Posted by at 22:10  Election 2004
Oct 312003

If you want ’em
Here they are, come and get ’em
But you better hurry
‘Cuz they’re goin’ fast!

The Dean for America campaign is giving away one of these special Halloween “Scare Bush” buttons to the first 10,000 people who donate $31.00 or more to the campaign during this Halloween weekend (until midnight Sunday).

Get yours now!

Perhaps a bit late to wear your button out trick-or-treating this year, but imagine how much fun it’ll be next year — just a couple of days before the election.

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 Posted by at 17:40  Election 2004
Oct 312003

Kerry takes aim at Dean positions on gun safety

WASHINGTON (AP) — John Kerry accused presidential rival Howard Dean Friday of taking positions on gun safety that put the interests of the National Rifle Association ahead of the safety of children and families.

Kerry, a Massachusetts senator, criticized Dean’s 1992 statement to the National Rifle Association that he opposed any restriction on private ownership of assault weapons.

“Howard Dean’s opposition to sensible gun safety measures … is indefensible,” Kerry said in a statement. “It explains why he has been endorsed by the NRA eight times. I believe we must put the safety of our children and families ahead of special interests like the NRA.”

Kerry said he would “never pander to the extremist NRA for personal or political expediency. I will beat the NRA.”

Dean said Friday in Durham, New Hampshire: “I don’t respond to that silly kind of Washington talk.”

“I come from a rural state with a very low homicide rate,” Dean told reporters. “We had five homicides one year. It’s a state where hunting is a part of our life. I understand that’s not the traditional Democratic position.”

Dean said “when you’re running for governor, they ask you what you would do in your state.”

Dean aides told The New York Times for a Friday story that the opposition to restrictions on assault weapons that he expressed on the signed 1992 NRA questionnaire applied only to a state ban, defined broadly enough to also apply to shotguns commonly used by hunters in Vermont.

Dean assures voters on the campaign trail this year that he supports the federal assaults weapons ban enacted under President Bill Clinton in 1994.

While many Democratic primary voters support federal restrictions on gun ownership, there is less support for those restrictions among swing voters and Democrats in conservative states. Democratic nominee Al Gore lost several states in 2000 where gun control is not popular.

Centrist Democrats have warned that the party’s candidates need to adopt a stance that recognizes the rights of gun owners, while pushing for gun safety laws. They warn that candidates who are aggressive in challenging gun owners without also defending their right to own a gun will be at a substantial disadvantage in rural and conservative states.

CNN should have added “and misses by a country mile” to the headline for the above story. Here is Governor Dean’s position on guns, taken directly from the official campaign website:

Sensible Gun Laws

Vermont has one of the lowest homicide rates in the United States. During my 11 years as Governor, the highest number of murders in a single year was 25 and the lowest number was five. Over half of these were domestic assaults, and the majority were not committed with a firearm.

If you say “gun control” in Vermont or Wyoming, people think it means taking away their hunting rifle. If you say “gun control” in New York City or Los Angeles, people are relieved at the prospect of having Uzis or illegal handguns taken off the streets. They’re both right. That’s why I think Vermont ought to be able to have a different set of laws than California.

I believe the federal gun laws we have — like the Brady Bill — are important, and I would veto any attempt to repeal or gut them. The Assault Weapons Ban expires next year, and it should be renewed. Although President Bush has claimed he supports renewing it, he is talking out both sides of his mouth; his staff has signaled that he doesn’t want or expect Congress to renew the ban, and that is wrong.

I don’t think we need a lot of new federal laws. But we do need to do a few things at the federal level, like requiring Insta-Check on all retail and gun show sales. We also must do a better job of enforcing the laws on the books. President Bush promised to be tough in enforcing gun laws, but his Administration has prosecuted only about 2% of all gun crimes and they are virtually ignoring 20 of the 22 major federal gun laws on the books. That is an abysmal record, and as President, I’d make tough enforcement a reality, not just political rhetoric.

After that, I would let the states decide for themselves what, if any, additional gun safety laws they want. Just as we resist attempts by President Bush to dictate to the states how we run our school systems and what kind of welfare programs to have, we need to resist attempts to tell states how to deal with guns beyond existing federal law and fixing a few loopholes and problems.

