Cheney outrage #2

Loyalty oaths. You know, as self-righteous as some wingers get when they're compared with fascists, these guys really have learned their Gestapo tactics.
Some would-be spectators hoping to attend Vice President Dick Cheney's rally in Rio Rancho this weekend walked out of a Republican campaign office miffed and ticketless Thursday after getting this news: Unless you sign an endorsement for President George W. Bush, you're not getting any passes. The Albuquerque Bush-Cheney Victory office in charge of doling out the tickets to Saturday's event was requiring the endorsement forms from people it could not verify as supporters... ... An endorsement form provided to the Journal by Random says: "I, (full name) ... do herby (sic) endorse George W. Bush for reelection of the United States." It later adds that, "In signing the above endorsement you are consenting to use and release of your name by Bush-Cheney as an endorser of President Bush." A Journal reporter, who is a registered Democrat, called to inquire about a ticket Thursday afternoon. He was asked for his name, address and driver's license number but was not told over the telephone that he would need to sign any endorsement form. He got the news after arriving at the Bush-Cheney office.
Wow. It's illiterate, too.

Cheney outrage #1

I guess Cheney's a "uniter", too.
"President Bush's re-election campaign insisted on knowing the race of an Arizona Daily Star journalist assigned to photograph Vice President Dick Cheney. The Star refused to provide the information. Cheney is scheduled to appear at a rally this afternoon at the Pima County Fairgrounds. A rally organizer for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign asked Teri Hayt, the Star's managing editor, to disclose the journalist's race on Friday. After Hayt refused, the organizer called back and said the journalist probably would be allowed to photograph the vice president. 'It was such an outrageous request, I was personally insulted,' Hayt said later. Danny Diaz, a spokesman for the president's re-election campaign, said the information was needed for security purposes... ...Organizer Christine Walton asked for Popat's race in telephone conversations with two other Star editors before she spoke to Hayt. They also refused to provide the information. Walton told Hayt that Popat's race was necessary to allow the Secret Service to distinguish her from someone else who might have the same name.
Gosh, I've lost count of how many Momta Popats I know.

St Ralph the Nader

Really, can we put the St. Ralph garbage to bed, already?
"Nader office shuts down as workers seek pay Petition circulators demanded payment for signatures collected. A campaign employee said the scene smacked of dirty politics. Ralph Nader's presidential campaign this week abruptly abandoned the Center City office that housed its efforts to get on the Pennsylvania ballot, leaving behind a mess of accusations and a damaged building.


Saletan explains how Rove helped Kerry

Also in Slate, William Saletan explains that Rove and Bush gave Kerry all the issues he needs to win.
"The theory behind Bush's hard-line style of governance came from his chief political adviser, Karl Rove. Rove believed that Bush lost the popular vote in 2000 because millions of conservatives stayed home. He believed that Bush's father lost the 1992 election by alienating the right and creating a Republican primary challenge by Pat Buchanan. So, on issue after issue, the current President Bush has played to his base. On Rove's theory, every step to the right earns Bush another conservative vote. That calculation is correct. But it's only half the story. For every conservative voter who's inspired to turn out for Bush because of his unyielding conservatism, there's a liberal voter who's inspired to turn out for Kerry. That's why Kerry has had no trouble uniting his party after the primaries. It's why the FleetCenter exploded tonight at every one of Kerry's applause lines. And it's why Kerry can now move aggressively to the middle without fear of losing the left. In his determination to unite the right, Bush hasn't just united the left. He has lost the center. Look at last week's New York Times/CBS News poll of registered voters. 'Do you think the result of the war with Iraq was worth the loss of American life and other costs of attacking Iraq or not?' Fifty-nine percent say it was not. 'Which do you think is a better way to improve the national economy - cutting taxes or reducing the federal budget deficit?' Fifty-eight percent say reducing the deficit. 'When it comes to regulating the environmental and safety practices of business, do you think the federal government is doing enough, should it do more, or should it do less?' Fifty-nine percent say more. One more Bush voter on the right, balanced by one more Kerry voter on the left, plus the tilting of one more voter in the middle toward Kerry, is a net loss for the president. That's the lesson of this administration, this election, and this convention. Kerry doesn't have to write any good lines. He just has to read them."
That pretty much sums up the current landscape.


Chris Suellentrop, who covered the NH campaign last winter, describes Kerry as a composite candidate.
"He also adapted Dean's line about a president's most solemn duty being to tell the truth before taking a nation to war, when he promised to 'be a commander in chief who will never mislead us into war.' There was also a dash of Wesley Clark's 'new patriotism,' Clark's affirmation of dissent as patriotism's highest form, when Kerry said, 'We are here to affirm that when Americans stand up and speak their minds and say America can do better, that is not a challenge to patriotism; it is the heart and soul of patriotism.' Clark also had a riff about family values that Kerry adapted tonight, saying, 'It is time for those who talk about family values to start valuing families.' "
Sounds like a candidate who has understandably appropriated the best themes and issues from all the primary candidates. Absolutely nothing is wrong with that.

