Thursday, September 30, 2004

Belated Anniversary

I failed to acknowledge 2nd anniversary of the auspicious beginning of Nitpicker on September 20, 2002. A belated toast to Terry who hopefully will be doing nothing more eventful than catching a broadcast of the debate [in Afghanistan]. Cheers and mea culpa.
Missed Opportunity

Well tonight's the night. However, in the negotiations of the memorandum of understanding rules of disengagement for the presidential debates stereo simulcast of non-confrontational partisan political ads, Kerry may have already ceded his best shot for a slam dunk.

The rules, of course, prohibit 'real debate'. From the approval of moderators (Lehrer, Gibson and Scheiffer), to the required response brevity, to the prohibition of direct questioning of your opponent -all parameters ensure no meaningful questions will be asked or answered and all favor the smirking, shoulder-shrugging, 30-second-soundbiting, photo-opping nonresponse responses that are George W.[We've all seen enough Lehrer-moderated events to know what to expect tonight; a Swift Boat question will no doubt be in the script]

On the other hand, for Kerry who has actual debate experience, the " no props, notes charts, diagrams, or other writings or tangible things ..." provision won't pose the problem that it will for our fearless 'I'll follow the script, you follow me' leader. [though I suppose he could argue that he didn't think crib notes on his sleeve cuff were tangentible]

I agree with *others that Kerry has to go for the jugular tonight [but then I thought he should have done so at the convention]. He should preface his argument that Bush has been a catastrophic failure in the war on terror by acknowledging the polls suggest voters think otherwise: Polls continue to indicate you think that President Bush has been a strong leader in the war on terror and, frankly, it boggles my mind. Aside from his say-so there is simply no evidence to support that idea. It's true, he decisively went after Al Queda in Afghanistan but he did so with out proper planning and provisions to take prisoners, so many Taliban and Al Queda escaped - including Osama Bin Laden. Then, before the mission was accomplished in Afghanistan, he just as decisively cut and run to invade Iraq. Is changing targets in midstream a sign of strong leadership or just a flip-flop? He should continue with a succinct litany of failures in Iraq, Afghanistan and homeland security and end with the question - is that strong leadership in the war on terror? A lot can be said in 2 minutes [although perhaps not by John Kerry or P. D. James].

I hope I'm wrong and Kerry does manage a slam dunk tonight because a resounding defeat of Bush is the only way he will receive any credit from the SCLM.

Speaking of slam dunks, Barbara O'Brien, has a great idea of how the whole Saddam/Osama link can be put to bed:
Maybe the Democrats should hire Ross Perot to explain to the "heartlanders" that Osama and Saddam are two different guys who never got along with each other, much less worked together. "See, people, it's just this simple ..."
What a visual, you know you can see him. Come to think of it, he could also explain the disparity between Bush's version of the current situation in Iraq versus the reality on the ground there. He could use *this as a prop.
[*links via Skippy]

Cheers -be responsible in your drive home from the debate-watching party and let's hope for the best [or a drunken blackout so we can't recall].
Exactly (... almost).

I've always thought that Charlie Rose had the best format for an interview program but have been chagrined that interviewer/format were not a 'matched set'. To his credit, Charlie who typically asks questions as circuitous as a John Kerry reply, and then interrupts beginning, mid or near-end answer to focus his point add context interject unnecessary drivel, did not do so last night. Perhaps it was because, as his 'follow-ups' often suggest, he is not a particularly adept listener and he was afraid if he didn't pay attention he might miss a bit of his guest's cutting humor.

Jon Stewart was Charlie's guest last night [technically, there was a short, pointless segment of pre-debate commentary with Mark Halperin and James Fallows that followed Jon - but we'll pretend it didn't]. Jon gave credit where credit was due: first, to BushCo for never changing their actions or strategy to produce toxic waste but merely altering their 'marketing' as needed to persuade/appease the masses [I believe he used 'swill as Fresca' for his analogy] and second, to Fox for being a successful and integral part of the conservatives' 30-year effort to control mass media. Charlie asked what the success of these strategies had to say about us [in the media or us as Americans]. Jon rightly steered the focus back to the media's responsibility to present a fact-based context for their 'balanced' coverage using as his example, a mock Swift Boat commentary. You know, the one you saw ad naseum about a month ago ... where _______ [insert Russert, Matthews, Lehrer ...] showed (or quoted from) the Swift Boat ad, followed by pro-Bush and pro-Kerry respondents stating it was "fair game", or "false and unfair", respectively -thank you, next segment.

