London Calling

From The Times of London via AMERICAblog, a little wake-up call to remind us what democracy is supposed to be about:

The primary function of democracy is not to elect good leaders, since nobody can predict in advance how a politician will perform. It is to eject leaders who have manifestly failed. The ability to remove leaders who turn out to be corrupt, dangerous, outrageously dishonest or manifestly incompetent is the primary privilege and duty of any democracy. And if any leader in our lifetime deserved to be ejected by voters, regardless of their ideology or political persuasion, it is surely President Bush.

That totally makes me horny, baby.

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Poll Vault

Check out this CNN tracking poll from late October of 2000 posted on DailyKos, showing Bush leading Gore 52-39. And we’re worried about a 2 point lead???

Heh heh heh.

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Al QaQaa for Brains

I know I've been lax in not posting anything about this unfolding missing explosives story, but it seems to be a constantly moving target; by the time I'm ready to nail down a post, the facts (or at least the assumptions) have already changed. I'm not certain that we're done sorting through the whole mess yet.

At this point, however, it looks like a big mess for Furious George & Friends. The just-finished press conference does not sound like it went well (I wasn't able to watch). Atrios says it was a disaster, and under the headline "IT'S ALIVE, IT'S ALIVE - OUR MEDIA, IT'S ALIVE!!!" John Aravosis of AMERICAblog writes:

I'm watching the Pentagon's live press conference about Qaqaa-gate and the media is ripping them to shreds. It's amazing. They actually know their facts and are catching the Pentagon briefers in all sorts of mix-ups.

And more evidence that the Big Mo is truly going our way: I just ran out for lunch and tuned in to Rush Limbaugh's show for a few minutes of amusement. Oh, and it was amusing. He's spinning like a whirling dervish, invoking everything from Kerry's "not released" military records to the "global test." It's unreal. He's freaking out, and saying how the whole al QaQaa thing is going to totally implode the Kerry campaign. In the continuing game of Projection Politics, we all know what THAT really means.

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This evening before leaving work, I caught a call that was a pre-recorded message. We get lots of those, and I was about to hang up when I realized it was a solicitation to participate in a CBS election poll. Being landline-less, I jumped at the only chance I would have to take part, and so I spent the 5 minutes or so touch-toning my answers. I was especially interested as the questions were geared toward Indiana voters, rather than Illinois voters (being in NW Indiana, we get Chicago stations, and end up knowing a lot more about Barack Obama than Evan Bayh).

The survey ended with a message that the poll results would appear on the evening newscast, which I did not watch, opting for my nightly dose of Jon Stewart instead, especially as I knew Zogby would be making an appearance. I looked for the results online, but CBS' Chicago affiliate site that did the polling yielded nothing.

I did, however, see in their Indiana news section that there has been much interest in the election and increased voter registration across college campuses throughout the state. Knowing the voter trends of younger voters, my dream of the ever-purplish Hoosiers turning into a battleground state in '08 might just yet be realized.

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Salon has more on the Bush bulge. This time, a NASA image specialist weighs in.

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John Zogby just appeared on The Daily Show and called it for Kerry, without hesitation. My heart's a-pumpin'!

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Power of the People

A lot of discussion this election cycle has been dedicated to questioning if Kerry has adequately appealed to minority voters, and whether Bush is going to end up with double the minority voters he did in 2000. I’ve read lots of articles and opinions on the subject, but the one that seems to be the most honest comes from a Salon reader who admonishes the journal for not giving a voice to those who really know. I don’t think Salon is unique in its tendency to raise lots of questions about particular voter groups without actually talking to any members.

This is a sister issue to the one I raised recently regarding the Left’s regard (or lack thereof) for Middle America, and is therefore of great interest to me. So much of the chatter from Lefty publications is airily theoretical, espousing assumptions and raising questions about regional, social, or ethnic groups without ever getting into the trenches and mingling with the hoi polloi that compose these factions, thereby leaving their own questions unanswered. I was buoyed by the letter published in Salon, which gave a rational and matter-of-fact voice to the very voters whose votes have been the subject of so much hang-wringing debate.

The author of the letter, Kevin Criss, speaks for two groups that have been much discussed recently – African Americans and younger voters, to whom he refers as “young'ns.” He begins:

I am a 21-year-old African-American/loyal Salon reader/ frequent writer to you. Although I love you all a lot and, like you (assuming so), I am a liberal, I just feel I have to scream at you for a bit. Almost two weeks ago, I sent a letter to you guys telling you how the new Eminem song "Mosh" has many young'ns riled up, angry, motivated and against Bush. Now 10 days or so later, not only you guys but many publications are up on it. My point? Maybe you guys should listen more to us young'ns, maybe have a young person consultant of sorts. After all, we will decide this election […]
Lest one assume that his last claim is hyperbole, he goes on to explain:

First, let me just say prepare for the death of polls, as that will be the dominant story coming out of election night. First blacks. […] Those polls saying how Bush will get 16 to 18 percent of the black vote are just wrong. To quote ODB, "Nigga please." Since black people aren't really polled, here is a bit of insight. Although we aren't that excited about Kerry, he has nothing to worry about with the African-American community. We as a whole don't like Bush, period. Yes, Democrats take us for granted and regardless of which party, we are at the bottom of the totem poll, but we realize that Democrats talk to us, try with us, are down with us, and give us a seat at the table. We are gamed to what the GOP do, or rather don't do for us. […]

Plus, we are highly motivated. You just don't realize how pissed we are from Florida last time. Bringing out Clinton won't hurt, but Kerry shouldn't worry about us African-Americans.

Next, us young'ns. We aren't as stupid as people think. Simply put, we are in Iraq fighting or we know someone there, we have no health insurance, no jobs, and are generally pro-human rights (not for the gay marriage amendment, PATRIOT Act, etc.). We aren't going to vote for Bush, period. Kerry will take about 70 percent of the young vote. I am predicting, collectively there will at least 20 million more voters from these two groups, young'ns and blacks. You maybe think "yeah the fuck right" -- but trust me. On average 30 percent of African-Americans vote. Expect a minimum of 50 percent this time, maybe close to double. That is anywhere between 7 to 9 million more blacks voting. Young'ns will have a similar margin. Again, we at most vote at a 40 percent rate. Young'ns will easily double their numbers, going from 18 million to about 36 million.

I know some reading this are dubious; some will chalk up such claims to youthful exuberance—the idealism of the young. But let’s give some context to this issue:

The polls are screwed; everyone knows about the cell phone exclusion issue.

Harvard has found that college students prefer Kerry to Bush by a wide margin.

Nickelodeon’s kid poll declared Kerry the winner. Sure, they’re not old enough to vote, but it’s indicative of a youth trend favoring Kerry over Bush, and they’ve called it right the last four presidential elections.

The popularity of media like “Mosh,” The Daily Show, and Conan O’Brien (whose Triumph the Insult Comic Dog might be the second best political commentator after Jon Stewart this election cycle) all of which appeals primarily to the under-35 crowd. In fact, if you check out iFilm’s Top 100 Viral Videos, it’s rife with Lefty goodness: Triumph: Poop Valhalla (#1), Ann Coulter Pelted with Pies (#2), Bush: Draft! Wait...No Draft! (#11), Hard Working George (#17), Seriously. (#22), George Bush Stumbles over Sovereignty (#29), Reeve Stem Cell PSA (#31), and on and on and on…and they only get more plentiful as the list goes on.

Bush is drawing far fewer supporters to his rallies than Kerry is to his. While one may argue that disparity is due to Bush & Co.’s insistence that attendees sign loyalty oaths, I don’t believe that’s the main issue. When Bush is drawing 1,000 to Kerry’s 10,000, loyalty oaths isn’t all that’s at work. (If you figure that half of those attending Kerry rallies are actually Bush supporters—an unlikely scenario, but let’s assume it for the sake of the hypothetical—then why would Bush still only be getting 1,000 in the same area, instead of 5,000? Say all of those weren’t willing to sign loyalty oaths—cut that number in half again, and Bush should still be getting 2,500 instead of 1,000, especially when he’s a sitting president.) My guess is that the loyalty oaths were a way to diffuse attention from the disproportionate turnouts—a built-in excuse to explain away why the president’s crowds were smaller. It was just a convenient benefit that those who were willing to sign would also be unlikely to confront him. Insularity is clearly a hallmark of this administration, but red herrings are totally their style.

Criss ends his letter with the following appeal:

I ask that in the future that you at least take in more opinions from us young'ns and Afro Americans.

I think that if, as I fully expect, the “young’ns and Afro Americans” deliver this election to us in landslide style, taking in more of their opinions is the least we can do in return.

After that, jobs, healthcare, and a country they can be proud of, where criticism isn’t inextricably linked to treason and hope replaces fear as our guiding tone, would be a good start.