You would think one candidate would invest the time and effort to at least study the positions of another candidate before talking about them. More and more, this is becoming not the case in this campaign. It is becoming less “I want to win, and here’s why I should” and more “I don’t want you to win, and I’ll say whatever I need to say to ensure that you don’t.”

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Lying to the kids

 Posted by at 03:01  Politics
Oct 312003

The following is taken from “Biography of President Bush geared for children.” It’s part of the official White House website.


President Bush has pledged to work in a bipartisan spirit, which means he plans to work with both Republicans and Democrats in Congress to pursue goals that are best for Americans. President Bush’s goals include strengthening the nation’s public schools, reducing taxes for all taxpayers, strengthening the military, saving and improving Social Security and Medicare, and encouraging Americans to be responsible citizens.

And here all this time I was thing that it was wrong to lie to children. Obviously, I was mistaken.

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Big quarter

 Posted by at 02:36  Politics
Oct 312003

Here’s Paul Krugman’s take on Mr. Bush’s “told you so” estimated 7.2 percent growth rate for the third quarter of 2003…

A Big Quarter

The Commerce Department announces very good growth during the previous quarter. Many observers declare the economy’s troubles over. And the administration’s supporters claim that the economy’s turnaround validates its policies.

That’s what happened 18 months ago, when a preliminary estimate put first-quarter 2002 growth at 5.8 percent. That was later revised down to 5.0. More important, growth in the next quarter slumped to 1.3 percent, and we now know that the economy wasn’t really on the mend: after that brief spurt, the nation proceeded to lose another 600,000 jobs.

The same story unfolded in the third quarter of 2002, when growth rose to 4 percent, and the economy actually gained 200,000 jobs. But growth slipped back down to 1.4 percent, and job losses resumed.

My purpose is not to denigrate the impressive estimated 7.2 percent growth rate for the third quarter of 2003. It is, rather, to stress the obvious: we’ve had our hopes dashed in the past, and it remains to be seen whether this is just another one-hit wonder.

The weakness of that spurt 18 months ago was obvious to those who bothered to look at it closely. Half the growth came simply because businesses, having drawn down their inventories in the previous quarter, had to ramp up production even though demand was growing slowly. This time around growth has a much better foundation: final demand — demand excluding changes in inventories — actually grew even faster than G.D.P. So it’s unlikely that growth will drop off as sharply as it did back then.

But — you knew there would be a but — there are still some reasons to wonder whether the economy has really turned the corner.

Click on the headline to read the rest of the column.

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New battle cry

 Posted by at 22:13  Politics
Oct 302003

The battle cry of the Bush Administration (I typed “Bust Administration” — probably should have left it like that) seems to be “The truth is whatever we say the truth is.” Here is an article penned by Maureen Dowd, New York Times columnist…

Eyes Wide Shut

WASHINGTON — In the thick of the war with Iraq, President Bush used to pop out of meetings to catch the Iraqi information minister slipcovering grim reality with willful, idiotic optimism.

“He’s my man,” Mr. Bush laughingly told Tom Brokaw about the entertaining contortions of Muhammad Said al-Sahhaf, a k a “Comical Ali” and “Baghdad Bob,” who assured reporters, even as American tanks rumbled in, “There are no American infidels in Baghdad. Never!” and, “We are winning this war, and we will win the war. . . . This is for sure.”

Now Crawford George has morphed into Baghdad Bob.

Speaking to reporters this week, Mr. Bush made the bizarre argument that the worse things get in Iraq, the better news it is. “The more successful we are on the ground, the more these killers will react,” he said.

In the Panglossian Potomac, calamities happen for the best. One could almost hear the doubletalk echo of that American officer in Vietnam who said: “It was necessary to destroy the village in order to save it.”

The war began with Bush illogic: false intelligence (from Niger to nuclear) used to bolster a false casus belli (imminent threat to our security) based on a quartet of false premises (that we could easily finish off Saddam and the Baathists, scare the terrorists and democratize Iraq without leeching our economy).

