...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004
      ( 7:46 PM )

Well, it's almost too ghastly to believe, but the GOP delegates have turned downright disgusting. As The Vet notes, they are making a complete mockery of all veterans and active duty service people with this purple heart band-aid they are passing around the convention this week. CNN implied it was to mock Kerry, but they are mocking anyone who ever has or ever will be injured in battle while on duty for this country. It is so shameful it's difficult to even imagine what kind of mind could have come up with it. Evidently, a Republican mind.

UPDATE: A Kos diarist has some recommendations of what you can do in response to this disgusting display of mockery of our vets. (If you scroll down the comments you'll see a horrible picture of this mockery)

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      ( 5:29 PM )

Sorry for the sparse blogging this week. I've started my first week as a student teacher (students come back next week, so I'm learning how to prep for the year with my mentor teacher) - so am gone most of the day now. Next week not only do I start full in with the high schoolers, but I also start my 12 hours of graduate courses. Should be lots of fun!! I'm not as nervous anymore now that I'm getting more used to the surroundings, getting to know my mentor and others better. Hopefully I won't totally screw up. Not much for me to do at first, but come winter, I actually start teaching. Yeek. Anyway, with the slow political news this week (I didn't see much of anything exciting about the convention so far), I don't think we're missing much.

The only exciting news was a visit to my neighborhood yesterday from Himself! He was as fabulous and brilliant as ever - and hopefully gave a big boost to Tom, who deserves it.

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Sunday, August 29, 2004
      ( 5:39 PM )
America Speaks Out

An incredibly diverse crowd of over 250,000 Americans gathered on Sunday to tell their fellow citizens that they believe George W. Bush has harmed our country and that they will do everything they can to get him out of office in November. They have been extremely creative and forceful with their messages. And they have shown the power of massive numbers of citizens in nonviolent protest against a presidency that more resembles a plutocracy run by a demagogue. Here are some great pics of the protestors.

Shouldn't it say SOMETHING that hundreds of thousands of people feel the necessity to protest the GOP this week and there was hardly a peep in Boston last month? What thinking delegates to this convention must consider is this: why are so many Americans against my party? What can I do to make my party right again? I think we can all agree that leaders like Bush, Cheney, DeLay, Hastert and Frist are not the answer. Then again, why think when you can be scared all the time and just look up to your strong, powerful, God-fearin' leaders for guidance?


UPDATE: UFPJ (United for Peace & Justice - the sponsors of the march) had a time-lapse camera set up to help get an accurate count and they've estimated over 400,000 marchers. Read lots more from people who were there, look at pics and much more protest goodness over at Kos here and here.

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Thursday, August 26, 2004
      ( 4:30 PM )
It Has Begun

I personally think this makes the Plaza Hotel look better.

(I tried to post the picture of the banner, but for some reason, the image screwed up my html coding so until I figure out better how to do that, the link is all we get)

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      ( 3:50 PM )
Local Hero Idiot

You've probably heard about our latest local Oregonian celebrity, Al French, the Clackamas County Prosecutor who signed an affidavit against John Kerry and then admitted that all the information he'd confirmed in the affidavit was all heard second hand (in prosecutor language: "h-e-a-r-s-a-y"). Vets around the state got a little pissed off and held a rally against French earlier this week,and now several people have filed a complaint with the Oregon State Bar about French's use of the affidavit and his appearance on the Swift Boat Liars commercial.

Of course this episode provoked massive amounts of letters to the editor in the Oregonian this week. Here is my most favorite of them all:

Prosecutor dreams
I was with John Kerry in Vietnam on March 13, 1969. I saw him jump straight up in the air 500 feet and pull down an attacking enemy airplane with his bare hands.

Well, actually I was 10 years old and living in Eugene in 1969. But I imagined it! And some people I know (I'm not allowed to say who) were talking about it and I believe them!

Can I be a Clackamas County prosecutor now?


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      ( 3:43 PM )
Operation Truth

You may have heard about Operation Truth on Air America (I don't know if they've been in any other media outlets) - They've launched their new website this week. This is a really important website. It is the resource that has the voices of Iraq war veterans themselves about what is really happening there. It has real stories from troops who were there, and it has ways you can take action on behalf of the troops and veterans and for real change in this country. Pass it on.

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      ( 3:34 PM )
Sobering Milestone

Tom Schaller over at Kos reminded us today that US deaths in Iraq for 2004 have now exceeded the number for 2003. It took only 8 months to beat the record for the 12 months of last year.

More remarkably, the 488 killed thus far this year died in just 239 days (2.04 daily average), while the 482 killed last year died during fully 287 days (1.68 daily average), which means that not only has 2004 been bloodier than 2003 in absolute terms, but in relative terms as well.

Tom notes that the press isn't bothering to recognize the sad truth that continues to mean life and death for so many American families.

One family in particular is in the news, only because the grief of a father learning of his son's death in Iraq was acted out in a very bold and very sad way. The Marines have said they won't press charges against the distraught father. Unfortunately, despite the relevancy, the AP wire story that most of the papers have used does not mention how many KIAs there have been this month and this year. How many more grieving families will there be?