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The Power of Persuasion

Sweet Jesus, I Hate Bill O’Reilly International reports:

FOX News Channel’s highest-rated personality, Bill O’Reilly, selectively avoided statistics relating to his own powerful influence over the upcoming Presidential election.

The statistic was dodged by Mr. O’Reilly when he interviewed Glenn Pere, President of The Pere Partnership, on FOX News’ The O’Reilly Factor broadcast on Tuesday, October 26th.

Upon review of the results of the same national survey obtained from The Pere Partnership and Jericho Communications, discovered O’Reilly’s little sin of omission.

When the survey respondents were asked which celebrities participation swayed a vote towards the opposing candidate, O’Reilly showcased statistics indicating that Michael Moore actually drives six times as many people to Bush than Kerry. However, O’Reilly failed to mention that he himself inadvertently drives more than 18 times as many potential voters to John Kerry than he does to George Bush.

While fewer than 1% of respondents said that O’Reilly convinced them to vote Republican, a whopping 18% said they were more likely to support Democrats after listening to O’Reilly’s nightly criticism of liberal politicians.

The same study showed that respondents were 8 times as likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by Jon Stewart of The Daily Show than Bill O’Reilly.

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Grody to the Max

From WaPo, via Atrios:

The rally was a love-fest in the conservative, rural Florida community. Three busloads of schoolchildren from the Heritage Christian School waited for an hour and a half to see Cheney and clap for the man they said speaks to the issues important to their lives.

Asked to name the country's biggest problem, 12-year-old Vivian Resto said, "Homosexuals. I think it's kind of gross, and my mom and I believe it should be a man and a woman."

That’s funny, Vivian. I think Dick Cheney is kind of gross.

It must be fun for Dick to get to talk to 12-year-olds who think his adult daughter and her adult decisions are part of the country’s biggest problem. There’s nothing quite as special as the derisive condescension of sniveling, self-righteous pre-teens.

Any thoughts on what might actually be the country’s biggest problem? I’m going to start with parents who teach their kids that homosexuals are gross. It might not strictly be the country’s biggest problem, but with so many troubling us these days, it’s a good place to start.

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Reality Bytes

Check this out.

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Preemptive Pout

James Wolcott has been doing a good job of noting the rightwing media's budding attemps to lay the groundwork in anticipation of a Bush defeat. (See here and here.) It will be, of course, because of the mainstream media's bias toward Kerry.

Announcing from Cloud Cuckoo Land that "they will pay for it more than they could imagine," Roger L. Simon tells his minions:

And it will be the blogosphere and you, our own supporters, who will make them pay. Our strength will grow incrementally with a Kerry victory in terms of influence and even economic power. And both will be at the expense of the mainstream media. Yes, we too have 'plans.'
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Put a lid on it, Sauron.

And might I remind you that two can play at that game these days. You've heard of a little company called Sinclair, right, Rog? My dream is that the Left and the Right so voraciously harass the media over the next four years that they stop listening to everyone and start doing the actual work of broadcasting objective news (which is, let's face it, what the Left really wants anyway, being members of the reality-based community and all).

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Salute (Continued)

In case you haven't seen the entire video of Furious George captured in all his uncensored glory, you can follow the trail back through AMERICAblog here.

It's not really an indictment on his character - I've been known to issue the one-finger salute myself. I just find the whole thing amusing.

[Update: In case the above link doesn't work for you, it can also now be viewed here at iFilm.]

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The Ol' One-Fingered Salute

How did he know what I do every time I see his smug, smarmy, smirky face on my TV?!

(I snagged this from Thanks, Bob.)

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Wednesday's Highlights

Slate has a round-up of staff endorsements, from editors to contributors to illustrators to interns. By far, their votes are going to Kerry, although it’s interesting to read their varied reasons why.

Ananova reports that Arnold Schwartenegger’s Austrian home town has scrapped plans to build a statue in his honor after his endorsement of Bush and the Iraq war.

Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) issues a report detailing the exaggeration and manipulation of intelligence leading up to the war. The examination of this information should have played a major role in this election, as it’s a key component of the referendum on whether to re(s)elect the incumbent. Despite the media’s reluctance to engage the topic, I encourage you to read the report and see just how hoodwinked we all really were.

The Rude Pundit has a great post about Kerry’s status as superhero extraordinaire. If you are unfamiliar with Kerry’s greatest accomplishments as a Senator, this will serve as a nice introduction.

Salon’s War Room reports on Moby’s truce-calling endorsement of Eminem’s screed, “Mosh.”

And for all you country music-lovin’ Lefties out there, this song’s for you.

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Mr. Shakespeare's Sister and I just watched Eminem's new video, "Mosh." See it here. It is truly an astounding piece of work - I was literally left with goosebumps.

Watch it, and then tell everyone you know about it.

Below are the lyrics, which I snagged from one of those online lyric emporiums; I'm not totally convinced they're accurate, but I think they're pretty close. I tried to go to Eminem's site, but it has been taken temporarily offline for exceeding its bandwidth - lots of people checking out Mosh, I suspect.


[I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands. one nation under God Indivisible - It feels so good to be back...]

Scrutinize every word, memorize every line
I spit it once, refuel, reenergize, and rewind
I give sight to the blind, mind sight through the mind
I ostracize my right to express when I feel it's time
It's just all in your mind, what you interpret it as
I say to fight you take it as I'm gonna whip someone's ass
If you don't understand don't even bother to ask
A father who has grown up with a fatherless past
Who has blown up now to rap phenomenon that has
Or at least shows no difficulty multi task
And juggling both, perhaps mastered his craft slash
Entrepreneur who has held long too few more rap acts
Who has had a few obstacles thrown his way through the last half
Of his career typical manure moving past that
Mister kiss his ass crack, he's a class act
Rubber band man, yea he just snaps back
Come along, follow me as I lead through the darkness
As I provide just enough spark, that we need to proceed
Carry on, give me hope, give me strength,
Come with me, and I won't steer you wrong
Put your faith and your trust as I guide us through the fog
Till the light, at the end, of the tunnel, we gonna fight,
We gonna charge, we gonna stomp, we gonna march through the swamp
We gonna mosh through the marsh, take us right through the doors
To the people up top, on the side and the middle,
Come together, let's all bomb and swamp just a little
Just let it gradually build, from the front to the back
All you can see is a sea of people, some white and some black
Don't matter what color, all that matters is we gathered together
To celebrate for the same cause, no matter the weather
If it rains let it rain, yea the wetter the better
They ain't gonna stop us, they can't, we're stronger now more then ever,
They tell us no we say yea, they tell us stop we say go,
Rebel with a rebel yell, raise hell we gonna let em know
Stomp, push up, mush, fuck Bush, until they bring our troops home come on just . . .
Come along, follow me as I lead through the darkness
As I provide just enough spark, that we need to proceed
Carry on, give me hope, give me strength,
Come with me, and I won't steer you wrong
Put your faith and your trust as I guide us through the fog
Till the light, at the end, of the tunnel, we gonna fight,
We gonna charge, we gonna stomp, we gonna march through the swamp
We gonna mosh through the marsh, take us right through the doors, come on
Imagine it pouring, it's raining down on us,
Mosh pits outside the oval office
Someone's trying to tell us something, maybe this is God just saying we're responsible for this monster, this coward, that we have empowered
This is Bin Laden, look at his head nodding,
How could we allow something like this,
Without pumping our fist
Now this is our, final hour
Let me be the voice, and your strength, and your choice
Let me simplify the rhyme, just to amplify the noise
Try to amplify the times it, and multiply it by six
Teen million people are equal of this high pitch
Maybe we can reach Al Qaida through my speech
Let the President answer our anarchy
Strap him with AK-47, let him go
Fight his own war, let him impress daddy that way
No more blood for oil, we got our own battles to fight on our soil
No more psychological warfare to trick us to think that we ain't loyal
If we don't serve our own country we're patronizing a hero
Look in his eyes, it's all lies, the stars and stripes
They've been swiped, washed out and wiped,
And replaced with his own face, mosh now or die
If I get sniped tonight you'll know why, because I told you to fight
So come along, follow me as I lead through the darkness
As I provide just enough spark, that we need to proceed
Carry on, give me hope, give me strength,
Come with me, and I won't steer you wrong
Put your faith and your trust as I guide us through the fog
Till the light, at the end, of the tunnel, we gonna fight,
We gonna charge, we gonna stomp, we gonna march through the swamp
We gonna mosh through the marsh, take us right through the doors

[Eminem speaking angrily] And as we proceed, to mosh through this desert storm, in these closing statements, if they should argue, let us beg to differ, as we set aside our differences, and assemble our own army, to disarm this weapon of mass destruction that we call our president, for the present, and mosh for the future of our next generation, to speak and be heard, Mr. President, Mr. Senator

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So Bush has decided that civil unions aren’t such a bad idea after all and that his party’s platform is wrong. Now, aside from revealing the gaping vacuum in his campaign spawned by the absence of a little thing called integrity, this incident begs the question: Why does anyone buy any of this bullshit about what a strong, steady, resolute leader this guy is?

