Thursday, September 30, 2004

W Stands for Wyoming, Not for Washington

Just had to share: Washington DC is officially the polar opposite of Wyoming. Gee, honey, guess where we're NOT retiring?

Polling the trolls, or Polls Schmolls Part II

We shall have to be fast as The Debate: Grudge Match Part One is set to begin in just over an hour and it is surely going to be more captivating than this season of the Apprentice. (Since we don't actually watch television credit for this comparison goes out to our pop culture consultant, who watches tv so we don't have to). First up:

The Spinmeister Alert Today Is:
Fiery and Eternally Red Hot Under The Tuckus

Because claiming to know what God is thinking strikes us as the kinda grandiose thinking that'll get you a nice spot under a thorny tree by the river of flaming and boiling oil. We're thinking that His working in mysterious ways has something to do with His thoughts being so awesome as to be beyond mere human comprehension. We imagine His thoughts on humans claiming to know His ways might perhaps elicit a reaction in the afterworld something like the reactions of the Giant Squid, only righteous and holy and stuff. We don't imagine too much, though, for fear that the imagining might be construed as thinking we know about the Master Plan and its orchestra of instruments. And then we might get smited. Even if we "purport (these beliefs) to be the product of "independent research," uncoordinated with the Bush-Cheney campaign."

Oh yes, it really is that bad.

Now on to the polls!!

The WP had an article in Tuesday's edition with the results of a poll the paper had conducted with ABC under the headline Polls Show Bush With Solid Lead.

Okay, polls make us want to rent our robes and gnash our teeth and pull out our hair because we believe that they don't actually tell us anything, but that people do react to them in very silly ways- like giving up hope or voting on pack mentality. We have also had suspicions that these polls are not getting a good or even a reasonably representative sample. As we have mentioned before all of us who only have cell phones and no land line will never be contacted by a polling organization (all telemarketing is barred from calling cell phones). But when we looked at this survey we noted that it was targeted at "likely voters."

Who are likely voters? How is the likelihood of their voting determined? Are they asked? Or is this based on previous behavior (i.e. voting in the last presidential election)? If it is that latter then no one under the age of 22 could have been asked anything. Nor would anyone who registered this year in order to vote in this election have been asked. And there are record numbers of registrations. The registration offices in Pittsburgh can't keep up. And record numbers in Ohio, even if there are dirty tricks afoot.

But what if the polls were designed to elicit a particular demographic? What if the most famous pollster thought this: "The most profound purpose of polls is to see how people are responding to God,' 'When I ask a question on these subjects, what I'm always trying to find out is, Are we doing the will of God?"

Those are the words of George Gallup Jr. after giving the spring commencement speech at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Yes, of the Gallup poll. The one that conducts polls for CNN and USAToday.

He might want to pray for some methodological guidance, as it appears his representative sample of "likely voters" (that wonderfully amorphous category) was more representative of Republicans than of Democrats. "Gallup was criticized for including 7 percent more Republicans in its "likely voter" poll than Democrats. According to the liberal blog The Left Coaster, the latest Gallup survey is even more out of whack -- this time, Repulicans have a 12-point advantage."

So what have we learned? That when you ask more Republicans who they are going to vote for you can report that the "instrument of God" candidate has a 13 point lead.

Even so, you can't call Ohio just yet. Better still, you can't call any of it just yet. At the end of the day, the only poll that counts is the one that will be tallyed on November 2nd. In the meantime, we're going to go open a bottle of wine and watch the debate.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Zeppelins and Dirigibles and Blimps, oh my!

We are going to have to say that it may be a good idea to follow the words of the citizens of Crawford, Texas. At least the 425 for comprise the readership of the small paper based in that town who have decided to endorse a presidential candidate. "Four items trouble us the most about the Bush administration: his initiatives to disable the Social Security system, the deteriorating state of the American economy, a dangerous shift away from the basic freedoms established by our founding fathers, and his continuous mistakes regarding terrorism and Iraq."

The Spinmeister Alert Today Is:
Seafoam Green

Yes, a little surprising, but today had some minor spinning which we personally found more annoying than infuriating. Cheney said Kerry would be soft on terror, but we aren't counting that since he says that every frickin' day. Good God, man, get a new speech writer.

Spin Numbah One: A conservative PAC has sponsored a heap of anti-Kerry ads to be aired on Black radio stations. The ads are sponsored by a conservative white guy in Kansas City who was excoriated in 2000 for airing race-baiting ads. Not like this sort of stuff might be construed as kinda desperate tactics or anything. Like the kinda thing you might do if you didn't have a platform to run on. But perhaps someone took a look at the poll numbers for some of those WP/ABC questions by race. Click on race in the upper right corner and hit go. Innerestin' innit?

Spin Numbah Two: A few days ago Nobel Peace Prize winner and elder statesman (and we think all around nice feller- the Habitat for Humanity thing is aces all the way) Jimmy Carter said he had some profound doubts about the integrity of the election in Florida. He noted that "some basic international requirements for a fair election in Florida are missing." Like a non-partisan overseeing body (yes, Katherine Harris). Jeb Bush, who doesn't have anything invested in making sure his brother carries the state with the fourth highest number of electoral votes, answered Mr. Carter by calling him a pansypinkocommiecandyass. Okay, not in those terms, but he did say that Mr. Carter was part of the "constant haranguing of nonsense" over the elections. Which we are pretty sure is both grammatically and factually wrong- Jimmy Carter does not harangue nonsense. He leaves nonsense alone.