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004
      ( 2:50 PM )
News Flash

John Kerry will be on The Daily Show tonight. I think his choice of televised interview show speaks more to the state of the news media than to anything else. The fact that Jon Stewart's fake news show tells the truth and gives the facts more clearly than any other news outlet is pretty funny sad.

Q: Why are you having Kerry go on "The Daily Show" for his first national TV interview since Swifties for Bush went on the attack, instead of a traditional news show?

A: How would that help us?


...we spoke to "Daily Show" executive producer Ben Karlin, a charming man who did not take offense at our questions and who promised that the Comedy Central program would try especially hard to resemble an actual TV news show tonight during its Kerry encounter.

"We're going to focus exclusively on events of 30 years or more ago . . . and not on anything relevant to anything beyond 1964," Karlin said.

(thanks to maru for the heads-up)

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      ( 2:40 PM )
Scary News

So things are going well on the international relations front...

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea hurled invective at President Bush for a second day Tuesday, calling him a political idiot and human trash, and said six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions appeared doomed.

A day earlier, a Foreign Ministry spokesman for the isolated communist state described Bush as a tyrannical imbecile who put Adolf Hitler in the shade and said Pyongyang could see no justification to negotiate with his administration.

Six-party working-level talks on the communist North's nuclear weapons ambitions had been planned for August but have yet to materialize.

Meanwhile, Bush declared from his vacation yesterday progress was being made in Iraq. I guess "progress" means almost 3 Coalition deaths a day this month.

What's more despicable is that the press continues to think that repeating smears and lies about things that happened 35 years ago is more important than informing the American public about what is really going on.

Of course, if the American public really wanted to know what was really going on, they'd demand it. And they don't do that. Which is the shame of our society.

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      ( 2:37 PM )
Good News

I seem to be a little late to the picnic, but for you Oregon readers, Jack's Back!

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Monday, August 23, 2004
      ( 11:02 AM )
Taking Back the Campus

Joshua Holland, editor-in-chief of the USC Trojan Horse, has an article in Guerilla News Network this week about the shift in campus activism and how the right wing organization, backed by big money, has infiltrated almost every campus. He offers some real insight into the workings of right wing campus activism and what is wrong with the progressive students' activism and what they need to do to make it work. I think this issue is especially important this fall as the election season will have a huge impact on campus activities. The fact that young people just aren't voting in the numbers they should be is the most worrisome aspect of campus activism's failure to meet the right wing backlash.

The young conservative's conspiratorial view of liberalism will last a lifetime. That's why progressive leaders have a choice to make: they can continue to leave it to earnest but poorly-networked students to fight it out with a shoe-string budget against a well-lubricated political machine, or they can get in the game and start pushing back.

That means taking a page from the conservative playbook and giving young liberal activists the tools they need to be more effective. Right now, only the College Democrats and a few single-issue groups are doing anything at all on a nationwide basis. The campus Left needs a network that links activists at different schools, and their publications and speaker programs need financial support. Above all, the Left needs a national organization with the training, scholarships, media savvy and "leadership conferences" that the Right has used so effectively.

Only now, more than thirty years after conservatives began planning and organizing for the long haul, are progressives attempting to do the same thing. But unless they bring that long-term vision to the campus wars, the next generation of conservatives will be even more dogmatic and uncompromising than the ones in power today, and they will have won plenty of converts along the way. That should come as a troubling thought to liberals of every generation.

That's a call to arms if I ever heard one.

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      ( 10:52 AM )
Portland Only

If you are getting more and more disgusted by the misleading and false attack ads on Tom Potter by Jim Fransesconi, you're not alone. You probably know that the Police Union withdrew its support of Fransesconi based on the ads. Not that we're huge cheeleaders for the police union here at Mama's place (considering they also suggested that they are against diversity training, something which the Portland Police could do with a huge dose of), but still. At any rate, B!x has the ENTIRE scoop - including the numbskull reporting on KOIN.

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      ( 10:12 AM )
Reluctant Comrade

TBogg informs us that W is having trouble enticing his good buddy Tony to come on over and put on a show for Bush's re-election efforts. Bush even wants to give a medal to ol' Tony, but Tony just won't budge.

BRITISH Prime Minister Tony Blair is refusing to fly to the US to receive a medal bestowed on him by the nation for his support over last year's Iraq war, a London newspaper reported today.

US President George W. Bush has put huge pressure on his closest ally to pick up the Congressional Medal of Honour in person, the Sunday Mirror said, quoting a senior British government source.

Mr Blair is immensely popular with large sections of the American public for his staunch support of the Iraq war and the White House believes a visit by the prime minister now would provide a much-needed boost to Mr Bush's re-election campaign, the weekly said.

"There has been a lot of telephone traffic between the White House and Downing Street over the medal in recent week," the Sunday Mirror quoted a senior government source as saying.

"George Bush wants the prime minister to come to Washington and pick up the medal, which is the highest honour America can bestow on a foreigner.

But Blair isn't buying it. He's playing his cards close to the chest because, like any head of state, he doesn't want to screw up a relationship with the next leader of the US if it isn't Bush (which it won't be). Also, he knows he'll be skewered by his own citizens for accepting this award while coalition forces are being killed daily.

"But he has refused for more than a year now and for good reason. He cannot possibly accept an award for the Iraq war when British and American troops continue to risk their lives there."