He isn’t strong enough to admit mistakes; he isn’t strong enough to hold anyone in his administration accountable for any of their multitude of both domestic and foreign policy failures; he wasn’t strong enough to stand up to the energy industry in defense of our environment; he wasn’t strong enough to curtail (or even criticize) Congress’ irresponsible discretionary spending as it spiraled out of control in the middle of a major fiscal crisis; he wasn’t strong enough to secure an extension of the assault weapons ban from a Republican-controlled Congress; and now he reveals himself as not strong enough to have had a modicum of influence over a key plank in his own party’s platform.

(The alternative explanation being, of course, that he is simply not strong enough to resist sacrificing his own beliefs in equal rights to the altar of ideology when it seemed convenient. Either way, equally spineless.)

It takes some kind of unbelievable brass ones for someone with such an appalling record to question whether Kerry is strong enough to defend this country. Sir, you aren’t strong enough to control the people whose careers depend on their allegiance to you. Until you can exhibit even the slightest degree of authority over your own partisan supporters, I don’t want to hear anything else that even begins to approximate questioning the strength or consistency of your opponent.

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Burning Bush

Well...his pants are on fire again, anyway.

Apparently someone asked Bush about the bulge on his back during the debates and he replied (I just heard this on the radio, so I'm paraphrasing): "Gee, I don't know what that is. I guess, I'm embarrassed to say, it's a badly tailored shirt."

You know, you'd think someone who lies so much would be better at it.

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Bush 101

The Nation's Judd Legum makes "The Non-Arguable Case Against the Bush Administration" here. (There is also an option to download and distribute a .pdf version.) Offering up 100 reasons to vote against Bush (and 1 opinion) with sources, the article is a handy reference guide for anyone who finds a persuadable voter in their midst. And for those who have already made up their minds, it's a poignant reminder of why Furious George needs to go.

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Search Me

One week to go and the top 5 searches on MSN during this most ferociously contested election are:

1. spice house
2. nascar news
3. world series
4. petra nemcova
5. cindy Margolis

Sad but true. Meanwhile, Bush wants $70 billion more for his wars (just weeks after Kerry was lambasted for suggesting the war cost $200 billion—and now we will exceed that number); Iraqi soldiers are getting killed by the (literal) busload; Rehnquist is on death’s door, leaving the Court split 4-4 with an imminent election that might hinge on its decision; there’s bickering over the timing of the theft of the explosives in Iraq (a likely useless diversionary tactic to distract attention away from the big question of how they got stolen at all); consumer confidence has fallen for the third consecutive month; voter fraud is the new black; media owners are going totally haywire; the polls are dubious at best; and on and on and on.

Come on, people. Can you forget porn and sports for one fucking day and find out what the hell is going on in your country?!

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Deep Thoughts

The New York Review of Books has compiled thoughts from many of their contributors on “The Election and America’s Future.” A lot of great stuff there, which I hope you will read, and which I will summarize with this efficient little quote from Garry Wills:

Most elections are referendums on the people in place, and that should be the overwhelming criterion this time. What will four more Bush years do to our relations abroad, our armed forces, our environment, our economy, our civil rights, our separation of church and state? Were it not so tragic in its toll of the dead and maimed on both sides of the conflict, our war in Iraq would seem a comedy of endless errors, featuring such Keystone Kops as George (Bring 'Em On) Bush, Karl (Mission Accomplished) Rove, Condi (Mushroom Cloud) Rice, Tony (Forty-Five Minutes) Blair, Dick (Prague Meeting) Cheney, Don (Stuff Happens) Rumsfeld, George (Slam Dunk) Tenet, Paul (Shinseki Is Wild) Wolfowitz, Colin (Mobile Labs) Powell, Ahmed (Iraqis Love Me) Chalabi, Doug (Oil Will Rebuild It) Feith, Ken (Cakewalk) Adelman, Richard (Ahmed Told Me) Perle, and other supporting players. What will the future say of us if we continue to reward this crew?

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The Big Dog Speaks

"I asked President Clinton today if 'there's anything you have in common with George W. Bush?' He thought for a moment and he said, 'In eight days and 12 hours, we will both be former presidents.'"

--John Kerry recounting a talk with President Clinton (via Salon)

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Sister Loses Her Shit

Slate’s headlines today were as follows:

1. Good Pop, Bad Pop: Why Democrats—not Republicans—are the hard-line parents.
2. Who’s Worse? The French or the Saudis?
3. Are Republicans Nicer Than Democrats?

What the hell is going on over there? All three stories were complete crap, and while I fully intended while reading them to dissect them and point out the obvious flaws and ludicrous assumptions populating each article, I now simply can’t be bothered. In fact, I feel like there are better things to be talking about one week before the election, and frankly, I think Slate should feel the same. I don’t really give a rat’s ass who’s nicer to someone in a t-shirt featuring the opposing party’s candidate, nor do I give a flying fuck who’s a better dad, as long as he knows how to run the friggin’ country.

It’s no wonder we’re about the plunge off the edge of a cliff, with stories like these making headlines 8 days before the most highly contested presidential election in my lifetime. And meanwhile, I see more headlines today about Ashlee Simpsons’s lip-synching mishap than about the 380 tons of explosives in Iraq that are now missing because we chose to guard the Iraqi Oil Ministry instead.

What has HAPPENED to this country? Slate, get it together, and the rest of you media fucks out there, you get it together, too. When there are a hundred thousand people turning out to see John Kerry speak, I don’t want to hear reports that it’s a few hundred, and that they’re still not inspired by Kerry—they just want Anybody But Bush. Fuck that; we want Kerry, you pricks, and by the way, it doesn’t matter whether it’s “ABB” or JFK when whoever it is pulls in people by the truckloads without requiring them to sign loyalty oaths. How about reporting reality for a change? Assholes.

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Shakespeare's Slacker

There’s lots to talk about, what with the discovery that Bush & Co. left 380 tons of explosives unguarded to be stolen, thereby as John Aravosis of AMERICAblog so aptly put it, “So, we needed to go to war in order to help give terrorists the very explosives we needed to go to war to stop them getting?” Plus, there’s the story out of Iraq from the weekend detailing the slaughter of Iraqi soldiers, and lots of good poll coverage at Atrios’ Eschaton and DailyKos, too, for those poll-watchers out there. (Links at right.) And you can find in not a few places mentions of Justice Rehnquist’s cancer and what this could mean for the future of the Supreme Court.

I basically fell behind today, and most of what I would have covered is covered elsewhere, so I’ll move on. Two little tidbits:

Check out this picture at Atrios’ Eschaton that was described by Andrea Mitchell as a “few hundred” people who turned out for the Kerry rally today in Philly. Partisan hack much, Andrea?

See here for James Wolcott’s skillful skewering of both Howard Fineman and Adam Nagorney in one neat little post. He also has the best commentary yet on the Ann Coulter pie-by. You can read the whole thing here, but this is my favorite:

Ann Coulter may be a travesty of humanity, as unacceptable a hank of flesh draped on a hanger ever to be foisted upon an ignorant populace hungry for more ignorance. Her racism, her character slurs, her whirlwind talent for rewriting history, her ability to leave a glossy coat of slime on any issue she discusses (when she licks a stamp, it curls up and dies), these are condemnable.

But credit where credit is due. The skank can shift ass on a dime.

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Comments Now Allowed (and Encouraged!)

Just a quick note - when I moved Shakespeare's Sister into its new layout, I forgot to enable anonymous comments. The problem has now been rectified, so please feel free to comment away.


Busy day today, and I know there's lots going on - I will return with my usual plethora of posts ASAP.

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Explosive Fury!

What ... the...?

So, 380 tons of explosives are missing from a former Iraqi military facility. Hm, okay. A facility that the U.S. was supposed to be guarding. D'OH!

Furthermore, these weapons have been used on U.S. troops. Condi Rice knew about these a month ago. This is only the latest in a series of ridiculous examples of Bush's mismanagent of the situation in Iraq. A situation he refuses to even acknowledge. And while Kerry is already ripping him a new asshole about it, the media is typically soft on the issue. I've seen more about Ashlee Simpson's lipsynching snafu than this story. This should be in HUGE BOLD ALL-CAPS HEADLINES!

I don't know about you, but if I fucked up this royally at my job, I'd be fired like yesterday! Read all about it here. (On, it's the third story down, no biggie.)

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Debunking More B.S.