The interjecting of humor can be somewhat of a double-edged sword. While it softens the blunt edges of harsh criticism making it more palatable for the criticisms' target and supporters, it can also detract from the central point(s) as it meanders around witticism before exiting the stream. Such may have been the case as Jon laid forth his paradigm for the ideal news program, though after several starts with humorous segues [for which I guess we can't really blame Jon, he's a funny guy and that's what funny guys do] many points were made. He even cited the "blogosphere" as an example of how statements put forth on these 'news shows' should be fact-checked and corrected (as necessary) on the spot. Charlie asked if that meant that when Bush came on saying that things were going well in Iraq, he should be called out as lying. Jon responded that would be too harsh and Charlie made some comment about that being the problem [presumably an aim for objectivity] along with the ludicrous claim that it's difficult for one person to have sufficient knowledge/expertise to counter many claims [yeah Charlie, because CBS, CNN, ABC, NBC, PBS ... programs don't have research staff -it's just poor Dan, Wolf, Peter, Tom, Tim, Chris, Jim ... left to their own devices].

Unfortunately, the point was never made that all Jon was talking about, was preparation, something he no doubt does for his show every day. The staff of news and commentary shows know which soundbite of the day they're going to present, they know in advance the topics as well as specific questions to be asked of their guests. Is it so much to ask that they know when someone is blowing smoke out their ass and effectively counter it with factual arguments/questions?

When Bush says he's proud of our progress in Iraq, is it really that difficult to ask for specific examples of that progress? Ask what specifically is going well in Iraq given that the number and severity of attacks has been steadily increasing, less than 5% of the allocated reconstruction budget has been spent in three years and Iraqis are still without clean water and rolling brownouts are the rule rather than the exception? An offer of proof to back statements -is that really too much to ask?

Imagine where we'd be (or wouldn't be) had an offer of proof been demanded before the great Iraqi crusade. On the positive side, the 'l-word' [lazy] and 'i-word' [incompetence] were used in reference media coverage but only as it pertained to perceived liberal bias being the result of the two as opposed to the conservative bias of Fox being a planned, pro-conservative candidate partisan hack job. Okay, I'll stop whining now. I guess the people for whom the threshold of subtlety is that of a Louisville Slugger probably aren't watching Charlie Rose anyway.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Six for Six

A vote to extend unemployment benefits? No

A vote to extend the ban on assault weapons? No

Do all Americans have healthcare yet? No.

But for the sixth time in as many years, they've voted to give themselves a raise. Send a message; return 'no Republican' to congress in November. Zero tolerance.
If He Only Had a Brain ...

Ray Bolger (as Scarecrow) had nothing on Bill Jacobs (as Dubya) in this version of the classic.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Your Tax Dollars Hard at Work

The Department of Defense apparently has time to do book reviews. I'm sure Seymour is flattered.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Better Too Late Than Never

Falling in step with an Administration that ignores facts, data, scientific analyses and the scientists who perform/assess them, the FDA not only ignored findings from clinical trials but the warnings of one of their own scientific advisors, even going so far as to prevent his testimony at an earlier hearing. Are we feeling any safer yet?
BETHESDA, Md., Sept. 14 - Federal drug regulators should warn physicians and patients in the strongest possible terms that antidepressants not only cause some children and teenagers to become suicidal but most have also failed to cure their depression, a federal advisory committee voted Tuesday.

The committee voted 15 to 8 that the Food and Drug Administration should mandate that the drugs contain "black box" warnings on the sheet of information that physicians review when prescribing drugs. This type of warning is in boldface type, surrounded by a black border and placed at the top of a drug's warning label.