Mr Blair is concerned also that a trip to the US now would effectively be giving a boost to Bush ahead of November's presidential elections.

"The Democrats are watching the situation very carefully and there would be uproar if Tony travelled to Washington to meet (Republican) Bush so close to the presidential elections," the government source said.

"But Bush isn't letting up. The White House has already let it be known that they feel slighted because of this and believe they can use this to put pressure on Blair to get him out there."

So if Blair has refused this for a year now, what pressure does the Bush administration think they can put on him? Blair is often a sucker but he's not a total idiot. He knows his own power is threatened right now and he isn't going to trot over here and show support for a president more hated by his own British population than any other US president in history.

The Bushies seem to be getting a little desperate, no?

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Friday, August 20, 2004
      ( 3:18 PM )

I've actually been on small break this week after completing my first semester of grad school (haven't got my grades yet, but I think it went okay...). So I've been painting the house, catching up the baby books (I'm only a year behind now) and generally finishing up projects I will never get to once the school year starts. So for the rest of the afternoon, I'm going to rest. I may get to see Outfoxed this weekend, so if I do, I'll give my review. Have a great weekend - see you on the other side of Sunday (if not sooner).

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      ( 3:02 PM )
It Seems To Me

I saw a brief interview with Max Clelland on one of the "shows" yesterday and he said something that I think deserves repeating. I will paraphrase and put it into my own words because I agree with his observation. It appears that Bush, Cheney and Rove are pitting veterans against each other while they sit back and ride the wave of divisiveness. Neither Bush or Cheney served this country in any honorable way and yet they have managed to put veterans who did serve in positions where they are fighting each other and thus, they are succeeding in once again distracting the American public from the issues. I think Kerry was right to bring it back to Bush's doorstep. If Bush wants to compare service records, then fine, go for it. But it is despicable that he sit back while men who all did more than he did during the Vietnam war set out against John Kerry and John Kerry have to defend himself and fight back. Meanwhile Bush once again takes the lazy way out, letting others do the fighting for him.

There are so many dishonorable things about this administration, that this new one doesn't even seem to make as much of a dent. But how many straws will it take to topple the camel? I just simply can't understand why people continue to support a president who has done nothing but waste away America's potential, both domestically and internationally... who sits calmly while we creep towards the unholy hallmark of 1,000 combat deaths in Iraq, and who doesn't care to engage the American public in any sort of REAL discussion about the issues that matter to them in this election. Surely people must see that keeping this administration is by far the worse option there is out there. Surely.

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      ( 2:57 PM )
Need Work?

The Grassroots Campaign is looking for field organizers - yes, I'm talking about getting paid to organize for progressive campaigns in your state and for the defeat of George W. Bush in November! Here's your chance! GCI is working with MoveOn PAC to organize all the various grassroots campaigns across the country into a coordinated effort for progressive movement from local government right on up to the presidency.

You can apply online! Come on, what are you waiting for? You were made for this job.

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Thursday, August 19, 2004
      ( 10:48 AM )
Just Not Important?

Nobody seems to care in the press or media - but 41 US and 4 Coalition members have been killed in the last 19 days. The casualty figures for August 2004 are horrifying. Almost 50 lives lost in little over half a month - a rate of over 2.5 killed per day. That's not counting the massive injuries and those who may die later after they are evacuated out of Iraq. And it's also not counting the tens or possibly 100's of Iraqi lives that have been lost in this recent seige or the daily violence that continues in their country.

These young people whose lives are lost and whose families are forever altered - they have died for what? Yet, news of this month's casualty rate, or anything about the people that have been lost doesn't seem to be important enough for the American people to know. Why?

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      ( 10:14 AM )
Smack Down

Finally. It took a week, but Kerry's done it today:

"More than 30 years ago I learned an important lesson. When you're under attack the best thing to do is turn your boat into the attack. That's what I intend to do today."

Speaking of the organization airing the ads that challenge his war record, Kerry said, "Of course, this group isn't interested in the truth and they're not telling the truth. ...

"But here's what you really need to know about them. They're funded by hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Republican contributor out of Texas. They're a front for the Bush campaign. And the fact that the President won't denounce what they're up to tells you everything you need to know. He wants them to do his dirty work."

Kerry said, "Of course, the president keeps telling people he would never question my service to our country. Instead, he watches as a Republican-funded attack group does just that."

And this is the clincher:

Fighting back, Kerry said if Bush wants to "have a debate about our service in Vietnam, here is my answer: 'Bring it on.'" Bush served stateside in the Texas Air National Guard during the war.

'Nuff said.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2004
      ( 2:01 PM )
Leaving Our Kids Behind...Again

The NY Times reports today that a comparison has been done between the scores of charter school students and public school students, and the charter kids came out wanting.

Because charter schools are concentrated in cities, often in poor neighborhoods, the researchers also compared urban charters to traditional schools in cities. They looked at low-income children in both settings, and broke down the results by race and ethnicity as well. In virtually all instances, the charter students did worse than their counterparts in regular public schools.

Charters are expected to grow exponentially under the new federal education law, No Child Left Behind, which holds out conversion to charter schools as one solution for chronically failing traditional schools.