Kerry's Speech

Granted, I only watched it on TV, but I really thought it was expertly delivered, and that he struck just the right themes throughout. It was optimistic. "America can do better, and help is on the way." Throwing a GOP line from 2000 back in Bush-Cheney's face. It was unyielding on the war on terror, and it explained what's missing in Iraq. He promised to end the "back-door draft" of reservists and guardspeople. He promised to uplift the middle class while ending corporate welfare and huge tax cuts for the rich. He talked about unity. We're not red and blue states. We're all red, white & blue. Since this is the "Clark Democrat", I have to add that I think that Kerry did a fantastic job appropriating and adopting Clark's "New American Patriotism". The Democratic Party, and the Kerry/Edwards campaign are definitely stronger competitors in the arena of ideas, thanks to Wes Clark.

Wes Clark's speech at the Convention last night

When he first started campaigning back in September 2003, let's face it, he was pretty green. Boy, what a difference a few months can make. He was absolutely brilliant last night. A fantastic speech by a great American and a proud Democrat.
A text of Ret. General Wesley Clark's speech as prepared for delivery Thursday night at the Democratic National Convention: Thank you, my fellow Democrats. I am an American soldier. Our country was attacked. We are at war. Our nation is at risk, engaged in a life-or-death struggle against terrorists who are seeking nuclear and biological weapons. And as I speak tonight, our Armed Forces are in combat. Our freedoms were won in war, and protected by generation after generation of selfless service and sacrifice. From Bunker Hill to Bastogne, from the frozen hills of Korea to the jungles of Vietnam, from Kabul to Baghdad, American men and women in uniform have served with honor; they've given us so much, and they've asked for so little. Tonight we honor them: our soldiers, our veterans, our families. I want to thank my wife, Gert, my son, Wesley, his wife and son and all the military families who stand behind those who serve. Now I ask you to observe with me a moment of silence to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, so that we could have the freedom we exercise tonight. War. I've been there. Heard the thump of enemy mortars. Seen the tracers fly. Bled on the battlefield. Recovered in hospitals. Received and obeyed orders. Sent men and women into battle. Awarded medals, comforted families, attended funerals. And this soldier has news for you: Anyone who tells you that one political party has a monopoly on the defense of our nation is committing a fraud on the American people. Franklin Roosevelt said it best: "Repetition does not transform a lie into the truth." This hall and this party are filled with veterans who have served under this flag -- our flag. We rose and stood reveille to this flag. We fought for this flag. And we've seen brave men and women buried under this flag. This flag is ours! And nobody will take it away from us. The safety of our country demands urgent and innovative measures to strengthen our armed forces. The safety of our country demands credible intelligence. The safety of our country demands cooperation with our allies. The safety of our country demands making more friends and fewer enemies. The safety of our country demands an end to the doctrinaire, ineffective policies that currently grip Washington. Enough is enough! A safe America -- a just America -- that's what we want, and that's what we need. And with John Kerry and John Edwards, that's what we will achieve. John Kerry has lived the values of service and sacrifice. In the Navy, as a prosecutor, as a Senator. He proved his physical courage under fire. He's proved his moral courage too. John Kerry fought a war and came home to fight for peace -- his combination of physical courage and moral values is my definition of what we need in a Commander in Chief. And John Edwards, with his leadership and competence, will be a great member of this command team. John Kerry is a man who -- in times of war -- can lead as a warrior, and who -- in times of peace -- can heed the call of scripture to beat swords in to plowshares. John Kerry will lead America with strength and wisdom. He has the will to fight, and the moral courage born in battle to pursue and secure a strong peace. Under John Kerry we will attack and destroy the terrorist threats to America. He'll join the pantheon of great wartime Democrats. Great Democrats like Woodrow Wilson, who led us to victory in World War 1. Great Democrats like Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, who turned back the tide of fascism to win World War II. Great Democrats like John Kennedy, who stood firm and steered us safely through the Cuban Missile Crisis. And great Democrats like Bill Clinton, who confronted ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia, and with diplomacy -- backed by force -- brought peace to a shattered land. My fellow Americans, Democrats are leaders. Democrats are fighters. John Kerry is a leader and fighter and he will be a great Commander in Chief. John Kerry knows the power of America is our values and ideals. John Kerry knows that our soldiers embody the best of America's values: Service. Sacrifice. Courage. Compassion. They're serving to build something greater than themselves. They're serving to build something worth fighting for. They're serving to build something worth dying for. They are a company of heroes. Everyone who fights for the best in American life is also a hero. Firefighters. Police officers. Teachers, and so many others. John Kerry's time to lead this company of heroes has arrived. Right here. Right now. In this town. Tonight, from this place, we set out together to put our country back on track to security, freedom and opportunity. America: hear this soldier. Choose a leader whose physical courage, moral values and sound judgment will -- with the grace of God and our determined commitment -- strengthen our country, protect our liberty, renew our spirit and secure a future for our children that is worthy of our heritage. Make John Kerry the next president of the United States. Thank you, and God bless America.