The agency held a similar hearing in February in which top agency officials treated with skepticism findings from numerous clinical trials that the drugs may lead some patients to become acutely suicidal.

Weeks after the hearing, leaked documents showed that a top safety reviewer at the agency, Dr. Andrew Mosholder, had concluded that the drugs did cause some patients to become suicidal and that the drugs' risks outweighed their benefits in children and teenagers. Top officials were forced to admit that Dr. Mosholder's testimony at the February meeting was canceled because of his views.

Senate and House committees initiated investigations. More leaks ensued. Agency officials insisted that they simply needed time to undertake a more thorough review of the studies. That review was completed last month with conclusions nearly identical to Dr. Mosholder's original analysis.
Bush's Ownership You're On Your Own Society

Robyn E. Blumner
Bush's plan is to provide tax incentives for saving money in specialized accounts that would give Americans 'ownership' of their health care and retirement, rather than rely on the government to provide those benefits. But the catchy phrasing shouldn't mask the intent, which is to further starve the federal Treasury of resources and provide more tax shelters to America's 'haves and have mores,' as Bush famously called his fellow fat cats. If implemented, over time, Bush's ideas would reduce government tax rolls, cut gaping holes in the social safety net and transfer tax obligations from the wealthy to those in the middle. 'Ownership' would be primarily available to those who already own plenty.
That Time, Space Continuum Thing

So, last night (or early this AM as the case may have been) while posting, something really strange happened. I actually wrote and published the posts in the reverse order in which they appear although the time on the last post (which appears as the first post - progress in Iraq) of 1:04 AM is correct. The other two were written/posted sometime between midnight and 1 AM - I noticed it at the time but was too tired to make note of it then - a true Twilight Zone moment.
George Dubya Bush pResidential Library

Yeah, I know a broom closet would be too spacious (or would that be specious?) - anyway, take the tour.

Via J-Walk Blog
Font of Wisdom

Okay, so I don't know why we actually need memos to demonstrate that Bush failed to fulfill his National Guard commitment because contrary to what Scotty and Dan might think (and we must give them some latitude here as they've never 'served') taking flight physicals and showing up for duty are not options in the military - even the National Guard. But I do know that this is all that you need to know about the CBS memos.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Don't Leave Home Without It

Bob Herbert:
More than 80 percent of the population of Detroit is black. This is very well understood by John Pappageorge, who is white and a Republican state legislator in Michigan. 'If we do not suppress the Detroit vote,' said Mr. Pappageorge, 'we're going to have a tough time in this election.'
A lot of other Republicans have similar views about the vote in areas with large African-American populations. Most blacks vote Democratic. If those votes can be suppressed, Republicans benefit. And there is increasing evidence that a big effort to suppress the vote among blacks and some other heavily Democratic voting groups is under way, which is why it is important to keep the following phone number handy:

1-866-OUR VOTE

Charlie, Frances, Ivan ...

Cheney says we better make the right decision on November 2nd. There may be a higher power that agrees. I'm just curious as to how many hurricanes in a single season it would take for those religious zealots who are not willing to 'judge not' when it comes to gays, or those that think God is on the side of the moron-in-chief to get the idea that maybe God is trying to send them a message ... stay home November 2nd. Or maybe Georgie should have learned, " fool me once, shame on you , fool me twice ..." but it's not nice to fool Mother Nature.
More Bush Progress in Iraq
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Insurgents hammered central Baghdad on Sunday with one of their most intense mortar and rocket barrages ever in the heart of the capital, heralding a day of violence that killed nearly 60 people nationwide as security appeared to spiral out of control.
This,in the green zone, the only part of the country where we the newly sovereign government has control. Indeed.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

The Behemouth Stirs

First MoDo makes a little snack of Bush/Cheney:'
Because if we make the wrong choice,'' Mr. Cheney said in Des Moines in that calm baritone, 'then the danger is that we'll get hit again. That we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States, and that we'll fall back into the pre-9/11 mind-set if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts, and that we're not really at war.''