Of course the reason behind the Bushies' love of charter schools is that ever-present drive to let the MARKET rule our lives. Because the ever-glorious MARKET is what will save us in the end. Not. Privatizing education has proven over and over again to be a failing prospect, not only for the students, but for the teachers and the communities who risk everything for them. The problem is a government unwilling to invest the funds needed in public education and members of that government finding more value in the campaign contributions of corporations that want to make a buck off our children's education and future.

Charter schools are just another shell in the shell game that the Bushies and their privatizing ilk are playing with our children. Vouchers, charters, corporate-owned public schools (yep, bizarre) - all of these are excuses not to fund a true education system for our children or to pay our teachers what they are worth. Of course, when the private funders of these charter schools learned that the kids' scores were so low, what was their answer? More accountability, of course!

"A little more tough love is needed for these schools," Mr. Finn said. "Somebody needs to be watching over their shoulders."

One of the main draws of a charter school was its absence from the accountability framework - charters don't have to be a part of the public system that sucks the soul out the students by testing them over and over again for the satisfaction of fat cats in Washington who probably couldn't pass one of those tests if they took them untimed.

The billions of revenue that we have lost due to Bush's tax cuts for the rich in this country not only could have paid for health care for all our children, but could have paid for the vast improvement of their education. But that's not what this crowd wants. Why invest in the maturing of our children's minds? Why, they might not come out as unquestioning drones, willing to believe that corporations will save their lives and that they are destined to reach their full potential by working themselves to death until they're 80! We can't have that.

When we have a country that puts more money into education and paying teachers than it does into bombs and spying on our own citizens, then we'll have a country that gives us all a new hope for the future. Until that point, we have to keep demanding the equity our children deserve. They deserve real schools and well-paid, motivated teachers, not more tests or half-remedies like charters and vouchers.

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      ( 12:27 PM )
Clearing it Up

For the slow among us, the Howler helps out:

KERRY’S POSITION: I voted to give President Bush the authority. Then President Bush f*cked it up.

(thanks to Atrios for the link)

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Monday, August 16, 2004
      ( 1:26 PM )
Red Squads

They are out and about. Looks like the Feds (and others) are "investigating" and harrassing known activists and those planning to protest the GOP Convention in NY City.

But some people contacted by the F.B.I. say they are mystified by the bureau's interest and felt harassed by questions about their political plans.

"The message I took from it," said Sarah Bardwell, 21, an intern at a Denver antiwar group who was visited by six investigators a few weeks ago, "was that they were trying to intimidate us into not going to any protests and to let us know that, 'hey, we're watching you.' ''

The unusual initiative comes after the Justice Department, in a previously undisclosed legal opinion, gave its blessing to controversial tactics used last year by the F.B.I in urging local police departments to report suspicious activity at political and antiwar demonstrations to counterterrorism squads. The F.B.I. bulletins that relayed the request for help detailed tactics used by demonstrators - everything from violent resistance to Internet fund-raising and recruitment.

In an internal complaint, an F.B.I. employee charged that the bulletins improperly blurred the line between lawfully protected speech and illegal activity. But the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, in a five-page internal analysis obtained by The New York Times, disagreed.

That Office of Legal Counsel - those are the same folks that brought us the justification of torture of Iraqi prisoners.

This same thing happened in Seattle before the WTO. The whole tactic harkens back to Red Squads and the infiltration of activist organizations in order to sabotage, spy and intimidate. There is of course no excuse for this kind of intimidation, but what else can the government do? They know no other way to deal with the free expression of opinion except to find any way they can to subvert it and stifle it.

When hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets to protest George W. Bush and his party, which specifically chose NY City for its convention in order to exploit 9/11, those people have the right to be in those streets. The right to demonstrate empowers people to use their voices. The power people have is in their numbers. They may not have military strength, they may not have money, but when there are enough of them, they can be heard. Seattle taught us that five years ago. That Tuesday in November 1999, when tens of thousands of us decided to use our voices, the world had to listen. This country can be crippled - not by massive demonstrations - but if the right to hold those demonstrations is removed. That right is what we must protect, not the sensitivities of the GOP.

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      ( 1:02 PM )
I Missed the Party!

Boy, imagine my surprise when I returned from a weekend away from my computer to 17 comments on that last post - and what a 'discussion'! I think The Vet said it all in the end - when it comes to these circular arguments about Kerry's service in Vietnam, the ultimate issue is that he volunteered TWICE to be there. Where was George W. Bush? Then I think the argument can be taken further. John Kerry went on to be a public prosecutor and lt. Governor then on into the Senate where he took the thankless jobs of investigating the Iran-Contra criminals, the BCCI debacle, and looking into the ultimate fate of US POWs in Vietnam (which he did in partnership with John McCain). What was George W. Bush doing during those years?

Give me a break. These constant arguments about Kerry's service in Vietnam are only to distract from a) the fact that George W. Bush's "military" record is a far cry from Kerry's and b) the ISSUES of this election!!