Sharpton hits a home run

Sharpton went a good 10 minutes or so over his originally-scheduled speech last night. CNN has the transcript of the speech as given. As usual, Rev. Al gave a rousing performance, and his best lines were ad-libbed, referencing Bush's speech to the Urban League last week:
Mr. President, as I close, Mr. President, I heard you say Friday that you had questions for voters, particularly African- American voters. And you asked the question: Did the Democratic Party take us for granted? Well, I have raised questions. But let me answer your question. You said the Republican Party was the party of Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. It is true that Mr. Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, after which there was a commitment to give 40 acres and a mule. That's where the argument, to this day, of reparations starts. We never got the 40 acres. We went all the way to Herbert Hoover, and we never got the 40 acres. We didn't get the mule. So we decided we'd ride this donkey as far as it would take us. Mr. President, you said would we have more leverage if both parties got our votes, but we didn't come this far playing political games. It was those that earned our vote that got our vote. We got the Civil Rights Act under a Democrat. We got the Voting Rights Act under a Democrat. We got the right to organize under Democrats. Mr. President, the reason we are fighting so hard, the reason we took Florida so seriously, is our right to vote wasn't gained because of our age. Our vote was soaked in the blood of martyrs, soaked in the blood of Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner, soaked in the blood of four little girls in Birmingham. This vote is sacred to us. This vote can't be bargained away. This vote can't be given away. Mr. President, in all due respect, Mr. President, read my lips: Our vote is not for sale."

Bush's Cuba policy is remarkably stupid - to Florida Cubans

Let's drag ourselves back to 1999. Elian Gonzalez. Thought you'd forgotten all about him, right? Thought you'd never have to think the words "Marisleysis" again? It was right around the time that little Elian was being used as a political pawn by everyone and anyone that the Florida Cuban community pretty much hooked up with the Bush camp. Lot of good it's done them. After 3 years of a Bush administration, Cuba's still Communist, and it's still run by Castro. I think that we've pretty much proven that our anti-Cuba policies have been an utter and complete failure since, oh, 1961. So, the Bush administration got together with some of former Senator Jesse Helms' people to craft a new, stricter Cuba crackdown. Until recently, Cuban-Americans could send money home to Cuba, and even travel there once a year to visit family. (Interesting that you and I can't go to Cuba, but they can). Bush, with the help of Helms' ex-cronies, have changed the rule to permit visits once every three years, with no exceptions for weddings or funerals. They have also limited the money and parcels that can be sent to families in Cuba. The most rabidly anti-Castro folks in Florida, including at least one Congressman, think that even tougher measures would be appropriate. Of course, as we learned in the former Soviet bloc, Levi's and Led Zeppelin can certainly hasten the fall of a totalitarian dictatorship. It seems as if the Bushies' new get-tough policy is backfiring with the people whose support it was meant to curry - Cuban-Americans.

Another day in the asylum

For most paleolithic City-of-Buffalo-haters, (paging Sandy Beach & 90% of his listeners), it's been a repeated mantra that the City is mismanaged. In the 80s, when the County was in fiscal crisis, the City gave the County its share of the sales tax. Now that the City's in a fiscal crisis, the County is loath to return the penny to the City because the City "needs to get its own house in order" first. Hypocrites. Now we find out that Erie County is in another fiscal crisis. Yay. Two simultaneous fiscal crises in Erie County. When a brilliant guy like Kevin Gaughan runs for mayor, he loses because he's not originally from Buffalo. When the control board imposes some fiscal sanity on Buffalo, many of them are vilified because they're not from Buffalo. Well, City and County leaders who have been running the show for the last 30 years, and running the City and County deep into the cold ground have been from Buffalo. They have done such an incompetent job running things around here, that it's about time some intrepid outsiders started getting things in shape around here. So, King Joel submitted a budget that made a lot of assumptions. He assumed that the State Legislature would approve a homerule request for an early retirement package. Who in their right mind would rely on the State Legislature to do anything for anyone on time? They haven't been able to pass a budget on time in 20 years, and this is a corrupt and inept political system that's basically run by three guys, two of whom are Republicans. King Joel also assumed that there would be some sort of Medicaid relief by now. Yeah, fat chance. I'm sure Albany is just champing at the bit to take over the bloated, inefficient, overpriced Medicaid system that they've expanded exponentionally over the years, while laying a huge unfunded mandate burden on County governments. Yeah, that's right around the corner. /sarcasm.
[Democratic County Legislator Al] DeBenedetti said the Legislature's majority sees dozens of vacant positions that can be deleted to save money and lead to a better budget, but he suspects Giambra wants to keep the positions so he can refill them someday without the Legislature's approval. 'How do they know?' Giambra said when reminded the Democrats feel they've identified vacant jobs that can be eliminated. 'They are not the managers of county government. They weren't elected to manage county government. I was, all right? And my departments know which positions aren't necessary and which ones are. There should be some deference to the people who run the day-to-day operations of county government.'
Mr. Giambra, what you and the other cretins running the show around here don't know could fill Ralph Wilson Stadium.