Now Bush illogic continues: The more Americans, Iraqis and aid workers who get killed and wounded, the more it is a sign of American progress. The more dangerous Iraq is, the safer the world is. The more troops we seem to need in Iraq, the less we need to send more troops.

The harder it is to find Saddam, Osama and W.M.D., the less they mattered anyhow. The more coordinated, intense and sophisticated the attacks on our soldiers grow, the more “desperate” the enemy is.

In a briefing piped into the Pentagon on Monday from Tikrit, Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno called the insurgents “desperate” eight times. But it is Bush officials who seem desperate when they curtain off reality. They don’t even understand the political utility of truth.

After admitting recently that Saddam had no connection to 9/11, the president pounded his finger on his lectern on Tuesday, while vowing to stay in Iraq, and said, “We must never forget the lessons of Sept. 11.”

To read the full article, click on the headline.

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Economic Recovery?

 Posted by at 18:46  Politics
Oct 302003

Economy Grew at 7.2% Rate in 3rd Quarter, Fastest Since 1984

The American economy expanded during the third quarter at the fastest rate since 1984, the government reported today, offering hope that the long economic malaise has finally ended.

Consumer spending soared, foreigners bought American-made goods at a surprising clip, and companies increased their investments in equipment and technology at a pace reminiscent of the late 1990’s boom.

Economists welcomed the report as a sign of strength not seen since 2000, but they cautioned that economic growth was almost certain to slow in the months ahead, as the effects of the recent tax cut and a surge in mortgage refinancing wear off. Indeed, the stock market ended trading with little change today, reflecting questions about the sustainability of this rate of growth.

“It looks like the economy is shrugging off its lethargy,” said Richard D. Rippe, chief economist of Prudential Securities. “But there are some parts of this that are not sustainable.”

Governor Dean’s Statement on Today’s Economic Figures

SEATTLE–Governor Dean issued the following statement today regarding the new economic figures.

“President Bush has compiled the worst economic record since the Great Depression, and it is going to take a lot more than one quarter of growth to clean it up. The Bush Administration spent trillions on tax cuts for the wealthy, put us trillions in debt, and delivered pink slips to 3.2 million Americans. The real measure of a strong economy is when average Americans see real benefits and the people who lost their jobs under President Bush are working again.”

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 Posted by at 14:40  Election 2004
Oct 302003

This just in from the official campaign weblog…

The Bats Are Back!

We want the Bush White House to have the scariest Halloween ever, so we’ve brought back the “bats” — but not the kind for swinging. These are the bats that come out at night, and they’re going to scare George W. Bush back to Texas.

The first 10,000 people to give $31 or more will get a one-of-a-kind, limited edition button that reads, in the Halloween spirit, “Bush Frightens Me — Vote Dean for America.”

We’ll update the total every two hours as you grow the swarm of bats that will send a chill down the spine of the Bush-Cheney White House!

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Confused Simpsons

 Posted by at 04:36  General
Oct 302003

Fox nearly sued itself over ‘Simpsons’ parody: Matt Groening

NEW YORK (AFP) – Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News Channel threatened to sue the makers of “The Simpsons” over a parody of the channel’s right-wing political stance, the creator of the hit US television show has claimed.

In an interview this week with National Public Radio, Matt Groening recalled how the news channel had considered legal action, despite the fact that “The Simpsons” is broadcast on sister network, Fox Entertainment.

According to Groening, Fox took exception took a Simpsons’ version of the Fox News rolling news ticker which parodied the channel’s anti-Democrat stance, with headlines like “Do Democrats Cause Cancer?”

“Fox fought against it and said they would sue the show,” Groening said.

“We called their bluff because we didn’t think Rupert Murdoch would pay for Fox to sue itself. So, we got away with it.”

Other satirical Fox news bulletins featured in the show included: “Study: 92 per cent of Democrats are gay… JFK posthumously joins Republican Party… Oil slicks found to keep seals young, supple…”

While the lawsuit never materialized, Groening said some action was taken.

“Now Fox has a new rule that we can’t do those little fake news crawls on the bottom of the screen in a cartoon because it might confuse the viewers into thinking it’s real news,” he said.