When a reporter raised concerns that voting machines in Tampa could be tampered with the first brother (Neil, the one who 'unwittingly'- har- consorted with prostitutes in Hong Kong will have to be second brother. When he makes himself governor of someplace with a lot of electoral votes perhaps he can be the first-and-a-half brother) responded by saying such claims were "bogus," were "conspiracy theories," and "just ridiculous." We will have to agree with the Guvnah on one point- there is certainly some Diebold machine ridiculousness goin' on. What else can you say when voting machines are found abandoned on the street and in a bar. Yes, that really does say that a machine was found in a bar. A voting machine. The kind that will be "counting" your vote in states like Maryland (where these were found- though this is not the state they were registered to) and Florida. Asked about it's origins a spokesperson from Diebold said that one could be "purchased on e-bay." So we'll have to give it up to the first brother on that one because hard facts show that the idea of voting machines being tampered with is totally bogus- right?

Meanwhile, for those of us not asleep in the poppy field, people within US security agencies (you know, like the CIA and stuff) are growing more and more pessimistic about the situation in Iraq. Of course, our fearless leader might say that this is because they read the newspaper and watch TV news shows where they show news about Iraq. They never show those positive stories about Iraq, like, uh, when only six of little Tariq's brothers were blown to bits and two survived with missing limbs when a car bomb exploded outside his house. But his kitten survived! Hail to the kitten- it shows that things are getting better and better every day!

Then a federal judge ruled against a key component of the misleadingly misnamed Patriot Act. The ruling, if it holds, should curtail which bits of your private life John Ashcroft can poke into. Does make you wonder what the meaning of patriotism is....

We do feel the need to point out that the administration is warning congress that it wouldn't support completely gutting the power of a new head security guy. We'll see if that pans out, but if deserved, kudos go out.

But we will also have to point out the fact that the administration is currently spending a ba-zillion dollars of your money to protect us from Krushchev and his hairy eyebrows. Yes, we now have a nearly complete missile defense system. For when the commies try to nuke us. From their hideout in 1962. ?!? Star Wars anyone? Well, if the cold war restarts we can all feel safe knowing that forty years after the fact they've sorted out how to protect us from the Soviets. Or not, actually, since this missile defense system is probably only about 20% effective. Yes. You have just paid a ba-zillion dollars for a missle defense system that only works one-fifth of the time in protecting you from missiles that are no longer the weapon of choice of the enemy of the day. The other 80% of the time the missiles which probably won't be shot at us by the Soviet Union which no longer exists will kill you anyway.

But 1962 is practically the Jetsons around the Pentagon where they have just deployed a "security blimp" to protect Washington. Yes, a blimp. In a display of "technology that could be used to protect troops." Just like they did in World War One. We're glad to see we are maintaining our standing among the most technologically advanced societies in the world.

You will all be glad to know that just about everybody who is not American would elect Kerry if they had the vote. As a sample: "Karim Raslan, a lawyer and commentator in Malaysia, another Muslim-majority country, was more blunt: "Everyone would want to see Bush out. He is loathed." This doesn't translate into love for Kerry though: "He added: "The view in Asia-Pacific is, Bush is dreadful. You've got to get rid of him. But is the other guy better? I fear not." Who knew the anyone-but-Bush crowd extended so far beyond Manhattan?

But where does all this hostility toward political leaders that has developed over the last four years come from? Well, apparently from the feeling that they are all a buncha liars. Interesting to note that Kerry and Bush received almost identical ratings, but Kerry's ratings were across the board lukewarm while Bush's were divided between people who (actually) believe him and those who think he makes Tricky Dick look like he was playing jacks with the girls. The two main factors to make people think pols spout a lotta hooey? 34% say the war in Iraq, and 16% say the 2000 Florida election fiasco. Hey Jeb, you listening?

The media didn't fare so hot in that survey either-- seems they got grades comparable to Bush and Kerry. This might explain why it is that people seem to have stopped paying attention to both the media and the pols. Which is what we have to assume must be happening in order to explain why it is that a significant number of Americans seem to have not the slightest inkling of where they hell either candidate stands on any of the issues. The results are really interesting- especially the bits where people have an opinion on something and think they are agreeing or disagreeing with a candidate- and aren't.

A reserve staff sergent wrote an extremely articulate and highly critical article about the war in Iraq- and he could get 20 years for "disloyalty." Welcome to Bush country. You can get a day pass free for Salon if you watch the ad.

And President Gore (that's the title they give you when you win, right?) wrote an op-ed piece in the NYTimes to Kerry on debating Dubya. He quotes Jon Stewart of the Daily Show, and then gives this gem: "And if anyone truly has "low expectations" for an incumbent president, that in itself is an issue."

By the way, if your third grader comes home smelling like tequila, don't worry- it's the snack time margherita! Makes naptime go a little smoother.

Tomorrow we're gonna do a little post on polls. And how they mess shit up bad.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The King of Kings Rises!

From the bottom of the river apparently. Not so sure of about the fiberglass, though we hear it's an all-weather material.

