the gumbo pages

looka, <'lu-k&> dialect, v.
1. The imperative form of the verb "to look", in the spoken vernacular of New Orleans; usually employed when the speaker wishes to call one's attention to something.  

2. --n. Chuck Taggart's weblog, hand-made and updated (almost) daily, focusing on food and drink, music (especially of the roots variety), New Orleans and Louisiana culture, news of the reality-based community, movies, books, sf, public radio, media and culture, travel, Macs, liberal and progressive politics, humor and amusements, reviews, rants, the author's life and opinions, witty and/or smart-arsed comments and whatever else tickles the author's fancy.

Please feel free to contribute a link if you think I'll find it interesting.   If you don't want to read my opinions, feel free to go elsewhere.

Page last tweaked @ 9:04am PST, 10/31/2004

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Now available!

"Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans" is a 4-CD box set celebrating the joy and diversity of the New Orleans music scene, from R&B to jazz to funk to Latin to blues to zydeco to klezmer (!) and more, including a full-size, 80-page book.

Produced, compiled and annotated by Chuck Taggart (hey, that's me!), liner notes by Mary Herczog (author of Frommer's New Orleans) and myself. Now for sale at your favorite independent record stores, or order from

Regime change for America, 2004.

Kick 'em out!

Two Faces

The Two Faces of Bush

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

-- Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States (1901-1909), speaking in 1918

"There ought to be limits to freedom."

-- George W. Bush, May 21, 1999

"You don't get everything you want. A dictatorship would be a lot easier."

-- George W. Bush, describing what it's like to be governor of Texas, Governing Magazine, July 1998

"If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."

-- George W. Bush,, December 18, 2000

"A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it."

-- George W. Bush, Business Week, July 30, 2001

Looka! Archive
(99 and 44/100% link rot)

September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004

2003:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2002:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2001:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2000:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

1999:   Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

How to donate to this site:

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Buy stuff!

You can get Gumbo Pages designs on T-shirts, mugs and mousepads at The Gumbo Pages Swag Shop!

Friends with pages:

mary katherine
pat and paul
tracy and david

Talking furniture:

KCSN (Los Angeles)
   Broadcast schedule
   "Down Home" playlist
   Live MP3 audio stream

   Subscribe to the
   "Down Home" weekly
   playlist email service

WWOZ (New Orleans)
   Broadcast schedule
   Live audio stream
   (Comprehensive listings)

Air America Radio
   (Talk radio for the
   rest of us)
Joe Frank
Grateful Dead Radio
   (Streaming complete
KPIG, 107 Oink 5
   (Freedom, CA)
KRVS Radio Acadie
   (Lafayette, LA)
Mike Hodel's "Hour 25"
   (Science fiction radio)
Radio Free New Orleans
Raidió na Gaeltachta
   (Irish language)
RootsWorld's Rootsradio
RTÉ Radio Ceolnet
   (Irish trad. music)
WXDU (Durham, NC)

Cocktail hour:

   The Internet's most comprehensive
   and indispensible database of
   authenticated cocktail recipes,
   ingredients, reseearch and more.
   By Martin Doudoroff & Ted Haigh)

*     *     *
The Sazerac Cocktail
   (The sine qua non of cocktails,
   and the quintessential New Orleans
   cocktail. Learn to make it.)

The Footloose Cocktail
   (An original by Wes;
   "Wonderful!" - Gary Regan.
   "Very elegant, supremely
   sophisticated" - Daniel Reichert.)

The Hoskins Cocktail
   (An original by Chuck;
   "It's nothing short of a
   masterpiece." - Gary Regan)

Chuck & Wes' Cocktail Menu
   (A few things we like to
   drink at home, plus a couple
   we don't, just for fun.)

*     *     *

The Alchemist
   (Paul Harrington)

Alcohol (and how to mix it)
   (David Wondrich)

Ardent Spirits
   (Gary & Mardee Regan)

DrinkBoy and the
   Community for the
   Cultured Cocktail
   (Robert Hess, et al.)

DrinkBoy's Cocktail Weblog

Happy Hours
   (Beverage industry
   news & insider info)

King Cocktail
   (Dale DeGroff)

La Fée Verte
   (All about absinthe
   from Kallisti et al.)
   (Ladies United for the
   Preservation of
   Endangered Cocktails)

Fine Spirits & Cocktails
   (eGullet's forum)

Mr. Lucky's Cocktails
   (Sando, LaDove,
   Swanky et al.)

Nat Decants
   (Natalie MacLean)
   (Beverage Tasting
   Institute journal)

Vintage Cocktails
   (Daniel Reichert)

Let's eat!

New Orleans Menu Daily

Food-related weblogs:
Chocolate and Zucchini
Honest Cuisine
KIPlog's FOODblog
Mise en Place
Notes from a New Orleans Foodie
Sauté Wednesday
Simmer Stock
Tasting Menu

More food!
à la carte
Chef Talk Café
Food Network
The Global Gourmet
A Muse for Cooks
The Online Chef
Pasta, Risotto & You
Slow Food Int'l. Movement
So. Calif. Farmer's Markets
Zagat Guide

Click here for a new daily recipe from Chef Emeril!
In vino veritas.

The Oxford Companion to Wine

Wally's Wine and Spirits

The Wine House

The Wine Spectator

Wine Today

Reading this month:

The Plot Against America, by Philip Roth.

The Dark Tower, by Stephen King.

The Cat's Pajamas, by Ray Bradbury.

Microcosmic God: The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon, Vol. 2, by Theodore Sturgeon.

Shade, by Neil Jordan.

Listen to music!

Chuck's current album recommendations

Luka Bloom
La Bottine Souriante
Billy Bragg
Cordelia's Dad
Jay Farrar
Sonny Landreth
Los Lobos
Christy Moore
Nickel Creek
The Old 97s
Anders Osborne
The Proclaimers
Professor Longhair
Red Meat
The Red Stick Ramblers
The Reivers
Zachary Richard
Paul Sanchez
Marc Savoy
Son Volt
Richard Thompson
Uncle Tupelo

Miles of Music

No Depression


New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

San Francisco Celtic Music & Arts Festival

Appalachian String Band Music Festival - Clifftop, WV

Long Beach Bayou Festival

Strawberry Music Festival - Yosemite, CA


A Gallery for Fine Photography, New Orleans (Joshua Mann Pailet)
American Museum of Photography
California Museum of Photography, Riverside
International Center of Photography

Ansel Adams
Jonathan Fish
Noah Grey
Greg Guirard
Paul F. R. Hamilton
Clarence John Laughlin
Herman Leonard
Howard Roffman
J. T. Seaton
Jerry Uelsmann
Gareth Watkins
Brett Weston

The Mirror Project

Chuck's Photo of the Day Archive


The Amazing Adventures of Bill,
by Bill Roundy

Bloom County / Outland / Opus,
by Berkeley Breathed

Bob the Angry Flower,
by Stephen Notley

The Boondocks,
by Aaron McGruder

Calvin and Hobbes,
by Bill Watterson

by Garry B. Trudeau

Electric Sheep Comix
by Patrick Farley

Get Your War On
by David Rees

by Jonathan Rosenberg

L. A. Cucaracha
by Lalo Alcaraz

by Peter Blegvad

Lil' Abner,
by Al Capp

The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green,
by Eric Orner

by Walt Kelly

Ted Rall,
by Ted Rall

This Modern World,
by Tom Tomorrow

XQUZYPHYR & Overboard,
by August J. Pollak

Films seen this year:
(with ratings):

Cold Mountain (****)
The Last Samurai (****)

Lookin' at da TV:

"The Sopranos"
"Six Feet Under"
"Malcolm In The Middle"
"Star Trek: Enterprise"
"One Tree Hill"
"Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"
"The Simpsons"
Father Ted
"Iron Chef"
The Food Network

Weblogs I read:

American Leftist
The BradLands
The Carpetbagger Report
Considered Harmful
The Daily Kos
Anil Dash
Ethel the Blog
Follow Me Here
Franklin Avenue
Ghost in the Machine
Hit or Miss
The Hoopla 500
Jesus' General
Mark A. R. Kleiman
The Leaky Cauldron
Letting Loose With the Leptard
Little. Yellow. Different.
Making Light
More Like This
Mr. Barrett
Neil Gaiman's Journal
News of the Dead
August J. Pollak
Q Daily News
Real Live Preacher
Respectful of Otters
Right Hand Thief
Roger "Not That One" Ailes
Ted Rall
Sadly, No!
This Modern World
Under the Gunn
Whiskey Bar
What's In Rebecca's Pocket?

Matthew's GLB blog portal

L.A. Blogs

My Darlin' New Orleans:

Gambit Weekly


New Orleans ...
proud to blog it home.

Must-reads: (progressive politics & news)
Borowitz Report (political satire)
The Complete Bushisms (quotationable!)
The Daily Mislead (BushCo's lies)
The Fray (your stories)
Izzle Pfaff! (my favorite webjournal)
Landover Baptist (better Christians than YOU!)
Maledicta (The International Journal of Verbal Aggression)
The Morning Fix from SF Gate (news, opinions, extreme irreverence)
The New York Review of Science Fiction
The Onion (news 'n laffs)
"Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An exegesis", by David Neiwert.
Talking Points Memo (Josh Marshall)
TruthOut (William Rivers Pitt & Co.) (not the actual White House, but it should be)

The Final Frontier:

Astronomy Pic of the Day
ISS Alpha News
NASA Human Spaceflight
Spaceflight Now


Locus Magazine Online
SF Site

Made with Macintosh

Hosted by pair Networks

Déanta:  This page is coded by hand, with BBEdit 4.0.1 on an Apple G4 15" PowerBook running MacOS X 10.3 if I'm at home; occasionally with telnet and Pico on a FreeBSD Unix host running tcsh if I'm updating from work. (I never could get used to all those weblogging tools.)


Bia agus deoch, ceol agus craic.

  Sunday, October 31, 2004
Sucking democracy dry.   Last week's Village Voice commissioned a powerful image for their lead story last week, created by Alex Ross. I couldn't think of a scarier Hallowe'en image if I tried all night:

Bush, sucking democracy dry

Nine extremely important reasons to vote for John Kerry.   Via Bob Harris, who says, "Make no mistake: we are likely about to decide the balance of the Supreme Court for a generation."

The Supreme Court
Salon reports that, despite most media accounts, Rehnquist may be gravely ill:

Numerous medical studies only mention tracheotomy -- in which surgeons cut a hole into a patient's windpipe to aid breathing -- as a treatment for a rare form of thyroid cancer called anaplastic carcinoma. According to the University of Virginia Health Center, "anaplastic carcinoma is an extremely serious and aggressive thyroid cancer which often results in the death of the patient ... within several months of diagnosis."
And from the Los Angeles Times:

The most dangerous form is anaplastic... "one of the most malignant types of cancer known to humans," said Dr. Yuri Nikiforov, a pathologist and thyroid expert at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine... Fatality rates top 95 percent in the first year after diagnosis...

A tracheotomy indicates that the tumor threatened to obstruct Rehnquist's windpipe, and that the tumor is fast-growing, according to several outside thyroid specialists. "At his age, having had a tracheotomy, the first thing that comes to mind is... anaplastic thyroid cancer," said Dr. Peter Singer, chief of clinical endocrinology at USC's Keck School of Medicine.

John Paul Stevens, age 84.  Cancer survivor.
William Rehnquist, age 80.  Currently hospitalized for thyroid cancer.
Sandra Day O'Connor, age 74.  Cancer survivor.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg, age 71.  Cancer survivor.
Antonin Scalia, age 68
Anthony Kennedy, age 68
Stephen Breyer, age 66
David Souter, age 65
Clarence Thomas, age 56

Only Thomas is below conventional retirement age. And while Bush has played coy about whom he would appoint, his record is clear.

Charles Pickering, for example, has been consistently hostile to civil rights and voting rights issues while siding with cross-burners (literally) and advocating increased enforcement of Mississippi's laws making interracial marriage a crime.

Bush announced his appointment, in defiance of Congress while they were recessed, on the Martin Luther King holiday weekend.

Bush's other recess appointment that weekend was Alabama's William Pryor, who has called Roe v. Wade "the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history" -- even when pressed to consider the Plessy v. Ferguson separate-but-equal ruling or the Dred Scott black-have-no-rights-at-all decision.

Spend a little time researching Pickering and Pryor. Please don't take my word for it. Google around. See what Bush really considers important in his judges.

And don't lose sight of the wink-at-his-base symbolism involved: Bush appointed these two horrific nutjobs... on the Martin Luther King holiday weekend. You can almost hear him snickering.

Fortunately, because Pickering and Pryor were end-run recess appointments, they expire at the end of the year. We're not stuck with them forever... yet.

Giving George W. Bush another shot at one, two, or three seats on this court would change the course of civil rights, voting rights, women's rights, and every issue most Americans dear for a generation.

It's not just Roe v. Wade. Justices like Scalia and Thomas, the two Bush has described as his favorites, don't even believe in our right of privacy in our own homes, in our own bedrooms. A majority consisting of their ilk would set this country back fifty or more years in terms of progress in rights in civil liberties. The negative effects of George Bush's potential appointments to the Court could last two generations or more.

He must not be returned to the presidency.

Quotes of the day.   Via Billmon, the face of American (would-be) fascism.

Lisa Dupler, a 33-year-old from Columbus, held up a rainbow-striped John Kerry sign outside the Nationwide Arena on Friday, as Republicans streamed out after being rallied by George W. Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger. A thickset woman with very short, dark hair, Dupler was silent and barely flinched as people passing her hissed "faggot" into her ear. An old lady looked at her and said, "You people are sick!" A kid who looked to be about 10 or 11 affected a limp wrist and mincing voice and said, "Oh, I'm gay." Rather than restraining him, his squat mother guffawed and then turned to Dupler and sneered, "Why don't you go marry your girlfriend?" Encouraged, her son yelled, "We don't want faggots in the White House!"

The throngs of Republicans were pumped after seeing the president and the action hero. But there was an angry edge to their elation. They shrieked at the dozen or so protesters standing on the concrete plaza outside the auditorium. "Kerry's a terrorist!" yelled a stocky kid in baggy jeans and braces. "Communists for Kerry! Go back to Russia," someone else screamed. Many of them took up the chant "Kerry sucks"; old women and teenage boys shouting with equal ferocity.

With four days to go until the election, you can feel the temperature rising in Ohio.

-- From Michelle Goldberg's article "Down with the Kerry haters", Salon, October 30, 2004.

Hatred, Hitler had recognized, was among the most powerful of emotions. That was what he consciously appealed to. That is what drove so many of his followers. But there was idealism, too -- misplaced, certainly, but idealism none the less: hopes of a new society, of a 'national community' that would transcend all existing social divides . . . Those who did not belong to in the 'national community' -- 'shirkers', 'spongers', 'parasites', and, of course, those deemed not to be German at all, notably Jews -- would be ruthlessly suppressed.

-- Ian Kershaw, Hitler, 1998

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Saturday, October 30, 2004
"This American Life" on voter suppression and fraud, almost entirely by Republicans. The report by Jack Hitt was posted early, and is 14 minutes, 53 seconds long. Listen to it.

Bush, Ashcroft seek limits to suits over voter fraud.   This is their idea of American democracy -- allow rampant Republican-led voter fraud and suppression, then attempt to limit it in legally unprecedented moves. Bastards.

Bush administration lawyers argued in three closely contested states last week that only the Justice Department, and not voters themselves, may sue to enforce the voting rights set out in the Help America Vote Act, which was passed in the aftermath of the disputed 2000 election.