Hannity & Dean

DEAN: I think what we're seeing is there was a lot of anger at George Bush. We didn't feel that he won fairly in Florida. We did feel that he sent us to war without telling us the truth about why we're going. There's a lot of stuff -- we've lost a lot of jobs. But I think what this convention really is, I hope, is a turning point. We can't win if we only have a negative message. Everybody understands that. So if we're going to win, we're going to have to have a strong, positive message coming out of the convention, and that's what we're trying to do. HANNITY: Well, you say that about -- we weren't telling the truth about going into Iraq, but John Edwards and John Kerry both laid out the case about weapons of mass destruction the way the president did. Why does he get a pass from people like you? DEAN: Well, there are other things that the president told us that were not so. There was no connection between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. Even the 9/11 commission just said so. There was no... (CROSSTALK) DEAN: No, that's not what they said. As a matter of fact, that's what they didn't say. And if you think they should, you should watch "Outfoxed." It's a great movie that says why people like you say things like that on this television station. HANNITY: Well, the fact is they did say that there was correspondence. There was activity between the two. And, my only point to you is, John Kerry can say that there is a nuclear threat from Saddam Hussein, that his WMDs represent a real threat, but it seems the left gives him a pass. And George Bush is the only one who said these things now. DEAN: George Bush wasn't truthful. I'm not saying George Bush is a liar, because I don't know that for a fact. I do know that George Bush didn't tell the truth. I don't know if he didn't tell the truth because he didn't know the truth, because his intelligence messed it up or the vice president's office told him something that wasn't so. But we know that the things that George Bush told us when we went into Iraq weren't true. And most Americans know that they weren't true. HANNITY: Well, we know John Kerry, leading into this, Governor, he said that Saddam's WMDs are a real and dangerous threat to this country. He said it only a year ago. DEAN: That doesn't answer the question. The president of the United States tried to imply that Saddam had something to do with 9/11 and that was not true. He also tried to imply that al Qaeda -- and the vice president still does this to this day -- that al Qaeda was somehow connected with Saddam. And that was not true, and the president's commission said so. HANNITY: All right. Governor, we're going to take a break and go take a look at former President Jimmy Carter who is now on the podium directly to my left. DEAN: Thank you very much.


A most wonderful speech from a rising star in the Democratic Party, future Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama. Barack Obama's Remarks to the Democratic National Convention Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Dick Durbin. You make us all proud. On behalf of the great state of Illinois, crossroads of a nation, Land of Lincoln, let me express my deepest gratitude for the privilege of addressing this convention. Tonight is a particular honor for me because — let’s face it — my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely. My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya. He grew up herding goats, went to school in a tin-roof shack. His father — my grandfather — was a cook, a domestic servant to the British. But my grandfather had larger dreams for his son. Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place, America, that shone as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before. While studying here, my father met my mother. She was born in a town on the other side of the world, in Kansas. Her father worked on oil rigs and farms through most of the Depression. The day after Pearl Harbor my grandfather signed up for duty; joined Patton’s army, marched across Europe. Back home, my grandmother raised their baby and went to work on a bomber assembly line. After the war, they studied on the G.I. Bill, bought a house through F.H.A., and later moved west all the way to Hawaii in search of opportunity. And they, too, had big dreams for their daughter. A common dream, born of two continents. My parents shared not only an improbable love, they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or ”blessed,” believing that in a tolerant America your name is no barrier to success. They imagined me going to the best schools in the land, even though they weren’t rich, because in a generous America you don’t have to be rich to achieve your potential. They are both passed away now. And yet, I know that, on this night, they look down on me with great pride. I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents’ dreams live on in my two precious daughters. I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that, in no other country on earth, is my story even possible. Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation — not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy. Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ That is the true genius of America — a faith in simple dreams,, an insistence on small miracles. That we can tuck in our children at night and know that they are fed and clothed and safe from harm. That we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door. That we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe. That we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution, and that our votes will be counted at least, most of the time. This year, in this election, we are called to reaffirm our values and our commitments, to hold them against a hard reality and see how we are measuring up, to the legacy of our forbearers, and the promise of future generations. And fellow Americans, Democrats, Republicans, Independents — I say to you tonight: we have more work to do. More work to do for the workers I met in Galesburg, Ill., who are losing their union jobs at the Maytag plant that’s moving to Mexico, and now are having to compete with their own children for jobs that pay seven bucks an hour. More to do for the father that I met who was losing his job and choking back the tears, wondering how he would pay $4,500 a month for the drugs his son needs without the health benefits that he counted on. More to do for the young woman in East St. Louis, and thousands more like her, who has the grades, has the drive, has the will, but doesn’t have the money to go to college. Now don’t get me wrong. The people I meet — in small towns and big cities, in diners and office parks — they don’t expect government to solve all their problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead — and they want to. Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don’t want their tax money wasted, by a welfare agency or by the Pentagon. Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can’t teach our kids to learn — they know that parents have to teach, that children can’t achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. They know those things. People don’t expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better. And they want that choice. In this election, we offer that choice. Our Party has chosen a man to lead us who embodies the best this country has to offer. And that man is John Kerry. John Kerry understands the ideals of community, faith, and service because they’ve defined his life. From his heroic service to Vietnam, to his years as a prosecutor and lieutenant governor, through two decades in the United States Senate, he has devoted himself to this country. Again and again, we’ve seen him make tough choices when easier ones were available. His values — and his record — affirm what is best in us. John Kerry believes in an America where hard work is rewarded; so instead of offering tax breaks to companies shipping jobs overseas, he offers them to companies creating jobs here at home. John Kerry believes in an America where all Americans can afford the same health coverage our politicians in Washington have for themselves. John Kerry believes in energy independence, so we aren’t held hostage to the profits of oil companies, or the sabotage of foreign oil fields. John Kerry believes in the Constitutional freedoms that have made our country the envy of the world, and he will never sacrifice our basic liberties, nor use faith as a wedge to divide us. And John Kerry believes that in a dangerous world war must be an option sometimes, but it should never be the first option. You know, a while back, I met a young man named Seamus in a V.F.W. Hall in East Moline, Ill.. He was a good-looking kid, six two, six three, clear eyed, with an easy smile. He told me he’d joined the Marines, and was heading to Iraq the following week. And as I listened to him explain why he’d enlisted, the absolute faith he had in our country and its leaders, his devotion to duty and service, I thought this young man was all that any of us might hope for in a child. But then I asked myself: Are we serving Seamus as well as he is serving us? I thought of the 900 men and women — sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors, who won’t be returning to their own hometowns. I thought of the families I’ve met who were struggling to get by without a loved one’s full income, or whose loved ones had returned with a limb missing or nerves shattered, but who still lacked long-term health benefits because they were Reservists. When we send our young men and women into harm’s way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they’re going, to care for their families while they’re gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return, and to never ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world. Now let me be clear. Let me be clear. We have real enemies in the world. These enemies must be found. They must be pursued — and they must be defeated. John Kerry knows this. And just as Lieutenant Kerry did not hesitate to risk his life to protect the men who served with him in Vietnam, President Kerry will not hesitate one moment to use our military might to keep America safe and secure. John Kerry believes in America. And he knows that it’s not enough for just some of us to prosper. For alongside our famous individualism, there’s another ingredient in the American saga. A belief that we’re all connected as one people. If there is a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child. If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for their prescription drugs, and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandparent. If there’s an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It is that fundamental belief, it is that fundamental belief, I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams and yet still come together as one American family. E pluribus unum. Out of many, one. Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters, the negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America — there’s the United States of America. The pundits, the pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America. In the end, that’s what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or do we participate in a politics of hope? John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. I’m not talking about blind optimism here - the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don’t think about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about something more substantial. It’s the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs. The hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores. The hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta. The hope of a millworker’s son who dares to defy the odds. The hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope! In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation. A belief in things not seen. A belief that there are better days ahead. I believe that we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity. I believe we can provide jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair. I believe that we have a righteous wind at our backs and that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices, and meet the challenges that face us. America! Tonight, if you feel the same energy that I do, if you feel the same urgency that I do, if you feel the same passion I do, if you feel the same hopefulness that I do — if we do what we must do, then I have no doubts that all across the country, from Florida to Oregon, from Washington to Maine, the people will rise up in November, and John Kerry will be sworn in as president, and John Edwards will be sworn in as vice president, and this country will reclaim its promise, and out of this long political darkness a brighter day will come. Thank you very much everybody. God bless you. Thank you.