The Spinmeister Alert Today Is:
Mustard Yellow


For those of you out there who think the tax cuts are hooey, believe that they are not only obviously weighted toward the folks in the administration (the economic top 1%) instead of you, and that they are part of what has caused record deficits, you've gotten some support on that last point from interesting quarters. "Communications Director Dan Bartlett wrote, “The deficit was caused by three things: lost revenue coming into the treasury due to the recession; funding increases to fight the war and protect the homeland; and tax relief to jumpstart our economy.” White House response? " Administration officials say that Bartlett’s comment is consistent with the administration’s message on tax policy." Really? I thought the WH tax policy message was that our economy was getting stronger and stronger because Dick Cheney got to take an extra $200K plus home. But apparently there's been a turnaround and they plan to come out and make it clear that they have indeed burdened our grandchildren and great grandchildren with the burden of paying off the deficit so that they could grant themselves tax "relief" and invade other countries. Right.

Meanwhile, the FBI has been utterly unable to translate more than 123,000 hours of wiretap tapes made since 9/11. Lack of appropriate computer storage means that some of these unheard tapes will be deleted. As in, never listened to. Wow, we sure feel soooo much safer knowing that plans for any future terrorist attack will quite possibly either be deleted before they are listened to, or might get listened to after the attack. Like all that evidence on the 9/11 hijackers. Which sure does show how Dubya is the candidate who can keep us safe from terrorists, using the same methods that prevented that attack on the World Trade.... wait a second.... funny, I feel a little nervous all of a sudden.

But wait, doesn't George Bush care about the common man? Let's look at all he's done for getting health care for the Average Joe. "
In the past four years, Americans have spent an ever-growing portion of their paychecks on health care and for the most part gotten less for their money, forcing millions into the ranks of the uninsured or personal bankruptcy, according to government figures and several independent assessments."

Huh. But at least he has the welfare of the elderly at heart, right? "Federal investigators said Monday that the Bush administration had improperly allowed some private health plans to limit Medicare patients' choice of health care providers, including doctors, nursing homes and home care agencies." And they're paying more our of pocket as well. Perhaps they figure some of those elderly aren't going to make it to November anyway, so who needs 'em, eh?

Oh yeah, and when Interim PM Allawi said last week that his country was being flooded by outside agitators and terrorists, well, he must have been drinking some of the WH Koolaid. Outside agitators by way of-- Basra? Glad to see the puppet leader is a straight-up no chaser kinda fellah. A straight shooter, just like the guy holding the strings.

But it's good to know that this administration can take advice and suggestions that don't agree with their plans for the empire and apply them. You know, the Bush way! Total Dismissal!

Also good to see that this administration is concerned about all of the citizens of the US. That must be why neither Mr. Swagger nor Mr. Shady will come speak in your town unless you can mobilize a phalanx of the like minded to man the phones for the RNC. The rest of the pinkocommies can go ask Senator Patrick Leahy for directions on how to perform the task assigned to them by Dick Cheney.

We're sure glad that the administration is working so hard to diffuse the rather frightening situation in North Korea, though! I'd sure be scared otherwise, boyhowdy! Like if their vice foreign minister said something like "the danger of war on the Korean peninsula "is snowballing," or "that Pyongyang had "no other option but to possess a nuclear deterrent" because of U.S. policies that he claimed were designed to "eliminate" North Korea and make it "a target of preemptive nuclear strikes." Yeah, if they weren't doing such a good job preventing something like that from happening I might not be able to sleep at night from fear.

Fear... now that is something this administration has a solid record on! They get super high marks for scarin' the pants off of anyone they can! Why, they're so good at it that people in small towns you've never heard of (and by golly, probably no terrorist has every heard of either!) send around petitions to move polling stations out of public schools and into churches. Be afraid. be very afraid.

Oh yes, here we have a heartwarming story of compassionate conservatism at work! The
Capital Athletic Foundation claims that it's mission is to assist "needy and deserving" sportsmanship programs. Who knew rich guys playing golf at schmancy resorts could be described in such lofty terms! They sure can in the land of "compassionate conservatism"! Where Republican lobbyists and "very close personal friends" of Tom Delay can take your charitable donations from private citizens and Indian casinos and parlay them into golfing trips to Scotland on private planes with other Republican lobbyists and a house in Silver Spring. Compassionate conservatism indeed- the GOP has such a big heart for the lowly, downtrodden millionare lobbyist.

Prize for bizarre protest of the day goes to: anti-/pro-fox hunting clashes in England. The pro-hunting people showed up with dead calves and a dead horse. Which either means that they've all watched the Godfather too many times, or that semiotics are really, really culturally specific. To our minds, the best part of the exchange was when pro-fox-hunting folks argued that the anti-fox-hunting folks were against sending the hounds out to savage a fox not because they actually believed it to be a barbaric and cruel practice, but because they carried class prejudices. Fox hunting is an almost entirely upper class pursuit.

In response Tony Blair apologized for the whole Iraq debacle. Okay, it wasn't exactly in response. But the two incidents were reported on the same day. And it wasn't a full-on apology per se, but was more of a "I guess we shoulda checked those documents better" sort of apology. It's funny how differently leaders on either side of the pond respond to upcoming elections in which their jobs are at stake.



Monday, September 27, 2004

Saa-wing batta batta batta batta saa-wing batta

First of all, for all the naysayers out there, it seems that voter registration rolls are up in swing states, and in Ohio and Florida in particular. And the Dems are much better at it. Doesn't mean they will all vote with the Dems, but it does mean all hope is not lost.

