks more and more like it is in the President's pocket. And that is dangerous.
For the others who consider your's to be a "liberal" network, what would you have to lose by airing the piece? If the reporting is tight and the facts speak for themselves, let the conservative echo chamber sound off; you'll still have done a great service to the voters in this very important election.
I ask you to reconsider your decision and broadcast this important story. A free press is our best defense against tyranny, after all, and I hope you'll think about what is at stake. Can we afford to be lied into another war? Can we afford not to know how we got into this one in the first place? This is history, Mr. Heyward, not business, and we're counting on you to do the right thing.
Very sincerely yours,
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
First an apology. I said some disparaging things about Florida yesterday, and I have to admit that the Sunshine State is not all that bad -- I've never been, but though I hear it is akin to an earthbound Hell, I now see that that other Bush has taken care of everything, and restored my faith in that marshy penis dangling from the side of our fair country.
More specifically, the governor answered charges made by Jimmy Carter that Florida is in woefully bad shape for the election in a month. Not so says Jeb.
Governor Jeb Bush says "conspiracy theories" about the state's voting machines are "constant haranguing of nonsense."
The governor says he's particularly disappointed in former President Jimmy Carter, who said this week that conditions for a fair election in Florida do NOT exist. In Monday's Washington Post, Carter wrote "the disturbing fact is that a repetition of the problems of 2000 now seems likely."
So Jeb has done what any skilled deflector would do: call it all a Conspiracy Theory! The big C word. One would think that conspiracies don't exist, even though they have whole laws about that sort of thing. In fact, capitalism is based on conspiracy, isn't it? My favorite is when I'm explaining about the aliens that rule the world, and someone asks me why these conspiracies haven't been discovered. To which I respond, "Oh, they have. I'm telling you about them now (!)" Right?
That all aside, Carter did not condemn the electronic voting per se, but rather the partisanship of the state's election officials and underhanded attempts to disenfranchise black, democratic voters. I don't know what else Jeb said, but this sounds like another Republican tactic. I cannot wait to see which way the state goes, and then how many more hurricanes form to the east immediately thereafter.
Monday, September 27, 2004
We all know things are bad in Florida. We all suspect it is the nexus of the evil currents crossing the globe. We all know Disney's creepy simulated town is there. And now we learn that voting conditions there are basically on par with, oh, say, the Congo.
Voting arrangements in Florida do not meet "basic international requirements" and could undermine the US election, former US President Jimmy Carter says.
He said a repeat of the irregularities of the much-disputed 2000 election - which gave President George W Bush the narrowest of wins - "seems likely".
Mr Carter, a veteran observer of polls worldwide, also accused Florida's top election official of "bias".
In an article in the Washington Post newspaper, Mr Carter, a Democrat, said that he and ex-President Gerald Ford, a Republican, had been asked to draw up recommendations for changes after the last vote in Florida was marred by arguments over the counting of ballots.
Mr Carter said the reforms they came up with had still not been implemented.
He accused Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood, a Republican, of trying to get the name of independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader included on the state ballot, knowing he might divert Democrat votes.
He also said: "A fumbling attempt has been made recently to disqualify 22,000 African Americans (likely Democrats), but only 61 Hispanics (likely Republicans), as alleged felons."
And you a=only have to go to England to read about how the voting conditions are in our own country, leading up to the most important election inthe last century! No big whoop.
Oh yeah, Carter is a whiny, sappy, yellow liberal, so why bother.