These guys figure, hey, these scare tactics worked in building support for the Iraq war, maybe they can work in tearing down support for John Kerry. They linked Saddam with terrorism and cowed the Democrats (including Mr. Kerry, who has never been able to make the case against the Bush administration's trompe l'oeil casus belli) and fooled the country into going along with their trumped-up war. So why not link Mr. Kerry with terrorism and cow the voters into sticking with the White House they've got?
The vice president and president did not even mention Osama at the convention because of the inconvenient fact that the fiend is still out there, plotting. Yet they denigrate Mr. Kerry as too weak to battle Osama, and treat him as a greater threat.

Mr. Cheney implies that John Kerry couldn't protect us from an attack like 9/11, blithely ignoring the fact that he and President Bush didn't protect us from the real 9/11. Think of what brass-knuckled Republicans could have made of a 9/11 tape of an uncertain Democratic president giving a shaky statement that looked like a hostage tape and flying randomly from air base to air base, as the veep ordered that planes be shot down.

Mr. Cheney warns against falling back "into the pre-9/11 mind-set,'' when, in fact, the Bush team's pre-9/11 mind-set was all about being stuck in the cold war and reviving "Star Wars" - which doesn't work and is useless against terrorist tactics. The Bush crowd played down terrorism because Bill Clinton and Sandy Berger had told their successors that Osama was a priority, and the Bushies scorned all things Clinton. The president shrugged off intelligence briefings with such headlines as "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States'' because there was brush to be cleared and unaffordable tax-cutting to be done.
MoDo telling it like it is; if this becomes a trend in the media, BushCo are hosed.

Then, the editorial page offers Kerry some campaign advice:
"There is a danger that we'll be hit again no matter who is elected president this November, as President Bush himself has said on many occasions. The danger might be a bit less if the current administration had chosen to spend less on tax cuts for the wealthy and more on protecting our ports, securing nuclear materials in Russia and establishing an enforceable immigration policy that would keep better track of people who enter the country from abroad.

Immigration and homeland security strategies are policy fights, fair game for a political campaign. What's totally unacceptable is to tell the American people that the mere act of voting for your opponent opens the door to a terrorist attack. For Mr. Cheney to suggest that is flat wrong. There was a time in this country when elected officials knew how to separate the position from the person. The American people, we're sure, would like to return to it." [Nitpicker emphasis]

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


If you visited late last night or earlier today, you may have noticed the two posts from last night did not appear. While blogger let me post last night, it would not let me publish - checking other blogspot blogs indicates this was not a unique problem.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004


23 already this month.
Can We Call Him a Deserter Now?
President Bush claims that in the fall of 1972, he fulfilled his Air National Guard duties at a base in Alabama. But Bob Mintz was there - and he is sure Mr. Bush wasn't.

Plenty of other officers have said they also don't recall that Mr. Bush ever showed up for drills at the base. What's different about Mr. Mintz is that he remembers actively looking for Mr. Bush and never finding him.

Mr. Mintz says he had heard that Mr. Bush - described as a young Texas pilot with political influence - had transferred to the base. He heard that Mr. Bush was also a bachelor, so he was looking forward to partying together. He's confident that he'd remember if Mr. Bush had shown up.

'I'm sure I would have seen him,' Mr. Mintz said yesterday. 'It's a small unit, and you couldn't go in or out without being seen. It was too close a space.' There were only 25 to 30 pilots there, and Mr. Bush - a U.N. ambassador's son who had dated Tricia Nixon - would have been particularly memorable.'
Another particularly credible witness is Leonard Walls, a retired Air Force colonel who was then a full-time pilot instructor at the base. "I was there pretty much every day," he said, adding: "I never saw him, and I was there continually from July 1972 to July 1974." Mr. Walls, who describes himself as nonpolitical, added, "If he had been there more than once, I would have seen him."