The Spinmeister Alert Today Is:
Chartreuse

Yes, people, chartreuse. It ain't for lack of trying neither, but really, this tired ole 'things is gettin' better in Iraq' schtick is like listening to a 45 single spinning at 33rpm.

Okay, we have all heard our fearless leader wax rhapsodic about the "progress" being made in Iraq, and much eye-rolling and blood pressure rising has followed to be sure. However, from his ranch in Crawford where he plays cowboy Dubya told reporters on Sunday that he had no regrets about the flyboy flight deck mission accomplished PR dud of May 2003. Yes, folks, he is saying that he does not regret making the most patently ridiculous statement of the year. Even when it was pointed out to him that since his 'mission' was 'accomplished' more than 900 American soldiers have died in his war, he still said he was going to stand by this statement.

Yes, that was the sound of our collective jaws hitting the floor.

Dear Lord, please can someone ask him what the hell he means by "progress"? How is this mission "accomplished"? Is it the kidnappings and beheadings? Is it the hepititis outbreak in Sad'r City from water and sewage breakdowns? Is it the ever dimming hope for an election that might allow everyone to vote? Perhaps it is the data collected by Kroll Security International for the U.S. Agency for International Development that indicates that there are around 70 attacks a day- up from 40 to 50 a day before the June 28th 'handover'? Or is the hopeless and abandoned unit that is considered emblamatic of US errors? Perhaps it is the way in which Al Qaeda is now seen as an even bigger threat than it was in 2001? How about when a new Iraqi commander is arrested for being in with the insurgents? Or maybe it is the way his own people keep pointing out that shit ain't going right- like Gen. John Abizaid, who says the elections are bound to be flawed. Or when Colin Powell says the Iraqi uprising is growing? We just gotta ask- what the hell are the standards by which progress is being judged?

So what to do when you are staying what anyone with half a clue can see is the most destructive course? Blame it on your opponent. Go ahead, call him a pussy! You know you wanna! It certainly does distract from the fact that Jimmy Carter (you know, the guy with the Nobel Peace Prize) says that elections in Florida are sure to be a bunch of hooey. (Okay, he didn't say hooey, exactly, but we're sure it's what he meant).

It might also distract a little from the fact that it is the ten year anniversary of the GOP's contract with America- and that after ten years of GOP rule in congress and the last four with control over the WH too they appear to have not achieved any of their goals. Funny, that. Must be all the fault of the "liberal media" (Bwah-haw-haw-haw!)

But none of this has to do with oil. C'mon, Luke! Snap out of it! Darth Cheney is trying to use a Jedi mind trick on you!

And this just in-- Osama 'probably' in Pakistan. Well shit, dawg, if you know that why don't you go after him? Unless, of course, you already got...ooohhh. We're taking bets on the date of the unveiling. Oct. 24th and 27th are already taken.

Seems the Valerie Plame investigation has fizzled. Imagine that. Condi Rice gets up and calls the woman Ms. Plume a couple of times (as in 'I'm so not involved I don't even know her name!') and *poof* the whole thing goes up in a plume of smoke.

By the way, the six party talks with North Korea seem to have disappeared into a mushroom cloud, er, plume, er, puff of smoke. You remember the North Koreans? They're the rogue state who claims to have nuclear weapons. No biggie.

Meanwhile CBS is suppressing its own story on the administration's reliance on false documents in their insistence on pursuing the Iraq war until after the elections. Because you wouldn't want any information on that to get out before November 2nd.

We hope you are all ready for watching the showdown on Thursday between the disciples of Rollin G. Osterweis. Believe it or not the candidates shared more than a school and a secret society: Kerry and Dubya had the same debate coach at Yale. 'Course, one of these men was a straight C student at Yale. The other one is Kerry.


Weekend Roundup

Whoo, it was a busy weekend-- lots of movin' and shakin' going on, and not just in the trailer parks of Florida.

Some of you may remember that our fearless leader had earmarked more than $1bn to pay for insuring uninsured children. He may have earmarked it, but it seems he didn't actually dedicate it. Guess he's trying to make up for budget shortfalls. It's almost like the government revenues from corporate and upper class taxes disappeared and that the tax revenues from the overburdened middle class got spent on something else.

Prez hopeful Kerry uses a sport metaphor that doesn't involve windsurfing to describe Dubya's handling of the war on terror.

The House seems poised to castrate the new 'spy post.' This would be the intellegence supervisor that was recommended by the 9/11 commission. Because clearly the old way of doing things is so effective, right?

It appears that poverty is increasing, and has been on the rise since 'welfare reform.' (Oh Bubba, you were so much more diminished in our estimation for this policy atrocity than you ever were for the blue dress from the Gap.) Well. That's a frickin' surpise.

Apparently the folks going to watch the Scariest. Veep. Evah. have dropped a couple of cards in the comment box saying they'd like to see more "kitchen table issues." You know, the economy, outsourcing, social security, health care. In short, they'd really like it if he talked more like John Kerry and stopped being so scary. He's makin' the babies cry. One audience member pondered thusly: "In Missouri, Mr. Rau said he was unhappy with Mr. Cheney's brief discussion of the economy in his stump speech. "No, he didn't talk about it as much as I would like," he said. "As a whole, I was not satisfied." Nonetheless, neither he nor any of the other supporters interviewed said they might vote for Mr. Kerry." Which makes us think, if on the whole you aren't satisfied but you're still voting for him, what the hell would have to happen before you'd change your mind? Would he have to smack your grandmother around or something? Sheesh. We feel the need here to point out that repeating the same action over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.