Apparently, there is an email going around regarding the flu vaccine shortage that attempts to pin the shortage not-so-indirectly on VP candidate John Edwards. The body of the email is as follows (via

Why the shortage: Almost half of the nation's flu vaccine will not be delivered this year. Chiron, a major manufacturer of flu vaccine, will not be distributing any influenza vaccine this flu season. Chiron was to make 46-48 million doses of vaccine for the United States. Chiron is a British company. Recently British health officials stopped Chiron from distributing and making the vaccine when inspectors found unsanitary conditions in the labs. Some lots of the vaccine were recalled and destroyed. Why is our vaccine made in the UK and not the US? The major pharmaceutical companies in the US provided almost 90% of the nations flu vaccine at one time. They did this despite a very low profit margin for the product. Basically, they were doing us a favor. In the late 80's a man from North Carolina who had received the vaccine got the flu. The strain he caught was one of the strains in that years vaccine made by a US company. What did he do? He sued and he won. He was awarded almost $5 million! After that case was appealed and the appeal was lost, most US pharmaceutical companies stopped making the vaccine. The liability outweighed the profit margin. Since UK and Canadian laws prohibit such frivolous law suits, UK and Canadian companies began selling the vaccine in the US. By the way...the lawyer that represented the man in the flu shot law suit was a young ambulance chaser by the name of John Edwards.

Snopes responds:

Two major problems with this political screed, which attempts to attribute a shortage of flu vaccine to a lawsuit handled to Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, the Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate:
  • Chiron,
    the corporation mentioned in this piece as an example of a "British company" that has taken over the manufacture of flu vaccine from American companies supposedly driven out of business by liability lawsuits, is not a British company. It is an American company headquartered in Emeryville, California, which last year purchased British vaccine maker Powderject and a flu vaccine plant in Liverpool, England.
  • American manufacturers did not produce flu vaccine until liability lawsuits made it impossible for them to continue doing so. Most American pharmaceutical companies got out of the flu vaccine market because a variety of factors (not related to lawsuits) make it an unattractive line of business...

Snopes has more detail about the specifics of why flu vaccine manufacturing is an unattractive line of business., including a specific case study on Wyeth. Regarding Edwards, Snopes adds:
Regarding the claim that John Edwards secured a $5 million judgment against a U.S. pharmacutical company on a flu vaccine case, while it is true he had a highly successful legal career representing individuals who had been badly harmed by malfunctioning products or the mistakes of doctors and hospitals, with some even saying he won $175 million for his clients over 12 years, at this point it's not known if he ever litigated a flu vaccine case, or if so, what the outcome of such a trial was.

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Switch Hitters

As mentioned earlier, there are a number of prominent Republicans who have endorsed Kerry, and some who have simply stated they will not be voting for Bush. DailyKos has a very handy list here. Forward the link to all your Republican or otherwise on-the-fence friends and let them know that people for fiscal responsibility, civil rights, separation of church and state, and intelligent foreign policy aren't voting for Furious George this year.

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Sinclair's Ass Officially Kicked

See the wrap-up at DailyKos here.

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Would Jesus be a Republican?

Deborah Caldwell of BeliefNet posts this disturbing report about the Bush administration's continuing interest in weakening the separation between church and state.

The Republican National Committee is employing the services of a Texas-based activist who believes the United States is a “Christian nation” and the separation of church and state is “a myth.”

David Barton, the founder of an organization called Wallbuilders, was hired by the RNC as a political consultant and has been traveling the country for a year--speaking at about 300 RNC-sponsored lunches for local evangelical pastors. [...]

Barton, who is also the vice-chairman of the Texas GOP, told Beliefnet this week that the pastors' meetings have been kept “below the radar.... We work our tails off to stay out of the news.” [...]

Barton’s main contention is that the separation of church and state was never intended by the nation’s founders; he says it was created by the Supreme Court in the 20th Century. [...] Barton is also on the board of advisers of the Providence Foundation, a Christian Reconstructionist group that advocates America as a Christian nation. [...]

The lunches are coordinated by the RNC’s evangelical outreach director, Drew Ryun. “He and I make it very clear we are not partisan per se, we’re biblical,” says Barton. But according to Federal Election Commission filings, Barton has earned $12,000 this year from the RNC for “political consulting.” A spokesman for the RNC, Scott Hoganson, did not respond to questions about Barton.

Barton contends that the IRS allows pastors to endorse candidates from the pulpit as long as they make it clear it’s their own personal opinion and not an official church endorsement. [...]

In an interview with Beliefnet this week, Barton said, “I show them the historical role of pastors being involved in civil government. I show them the Biblical basis for pastors being involved in civil government, and then I show them the issues that are at stake from a biblical point of view and the voting records that pertain to those [issues].” At that point in his presentation, he passes out a June 10 letter from the Internal Revenue Service explaining what ministers are able to say and do, legally, in their churches.

“They’re shocked by what they can do,” says Barton. [...]

Of course, despite claiming to be "biblical" rather than "partisan,"

[i]n the Beliefnet interview, Barton was heavily critical of Americans United for trying to “intimidate” conservative Christian ministers. But Boston said his organization has also reported three black churches to the IRS since August for endorsing Sen. John Kerry from the pulpit.

Huh. Imagine that.

For some reason, I remain unconvinced that there is one person associated with this administration, including the president himself, that has even the remotest understanding of the true tenets of Christianity.

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More proof that homophobia is, more than anything, childish.

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In case you missed Triumph the Insult Comic Dog taking on Spin Alley, you can now see it here.

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New Kerry Endorsement

In addition to the slew of Republicans (example here) who have endorsed Kerry recently, the independent and zany Jesse Ventura has decided to cast his lot in with the Democratic candidate.

In other news, Eminem, who will be voting for the first time this year but still hasn't definitely decided for whom to vote, says:

"Bush is definitely not my homie [...] But I'm still undecided. Kerry has been known to say some things that's caught my attention, made a few statements I've liked, but I don't know. Whatever my decision, I would like to see Bush out of office."
If Kerry can manage to wrap up both the WWF and the white rapper vote, I think we can officially declare him the winner.

Sarcasm aside - what has the country come to when Eminem is a voice of reason?
"He's been painted to be this hero and he's got our troops over there dying for no reason," Eminem said in the interview. "He's in a tailspin, running around like a dog chasing his tail. And we got young people over there dyin', kids in their teens, early '20s that should have futures ahead of them. And for what? It seems like Vietnam 2." [...]

"People think their votes don't count, but people need to get out and vote," Eminem said.

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Tax Cuts-a-Go-Go

The AP via the NY Times reports:

With no fanfare, President Bush on Friday signed the most sweeping rewrite of corporate tax law in nearly two decades, showering $136 billion in new tax breaks on businesses, farmers and other groups. [...]

The centerpiece is $76.5 billion in new tax relief for the battered manufacturing sector, but manufacturing is broadly defined to include not just factories but also oil and gas producers, engineering, construction and architectural firms and large farming operations.

Your tax dollars at work, folks...and much like you, they're gonna have to start working a lot harder very soon.

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The Return of the Man from Hope

The Freepers & Co. are going nutzzz speculating about whether Bill Clinton will be the next secretary-general of the United Nations. As delicious as that prospect is, it's never going to happen, because the secretary-general cannot be from one of the five permanent member nations, of which the US is one.

However, as has been widely reported, Clinton is emerging from his convalescence and joining Kerry on the campaign trail, and so, with any luck, the entire media will satiate their howling Clinton-jones by crawling back up his ass like it's 1998 all over again, thereby leaving Furious George and all his minions shivering outwith the spotlight.

If they get desperate, though, they could always stage a vicious pie-by.

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Outside America

Mark Hertsgaard (who has written, among other things, an intensely interesting book called The Eagle's Shadow: Why America Fascinates and Infuriates the World, which I highly recommend) has a column in Salon today that addresses the distinction most non-Americans make between America the People and America the Government. He also asks:

But what if Americans give Mr. Bush a second term as president on Nov. 2? Will foreigners still say it's the man in the White House who is the problem, not the voters who put him there?

As Hertsgaard suggests, were this election open to the entire planet, Bush would be voted out by a resounding majority. However, it’s not – and so the rest of the world anxiously turns their eyes toward us to see who we will elect as our next president. They have as much interest in who leads America as we do, because American policies reverberate globally.

Today, people the world over say they like Americans despite our government. But will they still love us tomorrow, if we return that government to power on Nov. 2?
From conversations with friends in Europe, I know that we’ve been a pass of sorts, because Al Gore won the popular vote. They know that a greater number of us really wanted the other guy, but if Bush wins the popular vote this time around, I don’t know if the generosity toward America the People will remain. They don’t understand how, with everything this administration has done, the election could be so close. I have no explanation – I have no idea, either.