“The Simpsons,” featuring the dysfunctional family of patriarch Homer Simpson and his rowdy brood, is now in its 14th year and is expected to become the longest-running situation comedy in US history in 2005.

They thought those little fake news crawls on the bottom of the screen in a cartoon might confuse the viewers into thinking it’s real news.

Really? Obviously, Fox News Channel has a very high opinion of their viewers. But then, what can you really expect from a company that threatens to sue itself?

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NYC + GOP = Bad Idea

 Posted by at 02:04  Politics
Oct 302003

What I’ve been saying…

GOP Convention Lurches Towards Disaster

by Ted Rall

NEW YORK–Next year, for the first time ever, the Republicans will hold their national convention in New York City, the high temple of American liberalism. At a time when Americans are politically polarized over Iraq and other divisive issues, Republicans plan to nominate an extreme right-winger in a city where 81 percent of the locals voted for Al Gore. To top it off, they’re scheduling their Roy-in-the-lion’s-mouth act in September–the GOP usually holds its confabs in July–to coincide with ceremonies commemorating the 9/11 attacks.

At the risk of coming off like those who warned that President Clinton risked his life every time he appeared before audiences of well-armed soldiers on Southern military bases, let me say, as a New Yorker: this is a very bad idea.

“Next year in New York” is already the rallying cry of more than 150 groups planning to protest Bush’s coronation. United for Peace and Justice, which organized some of the biggest demonstrations against the invasion of Iraq, has applied for a 250,000-person permit to march past Madison Square Garden, where the convention is being held, on the event’s first full day.

Everyone from radical anarchists to moderate environmentalists expects the NYC/GOP ideological collision to spark the biggest American protest march since the end of the Vietnam War. Families of 9/11 victims, predominantly Democratic like the oasis of ideological sanity they live in, are so incensed at reports that the convention was timed to allow Bush to lay the Freedom Tower cornerstone at the World Trade Center site that many plan to join the protest. “Keep your hands off Ground Zero,” Rita Lasar, head of a 9/11 victims group, warns Republicans. “Do not make a political football out of this.”

Too late. New York’s Republican mayor and governor have denied the cornerstone-laying story, but they’ve confirmed that Bush will shuttle back and forth between the convention in midtown and speeches at Ground Zero. And Rudy Giuliani is encouraging convention organizers to use 9/11 as a prop.

Activists are talking, some with barely hidden glee, about the possibility of violence. “It’ll be Chicago 1968,” a well-connected progressive leader predicts, referring to the “Days of Rage” riots during that year’s Democratic National Convention. “Things are gonna burn, people are gonna die.” Harsh new NYPD tactics, like using horses to trample protesters, could throw gas on an already combustible situation. “Angry protesters have claimed police are meeting [antiwar] demonstrations with new heights of repressiveness, amounting to a pattern of unfounded arrests and abuses,” reports The Village Voice.

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More free?

 Posted by at 00:18  Politics
Oct 302003

Bush offers campaign theme

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush offered a broad defense of his foreign policy and said his message that “the world is more peaceful and more free under my leadership” will be a prominent theme of his bid for a second White House term.

In a Rose Garden news conference Tuesday with reporters, the president asserted, however, that his re-election campaign had not yet begun, even though the Bush-Cheney team has raised more than $83 million, much of it through personal appearances by Bush at 27 fund-raisers across the country over more than five months.

“I will defend my record at the appropriate time, and look forward to it,” Bush said. “I’ll say that the world is more peaceful and more free under my leadership, and America is more secure.”

What world is this guy living in? I’m sure most of us would like to visit that world from time to time. I know I would.

More peaceful? Than what? Yes, I’d agree that the world is a more peaceful place than it was during World War II, but definitely not at any time since then.

Freer (or more free in Bush speak)? The dictionary defines free as 1) not under the control or power of another, having liberty, independent; and 2) having civil and political liberty. Again, don’t think so.

More secure? I don’t know. Do you feel more secure than you did three years ago? I don’t.

If those are the three items upon which you are going to base your campaign, Mr. Bush, I wish you luck. You’re going to need it.

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