By the way, if you are wondering about all those ads by 'citizens united' (what citizens? we're citizens and we're not united with you twats!) and where they get their money, well, keep wondering. They don't hafta tell ya.

And finally, if you thought that the whole Maggie-Thatcher's-son-all-caught-up-in-a-plot-to-
overthrow-an-obscure-African-country thing was all rather sketchy, you'll be delighted to know that your tax dollars may have been at work in the whole dodgy debacle.

Friday, September 24, 2004

RNC says the Dems want to steal your Bible

The Spinmeister Alert Today Is:
Fiyah Engine Red

We gots three discs on the turntables today, my pretties. First, let us spin you a little yarn about the only thing in life other than death that is absolute. Besides the fact that the Red Sox will never, ever, ever be released from the curse. No, I mean taxes.

The Republican controlled house and senate and our fearless leader are all giving themselves hearty pats on the back for extending the "middle class" tax cut. Personally, we are always suspicious when we hear that the "middle class" is being offered a tax cut. Part of that skepticism comes from the persistent question of how all those no-bid Haliburton contracts are going to get paid. (If you have children, go tell them you voted for the guy that won, so it's not your fault. Otherwise, when they have no social security later in life they might still take you in and not put you on an ice flow heading to Greenland) The other part comes from the curiously amorphous category that is the "middle class tax cut."

So who is the middle class? Well the median income for a family of four in 2002 was $62,732. (Down from $63,278 in 2001). But what does that mean? It means an equal number of people made more and an equal number of people made less than that. That doesn't really explain middle class, so we consulted the census bureau. They had this to say: "The Census Bureau does not have an official definition of the "middle class," but it does derive several measures related to the distribution of income and income inequality." And what is happening to income inequality? "Generally, the long-term trend has been toward increasing income inequality." Well that doesn't sound very good. How bad is it? "Since 1969, the share of aggregate household income controlled by the lowest income quintile has decreased from 4.1 percent to 3.6 percent in 1997, while the share to the highest quintile increased from 43.0 percent to 49.4 percent. Most noticeably, the share of income controlled by the top 5 percent of households has increased from 16.6 percent to 21.7 percent."

In short, the poor are getting poorer, and the rich are getting richer, and the more divided between rich and poor US society is the lower the number of people who could realistically call themselves "middle class" will be. In the meantime, our fearless leaders want you to get a tax break. Maybe. Or not. Maybe they just want you to think that's what they want. Certainly that is the message Dubya seemed to be sending out when he said "I'm going to bring Republicans and Democrats together to make the code more simple and more fair." This could apparently be done by protecting the 'middle class' from the top 1%'s lawyers: "we've heard the rhetoric before, "tax the rich." The rich hire lawyers and accountants so that the middle class gets stuck with the bill." (And he should know! At $400,000 a year plus his investments, he's in the top 1%. Who's your lawyer?)

One might think that a fairer tax code would benefit those who need it the most. But if you think that it's because you looked up "fair" in the commiepinko dictionary, you frigging socialist. Led by Tom Delay, and backed by Bill Thomas and Trent Lott, "Congressional negotiators beat back efforts yesterday to expand and preserve tax refunds for poor families." This is all about the child tax credit, which for poor families was linked to their income over $10,000. Delay and others raised the bar: poor families will have to make more to get the credit. What does this mean? "Of the 11 million families claiming the child tax refund, more than 4 million -- with 9.2 million children -- will see their credit shrink or disappear in 2005." Children living in poverty across the country thank your steadfast commitment to the "fair" tax code, Mr. Delay.

But it's a "middle class" tax cut, so who gives a hoot about those poor people! But wait, what if "the legislation benefits high-income households considerably more than the middle class"? What if "Data from the Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center show that the families in the middle of the income scale — those in the middle 20 percent of the income distribution — will receive an average tax cut of $162 in 2005 from this legislation. By contrast, those in the top fifth will get an average tax cut of $1,317, and those in the $200,000 - $500,000 income range will get an average tax cut of $2,390. More than two-thirds of the tax cut — 70 percent of it — will go to those in the top fifth. Some 47 percent of the tax cut will go to those in the top tenth of the income spectrum. But families in the middle 20 percent of the income scale will get only 9 percent of the bill’s tax cuts, a peculiar result for a bill promoted as a middle-class tax relief package."

By the way, for all you "middle class" corporations, it's time to party hardy! Because "the Congressional conference committee that crafted the middle-class extension bill moved $13 billion in largely corporate tax-cut costs out of the corporate tax bill and into the middle-class extension legislation. This may have been done to create room to pack $13 billion more in special-interest tax breaks into the corporate tax legislation, which Congress is expected to take up after the election."

Now that's what we call fair!

A
ll giddy from those tax cuts, Rummy offered his thoughts on problematic elections: ""Well, so be it. Nothing's perfect in life, so you have an election that's not quite perfect. Is it better than not having an election? You bet," he said." Iraqi elections, in case you were wondering. Glad to see we are importing that familiar kind of democracy down to the details. You think Diebold will be supplying the machines?