I personally am not convinced Kerry needs any conservative votes - I think that if we can just get Democrats out to vote, we win. There are more democratic voters in this country and in fact, even if we got the same votes as last time, minus Ralph Nader (who, let's face it, is NOT going to affect this election like in 2000), we win. Kerry is ahead in some major swing states, including Florida and Michigan. The ultimate truth is that if people honestly examine the condition this country is in, the relationships we have destroyed with other countries, the economic and job losses, the crippling growth of the deficit and national debt, and the increased possibility that we are more susceptible to terrorist attack than ever before, I frankly can't see how someone could decide to stick with the current team. Steady leadership? What exactly has their leadership done for us? This is the only question people need to ask themselves to be convinced that a new team of people who have proven their desire to work for the people of this country is needed in the Exectuive Branch.

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Thursday, August 12, 2004
      ( 11:16 AM )
The Four Months Mantra

Atrios is debunking it. Of course.

Digby addresses the real issue: these liars and lying pundits who are fanning the attack flames are doing the smear thing because they can't take Kerry on over the issues.

I am really getting sick of this crap. Kerry needs to start kicking ass and taking names later or I'm really gonna get pissed off. This is what he needs to do: release this statement: "This is the bottom line: I volunteered to serve in Vietnam, I did so proudly and with the best that was in me. When I returned I fought for those I'd left behind because I believed the war was being conducted against the interests of my country and our troops. What did George W. Bush do during those years? The fact is that my entire adult life has been a consistent effort to serve my country. George Bush and his supporters have to smear me with lies because they can't debate me on the real issues. They have run this country into the ground and I and the thinking people of this country aren't going to take it anymore."

Who cares if he pisses off the right? Who cares if he pisses off conservatives? He's not getting their votes anyway! The votes he needs to worry about are ours! I'm just hoping he's pulling an Ali in the Jungle and is ducking and dancing until he can give a knock-out punch. Frankly, in politics, I'm not sure that's the best way to go - he should be throwing more punches more often. Just my opinion.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2004
      ( 10:07 AM )

Once again, Portland will be the epicenter of a political event horizon. It's possible that the black hole created by both John Kerry and George W. Bush campaigning here this week, on the same day - on Friday the 13th no less - will suck up every last gasp of fresh air here in Oregon. But then again, it could be really fun.

John and Theresa Kerry will appear at Waterfront Park this Friday around 10:00 a.m. (after stopping off in Medford the day before). It's free, of course - but print off your tickets to get in. On the other hand, George W. Bush will be at a closed-door meeting - the Small Business Summit. The Bush Campaign site says this event is free (but it won't say where it's located, so you may have to do some hunting).

To make it a full day and take advantage of the extreme politics game here in Portland, you could attend the Kerry Rally, enjoy a quick lunch at the Bite of Oregon's opening day there on the Waterfront and then trot on over to the Small Business Summit (if you can find it).

Then again, it will be Friday the 13th, so you could just stay home. Both are sure to come back -- Oregon being one of those purple states this year.

Check out more (of course!!) at Portland Communique, About It All, and Blue Oregon.

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      ( 10:01 AM )
Looking for Some Truth?

Pissed off by the Swift Boat Lies? Media Matters now has a full response on all fronts to this sham of a "campaign ad." Check it out - it's all there, including the retraction by one of the Swift Boat Veterans saying that he made a terrible mistake by signing the affidavit that said Kerry didn't deserve his silver star. We know the Bushies are going to keep fighting dirty, and it's going to get dirtier. So we have to keep our eyes on the truth and stay informed so we can respond at any time to these lies.

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      ( 9:21 AM )
Screw Up Central

So let me get this straight. First, the administration issues a very specific, very scary terror alert two days after the conclusion of the Democratic Convention as newly minted Democratic candidate team sets off to meet the country. Then, Howard Dean says what everyone is thinking: how are we to know this wasn't done for political purposes? Then, it comes out that the information used for the terror alert was 3-4 years old. So suddenly, it is revealed by the administration to reporters that a young man had been arrested in Pakistan, and it was this man's work and his computer that led to the terror alert - so it was recent info! But then, it turns out that the administration outed this young man, Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, who was actually a CIA mole within Al Qaeda who had been giving the CIA massive amounts of information - and so his cover was blown, his contacts scattered, and now everyone is pissed off: the Pakistanis, the Brits, the intelligence officers who were working the assignment.

So now, here is where we stand:

- The terror alerts weren't on the up and up

- The administration does play politics with Americans' fear

- The administration again leaked the name of a CIA operative - this time a mole undercover within Al Qaeda

- Al Qaeda is just as, or more, active, organized and ready to attack (as opposed to Bush's claim that we've decimated their ranks)

- The Pakistanis and the Brits, our two most faithful (if not reliable) allies, are totally pissed off at us (again)

- We are less safe now because by crashing the CIA's work with Khan, we now know less about what Al Qaeda may do than we might have known if the administration weren't trying to cover their asses for being political with the alerts last week

- Once again, we're made the suckers by the very man who is supposed to defend, protect and advocate for us.

How much longer can people take this? I just can't understand the folks who still support this group of liars and manipulators.

Digby has more on the nonsensical response of the administration to once again screwing the intelligence community in order to cover its own ass. Looks like the NY Times is being set up to be the scapegoat in this one.