Well, at least we're 1st in something

Continuing on a theme from last week, the Business Council - a New York lobbying group - announced today that New York remains the most heavily taxed state in the nation. We're #1.

Reasons to Dispatch Bush

Check it out. 81 reasons have been posted as of today. Each one a doozy.


Tax cut, schmax cut.

How's this for a tax cut story?
"Jerry Bailey is precisely the kind of taxpayer President Bush had hoped to bestow his tax cuts on: an entrepreneur brew-pub owner, a job provider, not overly rich by Washington area standards but well off enough to pay a hefty sum to the federal government each year. But after three tax cuts in three years, the part-owner of Loudoun County's Old Dominion Brewing Co. is not exactly celebrating his gains. Sure, his federal tax bill was trimmed, by a healthy $5,600, according to a rough calculation by Clint Stretch, director of tax policy at the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche LLP. But other factors having nothing to do with federal taxes have clouded Bailey's situation. This year, the property tax bill on his Bethesda home will reach $6,725, a $950 increase over his payment four years ago. The annual cost of his 56-mile-a-day commute has jumped more than $300 since 2001, and the long, slow decline of business profits these past four years has left Bailey far behind, no matter what his federal tax payment may be. 'I'm not paying any taxes at all because we're not making any money,' Bailey said with a sigh. 'I loved paying taxes. It meant we were doing all right.' "


Shorter Krauthammer

I never met a war I didn't like, and I never met a Muslim I didn't want dead.

The News gets it right.

It seems that even our sometimes sleepy broadsheet gets it right today.:
Here's an idea: Instead of 'Excelsior,' which means 'ever upward' and therefore constitutes deceptive advertising, New York should change its motto to reflect the true spirit of its government. Henceforth, the state motto should be 'Don't just do something, stand there!' Got a budget deadline? Don't worry! It'll keep. Cities and counties struggling with the cost of pensions? Delay! Instead of fixing the problem, let them postpone the payments they need to make. Costs of Medicaid sinking the state? No problem! Just ignore it and it will go away. Courts demanding a change in how the state funds education? Who cares? What do they know, anyway? But just so the governor can pretend he's doing something, he calls a special, one-day session of the Legislature less than 10 days before the deadline. As everyone expected, the Legislature said no dice to the governor's plan. Surely this must be the worst run state in the Union. California may be in worse financial shape, but it just had an honest vote on borrowing its way out of trouble. New York borrows on the sly. Louisiana may have more crooks, but New York legalizes anti-democratic behavior. State government of New York is a creature of extremes. Either it does nothing, as in passing a budget or fixing education, or it does something, usually big, without bothering to debate it, as in a dramatic expansion of Medicaid in 1999. Typical of the state's commitment to the status quo is its reported response to the problem of soaring pension costs in the state's lower governments. Partly because of state policies, pension costs in New York are exorbitant, and cities and counties this year are facing a crisis. Albany's solution: Instead of forcing those governments to come up with $980 million in December, let them come up with it in February. In Albany, it is always better to look away from a problem. That's what state leaders have done for months as a court-imposed deadline looms over the unconstitutional funding of schools in New York City. The need, obvious to everyone, is to craft a statewide response to the city-focused court decision, but everyone, including Gov. George Pataki and the two legislative leaders, for months did virtually nothing but complain about the other side. In the last few weeks, the Assembly and Senate tossed out plans like dead fish, but have done little to advance the discussion. Pataki called a special session of the Legislature to discuss the subject this week, but without any new effort to craft a serious proposal. It's like a show trial, with New York's public school students standing in the dock. That's the way government is in New York, the dyslexic state that thought Benjamin Franklin's advice was never to do today what you can put off until tomorrow.