Veteran voting-rights lawyers expressed surprise at the government's action, saying that closing the courthouse door to aspiring voters would reverse decades of precedent.

Since the civil rights era of the 1960s, individuals have gone to federal court to enforce their right to vote, often with the support of groups such as the NAACP, the AFL-CIO, the League of Women Voters or the state parties. And until now, the Justice Department and the Supreme Court had taken the view that individual voters could sue to enforce federal election law.

But in legal briefs filed in connection with cases in Ohio, Michigan and Florida, the administration's lawyers argue that the new law gives Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft the exclusive power to bring lawsuits to enforce its provisions. These include a requirement that states provide "uniform and nondiscriminatory" voting systems, and give provisional ballots to those who say they have registered but whose names do not appear on the rolls.

"Congress clearly did not intend to create a right enforceable" in court by individual voters, the Justice Department briefs said.

In one case the Sandusky County Democratic Party sued Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, arguing that the county's voters should be permitted to file provisional ballots even if they go to the wrong polling place on election day.

The Justice Department intervened as a friend of the court on Blackwell's side.

And does anyone but GOP heel-clickers think that Ashcroft will bring a single voter fraud related lawsuit directed at what his party has been doing?

Ohio says no to GOP voter suppression efforts.   Kos put it best when he said, "Republicans seek to decrease voter turnout, Democrats seek to increase it." The thoroughly vile actions of the Republicans to decrease voter turnout and challenge voters in Ohio is beginning to backfire on them, and I hope this rejection of their anti-American practices builds up speed and momentum until we see some of them in jail.

When Catherine Herold received mail from the Ohio Republican Party earlier this year, she refused it.

The longtime Barberton Democrat wanted no part of the mailing and figured that by refusing it, the GOP would have to pay the return postage.

What she didn't count on was the returned mail being used to challenge the validity of her voter registration.

Herold, who is assistant to the senior vice president and provost at the University of Akron, was one of 976 Summit County voters whose registrations were challenged last week by local Republicans on behalf of the state party.

She went to the Board of Elections on Thursday morning to defend her right to vote and found herself among an angry mob -- people who had to take time off work to defend their right to vote.

After hearing some of the protests, the board voted unanimously to dismiss all 976 challenges.

[...] In addition to dismissing the challenges, the elections board ordered that none of those voters whose registrations were called into question could be challenged again at the polls.

[...] The challengers, all older longtime Republicans -- Barbara Miller, Howard Calhoun, Madge Doerler and Louis Wray -- were subpoenaed by the elections board and were present at the hearings. Akron attorney Jack Morrison, a Republican, volunteered to represent the four.

Democratic board member Russ Pry suggested that the four could be subject to criminal prosecution for essentially making false claims on the challenge forms. The form states that making a false claim is subject to prosecution as a fifth-degree felony.

On Morrison's advice, Miller then refused to take part in any hearings after Herold's, invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Wray filed a challenge against 25-year-old Barbara Jean DeWilde of Stow, but testified that he had no personal knowledge that DeWilde didn't live at her Stow address, other than information he received from Summit County Republican Party headquarters.

DeWilde called the challenge "a mockery of America's free election process."

[...] The angry voters had the Republicans on the defensive.

"Why'd you do it?" one challenged voter shouted out at Calhoun. "Who the hell are you?" the man asked.

"What the hell do you care?" replied Calhoun, an attorney.

Jesus Christ.

Despite the worst efforts of these bastards, the voters will rule, and the votes will be counted. Get out there and vote on Tuesday, as if your freedom depended on it (because it does).

"The Bush Pledge", for feck's sake?   Josh Marshall reports:

Chris Suellentrop [in Slate]has a half bizarre/half chilling report from the campaign trail in Florida last night. It's about what seems to be a new feature of the Bush rallies: the pledge of allegiance to President Bush.

Here's Chris ...

"I want you to stand, raise your right hands," and recite "the Bush Pledge," said Florida state Sen. Ken Pruitt. The assembled mass of about 2,000 in this Treasure Coast town about an hour north of West Palm Beach dutifully rose, arms aloft, and repeated after Pruitt: "I care about freedom and liberty. I care about my family. I care about my country. Because I care, I promise to work hard to re-elect, re-elect George W. Bush as president of the United States."

I know the Bush-Cheney campaign occasionally requires the people who attend its events to sign loyalty oaths, but this was the first time I have ever seen an audience actually stand and utter one. Maybe they've replaced the written oath with a verbal one.

I believe in one father, one son and one other son, who's now governor of Florida, who will take over after this son retires from office in 2009.

I know I'm dooming myself by invoking Godwin's Law, but I swear to God the first thing I thought of when I read this was German troops on the eve of World War II, reciting en masse their loyalty oath to You Know Who (not Voldemort).

UPDATE: Whew ... it wasn't just me who made that connection. So did Billmon, back again from blogging retirement; here's what he said:

All officers of the SS were required to take the loyalty oath. Raising their right hand and their left hand placed on their officers sword, the oath went as follows: "I swear to thee, Adolph Hitler as Fuhrer and chancellor of the German Reich, my Loyalty and Bravery. I vow to thee and the superiors whom those shall appoint, obedience until death, so help me God."
-- Jim Harris, World War II Stories: In Their Own Words

Sure, only here they'll call it anti-fascism.
-- Huey Long, when asked if fascism could ever come to America

Last summer, not very long before I quit blogging, I wrote about an incident in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, in which some local Republicans decided it would be great fun to have a couple of companies from the local Army base attend a Bush campaign rally, in unit formation, wearing special t-shirts emblazoned with the American flag and bearing the label "I am an American soldier" on the back. The fort's commander, one Col. Danny Nobles, did his troops one better: He showed up at the rally in full uniform.

Now as I pointed out at the time, history is filled with examples of bad things that happened because the military of a powerful state decided to dabble in partisan politics -- which is why the code of military justice generally frowns on stunts like the LaCrosse rally. Authoritarian political movements, like trees, from tiny acorns may grow:

If the t-shirt design catches on, then some other party hack might well develop a proprietary patriotic logo -- something distinctly identifiable as a Republican Party symbol -- to go on those t-shirts. (With their "I am an American soldier" slogan, the LaCrosse GOP is half way there already.)

Having the troops all wear arm bands with the new party logo on them would also look kind of cool.

But standing around in the sun waiting for the leader to appear can be hot work, so it wouldn't be too surprising if some local GOP chapters started giving the soldiers baseball caps with that patriotic party logo on the front.

And since you now have all these splendid young hunks standing around in their snazzy party outfits, and since their drill sergeants are also on hand, why not do something fun to entertain the crowd -- like having the troops parade in formation past the leader on his podium. What would be the harm in that?

And if the troops are going to parade, why not have them salute? Of course, using the standard military salute might be a little obvious. So why not create a new party salute -- like, say, banging a clenched fist on the heart, or, better yet, extending a stiffened right arm, fingers pointed towards the leader in a gesture of obedience and respect.

Imagine the effect it would have on the crowd -- all those handsome young heros, marching in perfect lockstep, showing their loyalty to their commander in chief. And if the leader were to give the party salute back, expressing his dedication to the sacred cause of defending the homeland ...

Hah! Let's see the Democrats try to compete with that!

And now we have local GOP Gauleiters in Florida soliciting oaths of allegiance not to the flag, not to the country, not to the constitution, but to the person of the leader -- albeit still an elected one, at least for now.

One people, one country, one leader ...

One step following another.

The truly sinister thing -- and the reason why that Slate story made the hair stand up on the back of my neck -- is that even as these people move, like sleepwalkers, towards a distinctly American version of the cult of the leader, most of them honestly appear to have no idea what they're doing, or creating. I'm not even sure the Rovians themselves entirely understand the atavistic instincts they've awakened in Bush's most loyal followers. But the current is running now, fast and strong. And we're all heading for the rapids.

John Kerry for President.

LA Weekly: John Kerry and John Edwards for President and Vice-President.   Endorsements don't get any more essential and plain-spoken than this:

With the possible exception of Jefferson Davis, and for some of the same reasons, George W. Bush is the most dangerous president our continent has known. Like Davis, Bush has amassed a stunningly divisive, parochial and belligerent record. In an era demanding international coordination simply to ensure a decent defense against terrorists, Bush is a militaristic xenophobe (and a careless one at that, as our troops in Iraq discover on a daily basis). At a time when corporations are abandoning the wage-and-benefit practices that once made American workers the envy of the world, Bush wants government to abandon its own responsibility to our citizens, leaving Americans to their own inadequate devices to pay for health care, college, retirement and other such incidentals. Just as a mental exercise, try imagining a worse president than this cosseted brat. It ain't easy.

John Kerry is a Democrat in the center-left mainstream of the party, who's led significant battles on behalf of environmental and energy causes, and who would re-assert government's role in enabling Americans to receive health coverage, college educations and union representation. By any measure a more credible commander in chief than Bush, Kerry knows that an America that stands only for military force and that undermines its own best values in so doing has the moral and political firepower of a pop gun. The Massachusetts senator believes in civil liberties and a woman's right to choose -- beliefs his Supreme Court appointees would share, as George W. Bush's would not. Kerry may not be the ideal liberal candidate (none such exists this year), but he has the makings of a more-than-decent president, and his victory would enable liberal groups to move from defense to offense.

George W. Bush is a threat to the republic and the planet. The only way to stop him is to vote for John Kerry, a course the Weekly recommends more fervently than any endorsement we have ever made.

Speaking of You Know Who ...   (Not ... er, Rudolf Hilter.) This t-shirt Republicans for Voldemort has been a huge hit with just about everyone I know, and most of them have wanted one for themselves as well. Buy your own here! Bumper stickers, too. (And check out the comic strip "Goats" while you're at it.)

Actually, the first time I wore it to work I got some very strange looks, either from people who didn't know who Voldemort is, or from people who looked at me and thought, "He's a Republican?!" (Hee hee.)

Ah well ... as Irish singer, lyricist, playwright and novelist Julian Gough once said, "A day without a strange look is a day wasted."

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, October 29, 2004
Our first review!   Shameless ego-boo, I know ... I was wondering whether I should post this at all, thinking it perhaps too conceited and the ego-boo too shameless. Then Mary said, "Sweetheart, you have a weblog. Such a thing is ontologically prone to shameless ego-boo. Post this." Okay, posting away! (She is the co-author of our box set book, after all, and let's face it -- we wanna sell some records here.)

Here's our first review (that I was able to find, at least) of Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens, written by Buddy Blue in yesterday's San Diego Union-Tribune:

[Y]ou know what the best part of this job is? I get an endless supply of free stuff, more than I can even deal with, stuff you have to pay for. The pleasure of casually dumping evil crapola as publicists beg for a line or two in this little column is only exceeded by the bliss to be gleaned from receiving freebies so wonderful, you can see the jealousy in the eyes of your friends as they feverishly, enviously rifle though your stash of promo goods. Right, Rolle? Gina? Bwahh-haw-haww, I say!

This week, I received the year's single most awesome package, and my amigos hate me even more than usual. Allow me to share, as this, after all, is what I'm paid to do:

"Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans" (Shout! Factory). If you only pick up one boxed set this year, make it this'un -- a perfectly realized, four-disc primer of Crescent City ear candy.

The set encompasses everything from the patriarchs of jass (Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory, Jelly Roll Morton) to the heavies of the blues (Snooks Eaglin, Earl King, Walter "Wolfman" Washington), from the founding fathers of rock 'n' roll (Fats Domino, Little Richard, Lloyd Price) to the golden age of N'Awlins vocal R&B (Johnny Adams, Aaron Neville, Ernie K-Doe), from the masters whose sway continues to touch the world (Professor Longhair, Dr. John, Clifton Chenier) to the lesser-known lights who have long warranted wider recognition (James Booker, Boozoo Chavis, Dave Bartholomew).

The scope of this project transcends the classic, though; a playlist of contemporary artists, some so obscure as to be making their national debut, exists side-by-side with the greats and pioneers. Modern highlights include tracks from James Armstrong [sic], Sonny Landreth, Henry Butler, Dirty Dozen Brass Band and, well ... too many others to name here.

At first, I found the spastic chronology jarring, then I recognized it as a strength instead; play the set in sequence and you'll soon forget that as much as 60 years separate back-to-back tracks - it's all primo, organic, smokin', happy-feets swamp music, and as such, equal-opportunity party-tinder of the highest order.

As if the sides themselves weren't wonderful enough on their own merit, the set contains an 80-page book (not a booklet) constructed very much in the maverick spirit of the music itself. Historic and contemporary photos and art; impressionistic liner notes rife with regional color and humor; reproductions of local signage; and several amusing lists ("Things to Do in New Orleans That Are Totally Uncool and Are Usually Done by Tourists and Drunk Conventioneers but Are Actually Quite Fun") complement the detailed recording data.

Truth be told, New Orleans may be the only city in the world boasting a musical-cultural legacy as rich and healthy in modern times as it was in decades past, which is precisely why this set works so seamlessly on every level. With almost 100 years of recorded bon ton roulet behind it, may New Orleans continue its productive ways to the degree that a similar package of 21st-century wonderfulness be released in 2104!

Thank you, Buddy, for the lovely review. I think Buddy meant James Andrews rather than "James Armstrong." That's okay; he's certainly a musical and spiritual descendent of Louis, if not a literal one.

Twin Cities news crew may have videotaped Iraq explosives.   Looks like we've finally got the proof.

A 5 Eyewitness News crew in Iraq shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein was in the area where tons of explosives disappeared, and may have videotaped some of those weapons.

The missing explosives are now an issue in the presidential debate. Democratic candidate John Kerry is accusing President Bush of not securing the site they allegedly disappeared from. President Bush says no one knows if the ammunition was taken before or after the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003 when coalition troops moved in to the area.

Using GPS technology and talking with members of the 101st Airborne Division, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has determined the crew embedded with the troops may have been on the southern edge of the Al Qaqaa installation, where the ammunition disappeared. The news crew was based just south of Al Qaqaa, and drove two or three miles north of there with soldiers on April 18, 2003.

During that trip, members of the 101st Airborne Division showed the 5 Eyewitness News news crew bunker after bunker of material labelled "explosives." Usually it took just the snap of a bolt cutter to get into the bunkers and see the material identified by the 101st as detonation cords.

"We can stick [some fuses] in those and make some good bombs." a soldier told our crew.

UPDATE via Kos: "David Kay, [former] Iraq weapons inspector for the Bush Administration, just appeared on CNN and was asked by Aaron Brown to review the new video filmed on April 18, 2003, one month after the invasion and 8 days after US Troops first arrived at Al Qaqaa.

He was asked about the video which shows the seal. He said that they are indeed IAEA seals and he's seen nothing else like them in IRAQ. He then went on to say that only the explosives in question would have been sealed because of their potency. He then said that other parts of the video show clearly that these were the types of explosives in question.

He was asked if it was "Game, Set, Match". He replied yes, "Game, Set, Match".

In a final blow to recent conservative spin he was asked if they were classified as WMD. He replied point blank, "Absolutely not."

Josh Marshall has the best coverage of this story. Start at the link and keep reading.

I think BushCo is out of spin for this one.

Osama bin Remembered-just-now.   Ooh, a new Osama video. Boooooo, oooooooo, scary kids! Owwwoooooooooo! Think he's trying to affect the election, maybe, do ya?! Billmon says, "Right on time, too -- four days before the election. (The Madrid bombing was three days before.)"