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Monday, August 09, 2004
      ( 7:31 AM )
Just Walk Away

Oregon's National Guard has been deployed to Iraq in very large numbers per capita of the population of our state. On the first day after handover of "sovreignty," several of Oregon's Guard members met a situation that was reprehensible - and they were stuck between a rock and a hard place. But they did the right thing. They came upon a scene where Iraqi prison guards had been beating and torturing prisoners and they stopped the torture and administered first aid. But...

The soldiers disarmed the Iraqi jailers, moved the prisoners into the shade, released their handcuffs and administered first aid. Lt. Col. Daniel Hendrickson of Albany, Ore., the highest ranking American at the scene, radioed for instructions.

But in a move that frustrated and infuriated the guardsmen, Hendrickson's superior officers told him to return the prisoners to their abusers and immediately withdraw. It was June 29 -- Iraq's first official day as a sovereign country since the U.S.-led invasion.

The incident, the first known case of human rights abuses in newly sovereign Iraq, is at the heart of the American dilemma here.

In handing over power, U.S. officials gave Iraqis authority to run their own institutions -- even if they made mistakes. But officials understand that the United States will be held responsible when the new Iraqi authorities stumble.

"Iraqis want us to respect their sovereignty, but the problem is we will be blamed for leaving the fox in charge of the henhouse," said Michael Rubin, a former adviser to the interim Iraqi government who is now a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. "We did not generally put good people in."

Our Guardsmen didn't just do nothing, however. They took pictures of the abuse and reported it to the press. They didn't stay quiet about the orders they were given. They knew something was afoul and they stepped out and spoke up. Our Senator, Ron Wyden, is following up.

"We want to know who gave those orders" to stand down, said Wyden, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Wyden spoke by phone Sunday from California, on his way to visit his mother. The intervention by Oregon Guardsmen, followed by their forced withdrawal, portrays "a very serious problem," he said.

Meanwhile, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski issued a statement saying he is "extremely proud" of the Oregon National Guard soldiers serving in Iraq.

"I am honored by their professionalism as soldiers, their conviction about what is right and their basic sense of humanity," the governor said.

"I am very sorry that they had to witness these terrible events," Kulongoski said. "While war sometimes brings out the best in us, it also brings out the worst. I'm very grateful as an Oregonian that the soldiers of the Oregon National Guard knew the difference. I would expect nothing less from these courageous Oregonians who are serving our country."

There are a lot of reasons I'm proud to be an Oregonian. These days, I've been more proud than I can say of the young Oregon Guardsmen who are serving in Iraq. More than anything, though, rather than being proud that they did the right thing when faced with a horrible situation, I would rather be relieved that they were coming home. Too many have died and been injured, and I just want them to come home.

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Wednesday, August 04, 2004
      ( 3:25 PM )

New favorite Bush/Cheney motto seen on the internet today:

Bush/Cheney '04: Because you don't change horsemen mid-Apocalypse

...Another beauty: Compassionate conservatism: Putting the 'warm' back in 'warmonger'

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      ( 10:14 AM )
Oregon Perfects the Military Funeral

Another young Oregonian was killed in Iraq last week. The Oregonian, perhaps tired of simply reporting these ongoing deaths that are striking at the heart of our communities, have done an article today on the funerals themselves.

Within the volunteer Oregon Army National Guard is a core of "double volunteers," as they call themselves: men and women who have stepped forward and met the exacting standards of the state's adjutant general's select honor guard. Those 20 or so soldiers represent the Guard at parades, fairs, festivals and -- with increasing regularity -- at soldiers' funerals.

Once those were mostly the funerals of veterans, old soldiers, but as the war in Iraq continues, those services are for their comrades-in-arms, four so far and another one to come. The soldiers killed in Iraq are younger, with more life unspent -- mirrored in the soldiers wearing slippery white cotton gloves who carry, in 15-inch lockstep, the heavy coffins.

Sometimes the men and women are strangers, but often they've met, trained together, heard one another's names. Maybe fought together.

Precisely, professionally, they bear the coffin, fold the U.S. flag and give it to the bereaved with these words: "As a representative of the United States Army it is my high privilege to present to you this flag. . . ."

Since the media doesn't seem concerned any longer (the "handover of power" seems to have convinced them that we are no longer present and being killed in Iraq?), here is an update. As of today, 920 US soldiers have been killed. EIGHT have been killed this month - and it's only the 4th day of the month. The thousands of injuries, sometimes deadly injuries, often maimings for life, continue to mount.

What was that again about steady leadership?

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      ( 10:02 AM )
Rock for Change

I once heard Harry Belafonte speak (what a voice!) and his talk was about the obligation artists have to be political. Artists have a unique voice in our society and can use their platform to speak truth to power, to influence social justice and to actually make a difference with their art. Several musicians are taking Belafonte's words to heart this coming pre-election season in a concert tour sponsored by MoveOn PAC and America Coming Together.

Among those taking a stand for this Vote For Change Tour:

Pearl Jam
Bruce Springsteen
Dave Matthews Band
Jurassic 5
Dixie Chicks
Death Cab for Cutie
James Taylor
Ben Harper
My Morning Jacket
Jackson Browne
Bonnie Raitt
John Fogerty
Keb' Mo'
Bright Eyes
John Mellencamp
Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds

Check out their declarations here.

One of my favorites is from Keb' Mo': "It's about showing up and being counted. I'll be there and I hope you will too."