Hertsgaard suggests:

If Americans give Bush another four years as president, the popular global backlash could be intense, including not just rhetorical denunciations of American stupidity but perhaps boycotts of American products and worse. And for the first time, overseas anger may come not only from fanatical militants but ordinary citizens, and it may be directed not only at George W. Bush but also toward the ordinary Americans who put him back in office for another four years.

In that unhappy event, we Americans will have no one to blame but ourselves.
And, in truth, in that unhappy event, we on the Left may be faced with a daunting realization—that we are truly outnumbered, and this country isn’t at all the place we imagined it was.

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Reality Check

The Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland has just released a startling report called “The Separate Realities of Bush and Kerry Supporters.” The information presented in the report, which can be viewed in its entirety here, suggests that perhaps the reason Bush’s supporters aren’t concerned about the president’s troubled relationship with reality is because they, too, are divorced from the truth.

After a series of nationwide polls, the analysis of the collected data provided the conclusion that Bush’s supporters are much more likely to hold beliefs about the world that are objectively untrue, while Kerry’s supporters are much more likely to be well-informed. Some of the findings include:

  • 75% of Bush supporters believe that Iraq was provided substantial aid to al-Qaida
  • 63% of Bush supporters believe clear evidence of Iraq aid to al-Qaida has been found
  • 82% of Bush supporters believe the Bush administration has reported that Iraq did indeed have WMD or a major WMD program
  • 57% of Bush supporters believe that the majority of people in the world would prefer to see Bush reelected


"Majorities incorrectly assumed that Bush supports multilateral approaches to various international issues -- the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (69%), the treaty banning land mines (72%); 51% incorrectly assumed he favors US participation in the Kyoto treaty -- the principal international accord on global warming ... Only 13% of supporters are aware that he opposes labor and environmental standards in trade agreements -- 74% incorrectly believe that he favors including labor and environmental standards in agreements on trade. In all these cases, there is a recurring theme: majorities of Bush supporters favor these positions, and they infer that Bush favors them as well."

In Salon’s War Room coverage of the PIPA report, they concluded, quite aptly:

[W]hile "The Separate Realities of Bush and Kerry Supporters" may be perversely satisfying to Democrats in its confirmation of blue-state prejudices, it carries a pretty disturbing question for all rational Americans: How can arguments based on fact prevail in a nation where so many people know so little?

Disturbing indeed. Upon review of the questionnaire used for the survey, I thought that the resulting report begs a follow-up. Many of the questions were asked about perceptions of what the administration had said/was currently saying. I would be interested to find out, for those who, for example, thought that the administration had claimed discovery of a weapons program in Iraq, where they got the information. Is it a case of listening to particular partisan media presenters, is it a case of these people being simply unable to accurately interpret an objective news report, or something else altogether? Clearly, ignorance of reality is the issue, the difference between ignorance born of poor education and willful ignorance stemming from a resolute ideology is huge, and says two entirely different things about this country.

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Note to Pro-Lifers: Bush Ain't Yer Man

Dr. Glen Harold Stassen reports in Sojourners that abortions have actually increased under the Bush administration:

Abortion was decreasing. When President Bush took office, the nation's abortion rates were at a 24-year low, after a 17.4% decline during the 1990s. This was an average decrease of 1.7% per year, mostly during the latter part of the decade. [...]

Enter George W. Bush in 2001. One would expect the abortion rate to continue its consistent course downward, if not plunge. Instead, the opposite happened. [...]

Under President Bush, the decade-long trend of declining abortion rates appears to have reversed. Given the trends of the 1990s, 52,000 more abortions occurred in the United States in 2002 than would have been expected before this change of direction.
Dr. Stassen includes individual state statistics that will surely be of interest to those who know which states were red in 2000. Additionally, he suggest three factors that may have contributed to the increase in abortions under Bush:

First, two thirds of women who abort say they cannot afford a child (Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Web site). In the past three years, unemployment rates increased half again. Not since Hoover had there been a net loss of jobs during a presidency until the current administration. Average real incomes decreased, and for seven years the minimum wage has not been raised to match inflation. With less income, many prospective mothers fear another mouth to feed.

Second, half of all women who abort say they do not have a reliable mate (Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life). Men who are jobless usually do not marry. Only three of the 16 states had more marriages in 2002 than in 2001, and in those states abortion rates decreased. In the 16 states overall, there were 16,392 fewer marriages than the year before, and 7,869 more abortions. As male unemployment increases, marriages fall and abortion rises.

Third, women worry about health care for themselves and their children. Since 5.2 million more people have no health insurance now than before this presidency - with women of childbearing age overrepresented in those 5.2 million - abortion increases.
Were Bush to get a second term and stack the Supreme Court, as he has all but pledged to do, with pro-life justices (ref. the Dred Scott shout-out), abortion will almost certainly be criminalized as a large part of his base desires. This will leave women who find themselves in circumstances as described above with even fewer options, and as his policies continue to wreak havoc in the middle and lower classes, I doubt sincerely that we will see a rise in adoption. It is the belief of this writer that instead we will, sadly, see a rise in abortion-related deaths from illegal and unsafe procedures.

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Tentative Conservative Hero Award

I recently asked if there were no Republican heroes left in America, and though still open-minded, I remain unconvinced that some of our better elected officials on the Right (like Senator Richard Lugar) have quite earned any medals yet. Nonetheless, I am bestowing a tentative conservative hero award this evening. It goes to Andrew Sullivan, who blogs today:

I'm guilty as well. I was so intent on winning this war and so keen to see the administration succeed against our enemy that I gave them too many benefits of the doubt.
I reserve the right to revoke this award the next time Andrew says one of the incredibly stupid things I can't believe a thinking person is capable of saying.

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Truth in Every Joke

Eric Alterman shares a joke sent to him (the origins of which he doesn’t know):

What's the difference between Vietnam and Iraq?
Bush had a plan for getting out of Vietnam.

It’s bitterly funny.

We know, of course, Bush’s own personal plan for getting out of Vietnam, and the lack of planning for getting out of Iraq was made regrettably clear in a report issued by Knight-Ridder last week, which I only picked up today in a column by Todd Stauffer in the Jackson Free Press:

[W]ar planners met at Shaw Air Force Base days before the war started in 2003 to discuss their plan for invading Iraq. Toward the end of the presentation by a lieutenant colonel, who was briefing leaders on the post-war strategy, the slide he used to discuss the post-war plan had all of three words: “To be provided.”
Only one question then remains: When?

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TNR makes the case for Kerry

The New Republic offers their endorsement of John Kerry here. It’s a good article, fair in its assessment of both candidates. I recommend reading it in its entirety, but have excerpted the main thesis below.

There was a time, in the aftermath of September 11, when this magazine liked what it heard from George W. Bush. He said America was at war--not merely with an organization, but with a totalitarian ideology. And he pledged to defeat Islamist totalitarianism the same way we defeated European totalitarianism, by spreading democracy. For a publication that has long believed in the marriage of liberalism and American power, this was the right analysis. And its correctness mattered more than the limitations of the man from which it came.

Three years later, it has become tragically clear that the two cannot be separated. The president's war on terrorism, which initially offered a striking contrast to his special interest-driven domestic agenda, has come to resemble it. The common thread is ideological certainty untroubled by empirical evidence, intellectual curiosity, or open debate. The ideology that guides this president's war on terrorism is more appealing than the corporate cronyism that guides his domestic policy. But it has been pursued with the same sectarian, thuggish, and ultimately self-defeating spirit. You cannot lead the world without listening to it. You cannot make the Middle East more democratic while making it more anti-American. You cannot make the United States more secure while using security as a partisan weapon. And you cannot demand accountable government abroad while undermining it at home.

And so a president who promised to make America safer by making the Muslim world more free has failed on both counts. This magazine has had its differences with John Kerry during his career and during this campaign. But he would be a far better president than George W. Bush. […]

The next time an American president tries to use force in the war on terrorism, he will not merely lack the world's trust, he will lack much of the American people's as well. That may be Bush's most damning legacy of all. He has failed the challenge of these momentous times. John Kerry deserves a chance to do better.

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Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

In These Times’ Craig Aaron proposes a little optimism on the Left:

Repeat after me: John Kerry is going to win. […]

How can he win? Looking at the record of the dangerous, disingenuous Bush administration, the question should be how could Kerry possibly lose? Yet all the hangdog Democrats and their pathologically pessimistic fellow-travelers ignore the encouraging evidence and just assume that one way or another—by hook, crook or October Surprise—the omnipotent Karl Rove will spank us again. The Republicans aren’t afflicted with this “genetic predisposition to panic,” as Ken Auletta calls it, and maybe that’s why they roll over us every time.

For a change, let’s try to accentuate the positive.
I second that motion. Make it your mantra and infuse your speech with hopefulness. When Kerry wins… Not if. When.

When Kerry wins, I’ll be able to breathe again.