If anyone had any doubts about which candidate al-Qaeda prefers in this election, I think you can put them to rest now. This tape -- coming hard on the heels of "Azzam the American" -- is obviously designed to have U.S. voters as obsessively worried about the terrorist threat as possible when they go into the voting booth next Tuesday. Osama, like Bush, understands the electoral value of zapping the deeper reptilian centers of the brain. Call it hypothalamus politics. Or, as one member of the media idiot chorus cheerfully told CNN a few days ago: "Fear works."

In a way, this move is even smarter than an actual terrorist attack on American soil -- which al-Qaeda might not have been able to pull off anyway. A real attack would have been an unpredictable gamble. It might have given Bush a huge boost, but it's at least conceivable it would have had the opposite effect, by underscoring the hollowness of the endlessly repeated Republican claim that our cowboy-in-chief has made us all safer.

Osama's video bomb, on the other hand, is a brilliant example of "virtual" terrorism. It's perfectly designed to keep the media tape loop spinning from now until next Tuesday, with minimal risk of a backlash. It not only wipes the missing explosives story off the map (that is, until they do the same to some unsuspecting Americans) it also allows the GOP to turn every remaining campaign event into a bin Laden hate rally. It is, in short, the definitive October surprise.

What was it Rove said the other day when Sean Hannity asked him about October surprises? "We've got a couple of things we intend to spring." Something like that.

Best not to go there. I'm paranoid enough as it is.

John Kerry could, and probably will, use the Osama tape to remind the country that, three years and two wars later, the king of the evildoers, the man Sheriff Bush vowed to smoke out of his hole, is still roaming around free somewhere. Maybe the Democrats can recycle that ad they made after the third debate (the one the media ignored because they were still so deeply offended by Kerry's Mary-Cheney-is-a-lesbian gaffe) in which President denied having denied that he was worried about bin Laden's next move.

It's worth a try, anyway. But I don't think rational arguments are going to be of much use here. Osama's no slouch at information warfare. I'm sure he understands that the impact of a tape like this one on the mass mind is mainly subliminal, if not hormonal. By plastering his face over every TV in America for the next couple of days, he's given Bush a priceless gift -- a boogeyman with which to frighten that last sliver of undecided voters into rejecting change. Al Qaeda, it seems, has evolved into one hell of an effective 527 organization.

I'm not worried, and don't you be either. This is the same unspecific threatening blather we've kept hearing from OBL for the last three years. If anything, it should remind the American people that Bush failed to catch bin Laden, and he's still out there making threats.

Atrios: "Well, he's still out there. Nice job with the whole 'dead or alive' thing."

Paul Begala: "Mr. Dyke, the president famously promised us, you and me, all the American people, that he would get Osama bin Laden -- and I'm quoting him here -- 'dead or alive.' Which did he get him, dead or alive?" (On CNN's "Crossfire", to Republican apparatchik Jim Dyke)

NASA photo analyst: Bush wore device during debate.   Salon reports that Dr. Robert M. Nelson, a senior research scientist for NASA and for Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, an international authority on image analysis, a professional physicist and photo analyst for over 30 years says, "I am willing to stake my scientific reputation to the statement that Bush was wearing something under his jacket during the debate ... This is not about a bad suit. And there's no way the bulge can be described as a wrinkled shirt."

Protect your vote!   The good folks at offer a voters' rights guide to help you be aware and prepared in case anyone attempts to interfere with your right to vote on Tuesday. Read this, print it out, and print out their wallet-sized voter rights card. This is important.

They're doing it again. In Nevada, a Republican contractor has allegedly ripped up thousands of Democratic registration forms. In Florida, Jeb Bush has purged tens of thousands of legitimate voters -- mostly black, mostly Democratic -- from the rolls because their names are similar to a felon's.(Greg Palast, Harper's Magazine, October 2004). In Ohio, the Republican Secretary of State has been so uncooperative that a federal judge said that he "apparently seeks to accomplish the same result in Ohio in 2004 that occurred in Florida in 2000."

But there's one big difference between the election of 2000 and the election of 2004: this time, a number of powerful, well-staffed groups will be aggressively responding to each and every instance of voter intimidation, suppression, and fraud. Messing with our right to vote is a felony, and with your help we'll make sure that anyone who does is prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

We've put together a wallet-sized card that has all the numbers and information you need if someone tries to stop you from exercising your right to vote. You can download it here (requires Adobe Acrobat software to load.)

In a great majority of polling places, of course, voting will be very efficient -- even fun. Poll workers will guide you through the process. They're non-partisan,and they are there to help.

But it's likely that some precincts will be targeted for vote suppression, and that's what we have to be on the look-out for. Since one key suppression tactic is slowing down the voting process, we have to be careful not to fall into that trap. Don't obstruct: just demand that whoever is giving you trouble step aside with you and let the voting continue.

But before we get into what you should do if things go wrong, here are a few pointers to help make sure your voting experience is a good one:

  • Find your polling place ahead of time. Having this information ahead of time will help make sure that you can zip to the polls and back during that half-hour lunch break. You can locate your local polling place using your zip code at In most cases, the site will tell you what kind of voting machines to expect and how they work. (By the way, if conflicts with information you've received from your county or state election officials, use the official information.)

  • When in doubt, ASK. Poll workers are there to help you. They'll show you how to work the machines, and if you're at the wrong polling place, they should tell you how to get to the right one. Every polling place should also have a posted list of your voting rights, and instructions for filing a complaint if your rights have been violated.

  • Know your rights. If you're an eligible voter, you have the following rights:
    • If your name is not on the official voter list but you believe you are eligible to vote in that precinct, even if an election official challenges your vote, you have the right to cast a "provisional ballot."
    • If you're in line when the polls close, you should stay in line because you're entitled to vote.
    • In many states, your employer must allow you time to vote at some point during the day. You can't be fired for being late due to long polling lines.
    • You have the right to vote without being intimidated by anyone.
    • For your rights in your own state, check out this website.

  • Bring photo ID, preferably government-issued ID or a utility bill, phone bill, or paycheck with your name and current street address. If you're a new registrant, it may be required.

  • Vote in the morning. In a great majority of polling places, everything will go smoothly, but by going early you can help prevent lines later in the day.

  • A regular ballot is better than a provisional ballot. If your eligibility to vote is questioned, ask if you can cast a regular ballot by providing additional ID or by going to another polling place. Only cast a provisional ballot if there's no alternative available.

So, what if something does go wrong?

First, document it. If there are specific individuals involved who are challenging your right to vote, intimidating voters, or interfering with the process, try to get their names. Write down exactly what happened, including the time of day, descriptions of the people involved, and any other details you can remember.

Then, report it. There are lots of organizations that will be working to respond quickly to complaints of voter intimidation, suppression, and fraud. Here's who to call:

  • Common Cause: Call 1-866-MYVOTE1. Common Cause has set up a hotline that you can call to report any problems you have voting. They'll document where problems are occuring, watch for wide-spread voter suppression, and provide real-time legal help to the hot spots.

  • 1-866-OUR-VOTE. This hotline has been set up by a coalition of nonpartisan groups to deal with the most serious problems on election day. They have hundreds of lawyers standing by to immediately respond to the most egregious problems. 1-866-OUR-VOTE is the "911" of voter suppression hotlines. Please don't call unless your problem is serious enough that you have to talk to a lawyer immediately.

  • MoveOn PAC: Go to On election day, we'll have a form where you can post any problems you encounter and get help.

Again, to download a wallet-sized card with all of this information that you can bring with you to the polls, go to:

As Bill Clinton said at a rally with John Kerry on Monday, "They're trying to scare the voters away from the polls. It worked so well in Florida, they seem to be trying it elsewhere." We're not going to let them get away with it. And with your help, we'll make sure that anyone who tries to stop people from exercising their right to vote ends up behind bars.

Thanks for everything,

-- Adam, Eli, Hannah, James, Laura, and the whole MoveOn PAC Team
   October 27th, 2004

Learn this. Bring the materials with you. The future of our country is at stake.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, October 28, 2004
Scientists estimate 100,000 Iraqi deaths.   That's some "liberation" ... From the AP:

A survey of deaths in Iraqi households estimates that as many as 100,000 more people may have died throughout the country in the 18 months after the U.S. invasion than would be expected based on the death rate before the war.

There is no official figure for the number of Iraqis killed since the conflict began, but some non-governmental estimates range from 10,000 to 30,000. As of Wednesday, 1,081 U.S. servicemen had been killed, according to the U.S. Defense Department.

The scientists who wrote the report concede that the data they based their projections on were of "limited precision," because the quality of the information depends on the accuracy of the household interviews used for the study. The interviewers were Iraqi, most of them doctors.

Designed and conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University and the Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, the study is being published Thursday on the Web site of The Lancet medical journal.

The survey indicated violence accounted for most of the extra deaths seen since the invasion, and air strikes from coalition forces caused most of the violent deaths, the researchers wrote in the British-based journal.

"Most individuals reportedly killed by coalition forces were women and children," they said.

But hey, freedom's on the march! Submitted by Steve, who said, "Even if these numbers aren't exact, whatever the growing total is, it's unacceptable and tragic."

Quote of the day.   Peace is our profession.

Mr. President, I didn't say we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million, killed. Tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.

-- Gen. Buck Turgidson, "Dr. Strangelove; or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb"

Giuliani blames our troops for al Qa Qaa looting.   I'm agog with astonishment over this (Windows Media link).

The president was cautious, the president was prudent, the president did what a commander in chief should do. No matter how you try to blame it on the president the actual responsibility for it really would be for the troops that were there. Did they search carefully enough? Didn't they search carefully enough?
No, because their fucking orders were to rush to Baghdad to secure the oil ministry and look for nonexistent WMDs. Don't blame the troops for carrying out their superiors' incompetent orders.

Giuliani finally returns to being the complete fuckhead he was up through September 10, 2001.

And the response, from future Kerry administration cabinet official Wesley Clark:

For President Bush to send Rudolph Giuliani out on television to say that the "actual responsibility" for the failure to secure explosives lies with the troops is insulting and cowardly.

The President approved the mission and the priorities. Civilian leaders tell military leaders what to do. The military follows those orders and gets the job done. This was a failure of civilian leadership, first in not telling the troops to secure explosives and other dangerous materials, and second for not providing sufficient troops and sufficient equipment for troops to do the job.

President Bush sent our troops to war without sufficient body armor, without a sound plan and without sufficient forces to accomplish the mission. Our troops are performing a difficult mission with skill, bravery and determination. They deserve a commander in chief who supports them and understands that the buck stops in the Oval Office, not one who gets weak knees and shifts blame for his mistakes.

Way to court the military and military family vote, Shrubster.

Bush ghostwriter says Iraq attack planned two years before 9/11.   We've been saying this all along, those of us in the reality-based community who paid attention to the plans of all the Bush cronies in the Project for a New American Century, but here's someone who's saying he heard it from the horse's mouth ... [boldface emphases mine]

Two years before the September 11 attacks, presidential candidate George W. Bush was already talking privately about the political benefits of attacking Iraq, according to his former ghost writer, who held many conversations with then-Texas Governor Bush in preparation for a planned autobiography.

"He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999," said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. "It was on his mind. He said to me: 'One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.' And he said, 'My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.' He said, 'If I have a chance to invade?.if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency." Herskowitz said that Bush expressed frustration at a lifetime as an underachiever in the shadow of an accomplished father. In aggressive military action, he saw the opportunity to emerge from his father's shadow. The moment, Herskowitz said, came in the wake of the September 11 attacks. "Suddenly, he's at 91 percent in the polls, and he'd barely crawled out of the bunker."

That President Bush and his advisers had Iraq on their minds long before weapons inspectors had finished their work -- and long before alleged Iraqi ties with terrorists became a central rationale for war -- has been raised elsewhere, including in a book based on recollections of former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill. However, Herskowitz was in a unique position to hear Bush's unguarded and unfiltered views on Iraq, war and other matters -- well before he became president.

In 1999, Herskowitz struck a deal with the campaign of George W. Bush about a ghost-written autobiography, which was ultimately titled A Charge to Keep: My Journey to the White House, and he and Bush signed a contract in which the two would split the proceeds. The publisher was William Morrow. Herskowitz was given unimpeded access to Bush, and the two met approximately 20 times so Bush could share his thoughts. Herskowitz began working on the book in May, 1999, and says that within two months he had completed and submitted some 10 chapters, with a remaining 4-6 chapters still on his computer. Herskowitz was replaced as Bush's ghostwriter after Bush's handlers concluded that the candidate's views and life experiences were not being cast in a sufficiently positive light.

According to Herskowitz ... Bush and his advisers were sold on the idea that it was difficult for a president to accomplish an electoral agenda without the record-high approval numbers that accompany successful if modest wars.

The revelations on Bush's attitude toward Iraq emerged recently during two taped interviews of Herskowitz, which included a discussion of a variety of matters, including his continued closeness with the Bush family, indicated by his subsequent selection to pen an authorized biography of Bush's grandfather, written and published last year with the assistance and blessing of the Bush family.

Herskowitz also revealed the following:

  • In 2003, Bush's father indicated to him that he disagreed with his son's invasion of Iraq.

  • Bush admitted that he failed to fulfill his Vietnam-era domestic National Guard service obligation, but claimed that he had been "excused."

  • Bush revealed that after he left his Texas National Guard unit in 1972 under murky circumstances, he never piloted a plane again. That casts doubt on the carefully-choreographed moment of Bush emerging in pilot's garb from a jet on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003 to celebrate "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq. The image, instantly telegraphed around the globe, and subsequent hazy White House statements about his capacity in the cockpit, created the impression that a heroic Bush had played a role in landing the craft.

  • Bush described his own business ventures as "floundering" before campaign officials insisted on recasting them in a positive light.
Several people who know Herskowitz well addressed his character and the veracity of his recollections. "I don't know anybody that's ever said a bad word about Mickey," said Barry Silverman, a well-known Houston executive and civic figure who worked with him on another book project. An informal survey of Texas journalists turned up uniform confidence that Herskowitz's account as contained in this article could be considered accurate.

One noted Texas journalist who spoke with Herskowitz about the book in 1999 recalls how the author mentioned to him at the time that Bush had revealed things the campaign found embarrassing and did not want in print. He requested anonymity because of the political climate in the state. "I can't go near this," he said.

According to Herskowitz, George W. Bush's beliefs on Iraq were based in part on a notion dating back to the Reagan White House -- ascribed in part to now-vice president Dick Cheney, Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee under Reagan. "Start a small war. Pick a country where there is justification you can jump on, go ahead and invade."

This entire article is a must-read.

Cost of war now stratospheric.   It galls me to recall the post-debate attacks on John Kerry for saying that the war would cost $200 billion. Turns out the Republicans were right. Kerry was wrong. It's not going to cost $200 billion -- it's going to cost $225 billion. From The Daily Misleader:

Before the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration told the American people that it could be fought on the cheap. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said "We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon." Budget Director Mitch Daniels said Iraq will be "an affordable endeavor", one "that will not require sustained aid" and cost "in the range of $50 billion to $60 billion." Defense Policy Board Member Richard Perle said, "Iraq is a very wealthy country... They can finance, largely finance, the reconstruction of their own country." They were all wrong.

The Washington Post reports "the Bush administration intends to seek about $70 billion in emergency funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan early next year, pushing total war costs close to $225 billion since the invasion of Iraq early last year."

They've even failed to carry out their own obsessive, needless war in a successful manner. They ignored the realities of what it would cost in lives and dollars, and continue to ignore that reality, and their obsession with non-existent weapons of mass destruction caused them to over look hundreds of thousands of pounds of powerful "conventional" explosives that are now killing dozens and dozens of our troops every month.

They keep saying they have no evidence that John Kerry could protect us better or run the war better than they could. For God's sake, a child could do it better than this. It'd be pretty goddamned difficult to do a worse job.