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      ( 9:54 AM )
They Knew

David Sirota and Christy Harvey of the Center for American Progress have written an amazing article for In These Times. They list what Bush and his folks knew - and that they didn't care.

But as author Flannery O’Conner noted, “Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” That means no matter how much defensive spin spews from the White House, the Bush administration cannot escape the documented fact that it was clearly warned before the war that its rationale for invading Iraq was weak.

Top administration officials repeatedly ignored warnings that their assertions about Iraq’s supposed Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and connections to al Qaeda were overstated. In some cases, they were told their claims were wholly without merit, yet they went ahead and made them anyway. Even the Senate report admits that the White House “misrepresented” classified intelligence by eliminating references to contradictory assertions.

In short, they knew they were misleading America.

And they did not care.

What did they know?

They knew Iraq posed no nuclear threat
They knew the aluminum tubes were not for nuclear weapons
They knew the Iraq-uranium claims were not supported
They knew there was no hard evidence of chemical or biological weapons
They knew Saddam and bin Laden were not collaborating
They knew there was no Prague meeting

: they knew they were misleading America.

And they just keep doing it. This latest urgent and specific terror alert is just more evidence of their purposeful deception for their own ends.

(thanks to Blondesense for the heads-up)

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Tuesday, August 03, 2004
      ( 3:38 PM )

I'm really disturbed by this recent terror alert. I know I posted about this earlier this morning. But the administration is now trying to CYA about the whole thing and I'm even more sickened.

"I think you have to keep in mind al-Qaida's history of planning attacks well in advance and then updating those plans just before attacking," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan, traveling with President Bush on a trip to Texas.

Administration officials denied any suggestion that raising the terror alert right after the Democratic National Convention was politically motivated. "We don't do politics in the Department of Homeland Security," Ridge said.

Keep in mind they plan attacks well in advance and then update them??? Gee, thanks Scotty for that spot of brilliance! Oh, and so then why didn't the administration issue this specific warning in January, supposedly when the bulk of the information, which is 2-4 years old, was last updated? Ridge can mew all he wants that HSA doesn't "do politics" but that's all they exist for! Have they done one concrete thing to make us safer? Does Ridge have one ounce of power to get collective intelligence and use it to create an effective network within the country? Have they done ANYTHING since 9/11 that has not been an empty tactic to enhance fear rather than quell it?

If Bush remains in power, if or when we have a huge calamatous attack again somewhere within the US, at least we can be confident we'll get solid intelligence about it 3 years after it happens. This is so incredibly disturbing, this is so sickening. I am so disgusted by this misuse of Americans, by the abuse of the psyche of this country, and by the blatant manipulation of fear in order to keep power. I just keep praying that Americans will wake up and realize that if they haven't thought this administration lies up until now, the accumulated information MUST tell them that this is NOT the group that can truly lead us in this new era. Ugh, I can't even think about it anymore right now. Ugh.

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      ( 10:42 AM )
Fasten Your Seatbelts!

Scary website of the day. Get ready. Are you Rapture Ready? Evidently all signs point to the immediate dawn of the End Times.

Like I said. Scary.

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      ( 9:04 AM )
Krugman Slams the Script

Best. Columnist. Ever. Krugman sends one out of the park again today. He disusses what Daily Howler calls the medial script - the story that the cable news media follow, no matter what reality is.

If you really want to see cable news scripts in action, look at the coverage of the Democratic convention.

Commercial broadcast TV covered only one hour a night. We'll see whether the Republicans get equal treatment. C-Span, on the other hand, provided comprehensive, commentary-free coverage. But many people watched the convention on cable news channels - and what they saw was shaped by a script portraying Democrats as angry Bush-haters who disdain the military.


CNN used to be different, but Campaign Desk, which is run by The Columbia Journalism Review, concluded after reviewing convention coverage that CNN "has stooped to slavish imitation of Fox's most dubious ploys and policies." Seconds after John Kerry's speech, CNN gave Ed Gillespie, the Republican Party's chairman, the opportunity to bash the candidate. Will Terry McAuliffe be given the same opportunity right after President Bush speaks?

Commentators worked hard to spin scenes that didn't fit the script. Some simply saw what they wanted to see. On Fox, Michael Barone asserted that conventioneers cheered when Mr. Kerry criticized President Bush but were silent when he called for military strength. Check out the video clips at Media Matters; there was tumultuous cheering when Mr. Kerry talked about a strong America.

Another technique, pervasive on both Fox and CNN, was to echo Republican claims of an "extreme makeover" - the assertion that what viewers were seeing wasn't the true face of the party. (Apparently all those admirals, generals and decorated veterans were ringers.)


But the real power of a script is the way it can retroactively change the story about what happened.

On Thursday night, Mr. Kerry's speech was a palpable hit. A focus group organized by Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster, found it impressive and persuasive. Even pro-Bush commentators conceded, at first, that it had gone over well.

But a terrorism alert is already blotting out memories of last week. Although there is now a long history of alerts with remarkably convenient political timing, and Tom Ridge politicized the announcement by using the occasion to praise "the president's leadership in the war against terror," this one may be based on real information. Regardless, it gives the usual suspects a breathing space; once calm returns, don't be surprised if some of those same commentators begin describing the ineffective speech they expected (and hoped) to see, not the one they actually saw.