Remain Calm.

This Mark Fiore Flash Cartoon sums up the administration's fearmongering pretty accurately. You know, it's nothing more than an old Leninist trick. You perpetuate your own power by perpetuating the revolution. There's a reason why Castro keeps telling Cubans that a US invasion is imminent, and that the forces of counterrevolution lurk around every corner. If he told people that those types of threats didn't exist, the citizens would take a harder look at their miserable, Stalinist existence and start asking some pretty "counterrevolutionary" questions. (That's why the travel ban & Bush's crackdown thereupon, and the ongoing embargo are so bleeding counterproductive to any sort of democratic change in Cuba). We didn't stop trading with: Russia Poland Czechoslovakia Yugoslavia East Germany Romania Bulgaria China (post-1972) Just because they were Stalinist dictatorships. Why should Cuba be any different? We didn't embargo those countries into pluralistic, free-market democracies. It was our way of life that helped that transformation come about. And our way of life was symbolized by little things like blue jeans, Led Zeppelin, and Coca-Cola. The longer we deny Levi's, CDs and Cokes from the Cuban people, the longer they'll be trapped in a stifling Stalinist tropical gulag. Which brings us back to Bush & Co. 9/11 happened, and it's the worst attack on our soil since who-knows-when. Setting aside for a moment the fact that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, that the Iraq war can properly be described as a fiasco, and that the war in Afghanistan has been largely ignored and remains incomplete, it seems that the announcement of a generalized terrorist threat (oftentimes with no movement on the good old alert scale) comes on the heels of some unimpressive Bush-Cheney poll numbers. Kerry's up 5 points, and he's picked his running mate? Send Ridge out to warn us about an incomplete threat of terror to coincide with the election. As Fiore says, we may have to disrupt the democratic process because the terrorists want to disrupt the democratic process.

File under "But we already knew that"

It's official. It's confirmed. According to a study conducted by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU's Law School, the New York State legislature is the most dysfunctional legislature in the entire United States. We're 50th out of 50. New York is to good government what Mississippi is to schools. In 2002, only 4.1% of bills proposed were enacted. Compare that to Michigan's best-in-US 69%, or even California's with 41% passed. Why, you ask? You know why. Because the rules in Albany are draconian and fundamentally unfair.
The study said that legislative committees in New York do little real work, have few hearings on bills and release few reports to help members make voting decisions. It also noted New York has more restrictions on putting a measure to a full house vote than in any other state. Republican Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno is the only legislative leader in the country who can unilaterally suspend action on bills listed in the Senate calendar. Both Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, are among just a handful of legislative leaders nationwide who can determine the order of bills to be considered.
Over 80% of bills passed in Albany do so with no debate or discussion. In a nutshell, the State is run by Bruno, Silver and Pataki. How do we know this for sure? Because Silver and Bruno both defend the current system, which gives them almost dictatorial power. Bruno (who's supposed to be a Republican - small government, etc.) calls the study "pure nonsense." Silver criticizes the study, saying that he "gets opinions on issues" from other Assemblypeople. Yay. Opinions don't mean diddly. Getting bills to the floor for debate and a vote would actually mean something. Some suggestions in the report, via the Times-Union of Albany:

Make it easier for members to request a public hearing on a bill. Require all bills reported to the floor to have a detailed public committee report reflecting the debate held on each. Limit committee assignments to no more than three per lawmaker per legislative session. Restrict the number of bills passed under a "message of necessity" from the governor, which gives lawmakers little time to read what they are voting on. The report also calls for the end of proxy voting. Legislators can swipe their ID cards, reporting themselves as "in," and leave the chamber -- sometimes even going home -- but still have their votes recorded. Those votes are automatically counted in the affirmative. Citizens are cheated by the existing system, Creelan said. Many bills of public interest never receive public hearings. The report found that from 1997 to 2001, the Senate held only one public hearing on a bill out of the 152 pieces of major legislation that passed the Senate.

Here's a link to the actual report, so you can read it for yourself; (you'll need Adobe Acrobat). Please be sure to contact your state Assemblyperson and Senator about the fact that you're absolutely fed up with the Banana Republic-style of governing that pervades Albany. It's time for a fundamental change in the way business is conducted in this state. It's time for Albany to stop handing perks out willy-nilly to coveted, parochial constituencies. It's time for Albany to stop viewing the hardworking, uphill-climbing taxpayers of this State - and especially those of us in disproportionately beleaguered upstate - as a big, unlimited piggy bank. Can you believe there's no fundamental, grassroots movement to reform the state? Maybe its time has come. Let me know what you think.