Get rid of them. On November 2, vote John Kerry for president.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Quotes of the day.   In response to today's remarks by the president:

Today George W. Bush made a very compelling and thoughtful argument for why he should not be reelected. In his own words, he told the American people that "...a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your Commander in Chief."

President Bush couldn't be more right. He jumped to conclusions about any connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. He jumped to conclusions about weapons of mass destruction. He jumped to conclusions about the mission being accomplished. He jumped to conclusions about how we had enough troops on the ground to win the peace. And because he jumped to conclusions, terrorists and insurgents in Iraq may very well have their hands on powerful explosives to attack our troops, we are stuck in Iraq without a plan to win the peace, and Americans are less safe both at home and abroad." By doing all these things, he broke faith with our men and women in uniform. He has let them down. George W. Bush is unfit to be our Commander in Chief.

-- Gen. Wesley Clark, October 27, 2004

In response to the president's comments on the missing explosives:

The President failed to adequately plan to secure the tons of explosives, munitions and weapons in Iraq and ignored the military commanders who told him he'd need more troops to both secure these explosives, take Baghdad and win the peace.

The American people deserve answers. The troops deserve answers. Their families deserve answers.

This is the same President who sent our troops in to battle without the body armor and without armored Humvees.

We have the best trained, best fighters in the world. They need a new commander-in- chief who understand that the buck stops in the Oval Office and knows the meaning of responsibilities he has to our troops. This President has failed that test repeatedly.

The President seems to think Senator Kerry could not possibly be criticizing him since the President thinks he has never made a mistake. Let's be perfectly clear: it is the President who dropped the ball. Senator Kerry is being critical of George Bush, not the troops. By embarking on the line of attack, George Bush is deflecting blame from him over to the military. This is beneath contempt.

-- Gen. Merrill A. McPeak (ret.), former U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff, October 27, 2004

Is this America?   Two stories of intimidation of high school students, in the country George W. Bush calls America. Lemme tell ya ... it ain't America, unless I woke up this morning in a country where there's no freedom of speech.

First, from The Progressive, via Right Hand Thief:

John Sachs is a high school senior in Johnston, Iowa, a northern suburb of Des Moines. Sachs got a ticket at school to go see Bush speak in nearby Clive one day in early October. It was billed as a question and answer session with the President.

So he and two friends, Alex Grasso and Tim Stewart, went to the event.

"I was wearing this pin that said 'Bush-Cheney '04: Leave No Billionaire Behind,' and we were walking in the line going up to the metal detector, and one of the Bush staffers saw my pin and literally pulled me out of the line," Sachs says. "He said, 'Come with me. Let me see that pin.'

"So I pulled my shirt toward him so he could read it.

"He read it and said, 'Give me the pin.'

"So I took it off and gave it to him."

Sachs says the Bush staffer told him he could go back in line. But then the staffer pulled him aside again.

"Are you a Bush supporter?"

"Well, not really."

"So why are you here?"

"I'm here to see my President, and ask questions of my President."

Then the staffer gave Sachs a chilling warning, he says. According to Sachs, here's what the Bush staffer said: "Know if you protest that it won't be me taking you out. It will be a sniper."


Next, yesterday in Wisconsin, via Kos [although as it turns out the claim of threats of expulsion is apparently untrue; see update below]:

[An email from Wisconsin:] A friend with a child in the Richland County, WI high school where George Bush appears today reports the following. Students were told they could not wear any pro-Kerry clothing or buttons or protest in any manner, at the risk of expulsion. After a parent inquired, an alternative activity will be provided, probably a movie being shown in an auditorium. (The school secretary reportedly said that students had the choice of just staying home if they didn't want to attend the Bush rally, but the principal subsequently offered an alternative.)
Kos continues, "If Bush comes to a high school, how dare his campaign dictate what students can wear?

"This is out of control.

Patrick adds, "Expulsion means you're tossed out of public school for the rest of the year. For wearing a button supporting the Democratic nominee for President.

"Still think it's extreme to call these people fascists?

UPDATE: Mary's got the skinny from Richland High School Principal John Cler, who said:

"Here's what happened. The Bush campaign called to ask if they could rent our gym. We are a rural town, with the only space large enough. We thought it would be a great opportunity for our kids to hear him, as I said to them 'whether you agree with him or not.' THe Bush people gave out tickets [I think maybe the tickets cost something and they gave some to the kids for free? In any event, in addition to the rental fee, they also got tickets for interested students.] including some for the students, and the Bush people made the rules about the kids not being allowed to wear Kerry gear, which is typcial for Bush events. We and they never ever mentioned the word expulsion. We told the kids that if the Bush campaign had a problem with them, they would remove them from the gym. It was a separate event from school. I wanted to do it in part so the kids could see the political process up close, and have a chance to see the President. They made their folks available to come to classrooms to talk to the kids, so for a small town, this is a great opportunity. We did NOT threaten explosion -- that would be illegal, and I wouldn't allow it anyway."
This exonerates the principal from the charges that he threatened to expel dissenters, but he still failed his students by allowing a rally to take place on his campus while freedom of speech was being abridged. It also is yet another appalling move by the Bush campaign, who still won't tolerate any dissent against their Four Year Plan. What a terrible message to send to the kids, who learned in their civics classes that our Constitution enshrines their freedom of speech.

The rise of pseudo fascism.   David Neiwert continues his remarkable series of arcicles at his website, Orcinus. There was a new article posted yesterday; the series will conclude next week. Start reading now.

The Rise of Pseudo Fascism

Part 1: The Morphing of the Conservative Movement
Part 2: The Architecture of Fascism
Part 3: The Pseudo-Fascist Campaign
Part 4: The Apocalyptic One-Party State
Part 5: Warfare By Other Means
Part 6: Breaking Down the Barriers

It's not light reading, but it's essential reading, particularly if you really want to know how much your vote for Kerry will be worth next week.

A lifetime supply!   Via Cursor: "A Knight Ridder news report on the weapon of choice for Iraq insurgents -- homemade bombs, or improvised explosive devices' -- quotes an Iraqi police official as saying that 'the terrorists took all the explosives they would ever need' when the coalition failed to guard ammunition depots."

The New Orleans election scene: "Sitting it out is not an option."   Louisiana has been pretty solidly in the Bush camp as a whole, and is expected to go red next Tuesday. However, there's a big groundswell of support for Kerry in the Crescent City, and not only because the city's majority black population tend not to be Bush's demographic. In the aftermath of the New Orleans Times-Picayune's failure to endorse a candidate last Sunday, one reader responds in a letter to the editor:


I am outraged that the editors of The Times-Picayune chose to remain neutral in endorsing neither George W. Bush nor John Kerry for president.

In an election year that is expected to have a record voter turnout and with all the efforts nationwide to encourage citizens to vote, my hometown newspaper decides to sit it out. The attitude reflected in your editorial is akin to that of the voter who stays home on election day because he can't decide who to vote for, so he doesn't vote at all.

After rereading your gutless editorial, I am convinced that the real reason behind your "too many misgivings about both candidates to champion either one" is the editors' fear of alienating their fat-cat friends and advertisers by endorsing John Kerry, or admitting that a second Bush term would be the death knell of America.

Reread the first paragraph of your spineless editorial and tell me you can't "champion either one."

I am a white, Catholic, Republican, suburban woman who is voting for John Kerry. To echo the words of The Lone Star Iconoclast, hometown newspaper of George W. Bush, which endorsed him in 2000: "The re-election of George W. Bush would be a mandate to continue on our present course of chaos... That's why The Iconoclast urges Texans not to rate the candidate by his hometown or even his political party, but instead by where he intends to take the country. The Iconoclast wholeheartedly endorses John Kerry."

Whether Kerry or Bush, I expected no less from The Times-Picayune.

Kathy J. Higgins

In case you didn't know, Metairie is a very conservative suburb of New Orleans, parts of which sent David Duke to the Louisiana legislature in 1989. I'd be surprised if Mrs. Higgins was alone in this. (You go, Kathy!)

New Orleans weblog Right Hand Thief comments:

Da Paper is too disappointed in Bush to endorse him. (Read: the publisher told the T-P editors to choose Bush and they threw a big enough fit so that a non-endorsement was the compromise. A spouse of one of the opinion page editors informed me that the paper's owner/publisher decides all of the major endorsements -- not an uncommon practice. He's conservative and I'm sure he sees a substantial qualitative difference between Kerry and Dubya. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall during that conference call...)
Yeah you rite.

One more for Big John.   The Orlando Sentinel was a big one. However, to what would have been astonishment if not for the realization that no one who lives in a reality-based world and truly understands the situation we're in could possibly vote for Bush, The Idaho Statesman, a staunchly conservative newspaper in America's most staunchly conservative state, endorses John Kerry.

And yet another: "Bush Relatives for Kerry".   Yep, it's for real -- these folks' blood is blue-state blue.

"Bush Relatives for Kerry" grew out of a series of conversations that took place between a group of people that have two things in common: they are all related to George Walker Bush, and they are all voting for John Kerry. As the election approaches, we feel it is our responsibility to speak out about why we are voting for John Kerry, and to do our small part to help America heal from the sickness it has suffered since George Bush was appointed President in 2000. We invite you to read our stories, and please, don't vote for our cousin!
I don't think y'all'll have to worry too much. (I'm feeling better every day.)

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, October 26, 2004
It's out! Buy one! Buy several! Makes great gifts!   Today is the official release day for Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans -- five hours, thirteen minutes of music, 84 pages of writing and photos, the product of a lot of my sweat, passion, anguish, joy and lots and lots of late nights and long weekends for the last year-and-two-months. In case you missed it earlier, here's the track listing.

Da Box Set!
It was a rocky road sometimes, but at the end I have to say that I'm really thrilled with the project, and I really, really hope y'all enjoy it.

Lots and lots of people to thank here: my dear friend Mary Herczog, who wrote the wonderful New Orleans travel portions of the book (and whose name got left off the credits); my dear friend Steve Hochman (Mary's hubby), for suggesting to the project's exec producer that it might be a good idea to hire me to do it; aforementioned exec producer Gary Stewart for his faith, inspiration, arguments and constant support; Shawn Amos and Derek Dressler and all the folks at Shout! Factory; Ted Myers for his amazingly well-researched discographical annotations; Greg Lindy and the folks at Intersection Studios for the box and book graphics and layout; Mike Luquet, Michael Pemberton and all y'all Looka! readers for being my sounding board for some of the song ideas; WWOZ 90.7 FM New Orleans, Your Jazz and Heritage Station, for their constant inspiration and for keeping the groove.

Buy several. Christmas is coming up, the box makes a great gift, I've got a 68-year-old house to fix up and could do with a few pennies from your purchases!

Erratum.   In my liner notes for Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans, I mention that Ellis Marsalis is the director of the Jazz Studies program at the University of New Orleans. As much as I try to keep up with what's going on musically back home, I seem to have missed hearing that Ellis retired from his post in 2001. The current director of the Jazz Studies program is Terrence Blanchard.

The author regrets the error.

John Peel, 1939-2004.   The legendary British DJ died yesterday, of a heart attack, while on holiday in Peru. He was 65.

It's a very sad day for music fans, particularly those in the UK, who got the lion's share of the benefit of his passion for presenting great music outside the mainstream, and giving lots of new, young bands and musicians a chance to be heard. My friend Steve adds, "Peel was a key force in great music for several generations, helping countless acts get a boost and spurring crucial movements in rock."

His style was immediately different to other presenters. He played the records from start to finish without interruption -- which later became useful if you wanted to tape the tracks -- providing an informative commentary for listeners. During his early period, Peel was a friend and supporter of some of the biggest names in rock. Marc Bolan, David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix all recorded Peel Sessions and Peel famously once showed up on Top Of The Pops miming mandolin for Rod Stewart on the chart-topping "Maggie May".

As the 70s progressed, Peel's tastes evolved. He was in the vanguard of punk, pushing the sounds of The Ramones, The Clash, The Undertones, The Buzzcocks and the Sex Pistols, then latterly Joy Division. In the 80s, he kickstarted the careers of New Order, The Fall, Smiths and any number of other acts you care to name. We [in the UK] would never have heard the Pixies or Pulp or The White Stripes if it wasn't for John Peel.

As the years rolled on, the scope of his radio show widened. He moved between gum-bleeding German techno, world music and the occasional Roy Orbison hit with ease -- even if it was sometimes a little taxing for his legions of fans. Until recently, a place on his annual countdown of the best singles of the year -- Peel's Festive 50 -- was a much sought-after berth for bands on independent labels.

Time to start digging out my various Peel Sessions CDs. Thanks for everything, John.

Wow.   Here's what yesterday's Kerry rally in Philadelphia looked like. Estimates of the crowd were between 100,000 and 120,000.
John Kerry in Philadelphia, 10/25/2004
And not a single one of those inspired, fired-up American citizens had to sign any goddamned loyalty oath, either.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, October 25, 2004
BushCo loses 760,000 pounds of high explosives to looters.   If ever there was a better example of the massive incompetence by which the Bush administration runs their little adventure in Iraq, it's with the breaking news that almost 380 tons of powerful explosives have been disappearing from a huge facility in Iraq, from which the looting began last April and was still being looted as of last Sunday.

The Iraqi interim government has warned the United States and international nuclear inspectors that nearly 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives - used to demolish buildings, make missile warheads and detonate nuclear weapons - are missing from one of Iraq's most sensitive former military installations.

The huge facility, called Al Qaqaa, was supposed to be under American military control but is now a no man's land, still picked over by looters as recently as Sunday. United Nations weapons inspectors had monitored the explosives for many years, but White House and Pentagon officials acknowledge that the explosives vanished sometime after the American-led invasion last year.

The White House said President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, was informed within the past month that the explosives were missing. It is unclear whether President Bush was informed. American officials have never publicly announced the disappearance, but beginning last week they answered questions about it posed by The New York Times and the CBS News program "60 Minutes."

American weapons experts say their immediate concern is that the explosives could be used in major bombing attacks against American or Iraqi forces: the explosives, mainly HMX and RDX, could produce bombs strong enough to shatter airplanes or tear apart buildings.

The bomb that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 used less than a pound of the same type of material, and larger amounts were apparently used in the bombing of a housing complex in November 2003 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the blasts in a Moscow apartment complex in September 1999 that killed nearly 300 people.

The explosives could also be used to trigger a nuclear weapon, which was why international nuclear inspectors had kept a watch on the material, and even sealed and locked some of it. The other components of an atom bomb - the design and the radioactive fuel - are more difficult to obtain.

But only Bush and Cheney could keep us (and our troops) safe, huh? I hope the investigations and indictments begin January 21.

They'll tell you what you want to hear!   This is the funniest thing I've seen in weeks, a "service" for lonely guys outside the reality-based community.

Kerry's the talk of the town.   The New Yorker magazine, for the first time in its 80-year history, has endorsed a presidential candidate. You guessed it ... Big John.

Their detailed critique of the Bush administration peels it apart from its very earliest days, and the tainted, illegitimate way in which it obtained office:

On Tuesday, November 7, 2000, more than a hundred and five million Americans went to the polls and, by a small but indisputable plurality, voted to make Al Gore President of the United States. Because of the way the votes were distributed, however, the outcome in the electoral college turned on the outcome in Florida. In that state, George W. Bush held a lead of some five hundred votes, one one-thousandth of Gore.s national margin; irregularities, and there were many, all had the effect of taking votes away from Gore; and the state.s electoral machinery was in the hands of Bush.s brother, who was the governor, and one of Bush.s state campaign co-chairs, who was the Florida secretary of state.