In a joint statement between Dubya and Pakistan's President Musharraf, "President Musharraf reiterated his commitment to democracy and his intent to strengthen the country's democratic institutions and bring sustainable democracy to Pakistan." And we're sure he means it, even if he wasn't elected. And even if he keeps promising to give up being head of the military and then never does step down. But our fearless leader says it's okay to be a dictator. Unless your name is Saddam. And then you're just evil.

In writing about the Bush/Allawi press conference yesterday we didn't quite make it down to the Q&A section. But we did today!

When asked "Why haven't U.S. forces been able to capture or kill al Zarqawi, who's blamed for much of the violence?" Dubya came back with this answer: "We're looking for him. He hides...." That's right, he hides.

W
hen asked to respond to Kerry's criticism of the "colossal failures of judgement" involved in entering into a war with Iraq, quick as a wounded jackrabbit, our fearless leader shot back "It's hard work in Iraq. Everybody knows that. We see it on our TV. " It's on TV, so that's how we know it's true.

And you know what? That Iraq being a hard place was a little bit of a theme in the Q&A section: " It's tough work, everybody knows that. It's hard work.... It's hard work in Iraq. Everybody knows that... It's hard work. The American people know that... And the times have been hard -- these are hard times... Going from tyranny to democracy is hard work... you can understand it's tough and still be optimistic. You can understand how hard it is and believe we'll succeed... because they have to make the hard choices for freedom..." Yes, Iraq is hard.

But Iraq isn't the only hard place. Sometimes you get hard questions even in a rose garden. Like when a reporter points to a series of misleading and outright inaccurate statements that you made, and then asks "Can you understand why Americans may not believe you?" And when asked a hard question, our fearless leader does not waiver, he just flat out ignores the question. "No. Anybody who says that we are safer with Saddam Hussein in power is wrong. " But sometimes you get a piss-ant reporter who is part bulldog, and he just won't let go. "Sir, may I just follow, because I don't think you're really answering the question. I mean, I think you're responding to Senator Kerry, but there are beheadings regularly, the insurgent violence continues, and there are no weapons of mass destruction. My question is, can you understand that Americans may not believe you when you say that America is actually safer today?" But a 'real man' always stays the course, even when it's pointing you in totally the wrong direction: "Imagine a world in which Saddam Hussein were still in power."

On a different note, if you don't want your hand-picked leader to look too much like a puppet, you might want to let him talk without interruption. And let him pick sometimes:

PRESIDENT BUSH: Hold on for a minute. Hold on for a minute, please, please. We've got other people from -- hold on for a second.

PRIME MINISTER ALLAWI: From the other --

PRESIDENT BUSH: From Iraq. Are you from Iraq?

Q No --

PRESIDENT BUSH: Okay. No, hold on for a second. We need people from Iraq first, please. One journalist from Iraq. You're not from Iraq, Allen. And neither are you, Elisabeth.

PRIME MINISTER ALLAWI: Give Al Arabiya --

PRESIDENT BUSH: Is anybody here from CBS? Roberts, there you are. Please.

It's funny, though, but when he said that thing about how "I saw a poll that said the right track/wrong track in Iraq was better than here in America. (Laughter.) It's pretty darn strong. I mean, the people see a better future." I wondered why he thought that made him look good. I mean, people are getting blown to bits on a daily basis, typhoid has broken out in Sad'r City, and Baghdad is averaging 14 hour black outs, and the Iraqi people are more optimistic about their future than Americans are about theirs? Uhm, that kinda sounds like people here might think you ain't doin' such a good job there, George.

Finally, our fearless leader seems to be sipping from the same mug of Kool-aid as his secretary of defense. Because all of a sudden we noticed that the Afghanis were in Najaf. "Our strategy is to help the Iraqis help themselves. It's important that we train Iraqi troops. There are nearly 100,000 troops trained. The Afghan (sic) national army is a part of the army. By the way -- it's the Afghan [sic] national army that went into Najaf and did the work there." We're thinking the Afghan national army has its own frigging problems back in Kabul. Whose brilliant idea was it to send them to Najaf? Or perhaps certain people have been saying for so long that there is a connection that they can't remember which way is up. Well we certainly feel safer. I'm sure PM Allawi also feels much better knowing that Iraq has a special place in this administration's heart, and that their interests will never be conflated with others'.

And last, but absolutely not least, the RNC admitted it had sent a mailing out in West Virginia and in Arkansas telling people that the Democrats were going to ban the Bible. Completely. Without. Shame. Shouldn't a bolt of lightening come out of the sky and smote these guys?


Thursday, September 23, 2004

No Time to Delay!

The Spinmeister Alert Today Is:
Burnished Orange

Either the GOP is feelin' a little cocky, or, like the Philadelphia City Hall, have way too much office equipment to keep track of. It looks like a couple of turntables have been sent down Texas way- the better for to spin with. In response to hearing that three of Senator Delay's "political associates" had been indicted, the GOP gave the lawmaker (and friend of alleged lawbreakers) a standing O. In a party to celebrate their ten year strangle hold on Congress, Republicans "spent nearly as much time ridiculing Democrats as they did touting the GOP record of tax cuts and other achievements." according to the WP. One might think that having one of their most visible and vocal leaders be connected to guys doing illegal stuff would be a moment to reflect, or, for some brave souls to maybe even question their leadership. This, dear friends, is exactly why you could never be a spy in the Republican camp. They would smell that pinkocommiepussy scent coming off of you from ten yards. Think like a frigging Republican. Do you got it? There they are, whirring to life....

