Thursday, October 14, 2004

This explains a lot

Over at Slate, Chris Suellentrop hits the mark on the most important quote from Bush on the "not concerned about bin Laden" statement. And it's this:

"I was concerned about him, when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban."

As Suellentrop follows up:

The president's philosophy toward the war on terror could not be clearer: It is a war against nation-states, not against "nonstate actors"

This is dangerous, folks, because it ignores the realities of terror. It's all well and good to remove nation-states that aid, abet and comfort terrorists. Afghanistan under the Taliban fits that description, especially since Al-Qaeda was running the Taliban, and therefore Afghanistan. But to move the war to nations that could support terrorists (i.e. Iraq) doesn't eliminate the terrorist threat. They still exist, and while they may not get technical help in creating a nuke, they still have the capacity to build a "dirty" bomb. Or drive a fuel tanker into a building. Or release chlorine gas in a crowded street.

Invading Iraq does not halt or even impede these "nonstate actors." If anything, it makes it easier for them to act, since our attention and security manpower is focused at a single location.

We have to go after them where they live. Them, not the country that they're living in. It's about killing terrorists, not regime change and nation-building at every turn. The President has lost sight of that.

Answer: Salmon, Sausage, George Bush in a debate

Question: Named three things that get smoked.

I'm here all week, folks.

All kidding aside, I can't recall seeing a candidate doing as poorly across a series of debates as George Bush has this year. He was never able to paint Kerry in a negative light, and frequently did or said things to do more damage to himself. Join me, won't you, as we peruse the highlights (and lowlights) of the final debate.

1. The question was whether our children will be safer than we are today. In the answering, Kerry said this:

Six months after he said Osama bin Laden must be caught dead or alive, this president was asked, "Where is Osama bin Laden?" He said, "I don't know. I don't really think about him very much. I'm not that concerned."

To which Bush replied:

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. Of course we're worried about Osama bin Laden. We're on the hunt after Osama bin Laden. We're using every asset at our disposal to get Osama bin Laden.

So how does the President explain this quote from his March 13, 2002 Press Conference?

You know, I just don't spend that much time on him ... And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him.

Moving on...

2. The question was about how the candidates would pay for their proposed programs without raising taxes or making the deficit worse.

Bush: I propose a detailed budget, Bob. I sent up my budget man to the Congress, and he says, here's how we're going to reduce the deficit in half by five years. It requires pro-growth policies that grow our economy and fiscal sanity in the halls of Congress.

This from the man who has overseen the fastest growing deficit in our history, while laying waste to a multi-trillion dollar surplus. The man who signed a $500 billion Medicare giveaway that could run into the trillions of dollars as more people retire. The man who has earmarked $200 billion for rebuilding Iraq, yet only 27cents of each dollar goes to actual reconstruction, while the rest goes to "overhead." The man who is about to sign a corporate giveaway bill that will cost us hundreds of billions more. There is no way, no way, he will ever cut the deficit or even pretend to reign in spending. At least Kerry talked about "pay-as-you-go." All Bush did was make a joke and ignore it.

The best part was Kerry's rebuttal:

Being lectured by the president on fiscal responsibility is a little bit like Tony Soprano talking to me about law and order in this country.

So true....so true...

3. Kerry on stopping outsourcing:

Outsourcing is going to happen.

I've acknowledged that in union halls across the country. I've had shop stewards stand up and say, "Will you promise me you're going to stop all this outsourcing?"

And I've looked them in the eye and I've said, "No, I can't do that." ... Today, if you're an American business, you actually get a benefit for going overseas. You get to defer your taxes ... That's not smart. I don't want American workers subsidizing the loss of their own job. And when I'm president, we're going to shut that loophole in a nanosecond and we're going to use that money to lower corporate tax rates in America for all corporations, 5 percent. And we're going to have a manufacturing jobs credit and a job hiring credit so we actually help people be able to hire here.

An honest and smart answer. Shutting the loophole while preserving the cash savings through a lower tax rate should make it affordable to keep jobs here. And he admits the truth: outsourcing won't completely end.

4.Is homosexuality a choice?

Bush: You know, Bob, I don't know. I just don't know.

Kerry: We're all God's children, Bob. And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was, she's being who she was born as. I think if you talk to anybody, it's not choice.

Seriously, Mr.President...you "don't know?" Wake up. It's who they are. It's not a choice, any more than your skin color or ethnic background is. He may as well have said "yes."