Bush sued to stop any recounting of the votes, and, on Tuesday, December 12th, the United States Supreme Court gave him what he wanted. Bush v. Gore was so shoddily reasoned and transparently partisan that the five justices who endorsed the decision declined to put their names on it, while the four dissenters did not bother to conceal their disgust. There are rules for settling electoral disputes of this kind, in federal and state law and in the Constitution itself. By ignoring cutting off the process and installing Bush by fiat.the Court made a mockery not only of popular democracy but also of constitutional republicanism.

A result so inimical to both majority rule and individual civic equality was bound to inflict damage on the fabric of comity. But the damage would have been far less severe if the new President had made some effort to take account of the special circumstances of his election -- in the composition of his Cabinet, in the way that he pursued his policy goals, perhaps even in the goals themselves. He made no such effort. According to Bob Woodward in Plan of Attack, Vice-President Dick Cheney put it this way: "From the very day we walked in the building, a notion of sort of a restrained presidency because it was such a close election, that lasted maybe thirty seconds. It was not contemplated for any length of time. We had an agenda, we ran on that agenda, we won the election -- full speed ahead."

The new President's main order of business was to push through Congress a program of tax reductions overwhelmingly skewed to favor the very rich. The policies he pursued through executive action, such as weakening environmental protection and cutting off funds for international family-planning efforts, were mostly unpopular outside what became known (in English, not Arabic) as "the base," which is to say the conservative movement and, especially, its evangelical component. The President's enthusiastic embrace of that movement was such that, four months into the Administration, the defection of a moderate senator from Vermont, Jim Jeffords, cost his party control of the Senate. And, four months after that, the President's political fortunes appeared to be coasting into a gentle but inexorable decline. Then came the blackest Tuesday of all.

September 11, 2001, brought with it one positive gift: a surge of solidarity, global and national solidarity with and solidarity within the United States. This extraordinary outpouring provided Bush with a second opportunity to create something like a government of national unity. Again, he brushed the opportunity aside, choosing to use the political capital handed to him by Osama bin Laden to push through more elements of his unmandated domestic program. A year after 9/11, in the midterm elections, he increased his majority in the House and recaptured control of the Senate by portraying selected Democrats as friends of terrorism. Is it any wonder that the anger felt by many Democrats is even greater than can be explained by the profound differences in outlook between the two candidates and their parties?

The Bush Administration has had success in carrying out its policies and implementing its intentions, aided by majorities -- political and, apparently, ideological -- in both Houses of Congress. Substantively, however, its record has been one of failure, arrogance, and.strikingly for a team that prided itself on crisp professionalism -- incompetence.


"What I'm advocating is that the media work for us again."   If you've got a spare hour (or even if you don't; just listen to the audio while you do something else), you'd be well-served to watch/listen to Jon Stewart on C-SPAN's "American Perspectives".

Quote of the day.   Or a 60-year-old, certainly ...

If one guy drove me into a ditch and said, "Don't worry, I know how to drive us out of this," I'll give the keys to a 7-year-old at that point.

-- Jon Stewart, on one of many reasons why he won't be voting for Bush, on C-SPAN's "American Perspectives"

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Saturday, October 23, 2004
Frist lies egregiously, blatantly and outrageously, and the worst thing about it is that he really seemed to think he could get away with it? Why? Because the vast majority of the journalists in this country today don't do their jobs, and he was surprised by one who did it and did it well.

Here's a post from Peter at a weblog called Tea Leaves, entitled "Stop Hurting America":

This morning on the way in to work I made the mistake of tuning in to NPR. Steve Inskeep was interviewing Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) about partisanship. In so doing, Frist made the point that the Democrats have blocked 10 Federal Circuit Court nominees from consideration and that, and I quote, "the blocking of 10 justices, has never been done in the history of this country."

My mouth dropped open, because this is a lie.

It's not a little lie. It's not even a big lie. This goes past "big," all the way into "pathological" territory. This is a lie that says "I'm lying, I know I'm lying, and I think the people listening to me are complete morons." It shows not just disrespect for truth, but disrespect for the people he's talking to. That would be you and me.

To his credit, NPR commentator Steve Inskeep immediately sought a clarification, disbelief evident in his voice:

Inskeep: "I'm sorry, blocking of 10 justices has never been done?"

Frist: "Yes! Absolutely. We have for the first time in 200 years a party, that is the Democratic party, has refused to allow the Senate to give 'advice and consent' on circuit court nominees from the President of the United States. It's never been done."

Inskeep: "If I may, Senator [...] Republicans, when President Clinton was in control, blocked many many judges using other methods."
When confronted by the truth (and he knows full well that over 60 of Clinton's judicial appointees were stuffed down in committee) Frist stumbled, and then went on to repeat the talking point.

What disgusts me is not that Frist lied. What disgusts me is that he thought he would get away with it.

And I don't know that I blame the Senate Majority Leader for that because, frankly, when he first uttered the lie, I thought he would get away with it, too.

I think this is exactly the sort of thing that Jon Stewart has been talking about when he criticizes the media for their lack of analysis. If Frist had been on "Hardball" or "Crossfire" or "Meet the Press", it seems likely to me that he would have delivered his lie, and no reporter would have challenged him on it, even if they knew it was false. When Inskeep called him on his lie, you could hear that Frist was stunned. "How dare he?" I imagine him thinking. "How dare he?"

Frist is responsible for his own lies. But our media -- by which I mean "every reporter who acts as a conduit for an untruth and doesn't identify it as such for his readers, listeners, or viewers" -- is responsible for creating an environment in which political liars can have a good faith belief that their deception will probably go unchallenged.

I'm glad that Inskeep was willing to call the Senator on his patent deception. I'll be more glad when that's the journalistic norm, and not the exception. I don't want my journalists to be nothing more than conduits for the propaganda of any political party -- even a party I support. If I want to read press releases or public relations, I can go to the party's website and get that. To quote Jon Stewart: we need their help. There is too much information for readers to know what is true or untrue. [...]

The geekboy in me loves this.   Via Paul in Galway (thanks!), here's every space geekboy's dream! Dan Carlson compiled a large image file comparing the relative sizes of all thet starships and spacecraft in many of our favorite movie and TV science-fiction universes. Man, now I want to build models of all these ...

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, October 22, 2004
"I voted for Kerry, and a check mark for Bush appeared."   Aaaaaaaarrrrrrggggghhhhh ... via Kos:

Kim Griffith voted on Thursday -- over and over and over.

She's among the people in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties who say they have had trouble with early voting equipment. When they have tried to vote for a particular candidate, the touch-screen system has said they voted for somebody else.

It's a problem that can be fixed by the voters themselves -- people can alter the selections on their ballots, up to the point when they indicate they are finished and officially cast the ballot.

For Griffith, it took a lot of altering.

She went to Valle Del Norte Community Center in Albuquerque, planning to vote for John Kerry. "I pushed his name, but a green check mark appeared before President Bush's name," she said.

Griffith erased the vote by touching the check mark at Bush's name. That's how a voter can alter a touch-screen ballot.

She again tried to vote for Kerry, but the screen again said she had voted for Bush. The third time, the screen agreed that her vote should go to Kerry.

She faced the same problem repeatedly as she filled out the rest of the ballot. On one item, "I had to vote five or six times," she said.

Michael Cadigan, president of the Albuquerque City Council, had a similar experience when he voted at City Hall.

"I cast my vote for president. I voted for Kerry and a check mark for Bush appeared," he said.

It's showing signs of a disaster already. If at all possible, do not use electronic voting machines -- insist on a paper ballot, if at all possible. I understand that many counties in California offer such an option (but poll workers in places like Orange, Riverside and Santa Clara Counties are being instructed not to tell people that the option exists. *tear hair out*)

I do not understand why in the good Christ we can't just do this, as perfectly explained by a Kos commenter: "We get a piece of paper, and put an X beside the person we want to vote for. Then the poll returning officer, who is an ordinary citizen sworn in for the day, counts the ballots, with a representative from each party watching. That's it, it's that simple. If it's really close, a judge does a recount. Problems are extremely rare."

Kerry endorsements keep coming in.   Via Chris at My DD: major news and political weeklies are lining up to reject Bush, including The American Conservative (!), THe New Republic and, in a superb, hard-hitting editorial, The Nation, who argue that a week from Tuesday, American democracy itself is at stake.

This is a must-read.

The most important [stake in this election] is the consequence it will have in what has emerged as a crisis of American democracy. The crisis began on December 12, 2000, when Bush was chosen to be President by the Supreme Court. The gift of a true electoral mandate now to this previously unelected President would give fresh legitimacy and momentum to all his disastrous policies. And that new momentum could in turn place our constitutional system itself at risk. [...]

But while we have sharp differences with Kerry, we believe he has the qualities required for the presidency. He is more than "anybody but Bush." His instincts are decent. He is a man of high intelligence, deep knowledge and great resolve. At times in his life--notably, when he opposed the Vietnam War--he has shown exemplary courage. He respects the law. He believes in cooperation with other countries and has the inclination and ability to bring America out of its current isolation and back into the family of nations. As a senator, he demonstrated concern for social welfare and has backed this up with enlightened policy proposals. He has supported civil rights and labor rights and opposed racism. He has supported the rights of women, including the right to an abortion. He has been an advocate of nuclear arms control and opposed the almost incomprehensibly provocative nuclear policies of the Bush Administration. He would rescind the most unfair of Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy. He would be a friend of the environment and return the United States to the negotiations on global warming.

As for Bush, where to begin the list of his mistakes, delusions, deceptions, follies, tragedies and crimes? Where to end it?

[What follows is a lengthy, detailed list of his mistakes, delusions, deceptions, follies, tragedies and crimes.]

[I]f Bush is defeated, his entire presidency will acquire the aspect of an aberration, a mistake that has been corrected, and the American people will be able to say: We never accepted Bushism. We rejected the brutality, the propaganda, the misbegotten wars, the imperial arrogance. And we never, ever chose George W. Bush to be President of the United States.

[...] But even these stakes are not the largest on the table in November. The largest and most important is the protection of American democracy. It is always difficult while enjoying the comforts and privileges of taken-for-granted liberties to imagine that they could be lost; but the elements of Bush's misrule have plainly converged to form this threat. It is the wars of aggression designed to expand imperial sway abroad that produce the fear that fuels his campaign. It is the transfer of money from the poor or average majority to the rich few and corporations that cultivates the allegiance of the corporate chieftains who swell Bush's campaign coffers while at the same time helping to bring the news media, now owned mostly by large companies, to heel. It is the media that amplify his Administration's war propaganda while failing to expose the deceptions put forward as justification for war and puffing up the bubble of illusion whose creation is perhaps the Administration's top priority. And it is government secrecy and Justice Department repression and a right-wing judiciary that chills the dissent that tries to puncture the bubble of illusion. The upshot is a concentration of power in the Republican Party that has no parallel in American history, including the Gilded Age and the Nixon era.

It is not only all three branches of government that have fallen largely into the same hands; it is the corporations, the military (which tends to vote Republican) and, increasingly, the communications industry, which are either propaganda arms of the party, as in the case of Fox News and other outlets of the Rupert Murdoch media empire, or else simply bow to the pressure of Administration threats and popular anxiety.

[...] The persistent theme of these policies and actions, domestic and international, is to acquire power -- to seize it, to increase it and to keep it for good. A systemic crisis -- a threat to the Constitution of the United States -- has taken shape. At the end of this road is an implied vision of a different system: a world run by the United States and a United States run permanently by the Republican Party, which is to say imperial rule abroad, one-party rule at home. Somewhere along that road lies a point of no return. It is in the nature of warnings in general that you cannot know whether the danger in question will come, or be averted by timely action, or perhaps never present itself at all. But it's also in the nature of warnings that one must act on them before it is too late, and this is especially true in the case of threats to democracy. That is why the danger to democracy takes primacy over other perils that are in themselves greater, including nuclear war and irreversible damage to the ecosphere through global warming. (It is notable that none of these three perils has been more than glancingly mentioned in the election debates that have just ended.) [...]

What can be lost, slowly or abruptly, as the crisis unfolds, is everything that was lost by Detainee 07 [a prisoner who was tortured and abused at Abu Ghraib]. What can be saved -- let us rescue the beautiful word from the cesspool through which the Bush Administration has dragged it -- is freedom.

On November 2, vote for freedom. Vote John Kerry for President.

100 Facts and 1 Opinion.   The non-arguable case against George W. Bush, also from The Nation.

Because we need some levity, too.   I'm as serious as I've ever been about anything in my life regarding the political and election issues you've been reading about on Looka! of late. Amidst that, though, we need to relax a bit while we're getting the issues out there. Here's the funniest anti-Bush spot I've ever seen. (Discretion might be necessary at work.)

A bigger hot sausage ... who knew?!   Yesterday Dave was doing some web searching to try to find a web-order source from the delicious, delectable Creole's Stuffed Bread, from Creole's Lunch House in Lafayette. He used the search box on Netscape's home page, and was pleased to see this humble website listed as the top two search results on the results page.

He emailed me, and said "Scroll down a little bit to the fifth entry." (*scroll*scroll*scroll) "Um, you mean the link that says "foods to eat to get bigger penis free"? (Link perhaps NSFW.) Sure enuff, scroll down that page, and there's a link to the April 2002 edition of Looka!, with a mention of Creole's Stuffed Bread in the page title. Apparently, according to the Free Penis Enlargement Site, eating Creole's Stuffed Bread indeed gives one's John Thomas greater girth!

I can assure you, though, that given the Gargantuan number of Creole's Stuffed Breads I've consumed in my lifetime, their claims are spurious at best.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, October 21, 2004
Pledge drive!   KCSN's semi-annual pledge drive is underway, and tonight's the night to show support for your favorite Louisiana-Irish-roots-trad radio show (via broadcast or webcast), "Down Home"! (That's my show, by the way.)

Tonight from 7-9pm Pacific Time (or anytime via our online pledge central), make your dollars count for the best of commercial-free public radio on KCSN ... and when you pledge online, your dollars are worth double, as every online pledge is being matched by a Generous Benefactor.

We're offering a variety of premia as thank-you gifts for your support ... in fact, quite a nifty haul of loot this year:

$120 pledge -- "Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans"; compiled, produced and with liner notes by yours truly.

$120 pledge -- The "Down Home" CD 5-Pack, hand-picked for your enjoyment...
     BEAUSOLEIL - Gitane Cajun
     LÚNASA - The Kinnitty Sessions
     SHARON SHANNON - Libertango
     NOAM PIKELNY - In the Maze

$88.50 pledge -- Planxty, "Live 2004" ... the incredible document of the Irish supergroup's historic reunion shows, their first in 22 years (and the ones I flew to Ireland to see). NOT AVAILABLE in the U.S.!

Plus all kinds of other nifty loot ... I imagine you can still pledge online, then call (800) 795-5276 to enquire about premia other than the 5-pack.

Support independent non-commercial radio! Support our new transmitter! Support streaming web radio! Support KCSN!

DeLay subpoenaed!   This sure brightened my day. Looks like Mr. "I am the government" is in a cauldron, and they're turning up the heat.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R) was subpoenaed in Houston to an October 25, 2004 deposition concerning his role in the controversial dispute between Democratic Legislators and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) during last year's redistricting struggle. Texas State Representative Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth) subpoenaed DeLay in his ongoing lawsuit challenging DPS's use of public funds to achieve political ends and for its destruction of documents following the exodus of Democratic Legislators from the State to prevent a quorum in a redistricting effort that Democrats claim was illegal.
Wonderful thing, a subpoenie.