Not one, not two, but THREE discs are spinning up in here,yo. Check this:

1) "When anybody drops indictments 40 days before an election, there's a political spin to it," Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said." That's right, Dennis "Wrasslemania"Hastert laid on the classic, the old skool, counterspin. If he were at a turntable, this would sound like an extended scratching segue on a De La Soul record. Wick-wick-wicky-wick.

1 1/2) ""I think it has made the [Republican] members even more supportive of the leader," said GOP Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who called the indictments politically motivated." Don't forget this is the On-Message Party. Counterspin support.

2) "Clearly, the Democrats' talking points were faxed to them from the Kinko's in Abilene, Texas," DeLay said, alluding to apparently forged memos that have plagued CBS News." Ah yes, Spinnin' a Diversion. One wonders if the senator has ever gone by the name Rumplestiltskin, because he seems to think he's spinning thread into gold here. I think he might need an update on who did it in the Kinko's with the Selecta. Mayhaps it was Col. Mustard, in cahouts with Roger Stone. (Nice to see that Republicans do recycle!)

3) "DeLay said Republicans want to keep pushing their agenda, including "passing sweeping lawsuit-abuse reform and universal regulatory reform to get predatory lawyers and busybody bureaucrats off small businesses' backs once and for all." When all else fails, close with an appeal to small business owners. Blazing Turntables. Tried and true, real Amurikins respond to being told that their fetters will be cut. Votin' for the GOP is like a ride through the open prarie on the back of a horse. No busybodies! No lawyers! Just you, and the land, and the sky, and your big gun, and a couple of twenties in your pocket from your small business. Take a deep breath, get the ragweed deep in your lungs- smells like... an oil refinery. Welcome to public lands the GOP way!

In other news, Yaser Hamdi, one of two American citizens who has been held for several years as an "enemy combtant," is going to be released. The American-born Saudi will then be sent to Saudi Arabia. I guess that proves he was a real threat, huh? The way they plan to let him out and send him to Saudi Arabia where they can keep a real close eye on him. Or something.

In the meantime, the PoTUS continued to say that things were going well in Iraq and the war on terror, noting, in a press conference with the interim PM Allawi in the Rose Garden that he sees "steady progress" and that "freedom is winning." (Maybe Freedom should send some troops then, cause the Costa Ricans just pulled out.) This was followed up by a five point 'plan' that was really a four point 'plan' since the first one (handing over 'sovereignty' has already been 'done'). A four point plan. Why does that sound so familiar? Where have we heard about a four point plan before...?

So let's see here. Last Friday Kerry says "
First, the President has to get the promised international support so our men and women in uniform don’t have to go it alone. " Today, Dubya says "The fourth step in our plan is to enlist additional international support for Iraq's transition to democracy."

Hmm. Kerry said "
Second, the President must get serious about training Iraqi security forces. " Then Dubya said " The second step is to help Iraq's new government establish stability and security. Iraq must be able to defend itself, and Iraqi security forces are taking increasing responsibility for their country's security."

Well. Kerry said "
Third, the President must carry out a reconstruction plan that finally brings tangible benefits to the Iraqi people." Then Dubya said " The third step in our plan is to continue improving Iraq's infrastructure."

Golly, that's uncanny. Kerry said "
Fourth, the President must take immediate, urgent, essential steps to guarantee the promised elections can be held next year." And then Dubya said " The fifth and most important step in our plan is to help Iraq conduct free, national elections no later than next January."

Huh. Will you look at that. It's not like it's surprising how close they are in their Iraq "plans," but it kinda looks like Dubya got up and read the high points of Kerry's speech to the press corps and to PM Allawi.

Speaking of the war on terror, we should all be shocked, shocked, to discover that during the tenure of the administration who claims to be best able to protect us from future attacks (this one goes out to you, VP), undercover agents were able to get weapons and explosives onto airplanes in 15 US airports. I'm sure going to sleep better tonight knowing that I have this administration protecting me.

At least we don't have Cat Stevens here terrorizing us! But now we do have to listen to the airline and Homeland Security accuse each other of incompetance in not recognizing that Mr. Islam represents a threat of the highest order. Perhaps this bickering distracted the agents who were supposed to be watching for actual terrorists or agents posing as them who might be carrying weapons or explosives onto planes. In 15 US airports.

Jimmy Swaggart has decided to apologize for saying on Canadian television that were he to be spyed a little too closely by a queer eye, he wouldn't just pluck out the offending organ- he'd kill its owner and lie to God about it. First of all Jimmy, we're a little confused about what you think would qualify you as a hunk. Have you banished mirrors from the house as the devil's work? Second of all, we're wondering if you've got a passage that could shore up the moral side of this statement. Finally, I wonder where all this hostility comes from? Were you once burned by a transvestite hooker or something?

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

"Maybe if he could just speak more in sound bites, you know, quick catchy phrases."

So the reaction from the Dems after JFK emerged, chrysalis-like, at his NYU speech? Cautious optimism. And the concern that Kerry is too big of thought for sound bites. Still, he got a good one off when he told Letterman that Dubya had held up the debate negotiations while working on a compromise that would allow him to sit on Cheney's lap.