Click here to see a hilarious Flash animation, courtesy of jibjab.com.


Fix Albany

Republican or Democrat - this website is worth checking out "What is Fix Albany?
Fix Albany is a Political Committee created to reform New York State government, and keep Albany legislators accountable for their actions. New York state's elected officials in Albany are engaged in unfair legislative practices that directly and adversely affect local taxpayers. Our local taxes (primarily property taxes) are 72% above the national average because our representatives in Albany have forced the costs of huge expenditures, like Medicaid, onto county governments. In most other states, these programs are far less expensive because they are handled more efficiently at the state level, with state money. Our state representatives in Albany give themselves pats on the backs for passing politically popular programs, and then they shift the cost off the State's books and onto the local governments. Along with other unfunded mandates, Medicaid is the best example of this unfair and irresponsible governing. New York's Medicaid program is the most expensive one in the United States - two and a half times the national average. The fact is many of our legislators in Albany have been more focused on preserving power and the status quo than on solving problems, like capping the costs local counties must pay for Medicaid. In the past 22 years, there have been close to 2,300 reelection campaigns for the State Legislature. In that time, only 30 incumbent legislators have been defeated less than 1.5%. Moreover, this incumbent body has failed to pass an on-time budget for a record 20 years. We need drastic reform in Albany. The Fix Albany Political Committee will create awareness of the problems our Albany incumbents have created for local taxpayers and work constructively to change their practices by holding them accountable to the voters of New York.
Upstate is in a crisis, and nothing but strong reform out of Albany will fix it. Upstate is not Metropolitan New York, and it shouldn't be subjected to rules and regulations designed for that area. Upstate is unique politically and economically. Just think about this: Massachusetts, commonly referred to as "Taxachusetts", has a 5% sales tax, tax-free sales of clothes up to a certain amount, and a flat 5.25% state income tax. Doesn't that sound just dreamy compared to the New-York-State-cup-in-its-hand way of running things? How about this for another idea? In the mid-1990s, then-Governor Bill Weld ordered the Mass Pike to let cars go through the tolls without paying whenever the backups at tolls became excessive. New York would never dream of giving up a few pennies like that. At the same time, Governor Weld abolished certain tolls on the Pike extension from Newton (where you gave up your ticket) into Boston. Black Rock and South Buffalo, are you listening? Finally, for the rural western part of Massachusetts, tolls were abolished altogether. Once the toll reaches about $3.15 in Springfield, everything west of that is toll-free. Whether you exit in Springfield or Lee, you pay $3.15 max, coming from Boston. Just a little fairness. A little relief. A little pick-me-up for those of us brave and/or foolish enough to stick it out around here.

Mission Accomplished

The "Coalition of the Willing" is rapidly becoming the coalition of we're getting the hell out of here. Spain, Phillipines, Norway, Thailand, New Zealand, Netherlands, Poland will all be gone by the middle of next year. Here's what the White House says:
We think withdrawal sends the wrong signal and that it is important for people to stand up to terrorists and not allow them to change our behavior.
Easy for them to say.


A wonderful letter

Kerry's campaign manager sent this letter to the Bush campaign. I think it's brilliant, and gets right to the point. What does it tell you about the President that has hasn't managed to run one positive advertisement, touting anything he's done in 4 years. All he can do is attack Kerry.
July 13, 2004 Ken Mehlman Campaign Manager BUSH-CHENEY '04, Inc. Dear Ken: Over the past several months, allies of the President have questioned John Kerry's patriotism while your staff has criticized his service in Vietnam. Republicans and their allies have gone so far as to launch attacks against his wife and your campaign has run $80 million in negative ads that have been called baseless, misleading and unfair by several independent observers. Considering that the President has failed to even come close to keeping his promise to change the tone in Washington, we find your outrage over and paparazzi-like obsession with a fund-raising event to be misplaced. The fact is that the nation has a greater interest in seeing several documents made public relating to the President's performance in office and personal veracity that the White House has steadfastly refused to release. As such, we will not consider your request until the Bush campaign and White House make public the documents/materials listed below: Military records: Any copies of the President's military records that would actually prove he fulfilled the terms of his military service. For that matter, it would be comforting to the American people if the campaign or the White House could produce more than just a single person to verify that the President was in Alabama when said he was there. Many Americans find it odd that only one person out of an entire squadron can recall seeing Mr. Bush.
More after the jump.

Are Kerry and Edwards the most, and 4th most liberal Senators?