Bush supporters as delusional as their leader?   Excellent observations from Salon's Michelle Goldberg ... are the blind leading the blind?

Even if they don't like to say it out loud, lots of Democrats think that George Bush's supporters are a horde of ignoramuses. Now comes evidence that they're right! A remarkable new report, titled "The Separate Realities of Bush and Kerry Supporters," from PIPA, the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, suggests that rank and file Republicans are more benighted than even the most supercilious coastal elitist would imagine.

Analyzing data from a series of nationwide polls, the report finds that a majority of Bush supporters believe things about the world that are objectively untrue, while the majority of Kerry supporters dwell in the reality-based community. For example, Bush backers largely think that the president and his policies are popular internationally. Seventy-five percent believe that Iraq was providing "substantial" aid to al-Qaida, and 63 percent say clear evidence of this has been found. That, of course, would be news even to Donald Rumsfeld, who earlier this month told the Council on Foreign Relations, "To my knowledge, I have not seen any strong, hard evidence that links the two."

Though its language is dispassionate, the report lays responsibility for this epidemic of ignorance at the White House's door. "So why are Bush supporters clinging so tightly to these beliefs in the face of repeated disconfirmations?" it asks. "Apparently one key reason is that they continue to hear the Bush administration confirming these beliefs."


More from the PIPA report, a passage which Chris Bowers of My DD said made him "physically ill":

Steven Kull [director of PIPA] adds, "Another reason that Bush supporters may hold to these beliefs is that they have not accepted the idea that it does not matter whether Iraq had WMD or supported al Qaeda. Here too they are in agreement with Kerry supporters." Asked whether the US should have gone to war with Iraq if US intelligence had concluded that Iraq was not making WMD or providing support to al Qaeda, 58% of Bush supporters said the US should not have, and 61% assume that in this case the President would not have. Kull continues, "To support the president and to accept that he took the US to war based on mistaken assumptions likely creates substantial cognitive dissonance, and leads Bush supporters to suppress awareness of unsettling information about prewar Iraq."
Looka! -- a proud member of the reality-based community.

What Bob said.   From Bob Harris, via Tom Tomorrow:

"Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday evoked the possibility of terrorists bombing U.S. cities with nuclear weapons and questioned whether Sen. John Kerry could combat such a threat..."

Only we, who ignored a daily briefing called "Osama Bin Laden Determined To Strike In US", can protect you from the terrorists.

Only we, who have been so focused on Iraq -- which had no WMD -- and thus allowed North Korea and Iran to join the nuclear club, can protect you from the nuclear threat.

Only we, who were completely unable to anticipate that Iraq would spiral horribly out of control, have the vision to rule this country safely.

And there are actually people -- about 100 million of them, apparently -- who can believe this bullshit.

I say this again: AAAAAAGGGGGGHHH.

I second that.

Iran joins Putin in endorsing Bush.   Or, as Max puts it, "As communist ex-KGB agents go, so go Iranian Islamicist fundamentalist mullahs. Can Kim Jong Il be far behind?"

The head of Iran's security council said Tuesday that the re-election of President Bush was in Tehran's best interests, despite the administration's axis of evil label, accusations that Iran harbors al-Qaida terrorists and threats of sanctions over the country's nuclear ambitions.

Historically, Democrats have harmed Iran more than Republicans, said Hasan Rowhani, head of the Supreme National Security Council, Iran's top security decision-making body.

"We haven't seen anything good from Democrats," Rowhani told state-run television in remarks that, for the first time in recent decades, saw Iran openly supporting one U.S. presidential candidate over another.

Though Iran generally does not publicly wade into U.S. presidential politics, it has a history of preferring Republicans over Democrats, who tend to press human rights issues.

"We do not desire to see Democrats take over," Rowhani said when asked if Iran was supporting Democratic Sen. John Kerry against Bush.

The Bush administration declined to accept the endorsement, but the fact that it was issued is telling, isn't it?

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, October 19, 2004
AP: Cheney says terrorists may nuke cities.   For an administration that's attacking John Kerry and accusing him of "fearmongering" because he wonders aloud about whether Bush will start drafting people, to then send their snarling nutjob veep around saying things like this makes me wonder if I'm living in a surrealist painting instead of the reality-based community.

Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday evoked the possibility of terrorists bombing U.S. cities with nuclear weapons and questioned whether Sen. John Kerry could combat such a threat, which the vice president called a concept "you've got to get your mind around."

"The biggest threat we face now as a nation is the possibility of terrorists ending up in the middle of one of our cities with deadlier weapons than have ever before been used against us . biological agents or a nuclear weapon or a chemical weapon of some kind to be able to threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans," Cheney said.

"That's the ultimate threat. For us to have a strategy that's capable of defeating that threat, you've got to get your mind around that concept," Cheney said.

Cheney, speaking to an invitation-only crowd as he began a bus tour through Republican strongholds in Ohio, said Kerry is trying to convince voters he would be the same type of "tough, aggressive" leader as President Bush in the fight against terrorism.

"I don't believe it," the vice president said. "I don't think there's any evidence to support the proposition that he would, in fact, do it."

But there is evidence that Saddam had WMDs and that he participated in the 9/11 attacks, right Dick? (Jesus.)

The Onion: Cheney vows to attack U.S. if Kerry elected.   I'm having trouble deciding which article is more absurd -- the previous one, or this one.

In an announcement that has alarmed voters across the nation, Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday that he will personally attack the U.S. if Sen. John Kerry wins the next election.

"If the wrong man is elected in November, the nation will come under a devastating armed attack of an unimaginable magnitude, one planned and executed by none other than myself," Cheney said, speaking at a rally in Greensboro, NC. "When they go to the polls, Americans must weigh this fact and decide if our nation can ignore such a grave threat."

Added Cheney: "It would be a tragedy to suffer another attack on American soil, let alone one perpetrated by an enemy as well-organized and well-equipped as I am. My colleagues and I urge voters to keep their safety in mind when they go to the polls."

Two more weeks. Two more weeks. Two more weeks.

Where's the real obscenity here?   Via and the AP: "Three Medford, Oregon school teachers were threatened with arrest and thrown out of the President Bush rally at the Jackson County Fairgrounds Thursday night, after they showed up wearing T-shirts with the slogan 'Protect our civil liberties.'"

All three women said they were carrying valid tickets for the event that they had received from Republican Party headquarters in Medford, which had been distributing event tickets to Bush supporters.

Teacher Janet Voorhies said she simply wanted to bring a message to President Bush, but did not intend to protest.

"I wanted to see if I would be able to make a statement that I feel is important, but not offensive, in a rally for my president," said Voorhies, 48.

The women said they were angered by reports of peaceful protesters being thrown out of previous Bush-Cheney events. They said they chose the phrase, "Protect Our Civil Liberties," because it was unconfrontational.

"We chose this phrase specifically because we didn't think it would be offensive or degrading or obscene," said Tania Tong, 34, a special education teacher.

The women got past the first and second checkpoints and were allowed into the Jackson County fairgrounds, but were asked to leave and then escorted out of the event by campaign officials who allegedly told them their T-shirts were "obscene."

Not even the merest hint of dissent with Dear Leader is allowed. I think we know what the real obscenity is.

No sense of decency, as usual.   Just when you thought outrage overload couldn't get any worse, just when you thought that the Republicans couldn't make you any more speechless ... now they've stomped on Christopher Reeve's grave.

For all the bad rap that Hollywood receives, its stars do the most good when they get behind medical causes. One star who was doing just that was the late Christopher Reeve. But the Republicans' nasty prosecution of the presidential campaign has now taken to stealing Reeve's legacy before the quadriplegic's body is even cold. They are turning his dream of bettering the lives of the 2 million Americans living with paralysis into a political football.

L.A. Weekly has learned that, just a day after the actor's death, one or more Republican senators put a surprise hold on the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Act. The uncontroversial legislation had been expected to sail through committee and then the Senate as easily as it had the House of Representatives where it passed 418 to zero last week. Monday's action was beyond cruel; it was like opposing Mom and apple pie.

Congressional sources confirmed to L.A. Weekly [last] Tuesday that the hold was placed on the legislation from the Republican side of the aisle. Democratic committee members led by Senator Edward Kennedy are trying to find out which Republican senator or senators sandbagged S. 1010. The way the Senate system works, any senator can delay a bill without accountability because anonymity is assured.

"We're shocked," a source inside the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation told L.A. Weekly on Tuesday. "We had been told the bill was going to pass the Senate, but then the Republicans put a hold on the legislation. We heard it was because Chris has been too outspoken on the stem-cell issue. That was the trigger.

"So it would have passed if Chris hadn't died."

At long last ... have they no sense of decency? Well, we already know the answer to that question, don't we?

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, October 18, 2004
A visit with the Doctor.   Yesterday's New York Times Magazine featured a delightful story about and interview with our dear friend Ted "Dr. Cocktail" Haigh, where you'll get a glimpse at the sheer joy of what it's like to imbibe at Casa de Cocktail (and it's the company just as much as the astonishing array of spirits and cocktails).

Everything faded into the background, however, when [Haigh] discovered the Corpse Reviver No. 2. "The drink that started it all!" he said now as he eagerly rose to make one. Doc first read about it as a child in his parents' copy of a 1934 book called The Official Mixer's Manual, but for years it was for him purely theoretical -- an impossible recipe of lemon juice, Cointreau, pastis and some mysterious substance called Kina Lillet -- which is probably why he wanted it so badly. He spent years searching for Kina Lillet in his native Virginia, to no avail. It was not until he moved to Los Angeles that he finally found a bottle of Lillet -- a vermouth-ish herb-flavored wine spiked with quinine -- and determined that it was the same thing as Kina Lillet. He spirited it quickly home and finally revived the corpse.

He was stunned. "I knew it was going to be old and arcane and interesting," he said, "but I wasn't expecting it to be the greatest alcoholic beverage I had ever put in my mouth. It was unbelievable. You could taste every single thing individually that was in that drink." It is relatively easy to find Lillet these days, and Doc carefully measured it out in a shaker along with the other ingredients, adding just a few drops of Herbsaint, a brand of pastis from New Orleans, dripped from the cap. After vigorous shaking and straining, the drink was near-luminous. A single maraschino cherry shone from the bottom like a creepy beacon from the hazy depths of the glass. I sipped, and as promised, the flavors marched down my tongue as if it were a staircase.

If you need to register to read it, just do so. You won't be sorry, believe me.

CocktailDB reborn ... again.   Doc was waiting for the publication of yesterday's article to unveil the subject of untold hours (months, years, really) of work. The already-fabulous has been unveiled in its sixth iteration, and it's truly astonishing.

Nearly 5,000 authenticated cocktail recipes, going back to the mid-1800s; a comprehensive encyclopaedia of ingredients, common and arcane, new and defunct; a catalog of barware; a research library nonpareil; and the amazing (and hilarious) Mixilator, which you simply must try. The Mixilator is a random cocktail recipe generator, which, since it's based on author David (The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks) Embury's principles of cocktail-building and proportions, is actually capable of coming up with something drinkable (unlike most other such random engines). Don't miss the Mixilator's advanced notes link, which is fascinating.

Doc and his project partner Martin Doudoroff have done a magnificent job. The site glows with Doc's artwork and designs (which is what he does for a living), and most parts of the database are illustrated with photographs of bottles of spirits from Doc's vast collection old and new. It is an absolute gem, truly one of the greatest resources the Internet has to offer.

Go there, dig in and start playing. Remember, it's always cocktail hour, somewhere in the world ...

Cocktail of the day.   We did this one about a year ago (and oddly enough, until then I had never tried it), but since this is the one that did it for Doc, it's one that you need to make for yourself and your loved ones. It might just open the doors for you the same way it did for him. It's easy to make, gives an incredibly sophisticated result and it is, of course, a magnificent drink.

Corpse Reviver No. 2

3/4 ounce gin.
3/4 ounce Cointreau.
3/4 ounce Lillet blanc.
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice.
2 drops Pernod, Herbsaint or other pastis.

Combine in a shaker with cracked ice; shake and strain.
Garnish with a stemless cherry.


A must-read: the presidency, faith and reason.   Ron Suskind's superb article from yesterday's New York Times is not to be missed. There are so many important, disquieting and downright disturbing things in it that I hardly know which part to quote, but I'll stick to the excerpt that's been making the rounds:

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

Who besides guys like me are part of the reality-based community? Many of the other elected officials in Washington, it would seem. A group of Democratic and Republican members of Congress were called in to discuss Iraq sometime before the October 2002 vote authorizing Bush to move forward. A Republican senator recently told Time Magazine that the president walked in and said: "Look, I want your vote. I'm not going to debate it with you." When one of the senators began to ask a question, Bush snapped, "Look, I'm not going to debate it with you."

Bush has no interest in reason, analysis, or examination of an issue with questions. He's made up his mind, he has faith that he's always right, and no one dares question him. His attitudes trickle down through the whole administration -- hey, if he doesn't have to answer to anybody's questions, why should I? It's a terrifyingly stupid way to run a government, with disastrously global implications, as we're seeing on the news every night.

Retire him. Retire them all.

Jon Stewart is my hero.   If you haven't done so, you simply MUST watch CNN's "Crossfire" from last Friday, in which the sole guest was Stewart, and during which he incinerated babbling hosts Tucker Carlson (whom I despise) and Paul Begala. It is the most amazing, wonderful bit of television I've seen in recent memory. Read the transcript, and watch it if you have enough bandwidth. Here's a BitTorrent, and here's a Quicktime file.

In response to Carlson's Monday-morning visit to "Spin Alley", his attempts to tell us what we heard to try to distract us from what we actually heard, and his claims that Stewart was "boring ... boorish ... trite ... banal ... commonplace," ... my, where shall I begin?

Boring? No. Fascinating. Riveting. Scalp-tingling, because Jon Stewart seems to be the only person on television who's willing to call it the way he sees it -- the way it is, really. When he said to them, "I watch your show every day. And it kills me. It's so -- oh, it's so painful to watch. [I'm] someone who watches your show and cannot take it anymore," it's as if he was in my head. I cannot stand "Crossfire", and just about every show like it.

Boorish? Are you kidding, Mr. Black Pot Carlson? "Boorish: resembling or characteristic of a boor; rude and clumsy in behavior; clownish; uncultured; unmannerly." That is an exact description of the behavior of the hosts of "Crossfire", when anyone attempts to speak. I cannot stand to watch it, because it is so, so painful to watch.

Trite? No. "Lacking power to evoke interest through overuse or repetetion; hackneyed; frayed or worn out by use" is not how I would describe Stewart's comments. Nobody's had the balls to say that to Carlson or his predecessors on that show or his competition for ratings at the other "news" networks. It was a desperately needed breath of fresh air. Trite? "You keep using that word ... I do not think it means what you think it means."

Banal? "Drearily commonplace and often predictable; trite" (ah, being a bit redundant in your inanity, eh, Mr. Bow Tie?). No.

Commonplace? (Department of Redundancy Department.) No.

Jon was right, in his general comments on the responsibility of the media and their utter failure to the American people, and in his specific comment that Tucker Carlson is just as big a dick on his show as on any other show. Carlson's presence on television is excruciating.

Jon Stewart is my hero.

Quote of the day.   Jon's on a roll. Regarding CNN "journalist" Robert Novak, who wrote the article that outed Valerie Plame as a CIA operative:

Bob Novak could end this whole thing tomorrow. There's millions of dollars being spent on this investigation, and people are going to jail, but his evil is not allowed even in the darkened abyss of his soul -- some would say soul.