5. Kerry's reaction to criticism from Catholic archbishops. (I'm including the whole answer, with some added emphasis, because I think it is one of the best answers either candidate has given in the three debates)

I respect their views. I completely respect their views. I am a Catholic. And I grew up learning how to respect those views. But I disagree with them, as do many. I believe that I can't legislate or transfer to another American citizen my article of faith. What is an article of faith for me is not something that I can legislate on somebody who doesn't share that article of faith. I believe that choice is a woman's choice. It's between a woman, God and her doctor. And that's why I support that. Now, I will not allow somebody to come in and change Roe v. Wade. The president has never said whether or not he would do that. But we know from the people he's tried to appoint to the court he wants to. I will not. I will defend the right of Roe v. Wade. Now, with respect to religion, you know, as I said, I grew up a Catholic. I was an altar boy. I know that throughout my life this has made a difference to me. And as President Kennedy said when he ran for president, he said, "I'm not running to be a Catholic president. I'm running to be a president who happens to be Catholic." My faith affects everything that I do, in truth. There's a great passage of the Bible that says, "What does it mean, my brother, to say you have faith if there are no deeds? Faith without works is dead." And I think that everything you do in public life has to be guided by your faith, affected by your faith, but without transferring it in any official way to other people. That's why I fight against poverty. That's why I fight to clean up the environment and protect this earth. That's why I fight for equality and justice. All of those things come out of that fundamental teaching and belief of faith. But I know this, that President Kennedy in his inaugural address told all of us that here on Earth, God's work must truly be our own. And that's what we have to -- I think that's the test of public service.

I don't think a candidate has been this eloquent on works and faith in my memory. And this is in contrast to the "religious" president. And though I don't know if I agree on his throwing in of the environment, on the rest he speaks to the teachings of Christ a lot more than President Bush has.

The President spent his time talking about banning abortion without ever saying it, mentioning the "culture of life" (how that jists with the death penalty...), talking about adoption (although the numbers continue to swell, meaning more kids are staying in group homes), and so forth. Here's an update, sir. Even those of us who are pro-choice don't LIKE abortions. We aren't counting them with glee. We just believe a woman has the right to consider that option. Women DON'T LIKE having to go that route. It's not a fun procedure, to say the least.

6. On health care costs. Now, I am somwhat leery of Kerry's plan, because it will cost upwards of $1.2 trillion. I do support the idea of covering children, because that's a long-term investment that will pay off. And I do like the fact Kerry's plan isn't nationalized health care. That's a good sign we have avoided that tar-pit of an idea.

But Bush said one thing responding to Kerry's plan that amazed me. And it was this: "It would be the largest increase in government health care ever."

True...of course, the current holder of that record IS YOU!! $500 billion Medicare giveaway, George! Or did you forget about that? Do you think all of us are sheeple?

I was distressed that neither candidate properly addressed Social Security. Bush did hit on the right idea of letting people take their SS percentage and invest it. Of course, he didn't talk about where they could do so, or how he would fund the gap that would inevitably occur in the transfer. On Kerry's side, he identified the gap, but then used that as an excuse to basically dodge the issue. To wit:

Now, if later on after a period of time we find that Social Security is in trouble...

John, it's in trouble now. You and the Democrats are going to have to face this fact and start to deal with it. The current system is going to fail once more and more retirees get in-system and there are less working Americans to pay them. So it's either cut benefits, raise the age limit, institute means testing, widen the tax net or revamp the whole thing. Something has to be done.

I can't even deal with the immigration question. Neither candidate seems to understand the severity of the problem. Potential terrorists have already crossed the Mexican border numerous times, there are massive gaps in the security patrols, some fences are a single strand of chicken wire... it's ridiculous.

7. "The Litmus Test" The question was about Roe v. Wade and appointing SC judges

Bush: Will I have a litmus test for my judges? And the answer is, no, I will not have a litmus test. I will pick judges who will interpret the Constitution, but I'll have no litmus test.

Kerry: I'm not going to appoint a judge to the court who's going to undo a constitutional right, whether it's the First Amendment, or the Fifth Amendment, or some other right that's given under our courts today -- under the Constitution. And I believe that the right of choice is a constitutional right.

So I don't intend to see it undone.

Clearly, the president wants to leave in ambivalence or intends to undo it.

Bush: He clearly has a litmus test for his judges, which I disagree with.