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God is on Our Side

Normally a Cubs fan, I feel a special kinship with Red Sox fans when their boys manage to continue on into the post-season, so I found myself living and dying with every strike last night as if it were my own beloved Cubs. (Johnny Damon - you're fabulous, darling.)

It occurs to me, if Houston wins tonight, the match-up for the World Series will be Massachusetts verses Texas, which has quite the familiar feel to it...

This means, of course, that I'm going to have to pull for the Cardinals, because I don't know if my heart can handle watching two MA-TX races at once, with so much at stake in both.

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The Kids Call it for Kerry!

The wisdom of children:

Kid power! Democrat John Kerry is the winner, and the rest of the country should pay attention because the vote on Nickelodeon's Web site has correctly chosen the president of the United States in the past four elections.

Nearly 400,000 children and teens voted, and the results were released Wednesday. Kerry received 57 percent of the vote; President Bush got 43 percent.

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Suskind, Heroes, and Polls – Oh My!

Today’s Salon features an interview with Ron Suskind, who authored the NY Times piece that launched a thousand responses from the reality-based community:

Fair enough. You seem to have luck with Republican sources, and specifically with those from Bush's faith-based community and his advisors. Do you think they're among the most disillusioned?

Absolutely. They're among the most disillusioned because it comes from a direct, personal experience with the president of the United States.

So they thought there was a connection with Bush. They thought there would be a follow-through, that he meant what he said during the 2000 campaign?

They thought a whole variety of things, and then they saw what "is" is. And some of them were troubled by it, and some of them have been, frankly, frightened by it. These are Republicans who in significant numbers have been coming to my office. One of the jokes is that my office is now the government in exile for Republicans. They come because they're concerned -- not as members of a political party but as American citizens. That's what they say over and over. And they take not insubstantial risks to come.
Republicans in significant numbers are, at best, troubled and, at worst, frightened by the actions of the current administration, so why is it that I can count the Republicans who have publicly spoken out against this administration on one hand? Suskind says they take ‘not insubstantial’ risks to come to his office, but I wonder – is it not worth it to these concerned American citizens to perhaps incur some real risk to protect the very future of this country? After all, it’s risk to their political careers we’re talking about, isn’t it? It’s not exactly the risk that the men and women who are serving in Afghanistan and Iraq are taking, which is substantial, to put it mildly.

I find it incredibly distasteful that these spineless pricks weren’t willing to (possibly) risk their careers in order to prevent the troops from (definitely) risking their very lives. (The same goes for the Democrats – I’m none too happy with their willingness to play dead on that one, either.)

Is there any such thing as a Republican hero in this country, or is every last one of them willing to trade in not only his own credibility but also the nation’s reputation to avoid substantial risk? I suppose one has to be handed his walking papers (see John O’Neill et al) before one speaks out, because the inner sanctum seems inexhaustibly populated with men and women whose own asses are more precious to them than the good of the nation.

Evidently, Colin Powell and John McCain have forgotten that isn’t the code by which men who serve are supposed to live.

Suskind was then asked by Salon who he believes is going to win the election:

My betting line right now is, and has been since midsummer, to stick with Bush. There was something very interesting from that [September] luncheon, where Bush spoke for 65 minutes in a very open and freewheeling way to his top contributors. He said, "I'll be criticized and there will be a lot of who won, who lost. And just prepare yourself for [the fact that] I will not necessarily be at my best. But after that, during the final three weeks, that's when the real campaign will resume." That means an extraordinary electoral machine targeted at energizing the base, largely the faith-based core of the base. And that machine is kicking up now, and I think you're seeing it in the poll data.

It's like two great machines racing across the horizon. I think the Bush machine, with its support from the powers of the executive, is a machine that's hard to beat. Having said that, I think the Kerry machine is certainly the most forceful, energetic and well-running machine the Democrats have ever created. But the Republican machine is also best of breed for Republicans. At the end of the day, it's not just the man but the machine he sits on, and I think Bush sits on a slightly more pointed and efficient machine -- one that Karl Rove has been building and oiling and calibrating the gears on for four years. That's why, right now, it looks to me at least, like Bush.

I can only hope with every fiber of my being (and my vote) that Suskind is wrong. According to some recent polling, he just may be. DailyKos has some notable info on the polls you should check out, and even Slate’s Election Scorecard, which, as recently as last Friday, showed Bush ahead, is now showing Kerry as the likely winner. I also recommend checking out the electoral vote breakdown here and here, the latter of which offers an interesting map that represents the states’ sizes using their shares of the electoral votes. For those of us always used to seeing such a vast swath of red, it’s a nice image.

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Matt Damon, at the Berlin premiere of "The Bourne Supremacy": "I would pay $1 million to have Kerry in the White House.'' (The Boston Herald via Salon)

Sting, to a German newspaper this week: "[I'd] rather vote for a chimpanzee than Bush." (Rush and Molloy via Salon)

Wal-Mart has struck again. The discount giant is refusing to stock Jon Stewart's best-selling book "America (The Book)" because it contains an image of nine naked people with the heads of the members of the Supreme Court affixed atop them. The retailer will, however, offer the book for sale on its Web site. "We felt a majority of our customers may not be comfortable with the image in our stores," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Karen Burk said. "But we still wanted to give them the option of buying it from" Warner Books publisher Jamie Raab said the company was "disappointed" by the decision. The book is nevertheless selling like hotcakes and has been No. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller for the past three weeks. (N.Y. Daily News via Salon)

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Do you feel a draft?

"We're not going to have a draft so long as I'm the president." - George W. Bush

Meanwhile, at the Pentagon...

[C]hief Pentagon spokesman, Lawrence T. Di Rita, said Monday: "It is the policy of this administration to oppose a military draft for any purpose whatsoever. A return to the draft is unthinkable. There will be no draft."

Unthinkable, you say? That's kooky, because it seems as though someone's thinking about it all right:
The Selective Service has been updating its contingency plans for a draft of doctors, nurses and other health care workers in case of a national emergency that overwhelms the military's medical corps.

In a confidential report this summer, a contractor hired by the agency described how such a draft might work, how to secure compliance and how to mold public opinion and communicate with health care professionals, whose lives could be disrupted.

Hmm. What a conundrum.

(Read the whole story here.)

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CIA: Will Someone Spill the Beans?

You thought the Bush administration couldn't get any more secretive, corrupt, and irresponsible? Ha! Now the L.A. Times reports that "The Bush administration is suppressing a CIA report on 9/11 until after the election, and this one names names. Although the report by the inspector general's office of the CIA was completed in June, it has not been made available to the congressional intelligence committees that mandated the study almost two years ago." It goes on to say that "the report is potentially very embarrassing for the administration, because it makes it look like they weren't interested in terrorism before 9/11, or in holding people in the government responsible afterward." Hm, didn't Richard A. Clarke, in his revealing Against All Enemies, basically outline the lengths that the outgoing Clinton administration went to in an effort to warn the incoming Bush administration that Osama bin Laden should be one of their top priorities? And didn't they brush him aside, not worried about planes or terrorists or bombs that terrorists could "sneak into the middle of a city" (as Cheney tried to warn us about today in a bit more of his patented brand of election-oriented fearmonfering), but worried instead about long range missiles, and taking down Saddam Houssein? Did they not sit on a memo entitled "Osama bin Laden Determined to Strike Within the U.S.?" Why then are we remotely surprised that this is being covered up?

My suggestion: when your Republican friends or family members try to blast John Kerry for his supposed weakness on terrorism, ask them what Bush & co. have to gain from keeping this report a secret. If he is so resolute, such a good protector of this country, have them explain to you why Bush refused to testify under oath to the 9/11 Commission members, instead "chatting" with them in the presence of his puppeteer Dick Cheney. But most important of all: CONTACT YOUR LOCAL MEDIA, EMAIL THIS STORY TO YOUR CONTACTS, MAKE NOISE about this blatant disregard for the intelligence of our country. We are getting too comfortable with just lying back while this administration bulldozes us with their underhanded tactics. All they have is a lame "outrage" about Mary Cheney and some video of John Edwards combing his hair. We have the truth.

You can read the full article here at

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Minority Report

The Boston Globe’s Derrick Z. Jackson examines the continuing disparity between black and white home ownership and household wealth, which then segues into a good general discussion of the ever-increasing gap between the haves and the have-nots.

Aside from insisting on policies that disenfranchise African- and Hispanic-Americans, we also know that Furious George seems to know next to nothing about Native Americans and isn’t too keen on women and gays.

Additionally, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that No Child Left Behind actually hurts many children (not to mention educators), the weapons ban expired thereby endangering the lives of countless police officers, and recently we’ve heard plenty about the poor treatment of the troops.

It must be nice to be a rich, white, straight old man. Of course, I wouldn’t know. I wonder if our president has any idea what it means to be any one of us.