The sheer volume of missing documents, and missing recollections, strongly suggests to me that Mr. Bush blew off his Guard obligations. It's not fair to say Mr. Bush deserted. My sense is that he (like some others at the time) neglected his National Guard obligations, did the bare minimum to avoid serious trouble and was finally let off by commanders who considered him a headache but felt it wasn't worth the hassle to punish him.

"The record clearly and convincingly proves he did not fulfill the obligations he incurred when he enlisted in the Air National Guard," writes Gerald Lechliter, a retired Army colonel who has made the most meticulous examination I've seen of Mr. Bush's records (I've posted the full 32-page analysis here). Mr. Lechliter adds that Mr. Bush received unauthorized or fraudulent payments that breached National Guard rules, according to the documents that the White House itself released.[Nitpicker emphasis]
Why exactly would it not be fair? I always thought that Clark should have questioned Brokaw's assertion that Moore's desertion charge was baseless - maybe someone finally will. I wonder if news of this being released has anything to do with the WH backing down from their position on Korean War deserter Charles Jenkins? What's good for the goose and all ... For the applicable military codes and consequential punishment, see this previous post by The Left Coaster. Personally, I would have gone for the "W" standing for 'weak'.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Back From the Beach

Giblets, that is - and obviously well-rested.
What struck Giblets the most - other than Arnold's moving story of growing up in an alternate-universe Soviet-occupied Austria - was his challenge to America. "To those critics who are so pessimistic about our economy, I say: Don't be economic girly-men!" Presidents with BALLS create massive, half-trillion-dollar deficits and lose millions of jobs! Weak-kneed fiscally-conservative PUSSIES worry about "balancing the budget" and "creating more jobs"! Well Giblets has a message to those pussies straight from the Governor of California: stop worrying about growing the economy and start growing a penis and testicles! 'Cause real men flush economies down the toilet, let terrorists escape, invade the wrong countries and go on to beat the Predator in a knock-down drag-out no-holds-barred fight!
About Last Night ...

If you're Delusional ... you are a Republican, was the meme of Ahnold's speech last night. Or at least it might as well have been. [Hesiod, who is on his second encore performance has more]

In addition, apparently HHH (Hubert H. Humphrey) was a socialist. Yep, and that's why Ahnold became a Republican because after listening to the nonexistent Nixon/Humphrey debate(s) he was so enthralled with Tricky Dick (who until this point in time had led the most dishonest administration) and worried by Hubert's socialist ideas [note to self: civil rights bad]. Who would have thought that in our lifetime someone would be pointing to Dick with pride - guess it's fitting for this group though. How do you not toss your cookies Maria?

Update: By the way, while I didn't see it live, I saw clips of Ahnold on BBC News and can anyone tell me what the hell he's looking at?

I mean this isn't a little 'girly man', are the teleprompters that high? Because he doesn't appear to be looking out on the audience.

About the twins. We all knew back on July 29th when we saw Alexandra and Vanessa Kerry[Day 4 Part 3 ~27 minutes in] introduce their father, that should Karl Rove dare to attempt the same at the Republican Fiction Fest there would, how shall I put it ... be a stark contrast. But there's stark and then there's stark. I even felt bad for them. But I did note two things: 1) their hamster died, and 2) for input on foreign policy they quipped their daddy referred them to Condi. Ouch Colin, did that hurt?

About the twins. We all knew back on July 29th when we saw Alexandra and Vanessa Kerry[Day 4 Part 3 ~27 minutes in] introduce their father, that should Karl Rove dare to attempt the same at the Republican Fiction Fest there would, how shall I put it ... be a stark contrast. But there's stark and then there's stark. I even felt bad for them. But I did note two things: 1) their hamster died, and 2) for input on foreign policy they quipped their daddy referred them to Condi. Ouch Colin, did that hurt?
Wow ... Pinch Me

I don't know if the blatant fiction coming out of New York has become too much or what but ... If you didn't see it on CBS News tonight, you have to go watch this clip of Barry Petersen's segment Bush's 2000 War Words. The teaser by Dan, "Did George Bush keep his foreign policy campaign promises?"[phrasing may be inexact]