With all due respect, Mr. President, but do you think we're that fucking stupid?! We know you have a litmus test, just like Kerry does. The only difference is Kerry admitted it. Every President has a litmus test, what laws he does and doesn't agree with. And he'll obviously appoint a judge who coincides with those beliefs. Don't play me for stupid, Sir. I don't appreciate it.
Well, look, you can go online and find the entire transcript. But the final word is, Kerry won. He won on substance. He won on poise. Bush couldn't make him look dangerous. And combining that with the poor economic news of late and the utter disasters occuring in Iraq (we can't even secure the Green Zone), the President stands a real chance of losing this election.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The revolution eats its young...

Can't say I have any problems with this development in Iraq.
Orwell's rolling in his grave

If my doctor offered me this, I'd have three little words for him.

No. Fucking. Way.

Not Helping

I'm voting for Kerry this year. This should not be a shock. But in doing so, I have had to hold my nose at some of the garbage the Left is spewing out. First, there was that horrific Ted Rall hatchet-job on Pat Tillman. And now there is piece of garbage from Jeff Danzinger.

Criticizing Rice for her verbal gymnastics about the aluminum tubes found in Iraq is one thing. To use blatant racist caricatures is another thing entirely. It's abhorent and disgusting. Danzinger should face serious consequences for this.

But will he? Doubtful. It's a double-standard that has existed for some time. When the Left uses these tactics to attack "Uncle Toms", it's seen as acceptable by the liberal cognoscenti. But imagine the uproar if a right-wing cartoonist portrayed Kwesi Mfume as a drug-dealing pimp. The invective would be flying and that cartoonist would be hung out to dry.

It's crap like this Danzinger cartoon that radicalizes politics. It doesn't advance constructive debate one centimeter. But sadly, it seems to be the norm more and more.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Manipulating the Airwaves

By now, most of you have heard about the Sinclair Broadcasting Group commanding their affiliates to run an anti-Kerry "documentary" roughly 12 days before the election. The hit-piece, entitled "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal" will pre-empt regular programming.

I want to first mention two things. First, hats off to Brad at BRADBLOG for calling attention to this. We don't agree on everything, but neither of us likes this. Second, a mea culpa on my part for not finding out about this earlier, especially since I live in an area with a SBG station.

Up here in the Pine Tree State, CBS affiliate WGME is owned by Sinclair (not all their affiliates are ABC-oriented). And if you don't have one of their stations in your area, consider yourself lucky.

This "documentary" isn't all they have done. Unlike any other news station, they tape editorials at their home office in Maryland and then disseminate them to all their afffiliates for a national release. Normal practice is that local stations tape their own editorials that run after the local news.

Up here in Maine, that has some people ticked off. Especially when these are the editorials that run:

In other words, blatant partisan tripe that goes far beyond what the local editorial spot at the end of the news should cover. It'd be like Gannett forcing their stations to run editorials titled "Bush and the Drug Use", "Bush and his Drinking" and so forth. Wouldn't that piss off every Bush supporter? And rightly so.

And it's not just the 6 p.m. news. Nope, this stuff runs after the morning and noon news as well. The only saving grace is that WGME is the lowest-rated newscast in Maine.

The irony is that Sinclair is the same newsgroup that banned the "Nightline" episode in May, 2004 that read off the names of the dead in Iraq. Their reason: it was "a political statement" that should not be part of a news program...

Then what the hell is this?? It's a blatant political attack ad, not a documentary. It's 60 minutes of harsh invective, not news. The title is "Stolen Honor" How can you pretend this is an unbiased documentary?

The sad thing is that they don't have to pretend. When the "fairness doctrine" lapsed in the mid-80s, TV stations were "freed" from the requirement to provide equal time to both candidates. So now groups like Sinclair can force their affiliates to run partisan crap and not have to worry about a fine.

What does it say about where we are as a country that now stations can pick and choose what we are to see and not see? One of the fundamental blocks that our freedom and liberty are built upon is the freedom of the press, the concept that we will be informed about what is going on, without bias, and be able to make our choices based on that information. When that freedom is manipulated and tarnished, it belittles us as a people and as a nation. It smacks of Soviet propaganda, of the state media you'd find in a banana republic. It's wrong, and it cannot go unchallenged.

To that end, there is a boycott of Sinclair advertisers underway. Now, I supported the boycott of CBS over that vile Reagan "biopic". So it's perfectly acceptable to apply this in the other direction. To me, this isn't a partisan issue, but an issue about preventing the abuse of our press. So if you value a press that is truly free, go on over to the boycott site.

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