He leaked a CIA source for punitive reasons -- for ugly, partisan purposes. [...] I would not have him on the show. I have standards. I wouldn't do it. He shouldn't be on television. CNN should not have him on the air. He should not be amongst civilized people.

-- Jon Stewart, at a New Yorker magazine breakfast, October 14, 2004.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, October 14, 2004
Lie.   He didn't waste any time, did he?

KERRY (during the third debate, 10/13/2004): 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."

We need a president who stays deadly focused on the real war on terror.

BUSH: Gosh, I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those ex-ag-ger-a-tions.

Cut to a March 13, 2003 press conference:

Q: Mr. President, in your speeches now, you rarely talk or mention Osama bin Laden. Why is that? [...]

BUSH: ... I don't know where he is. Nor -- you know, I just don't spend that much time on him really, to be honest with you [...]

Q: Do you believe the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead of alive?

BUSH: As I say, we hadn't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, you know, again, I don't know where he is.

I'll repeat what I said: I truly am not that concerned about him.

Watch the video. (Via Atrios and Kos.)

That's only the beginning, after the first question. Although this was Bush's best debate performance of the three, that's not saying much. He had almost nothing to offer, other than smirks, bad attempts at jokes, insults to unemployed American workers, an appallingly low minimum wage, a huge deficit, a higher share of taxes for the middle class and a huge tax cut for the rich, no matter how much he lies about it, and a disastrous plan for Social Security, to name but a few. (To his credit, he did seem as if he was going to attack the moderator tonight, and managed to confine his anger to excessive eyeblinking, red flushes on his face and podium-pounding.)

Still, don't underestimate how badly Bush shot himself in the foot with the bin Laden remark. It's bad.

If the president had ignored Kerry's charge, everyone would have forgotten about it. By contesting it, Bush handed Kerry two gifts: As delighted as the Kerry people must be by yet another untruthful statement from the president, the substance of this particular statement is even more important. Dick Cheney's false declaration that he had never met John Edwards didn't help the Bush campaign, but this error will be orders of magnitude more damaging. Video of the vice president standing next to Edwards at a prayer breakfast is embarrassing. Video of the president saying he isn't concerned about the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks is devastating.
Who looked more presidential last night, yet again? Three for three. Say hello to President Kerry.

(And seriously, what the hell was wrong with Bush, physically? He frequently slurred his words, and the left side of his face seemed to droop.)

The Cocktailian.   On this fortnight's visit to our master cocktailian bartender The Professor, he employs a new product from the makers of Grand Marnier made with Cognac and Madagasacar vanilla to offer a new cocktail that's like a sweet orchid with a sting of bitters, and which sounds fantastic.

You must watch this ad.   It is completely devastating. Read more about its subject, Robert Acosta as well.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Hard working George.   A one-minute appreciation of W's verbal virtuosity, edited from the first presidential debate by Sim Sadler. (Thanks to John Driscoll!)

Republican stooges trashing Dem voter registrations.   I want to see people in jail for this. (Via Kos.)

Voter Registrations Possibly Trashed

LAS VEGAS -- Employees of a private voter registration company allege that hundreds, perhaps thousands of voters who may think they are registered will be rudely surprised on election day. The company claims hundreds of registration forms were thrown in the trash.

The focus of the story is a private registration company called Voters Outreach of America, AKA America Votes.

The out-of-state firm has been in Las Vegas for the past few months, registering voters. It employed up to 300 part-time workers and collected hundreds of registrations per day, but former employees of the company say that Voters Outreach of America only wanted Republican registrations.

Two former workers say they personally witnessed company supervisors rip up and trash registration forms signed by Democrats.

"We caught her taking Democrats out of my pile, handed them to her assistant and he ripped them up right in front of us. I grabbed some of them out of the garbage and she tells her assisatnt to get those from me," said Eric Russell, former Voters Outreach employee.

Russell managed to retrieve a pile of shredded paperwork including signed voter registration forms, all from Democrats. We took them to the Clark County Election Department and confirmed that they had not, in fact, been filed with the county as required by law. [...]

The company has been largely, if not entirely funded, by the Republican National Committee. Similar complaints have been received in Reno where the registrar has asked the FBI to investigate.

Is this their idea of democracy? No; they're not interested in democracy. Their goal is an autocratic one-party state. They don't want to govern, they want to rule. These people must not be allowed to win this election. Vote Democratic.

UPDATE: A smoking gun on voter registration fraud?

UPDATE II: The Republican National Committee is apparently funding voter suppression efforts in Nevada, Oregon, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Arizona, at least.

Why is Florida's voting system so corrupt?   (I'll give you a hint: two words that rhyme with "web tush".) Ann Louise Bardach writes in Slate (Via Wes; below emphasis mine):

One indicator of the dire state of electoral affairs in Florida is the fact that Theresa LePore, the election supervisor who designed the infamous butterfly ballot, will once again be on the job. It was Ms. LePore's ballot that awarded the votes of thousands of elderly Jews in Palm Beach County to Pat Buchanan, arguably costing Al Gore the election. Given the multitude of other failures in the state's voting system, that's the good news.

In the wake of the most scandalous election in U.S. history, which led to an unprecedented 36-day recount, most Americans believed that state and federal authorities would take steps to ensure that the country would never again go through such an ordeal. But in truth very few changes have been made, and those that have been implemented have raised new concerns. Yet nearly all of Flordia's current troubles share a common denominator -- they were decisions made or endorsed by Florida's secretary of state and chief elections officer, Glenda Hood, who was handpicked by Gov. Jeb Bush in November 2002.

Gov. Bush's own task force on the 2000 election recommended that the Legislature change county election supervisors from elected to nonpartisan positions. But the Legislature did not act on this recommendation, nor on the suggestion of election reform groups that the secretary of state also be selected by a nonpartisan commission, to ensure the necessary firewall between election officials and politicians.

There are excellent reasons for this recommendation. Following the contentious 2000 recount, e-mails on former Sec. of State Katherine Harris' computer revealed that she had been in contact with Jeb Bush during the recount, contrary to both their claims. Miami Herald reporter Meg Laughlin discovered that e-mail messages sent to Jeb Bush from Harris had been deleted after the recount. Harris then had the operating system of her computer changed, a procedure that erased all its data. "What was odd about what she did," said Mark Seibel, an editor at the Herald, "was that they installed an old operating system -- not a new one -- which makes you wonder why they did it."


They did it so that they could steal the election and not get caught. They cannot be allowed to get away with it again.

Paso Robles: A Napa waiting to happen.   Be sure to check out the L. A. Times Food Section today; there are several articles on the community of Paso Robles, about halfway up the 101 between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Read about the area as a nexus of up-and-coming wineries, serious restaurants and organic farms, fantastic California olive oil, Tim Spear's "revolutionary" Syrahs and what Paso Robles' other vintners are up to, a weekend jaunt to their wine country and more.

Order the fish.   No links here, unfortunately, but I'll pass on a recommendation from Sauté Wednesday to pick up the new issue of Vanity Fair:

Stunning photo in the November issue of Vanity Fair. In the article titled "Order the Fish" by Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), there is a picture of the ConAgra feedlots in Greeley, Colorado. Taken from the air, it shows miles, and miles, and miles of nothing but cattle. Pause for effect.

Then there's this quote: "One of the U.S.D.A.'s first actions after Bush took office was to halt the salmonella testing of ground beef purchased for the national school lunch program."

Now doesn't that just piss you off?

Well, the gist of Schlosser's article isn't that Mad Cow is back, it's that it never left.

No child left behind, eh?

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, October 12, 2004
I feel a song coming on ...   Over the last day or two a bunch of friends and I have been wondering in our barrages of email how a reasonable person could still possibly be an undecided voter at this late juncture. Dave, who's singularly talented at writing and re-writing song lyrics (and was a major contributor of songwriting talent for the Kerry-oke fundraiser) took this most excellent swipe at "My Fair Lady" ...

Why Can't the Swing Votes?
Music by Frederick Loewe
Lyrics by Dave Schmerler (with apologies to Alan Jay Lerner)

Look at them!
Their waffling makes me shudder!
They're confused by every word the candidates utter.
By right, they should be taken out and shot
For their outright refusal
To be put into a slot.

Why can't the swing votes figure out which way to go?
The Dems will bring us changes,
With Bush, the status quo.
And any vote for Nader, well, is bound to bring us woe.
Oh, why can't the swing votes
Learn to ...

See a good example of hedging and cheating and evidence of lies,
Especially when it hits between the eyes.
There even are swing votes
Who think that there's a withholding prize ...
If there is, it'll be to my surprise!

Why can't the swing votes finally figure where to flop?
That Voter's Guide you're holding
Should be more than a prop.
So please, open up your eyes and quit your silly ruse.
Oh, why can't the swing votes ...
Why can't the swing votes ...
Oh, why can't the swing votes ...
Learn to choose?!


Watering down the liquor.   Via Tim comes an article from an online publication that's fairly new to me -- Modern Drunkard Magazine. I hadn't noticed this, but it seems that a troubling trend amongst makers of liquors has just accelerated, to the outrage of my spirits connonisseurs -- the makers of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey have lowered the proof of their flagship product, from 90 to 86 and now down to 80 proof. I have serious doubts that such a change will not have an effect on the flavor.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, October 11, 2004
Unfit for command.   Via Atrios, whom I will quote because it can't be said any better: "There are plenty of reasons why John F. Kerry is a better man than George W. Bush. And, there are plenty of reasons why George W. Bush is unfit to be president and commander in chief. But, frankly, there is only one which trumps all the rest -- George W. Bush believes his re-election is more important than the lives of our soldiers and the situation in Iraq.

Major Assaults On Hold Until After U.S. Vote
Attacks on Iraq's rebel-held cities will be delayed, officials say. But that could make it harder to allow wider, and more legitimate, Iraqi voting in January.

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration will delay major assaults on rebel-held cities in Iraq until after U.S. elections in November, say administration officials, mindful that large-scale military offensives could affect the U.S. presidential race.

Although American commanders in Iraq have been buoyed by recent successes in insurgent-held towns such as Samarra and Tall Afar, administration and Pentagon officials say they will not try to retake cities such as Fallujah and Ramadi -- where insurgents' grip is strongest and U.S. military casualties could be the greatest -- until after Americans vote in what is likely to be a close election.

"When this election's over, you'll see us move very vigorously," said one senior administration official involved in strategic planning, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Once you're past the election, it changes the political ramifications" of a large-scale offensive, the official said. "We're not on hold right now. We're just not as aggressive.

Just when I thought he couldn't possibly sink any lower ... The man won't even admit to any mistakes he's made when asked by an American citizen, instead beats his chest to insist he was right about Iraq, and now openly -- even brazenly -- announces he's playing with the lives of American soldiers for political gain. Either this is the truth, or else it's a disinformation campaign for an "October surprise" attack, in which they'd likely figure that support for the president would go up during major military action. Either way, it's a nadir for the Bush administration. How can any Bush voter justify this?

I believed a man could fly.   Christopher Reeve, 1952-2004.

Kal El of Krypton
(Click on image for music.)

Despite his passing, we should not give up the belief that a paralyzed man can walk. Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. Christoper and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center.
Another child left behind.   41 talks to 43, in one of the best "Doonesbury" strips I've seen in a while.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, October 8, 2004
It's here!!   Good lord, this happened earlier in the week and, due to my never quite knowing where I am in the space-time continuum, I plumb forgot. Now available is the one book you need to buy right now ... Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails: From the Alamagoozlum to the Zazerac, 80 Rediscovered Recipes and the Stories Behind Them by my dear friend Ted "Dr. Cocktail" Haigh. It looks like this:

THE cocktail book of the year!

The cocktail world has been screaming for Doc to do a book, and now its time has come. I'd seen the galleys a good while back, and I've been itching to see it for real. This book is an absolute delight -- not only for the nearly priceless recipes but for Doc's charming and witty writing, his endless knowledge of the subject, and the amazing photos featuring rare glassware from his collection and even rarer old bottles from his even more astonishing collection. (Oh, and I'm in it, too.)

Do yourself a favor. If you love cocktails, buy this book. (A wonderful side effect will be that once you've acquired all the ingredients necessary to make these drinks, you'll have THE most well-stocked bar in your neighborhod, certainly more so than most of your local bars.) Find it at your local book emporium, or if you're not OK to drive, you can order it online via


[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, October 7, 2004
"Your New Job" commercial now available as BitTorrent.   Thanks to the generous contribution of labor by Mitch McGlaughlin, Lou Weinert's commercial on the realities of the Bush administration jobs record is now available as a BitTorrent file [link removed, sorry], so those of you familiar with that file distribution system can use it without turning my server into a quivering puddle of melted bacon fat. (Let me know in comments if something's not working, BitTorrent users.)

Thanks a million, Mitch!

Dick Cheney: the hits just keep on coming!   An astonishing story from the AP today says that the CIA report saying there were no WMDs in Iraq justifies the invasion anyway. Via Steven, who added, "Unfortunately, the story includes no confirmation of the rumor that the phrases War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength were discovered scribbled on his notes."

Vice President Dick Cheney asserted on Thursday that a finding by the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq that Saddam Hussein's government produced no weapons of mass destruction after 1991 justifies rather than undermines President Bush's decision to go to war.

The report shows that "delay, defer, wait wasn't an option," Cheney told a town hall-style meeting.

While Democrats pointed to the new report by Charles Duelfer to bolster their case that invading Iraq was a mistake, Cheney focused on portions that were more favorable to the administration's case.

"The headlines all say no weapons of mass destruction stockpiled in Baghdad. We already knew that," Cheney said.

Vice presidential candidate John Edwards called Cheney's claim "amazing" and accused his Republican rival of using "convoluted logic."

"They are willing to say left is right and up is down," Edwards said while campaigning in Bayonne, N.J. "The vice president, Dick Cheney, and the president need to recognize that the Earth is actually round and that the sun is rising in the east."

Cheney's comments reflect a GOP strategy to use portions of the report, including abuses of the oil-for-food program, to try to move discussion away from the central conclusions on the absence of weapons of mass destruction.

"We already knew that"?! What else did you "know"? How 'bout this? ...

"This Week with George Stephanopoulos", ABC News, March 30, 2003

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, weapons of mass destruction. Key goal of the military campaign is finding those weapons of mass destruction. None have been found yet. There was a raid on the Answar Al-Islam Camp up in the north last night. A lot of people expected to find ricin there. None was found. How big of a problem is that? And is it curious to you that given how much control U.S. and coalition forces now have in the country, they haven't found any weapons of mass destruction?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Not at all. If you think -- let me take that, both pieces -- the area in the south and the west and the north that coalition forces control is substantial. It happens not to be the area where weapons of mass destruction were dispersed. We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.

To coin a phrase ... you don't know dick, actually.

Recipe of the day: Shrimp and grits, part deux.   Here's another version of shrimp and grits, this time coming from Chapel Hill, North Carolina's legendary local restaurant Crook's Corner, with recipe kindly provided by my New Orleanian friends Michael and Louise, who used to live in Chapel Hill. Michael even claims that this version is better than the version served at Uglesich's, which is a mighty bold claim indeed. Suffice to say I love both versions, and must admit that Anthony's version doesn't have any bacon ... hmm.

If you're on Weight Watchers, you might want to prepare the dish with Michael's "lightening" suggestions, or you'll blow all your Flex Points for the entire week. That said, here's Crook's Corner's famous Spicy Sautéed Shrimp and Cheese Grits. It's got shrimp, bacon and two kinds of cheese, so how can you go wrong?