We report. You decide. Look - I'm not necessarily a liberal. I'm a centrist. I make no secret of the fact that I was a McCain supporter/volunteer in 2000, and that I was a registered Republican until about October 2003. So, when I hear charges from the Bush camp accusing Kerry of being the top liberal, and John Edwards being the fourth most liberal member of the Senate, I know how that charge will resonate with the more middle-of-the-road folks. They're not going to be thrilled by that. This leads us to this letter, written to former Bush supporter, but still a conservative Andrew Sullivan:
"I'm growing a bit frustrated with the media, including you, running with this Kerry and Edwards being the first and fourth most liberal Senators. Everyone is citing the National Journal's ratings but they are doing it sloppily. I have seen no recent article that cites anything but the 2003 ratings where Kerry missed 37 and Edwards missed 22 of 62 votes and both were setting themselves up for primary battles where their base was essential. Think what you may about missing votes and pandering a bit (seems suicide to not do both when going for the nomination), but my larger point is the media should be looking at this much more historically and in years when Edwards and Kerry actually showed up to do their jobs. I'll do it for them. Following are rankings and liberal scores since 1999. 2003: Kerry - 1st (96.5) Edwards - 4th (94.5) 2002: Kerry - 9th (87.3) Edwards - 31st (63.0) Edwards made the centrist list. 2001: Kerry - 11th (87.7) Edwards - 35th (68.2) Edwards almost tied with Lieberman. 2000: Kerry - 20th (77) Edwards - 19th (80.8) Rankings past 20 are not available nor are composite scores for all Senators, so Kerry is 21st or higher. 1999: Kerry - 16th (80.8) Edwards - 31st (72.2) Average: Kerry - 12th (85.9) Edwards - 24th (75.7) Now this paints a different picture. Certainly Kerry is a stalwart liberal (although probably not or barely a top 10 liberal), but he does hail from and represent one of the most liberal states. But Edwards is definitely a moderate Democrat (if you define that as somewhere in the ideological middle of the Democratic platform).


Shocking (?) arrogance

The government has apparently stepped up its efforts to catch Osama bin Laden and other high-level Taliban and al Qaeda figures. Intense pressure has been brought to bear on Pakistan's extensive secret police to produce some top names as soon as possible. Laudable, right? Think again. According to this report in the New Republic,
"This public pressure would be appropriate, even laudable, had it not been accompanied by an unseemly private insistence that the Pakistanis deliver these high-value targets (HVTs) before Americans go to the polls in November. The Bush administration denies it has geared the war on terrorism to the electoral calendar. 'Our attitude and actions have been the same since September 11 in terms of getting high-value targets off the street, and that doesn't change because of an election,' says National Security Council spokesman Sean McCormack. But The New Republic has learned that Pakistani security officials have been told they must produce HVTs by the election. According to one source in Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), 'The Pakistani government is really desperate and wants to flush out bin Laden and his associates after the latest pressures from the U.S. administration to deliver before the [upcoming] U.S. elections.' Introducing target dates for Al Qaeda captures is a new twist in U.S.-Pakistani counterterrorism relations--according to a recently departed intelligence official, 'no timetable[s]' were discussed in 2002 or 2003--but the November election is apparently bringing a new deadline pressure to the hunt. Another official, this one from the Pakistani Interior Ministry, which is responsible for internal security, explains, 'The Musharraf government has a history of rescuing the Bush administration. They now want Musharraf to bail them out when they are facing hard times in the coming elections.' (These sources insisted on remaining anonymous. Under Pakistan's Official Secrets Act, an official leaking information to the press can be imprisoned for up to ten years.) "
See the rest of this sad article about a pathetic administration.


Nice one from Oliver Willis


Bush/Cheney: 7/7/04: 0-2

Batting a perfect .000, the Bush/Cheney team labels Edwards as "inexperienced." Let's consider that in light of the 2000 campaign:
When you hear Republicans disparage Sen. John Edwards's lack of experience, remember the words of Sen. Orrin Hatch, spoken to George W. Bush at a debate on Dec. 6, 1999. "You've been a great governor," Hatch declared of his rival for the Republican presidential nomination. "My only problem with you, governor, is that you've only had four and going into your fifth year of governorship ... Frankly, I really believe that you need more experience before you become president of the United States. That's why I'm thinking of you as a vice presidential candidate." Which is exactly what Edwards was chosen for yesterday

Bush/Cheney 7/7/04: 0-1.

Was John Edwards Kerry's "second choice", as Bush/Cheney '04 would have you believe? Maybe, maybe not. It does, however, raise an interesting issue about the presumptive "first choice", John McCain. You see, the internet renders Bush/Cheney's idiocy even more idiotic. As John McCain himself pointed out in March, he was Bush's "first choice" back in 2000. McCain didn't want to be Bush's VP in 2000. So, Bush went with his "second choice", Dick "go &*#% yourself" Cheney.


Kerry - Edwards

John Kerry selected John Edwards to be his running mate. I think this is an exceedingly good thing, and I have great respect for Senator Edwards.


Ann Coulter: sloppy demagogue

Ann Coulter isn't so much a conservative as she is a neo-McCarthyite. In Ann's worldview, Tailgunner Joe was a swell guy who was misunderstood. I wonder if she approves of Roy Cohn's ... preferences. Anyway... Ann, she of "Slander" and "Treason" fame, has taken to slandering George Soros, a Hungarian Jew who escaped the Nazis and Communists, as well as Michael Moore, whose only treachery is having made an opinionated movie, which no one is forced to see. To underscore the inanity and sloppiness of her latest screed: "Saddam In Custody -- Moore, Soros, Dean Still At Large" (which obviously equates - morally and criminally - Michael Moore, George Soros, and Howard Dean (!?) with Saddam Hussein), note this passage: "Soros later denied comparing Bush to the Nazis, saying he had merely said Bush reminded him of "the Germans." Hmmm, which Germans was Soros referring to -- the Von Trapp Family?" The Sound of Music was released in 1965. Any idiot who can sit through and comprehend the first 30 minutes of the film quickly learns that the von Trapps are Austrian. Only Hitler considered the Austrians to be German. What does that tell you?