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Q: What do Greenpeace and the NRA have in common?

A: They both have members who are voting for Kerry.

The AP reports that while some outdoorsmen still associate Democrats with threats to second amendment rights, others have decided to cast their votes for Kerry in response to Furious George's abysmal environmental record.

Bob Elderkin's vote would appear to be a sure bet for President Bush on Nov. 2. He is a hunter, part of a conservative-leaning group of outdoorsmen that is 38 million strong and avidly supports gun rights.

"I can't vote for Bush knowing what it's going to be like the next four years," said Elderkin, a retired Bureau of Land Management employee in western Colorado where natural-gas drilling is booming. "With John Kerry, it's an unknown. As far as Bush goes, it's going to be `Katie, bar the door.'" [...]

Sportsmen like Elderkin worry that proliferating gas wells dotting private and public land will affect some of the nation's largest deer, elk and pronghorn antelope herds. "If there's nothing to hunt out there," he asks, "what use is a gun?"
Good point, Bob.
Alan Lackey of Raton, N.M, and Stan Rauch of Victor, Mont., both Bush voters in 2000, said they are angry about the administration's proposal to allow logging and new roads on up to 58 million acres of national forest that were declared off-limits by a Clinton-era rule.

"Kerry, I believe, would be better on environmental policies, which to me equates to taking care of habitat and wildlife," said Rauch, a retired Air Force pilot.

A recent National Wildlife Federation poll said many sportsmen disagree with the administration's environmental policies, federation spokesman Vinay Jain said. The poll, conducted in July, found that 75 percent believe carbon dioxide emissions should be reduced and 49 percent think the oil and gas industry have the most input into Bush's conservation and hunting and fishing policies.

"The poll affirmed what we'd been hearing for years anecdotally about increasing hunter and angler backlash," Jain said. [...]

"Sportsmen are predominantly Republican and very patriotic," Lackey said. "But the federal government has become an instrument to convey the public wealth into private hands at our expense."
Kerry, who himself is a hunter, would no doubt ensure that outdoorsmen continue to have access to the guns they need for outdoor sport. Hunters could certainly do worse than a fellow hunter who has a keen interest in protecting the environment. In fact, they have - and the proof is in the White House.

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Crossfire Continued

The Rude Pundit has more on Jon Stewart's appearance on Crossfire. (As always, not for the squeamish or humorless.)

In watching the tape of the now infamous spot again, I was struck by what was happening to Jon as he begged Carlson and Begala to listen to his message - he was slowly realizing that, indeed, they are not simply ignorant of the effect such 'news' programs have on the society at large; it's worse than that - they just don't care. It's what we've all suspected, but to have our fears confirmed was truly something to behold. I shared Jon's increasing frustration as the truth hit home, and then the slumping resignation.

The only saving grace for the reality-based community is The Daily Show. Which, of course, we already knew.

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Support the Troops

Since the beginning of the Iraq conflict, opponents of the war have been accused of not supporting the troops. It’s enough to drive me stark raving mad. Not wanting to send our troops into harm’s way for an unjust war isn’t unsupportive. Wanting to redirect defense spending away from the vacation from reality that is the Star Wars program and toward body armor and armored vehicles isn’t unsupportive. Believing that our troops shouldn’t have to buy body armor on eBay isn’t unsupportive. I respect, admire, and feel gratefully indebted to every man and woman who is willing to risk his or her life for me and every other citizen of this nation. I want them home and safe. I don’t want one more of them blinded, paralyzed, disfigured, or killed. Let’s get this straight – the Left supports the troops.

The question I have is whether our administration feels the same. ABC reports on a growing number of vets of the Iraq conflict whose sacrifices are being gravely dishonored upon their return from the battlefield:

Army Spc. Tyson Johnson III of Mobile, Ala., who lost a kidney in a mortar attack last year in Iraq, was still recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center when he received notice from the Pentagon's own collection agency that he owed more than $2,700 because he could not fulfill his full 36-month tour of duty. […]

Johnson now lives in his car. It is where he spends most of his days, all of his nights, in constant pain from his injuries and unwilling to burden his family.


On July 14, 2003, [Staff Sgt. Ryan Kelly] had been on his way to a meeting about rebuilding schools in Iraq when his unarmored Humvee was blown up. A piece of shrapnel the size of a TV remote took his right leg off, below the knee, almost completely, Kelly said.

Kelly attests to receiving excellent medical care at Ward 57, the amputee section of Walter Reed, but said he quickly realized that the military had no real plan for the injured soldiers. Many had to borrow money or depend on charities just to have relatives visit at Walter Reed, Kelly said.


Perhaps as a sign of the grim outlook facing many of these wounded soldiers, Staff Sgt. Peter Damon, a National Guardsman from Brockton, Mass., said he is grateful for being a double amputee.

"Well, in a way, I'm kind of lucky losing both arms because I've been told I'll probably get 100 percent disability," he said. […]

The military fails to provide a lump sum payment for such catastrophic injuries. And Damon still has not heard from the military about what they plan to give in terms of monthly disability payments.

The last time Damon asked about the payments, he was told by the military that his paperwork had been lost.


Staff Sgt. Larry Gill, a National Guardsman from Semmes, Ala., wonders whether his 20 dutiful years of military service have been adequately rewarded.

Last October, Gill injured his left leg when on patrol during a protest outside a mosque in Baghdad. A protester threw a hand grenade which left Gill, a former policeman, with leg intact, though useless. He received a Purple Heart from the military, but no program, plan or proposal of how to make a living in civilian life.

"It's not fair, and I'm not complaining," Gill said. "I'm not whining about it. You know, I just, I just don't think people really understand what we're being faced with. […]

"Where are the politicians? Where are the generals?" he asked. "Where are the people that are supposed to take care of me?"


To help these neglected soldiers, [Gen. Franklin "Buster" Hagenbeck, a three-star general and the Army's deputy chief of staff for personnel] said, the military created an advocacy program this past April called Disabled Soldier Support System, or DS3. The network is set up to fight for a soldier's benefits and entitlements, ease transition to civilian life, and deal with any other problems facing a disabled soldier, according to Hagenbeck.

ABC’s inquires have now ensured that Johnson will not be charged with repaying his enlistment bonus, but that seems the very least they could do for this brave young soldier. Unconscionably, we’re sending a message to these troops that we have no use for them once they are unable to return to the front line.

Kerry often charges that the administration went into Iraq having no plan to win the peace. It appears they had no plan to care for the soldiers, either. That is the epitome of demonstrative non-support of the troops.

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Kerry Stacks Up Newspaper Endorsements

Editor & Publisher updates their tally of newspaper endorsements. Kerry now leads Bush 44-22:

He has many more large papers on his side, maintaining his "circulation edge" at better than 3-1

Chicago Tribune, you should be ashamed of yourself, even though your endorsement of Furious George will make not a dime's worth of difference to anyone in your beautiful blue city.

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Portrait of a President

Ron Suskind has an amazing profile of Bush in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. It’s quite long, and I recommend reading the entire thing, but I have also tried to boil it down here:

Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and a treasury official for the first President Bush, told me recently that ''if Bush wins, there will be a civil war in the Republican Party starting on Nov. 3.'' The nature of that conflict, as Bartlett sees it? Essentially, the same as the one raging across much of the world: a battle between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true believers, reason and religion.

''Just in the past few months,'' Bartlett said, ''I think a light has gone off for people who've spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do.'' Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush's governance, went on to say: ''This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can't be persuaded, that they're extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he's just like them. . . .

''This is why he dispenses with people who confront him with inconvenient facts,'' Bartlett went on to say. ''He truly believes he's on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence.'' Bartlett paused, then said, ''But you can't run the world on faith.''

It should concern us all that a prominent Republican is saying that our president is “just like” the people responsible for 9/11, especially because he’s right. The impetus for 9/11 was not a carefully crafted and thoughtful response to a perceived injustice, but a resolute belief among a group of like-minded zealots who allowed religious certitude to triumph over reason.

A few months later, on Feb. 1, 2002, Jim Wallis of the Sojourners stood in the Roosevelt Room for the introduction of Jim Towey as head of the president's faith-based and community initiative. John DiIulio, the original head, had left the job feeling that the initiative was not about ''compassionate conservatism,'' as originally promised, but rather a political giveaway to the Christian right, a way to consolidate and energize that part of the base.

Moments after the ceremony, Bush saw Wallis. He bounded over and grabbed the cheeks of his face, one in each hand, and squeezed. ''Jim, how ya doin', how ya doin'!'' he exclaimed. Wallis was taken aback. Bush excitedly said that his massage therapist had given him Wallis's book, ''Faith Works.'' His joy at seeing Wallis, as Wallis and others remember it, was palpable -- a president, wrestling with faith and its role at a time of peril, seeing that rare bird: an independent counselor. Wallis recalls telling Bush he was doing fine, '''but in the State of the Union address a few days before, you said that unless we devote all our energies, our focus, our resources on this war on terrorism, we're going to lose.' I said, 'Mr. President, if we don't devote our energy, our focus and our time on also overcoming global poverty and desperation, we will lose not only the war on poverty, but we'll lose the war on terrorism.'''