The theme of this election season for all of us is going to have to be a constant mantra of "THINK FOR YOURSELF!!!!!"

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      ( 8:17 AM )
AWOL - Proven

The Raw Story has a major exclusive running today. Of course it's not really news that George W. Bush didn't successfully complete his tour of duty with the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War, but now an intrepid investigation has found evidence. Wonder if this will get picked up anywhere else. Yeah, I'm not holding my breath either.

A four-month investigation conducted by a Philadelphia researcher and independently confirmed by RAW STORY finally proves that President George W. Bush did not successfully complete his service with the Texas Air National Guard.

The president’s own payroll records — recently released by the White House in an effort to discredit claims that the president had failed to meet Guard requirements — instead indicate that he was absent without leave (AWOL) in 1972, and should have been placed on active duty for nearly four months.

“If you don’t show up, you’re absent without leave, by definition,” said Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower, Reserve Affairs, Installations and Logistics under Ronald Reagan from 1981-1985, Lawrence J. Korb. “You would be put on active duty and sent wherever they needed you.”

Korb examined Bush’s payroll records Monday. Asked if he thought Bush was AWOL, he said, “Based on these payroll records, unless he had permission, it would be.”

Bush could not have gotten permission, which he would have needed to get in advance, because he did not yet know of the months he was going to miss until May 1972. It not until May 1972 that he was offered a position to campaign in an Alabama Senate campaign – well after all the trainings that he might have applied.

The article goes on to show documents and interviews and evidence. Like I said, it's not really news, but on the question of who would make a more honorable Commander in Chief, I think this could answer that. The other persona of the president, being an effectual leader, also comes into question when he couldn't even fulfill his easy duty to the National Guard.

Even if we don't want to talk about Vietnam at all (that would be FINE with me), it does matter what our president's record as a responsible citizen and employee is. He is the one who continues to make a big deal out of his "service" record and he is the one who continues to don military jackets and uniforms. It's time to stop playing dress up. It's time for a real leader to be president.

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      ( 8:02 AM )
I Tried Soooooo Hard

...not to be cynical.

I thought, surely, it's just my paranoid mind that thinks these terror alerts were all about timing and happening right after the Dem convention and 9/11 Report. God forbid some calamity occurs, it would be important to have been warned. But still, deep in my heart, I didn't trust this administration was totally above board. Call me crazy, I just have been stabbed by experience too many times with these guys. So this morning, cynicism arrives back on my doorstep. With bells on. Front page NY Times:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 -Much of the information that led the authorities to raise the terror alert at several large financial institutions in the New York City and Washington areas was three or four years old, intelligence and law enforcement officials said on Monday. They reported that they had not yet found concrete evidence that a terrorist plot or preparatory surveillance operations were still under way.


Frances Fragos Townsend, the White House homeland security adviser, said on Monday in an interview on PBS that surveillance reports, apparently collected by Qaeda operatives had been "gathered in 2000 and 2001.'' But she added that information may have been updated as recently as January.

The comments of government officials on Monday seemed softer in tone than the warning issued the day before. On Sunday, officials were circumspect in discussing when the surveillance of the financial institutions had occurred, and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge cited the quantity of intelligence from "multiple reporting streams'' that he said was "alarming in both the amount and specificity of the information.''

And I'm guessing that quite a few other people don't trust what the administration says either:

Despite the new terror warnings, the stock market gained ground, denting expectations that it would drop with the heightened security alert. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 39 points.

The biggest problem, as I see it (being a mama, I have some insight on this), is that if or when an ACTUAL threat occurs and the administration and HSA tries to warn us, we'll all have become so numb to their political maneuvers that we will no longer be as alert as we should be. That is the real crime of an administration that insists on ruling out of fear and terror.

So after Howard Dean got pilloried all day yesterday for saying what we were all thinking (go, Howard!), we find that he may be right (again). It's a tough pill we have to keep swallowing.

More on Atrios.

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Monday, August 02, 2004
      ( 6:34 PM )
Checking In

So how are you feeling? Threatened? Terrorized? I find the timing of these threats interesting, but I don't want to be too cynical. It's the administration's problem that they've cried wolf so often in the last few years. Bush's half-measures this week in response to the 9/11 Report may look "strong" to his supporters, but to the rest of the country and the world: what has he been DOING the last three years since those horrible calamities? I also find it interesting that the media is in its usual tizzy about the terrorist alerts, yet they don't think it important enough to examine WHY the NYSE, the World Bank or the IMF are considered viable targets for jihadists. This discussion is crucial only if you are interested in building and maintaining relationships with other nations across the globe. If you are interested in lifting up the most vulnerable among our human brotherhood (without choking them on debt). Since this administration is obviously not interested in those things, then the media doesn't feel compelled enough to ask the questions.

Why does it seem so many people are still convinced Bush is the guy to protect us and lead us? I have a sneaking suspicion that not that many people DO think this - but just like the "welfare mom" who drove that cadillac, the truth isn't what the media is interested in peddling if it requires actually having to investigate anything.

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      ( 6:22 PM )
Commander in Chief

Guess who's better qualified?

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