Cocktail of the day: the poor suffering bar steward.   The current issue of Malt Advocate magazine features an article by the inimitable Ardent Spirit Gary Regan, libations writer and Hoskins Cocktail evangelist, tells of his adventures in seeking out the creator of the following cocktail, which began with an obituary in the New York Times ...

The Suffering Bastard
Adapted from a recipe in
Esquire Drinks: An Opinionated and Irreverent Guide to Drinking,
by David Wondrich, 2002.

1 ounce Bourbon.
1 ounce gin.
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice.
1 dash Angostura bitters.
Ginger ale.
2 sprigs fresh mint.

Fill a cocktail shaker two-thirds full of ice and add the Bourbon, gin, lime juice and bitters. Shake for approximately 15 seconds. Strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Top with the ginger ale, and add the garnish.

Ye poor bastards, yis won't be suffering so much after one or three of these ...

Quote of the day.   After the vote to authorize the use of force to disarm Saddam of any WMDs he was discovered to have, as a last resort:

In giving the President this authority, I expect him to fulfill the commitments he has made to the American people in recent days--to work with the United Nations Security Council to adopt a new resolution setting out tough and immediate inspection requirements, and to act with our allies at our side if we have to disarm Saddam Hussein by force. If he fails to do so, I will be among the first to speak out.

-- Sen. John Kerry, October 9, 2002.

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  Wednesday, October 6, 2004
The vice-presidential debate, in a nutshell.   Cheney releases the hounds.


(Thanks, Steve!)

Cheney vs. reality.   I'm trying to decide if I'm surprised at the number of times I shouted at the television screen, "That is a boldfaced LIE!" while the vice-president was speaking. The DNC has already produced a video (Windows Media, broadband, dialup) that demonstrates that Mr. Cheney apparently thinks no one will question anything he says.

"An administration that would lie about the small things ..."

CHENEY (to Edwards during the debate, 10/5/2004): Now, in my capacity as vice-president, I am the president of Senate, the presiding officer. I'm up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they're in session. The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight.

CHENEY (at the National Prayer Breakfast, 2/1/2001): Thank you. Thank you very much. Congressman Watts, Senator Edwards, friends from across America and distinguished visitors to our country from all over the world, Lynne and I honored to be with you all this morning.

GANNET NEWS SERVICE, 1/8/2003: Elizabeth Dole was sworn in as North Carolina's other senator on January 8, 2003. As per Senate tradition, Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., escorted her. [Dole] raised her right hand and took the oath administered by Vice President Dick Cheney, the Senate president.

DAILY KOS, 10/6/2004: During the entirety of 2002, 2003 and 2004, Cheney did not in fact only preside over the Senate "most Tuesdays", but in fact only twice -- the same number of times Edwards presided over the Senate as acting president.

"... would lie about the big things."

CHENEY (to Edwards, during the debate, 10/5/2004): I have not suggested there's a connection between Iraq and 9/11 ...

CNN (9/13/2004): On Thursday in Cincinnati, Ohio, Cheney described Saddam as a "man who provided safe harbor and sanctuary to terrorists for years" and who "provided safe harbor and sanctuary as well for al Qaeda."

In Wisconsin on Friday, he said the "al Qaeda organization had a relationship with the Iraqis."

TIM RUSSERT ("Meet the Press", 9/14/2003: The Washington Post asked the American people about Saddam Hussein, and this is what they said: 69 percent said he was involved in the September 11 attacks. Are you surprised by that?

CHENEY: No. I think it.s not surprising that people make that connection.

MR. RUSSERT: But is there a connection?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: We don't know. You and I talked about this two years. You and I talked about this two years ago. I can remember you asking me this question just a few days after the original attack. At the time I said no, we didn't have any evidence of that. Subsequent to that, we've learned a couple of things. We learned more and more that there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda that stretched back through most of the decade of the '90s, that it involved training, for example, on BW and CW, that al-Qaeda sent personnel to Baghdad to get trained on the systems that are involved. The Iraqis providing bomb-making expertise and advice to the al-Qaeda organization.

That sounds like a bit more than just a "suggestion".

Recipe of the day.   Shrimp and grits are a classic combination, in case you didn't know. I've had them prepared in several different ways, but they're usually a cheesy, creamy serving of grits (in either loose or solid cake form) with shrimp and a wonderful gravy. It's very, very comforting, and yet exciting because with those basic elements you can really go almost anywhere with it.

Today's L. A. Times Food Section features a recipe request from Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas, no less, who had a fabulous shrimp and grits dish in Louisville, Kentucky, and couldn't figure out what was in it. To the rescue comes Chef Shawn Ward of Jack Fry's Restaurant, and the recipe for Shrimp and Grits with Red-eye Gravy (which, of course, contains strong, brewed coffee), published under the fabulously awful headline, "Delicious three-part hominy." (Oy.) I can't wait to try this one.

Over the next two days I'll post two more shrimp and grits recipes that I love. You'll love 'em too.

WMDs? What WMDs?   Quelle surprise: Iraq's capability for producing weapons of mass destruction was essentially destroyed in 1991.

Undercutting the Bush's administration's rationale for invading Iraq, the final report of the chief U.S. arms inspector concludes that Saddam Hussein did not vigorously pursue a program to develop weapons of mass destruction after international inspectors left Baghdad in 1998, according to lawmakers and others briefed on the report.

In drafts, weapons hunter Charles Duelfer concluded that Saddam's Iraq had no stockpiles of the banned weapons but said he found signs of idle programs that Saddam could have revived if international attention had waned.

"It appears that he did not vigorously pursue those programs after the inspectors left," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity in advance of the report's release.

And in fact, international attention was anything but waning. If Bush had allowed the inspectors to complete their jobs, there would be over 1,000 American troops and tens of thousands of Iraqis who would be alive today. "But Saddam Hussein is in jail!" wail the GoOPers. Kim Jong Il, however, is not, and he has nukes.

Wish I'd been there.   Via Michael, here's a brief report from the "Backstreets" list on last night's "Vote for Change" concert in St. Paul, Minnesota, featuring Bruce Springsteen, REM, Bright Eyes and ... a special guest.

Nothing ragged about this one -- just full-on guitar glory as Neil Young came out and cranked up the energy for the best VFC show yet. "Any Canadians for Kerry in the house? I thought I saw one here earlier..." said Bruce. And yeah, Young had been out earlier for "Country Feedback" with REM, but that didn't diminish the "holy shit" factor as Neil faced off with Bruce for monster jam on "Souls of the Departed" and a fierce "All Along the Watchtower." Even Clarence got swept away. Blow, Big Man, blow! Wail, Shakey, wail! And the wind began to howl... Neil was back in the encores trading off vocals with Bruce on "Rockin' in the Free World" along with Fogerty, all of REM, and Neil's wife Pegi.
Wow. Unfortunately, this part of the tour isn't coming anywhere near me, so if they're near you, go and have a great time.

Son Volt or not-Son Volt?   Just within the last couple of weeks I excitedly relayed Jay Farrar's announcemente that the original lineup of Son Volt would be reforming. Today, via Barry, we now hear that it's Son Volt in name only:

Jay Farrar's popular rock band persona, Son Volt, is heading back into the studio to record their fourth full-length studio album -- the first new release since 1998's Wide Swing Tremolo (Warner Bros. Records). This time around, though, fans will be seeing (and hearing) a different collection of side musicians performing with Farrar. After several months of discussions and planning with the original Son Volt players.Dave Boquist, Jim Boquist and Mike Heidorn.Farrar was unable to reach acceptable business terms with the original line-up.

"Times change, and so do people, I guess," reflected Farrar. "While I was looking forward to the reunion aspect of working with those guys, it just wasn't meant to be. It'll be liberating to get down to work with a different group of musicians. I had always envisioned Son Volt as a vehicle for my songwriting and expected it to evolve over the years. When I reformed the original band this year to record our track for Por Vida [the Alejandro Escovedo benefit album], it seemed like we might be able to extend that two-day session into two years of recording and touring -- but it doesn't look that way now". With fifteen Son Volt songs written, studio time booked and engineer John Agnello on board, Farrar now plans to commence recording in St. Louis on October 12. Currently set to collaborate with Farrar on these sessions are Brad Rice (guitar -- Tift Merritt, Ryan Adams), Andrew Duplantis (bass -- Jon Dee Graham, Meat Puppets, Bob Mould), Eric Heywood (pedal steel -- Son Volt, Calexico) and Dave Bryson (drums -- Canyon).

I'm sure the new album'll be great (I hope it is, anyway), but I have to say I'm disappointed that it's not going to be the original lineup, which I loved. Why doesn't Jay just call it a Jay Farrar album? In fact, as Barry put it, "why doesn't he just call it Uncle Tupelo?"

Quote of the day.   From last night's vice-presidential debate:

The vice president, I'm surprised to hear him talk about records. When he was one of 435 members of the United States House, he was one of 10 to vote against Head Start, one of four to vote against banning plastic weapons that can pass through metal detectors.

He voted against the Department of Education. He voted against funding for Meals on Wheels for seniors. He voted against a holiday for Martin Luther King. He voted against a resolution calling for the release of Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

It's amazing to hear him criticize either my record or John Kerry's.

Cheney would not -- and in fact, could not -- respond.

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  Tuesday, October 5, 2004
Your new job (courtesy of George W. Bush).   My old friend Lou Weinert just produced a commercial for the Democrats. Off the top of his head. In about a week's time. With donated labor and equipment. For a total cost of less than $500. And it's great.

Watch it now. (3.7 MB Quicktime ... above link may not work if you're behind a firewall or using a proxy server. If the previous link doesn't work, use this one, a 1.5 MB backup version.)

That packs quite a punch, and belies BushCo's claims of job creation (in the face of the actual statistic of being the first administration in 70 years to have a net loss of jobs). It shows us what kinds of jobs are being created more and more these days, as in the joke Lou told me the other day -- A guy goes into a greasy spoon diner, sits down and orders a cup of coffee. As he's reading his paper he tells the waitress, "Hey, it says here that President Bush created 1.7 million new jobs!" "Yeah," replied the waitress as she poured his coffee. "I've got three of 'em."

Lou knew some of the right people, and (amazingly) it's already in the hands of the DNC and I'm hoping we'll at least see it on their websites within the next few days, and since it was professionally produced and photographed on 35mm film (Lou's a professional cameraman and documentary filmmaker), it's easily broadcast quality. Keep an eye out!

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  Monday, October 4, 2004
Space: the final frontier.   That frontier has been broken, ever so slightly, by Peter Allen and Burt Rutan's Space Ship One, which flew to an altitude of 71.5 miles today and claimed the $10 million X Prize for the first successful (and repeatable) civilian spaceflight. (Full coverage here.)

Apparently Richard Branson has already set up Virgin Galactic to offer commercial space tourist flights. Here's hoping I can get into space sometime before I die (although he'll need to get the price down a little from the projected $200,000 fares ... maybe standby coach redeye spaceflight for me).

Funny/scary.   What do you talk about at your convention when you have nothing else to talk about? September 11th, Saddam, terror terror terror! -- some soundbites from the 2004 Republican National Convention.

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  Friday, October 1, 2004
Photo of the day.   Two parrots having a debate, Audubon Park Zoo, New Orleans, August 2004.

Two parrots having a debate, Audubon Park Zoo, New Orleans, August 2004
I don't recall them having a 32-page rulebook, though.

Quotes of the day.   (Via Julian Sanchez):

GEORGE W. BUSH, DURING THE DEBATE, 9/30/2004: My opponent says we didn't have any allies in this war? What's he say to Tony Blair? What's he to Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland?

PRESIDENT ALEKSANDER KWASKIEWSKI OF POLAND, 3/19/2004: They deceived us about the weapons of mass destruction, that's true. We were taken for a ride.

Yeah. Don't forget Poland!

More ...

BUSH: I don't think we want to get to how he's going to pay for all those promises.
Julian: "Yeah, we wouldn't want to be running massive deficits." Atrios: "Bush chose the wrong debate to use that line. Was Kerry about incresing welfare payments? Free health care for all? Subways in every city? Some liberal big government program? No. He was talking about doing very sensible and relatively inexpensive things to prevent catastrophe. The full exchange:

KERRY: Jim, let me tell you exactly what I'll do. And there are a long list of things. First of all, what kind of mixed message does it send when you've got $500 million going over to Iraq to put police officers in the streets of Iraq and the president is cutting the cops program in America? What kind of message does it send to be sending money to open firehouses in Iraq but we're shutting firehouses, who are the first responders here in America? The president hasn't put one nickel -- not one nickel -- into the effort to fix some of our tunnels and bridges and most exposed subway systems. That's why they had to close down the subway in New York when the Republican convention was there. We haven't done the work that ought to be done.

Ninety-five percent of the containers that come into the ports, right here in Florida, are not inspected. Civilians get onto aircraft and their luggage is X-rayed, but the cargo hold is not X-rayed. Does that make you feel safer in America?

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. And long before President Bush and I get a tax cut -- and that's who gets it -- long before we do, I'm going to invest in homeland security and I'm going to make sure we're not cutting cops programs in America and we're fully staffed in our firehouses and that we protect the nuclear and chemical plants.

The president, also unfortunately, gave in to the chemical industry, which didn't want to do some of the things necessary to strengthen our chemical plant exposure. And there's an enormous undone job to protect the loose nuclear materials in the world that are able to get to terrorists. That's a whole other subject.

But I see we still have a little bit more time. Let me just quickly say, at the current pace, the president will not secure the loose material in the Soviet Union, former Soviet Union, for 13 years. I'm going to do it in four years. And we're going to keep it out of the hands of terrorists.

LEHRER: Ninety second response, Mr. President.

BUSH: I don't think we want to get to how he's going to pay for all these promises. It's like a huge tax gap and -- anyway, that's for another debate.

Atrios: "From a tactical perspective, it was a great gaffe." More...

KERRY: I acknowledge [the president's] daughters, I've watched them, I've chuckled a bit at some of their comments.

BUSH: I'm trying to put a leash on them.

KERRY: I've learned not to do that.

Andrew Sullivan: "No president who has presided over Abu Ghraib should ever say he wants to put anyone on a leash." (I don't like him, but I have to admit that's a great line.)

Look at the new video on the DNC website entitled "Faces of Frustration", highlighting all of the very unpresidential facial expressions, twitching, eyerolling and smirking from Bush during the debate. Then look again at his bizarre outburst, "Of course I know Osama bin Laden attacked us!". Did you also catch his "Let me finish..." bit, which he pulls out when he's getting angry and defensive? Remember how he pulled it at least a dozen times on Irish reporter Carole Coleman when she actually asked him real, tough questions.

Kerry hit it out of the park. He looked calm, cool, collected, informed, presidential. Bush looked nervous, twitchy, petulant, angry, sarcastic, smirking. The key to observing the difference between these men is when ABC cut to a split screen view, showing Bush's reactions as Kerry made his points and charges (and I understand C-SPAN ran the whole debate that way). As Atrios said, "Split screen will save this country." Keep this up, George, and it'll be Nixon's sweaty five o'clock shadow to the tenth power.

Fox "News": Paving the way for the Ministry of Truth.   Looky how the Fox News art department Photoshopped an additional three inches onto Bush, so wouldn't seem so short next to thte 6'4" Kerry. We can't have Our Fearless Leader looking small, now, can we? (Via Kos)

Um, wow.   Okay, so when I set up that pre-order link for Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens on Wednesday, I remember noticing that its sales rank was about 320,000something. When I took a look at the link today, the sales rank was 30,154. Hey, does that mean that a few people are pre-ordering? (Heh.) Woo! Tell your friends! Buy buy buy! (No, really, it's cool, you'll love it. Promise.)

September Looka! entries have been permanently archived.

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