Bush replied that that was why America needed the leadership of Wallis and other members of the clergy.

''No, Mr. President,'' Wallis says he told Bush, ''We need your leadership on this question, and all of us will then commit to support you. Unless we drain the swamp of injustice in which the mosquitoes of terrorism breed, we'll never defeat the threat of terrorism.''

Bush looked quizzically at the minister, Wallis recalls. They never spoke again after that.

''When I was first with Bush in Austin, what I saw was a self-help Methodist, very open, seeking,'' Wallis says now. ''What I started to see at this point was the man that would emerge over the next year -- a messianic American Calvinist. He doesn't want to hear from anyone who doubts him.''

It seems to me that the most important person for a man in Bush’s position of leadership should be someone who doubts him. When making a decision that is going to affect so many people, surely seeking an opposing view to your own is imperative to ensuring that the decision is the right one. Such insularity will inevitably lead to exactly the type of tactics to which Wallis was referring – those that address complicated problems (such as terrorism) with tunnel-visioned fixation at the expense of context. Ignoring poverty’s fundamental part of the tapestry of issues that breeds terrorists is foolish and short-sighted. Nuance has become a dirty word in politics, but as we increasingly shun the value of nuanced policy-making, the more likely we are to develop strategies that can win battles but lose wars.

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.''
This is jaw-dropping. Little wonder that, with this view, the Bush administration, without hesitation, enacts policies that are domestically polarizing and exclusionary, and internationally disastrous. It is of grave concern that the current American leadership believes it appropriate to dismiss empirical evidence and the experience of others in favor of designed facts structured to perpetuate presupposed “realities.”

George W. Bush, clearly, is one of history's great confidence men. That is not meant in the huckster's sense, though many critics claim that on the war in Iraq, the economy and a few other matters he has engaged in some manner of bait-and-switch. No, I mean it in the sense that he's a believer in the power of confidence. At a time when constituents are uneasy and enemies are probing for weaknesses, he clearly feels that unflinching confidence has an almost mystical power. It can all but create reality.
If only it were the power of confidence, but indeed, we have seen repeated examples of the Bush administration’s willingness to, at best, massage the facts, and at worst, outright lie to attain their objectives. Confidence is one thing, but when backed by a seemingly never-ending supply of “officials” and talking heads who will represent twisted logic and half-truths as factual evidence, what is called confidence becomes something inimitably worse: mendacious manipulation of the electorate.

And for those who don't get it? That was explained to me in late 2002 by Mark McKinnon, a longtime senior media adviser to Bush, who now runs his own consulting firm and helps the president. He started by challenging me. ''You think he's an idiot, don't you?'' I said, no, I didn't. ''No, you do, all of you do, up and down the West Coast, the East Coast, a few blocks in southern Manhattan called Wall Street. Let me clue you in. We don't care. You see, you're outnumbered 2 to 1 by folks in the big, wide middle of America, busy working people who don't read The New York Times or Washington Post or The L.A. Times. And you know what they like? They like the way he walks and the way he points, the way he exudes confidence. They have faith in him. And when you attack him for his malaprops, his jumbled syntax, it's good for us. Because you know what those folks don't like? They don't like you!'' In this instance, the final ''you,'' of course, meant the entire reality-based community.
Do you hear that, my neighbors in Middle America? Do you hear the contempt with which this administration regards you? They depend on your ignorance to stay in power. They don’t care how hard you work, how hard your life is; the harder you have to work, the more exhausted you are, the less likely you are to ever take the time to find out the truth about who they really are. And the truth is, though you might think this president is a guy with whom you’d like to have a beer, he would never, ever want to have a beer with you.

A regent I spoke to later and who asked not to be identified told me: ''I'm happy he's certain of victory and that he's ready to burst forth into his second term, but it all makes me a little nervous. There are a lot of big things that he's planning to do domestically, and who knows what countries we might invade or what might happen in Iraq. But when it gets complex, he seems to turn to prayer or God rather than digging in and thinking things through. What's that line? -- the devil's in the details. If you don't go after that devil, he'll come after you.''
This was the great failure of all those who assumed in 2000 that there was no difference between the two candidates. There were, in reality, fundamental and important differences between Al Gore and George Bush, not just as candidates but as men. And because you failed to take the time to discern the differences, because you ignored the details, the devil has come after us all.
That very issue is what Jim Wallis wishes he could sit and talk about with George W. Bush. That's impossible now, he says. He is no longer invited to the White House.

''Faith can cut in so many ways,'' he said. ''If you're penitent and not triumphal, it can move us to repentance and accountability and help us reach for something higher than ourselves. That can be a powerful thing, a thing that moves us beyond politics as usual, like Martin Luther King did. But when it's designed to certify our righteousness -- that can be a dangerous thing. Then it pushes self-criticism aside. There's no reflection.

''Where people often get lost is on this very point,'' he said after a moment of thought. ''Real faith, you see, leads us to deeper reflection and not -- not ever -- to the thing we as humans so very much want.''

And what is that?

''Easy certainty.''
The dangers of easy certainty are these:

Over 1,000 soldiers dead
Thousand of soldiers injured
Global relations strained
Exploding deficits
Civil rights under attack
Millions of jobs lost
Millions of Americans without healthcare
Backwards movement on environmental protections
After-school programs slashed
Continued dependence on foreign oil
Separation of church and state weakening
Abortion rights under threat
AIDS crisis deepening
US more polarized than ever before

That’s what easy certainty gets you.

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Jon Stewart: My Hero

Go here immediately and watch the clip of Jon Stewart on Crossfire. It's absolutely amazing. The very last exchange between Jon and Tucker Carlson is priceless. I would have paid good money to call Bowtie Boy a dick right to his face on his own show, but thanks to Jon Stewart, I don't owe a penny.

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Gay Rights Now

Today on AMERICAblog, Rob in Baltimore discusses the Mary Cheney issue and why he thinks it shouldn't go away. I don't believe this issue should just go away, either.

Because I am straight, sometimes I've been told that I don't have a right to have an opinion on this issue, but ultimately, my passionate support of gay rights is motivated by two things: one, my firm belief in the equality of every American, and two, my belief that it is the obligation of everyone who holds a right that is withheld from others to fight for the extension of that right to their fellow citizens.

I am guided by a quote that is attributed to Reverend Martin Niemoller, a practicing Protestant minister in Germany, in 1945: "First they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me."

First and foremost, the issue is ensuring equality because it's a Constitutional guarantee. Secondly, if we let this administration get away with marginalizing gays and lesbians as a political tool, who will be next? Not standing up to such tactics is akin to passively endorsing the slippery slope toward fascism.

I also believe that straight people have a particular obligation in the fight against the Marriage Amendment because the primary excuse given for codifying discrimination into the Constitution is ostensibly to help us somehow, to "protect the sanctity" of our marriages. My marriage needs no such protection.

I acknowledge that the given reason is, of course, bunk, that even the most virulently anti-gay crusaders have no real belief that allowing gay marriage would subvert straight marriage, but as long as they are using that as an excuse to perpetuate discrimination, it needs to be challenged on its face, until they are left with no legitimate reasons, and their disgusting, baseless prejudices are revealed for what they are.

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New Look

Shakespeare's Sister has a new look. I'm sure it will continue to evolve, but hopefully this one will stick for awhile...

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Jon Stewart Endorses Kerry

Rush & Molloy report:

Jon Stewart is voting for Sen. John Kerry, he said yesterday, "unless there's some sort of 'Hail Mary.'"

The satirist explained it simply to Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Public Communications breakfast, hosted by the New Yorker magazine at the skylit Bryant Park Grill.

"It's as if a guy drove me into a ditch and said, 'Don't worry, I know how to drive us out of this,'" he said. "I don't think [President Bush's] decision to go to Iraq was principled because he said in 2002 he's not into nation-building."

Comedy Central's "Daily Show" host also had harsh words for 24-hour news network anchors: "You can't just say, 'Okay, Hitler, back in a minute with Loni Anderson.' The person needs some expertise. ... Remember when CNN's motto was 'You can depend on CNN?' Guess what? I watch it, and you can't.

"I don't consider Fox to be news. I consider them to be an active political arm, with an agenda they've been building for 30 years."

Questioned by New Yorker media writer Ken Auletta on whether he'd want to replace David Letterman when he retired, Stewart responded, "One of my strengths, and one of my weaknesses, is I have a complete inability to look past the next day."

The panel is set to air on C-SPAN.

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