Meanwhile, the Spinmeister rises!

The Spinmeister Alert Today Is:
Lemon Yellow

Bush's UN speech was the subject of talk today, mostly because a) world leaders politely but unenthusiastically clapped only at the end of his speech (which in the reified circles of international diplomacy is like hurling horse shit at the speaker); and b) the speech appeared designed for US voters. Which is an interesting tactic when speaking to the UN which has, hmmm, not one blessed registered voter in the room. Except maybe the janitor. The WP noted that the speech involved spinning the "greatest hits" of the administration. Yes, spinning. No exactly designed to win friends and influence people in the international set, who don't like feeling like election pawns. So, all in all, another day in Dubya's world!

But the spinnin' was just beginnin', cause Rovie's on the case! Joe Lockhart may have been trying to link the WH to the suspect documents (not the Niger ones, those are apparently Tony's fault) , but the WH thinks they are linked to Joe Lockhart. Personally, we think this one might be a draw. Either everybody's linked, or nobody's linked, but really, who gives a shit?

Well, maybe Warren Klecan does! He says that "If John Kerry were here today and experienced this, John Kerry would vote for Bush" Huh. Now that's an interesting claim to make. I may be goin' out on a limb here, but you know what Warren? I'm thinkin' that Kerry may need a little more than a canned Dubya pep rally to make him, you know, vote against himself. Why don't you go pull some chick's hair or something, work all that delusion out of your system.

In other news, the CIA says that there were seriously big mistakes in the intelligence analysis leading up to the invasion of Iraq, but that their conclusions were "reasonable." Are we alone in thinking that "reasonable" mistakes that get people killed are, like, not really okay?

And in still other news, three of Tom Delay's aides have been indicted for being scum-sucking pigs. Okay, the official indictment was for "illegally raising political funds from corporations in 2002, much of which was funneled into the Republican takeover of the Texas legislature." Is there a difference, really?

The Bush administration also decided to stick it to all those damned northeast states who refuse to see the world through Manichean-binary colored glasses (why can't they just vote for me?), yanking funding out from under Section 8 housing vouchers in New York and New England. Phew! And just in time! I thought we were all going to break under the strain of Section 8- now we'll have more money for utterly pointless invasions in new and interesting oil rich nations!

I'm sure you will all be so very happy and relieved to hear that you have been saved from Cat Stevens. The danger was so great his flight was redirected to Bangor, Maine, from whence he was deported back to England. And in this way, our fearless leader has saved all of us, especially at Dulles Airport, from the possible danger of having to hear "Wild World." A remote danger since Mr. Stevens has become Mr. Islam and has sworn off performing pop music, but still. You can never be to careful with soft rock.

Oooh, baby, baby, it's a wild world... it's hard to get by on a smile, girl....


Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Cheney can claim Bush as a dependent

In a shocking shift today, it appears that both the Democrats and the Republicans are targeting "unreliable" voters. I know that up until now it's been all about "undecideds" and the rest of us can, in the words of our "second" in command, go fuck ourselves, but apparently it's not just for indecisive folks anymore! It's for people who are decided who they would vote for, but just can't be bothered to make it official. Perhaps this is the group that Bill O'Reilly thinks Jon Stewart, swami-like, has control over.

In the meantime (I guess to get those unreliables!) the Leviathon awakens! The Johns have made undeniably critical statements about the Bush administration's decision to go to Iraq. In response, there has been some spinning, however I think Rovie must have taken a personal day. I'm sure both barrels will be blazing tomorrow. In the meantime,

The Spinmeister Alert Today Is:
Old Yeller

Starting with the fun stuff, Kerry was on Letterman, where he gave his top ten list of Bush tax proposals, in which he suggested that Cheney could itemize Dubya on his return.

At a speech at NYU Kerry said Bush was guilty of "stubborn incompetence," noting that "Today, President Bush tells us that he would do everything all over again, the same way," Mr. Kerry said. "How can he possibly be serious? Is he really saying that if we knew there were no imminent threat, no weapons of mass destruction, no ties to Al Qaeda, the United States should have invaded Iraq?" He followed up with the skeleton of a plan, including four points on dealing with security issues.

Meanwhile, the situation is such that even folks in the On-Message Party are beginning to grumble. " McCain said Bush had been "perhaps not as straight as maybe we'd like to see."

Even Porter Goss, the nominee for the head of the CIA is saying mistakes were made. And this is a guy who has a reputation as being, ahem, partisan.

So what is the reaction from the WH?

First, he bashed the CIA's report that forecasts a gloomy future in terms of security:

"The CIA laid out several scenarios. It said that life could be lousy, life could be OK, life could be better. And they were just guessing as to what the conditions might be like," said the president."

Perhaps they were imagining life after November 2nd. Then he said that Kerry was "hardly credible" on the issue of security, and said that his opponent thought the world was better with Saddam in power. I guess that must be the part of the speech where Kerry suggested there was a special place in hell for Saddam. It almost sounds like the turntables were whirring to life there....

But the sound was drowned out by the PoTUS' call for dipping into the kitty to pay for this little Iraq adventure. That $25 billion was supposed to be an "insurance policy" and was something they were hoping not to have to dip into when they set it up four months ago. One might think that either a) things aren't exactly going as planned, or b) these guys is kinda bad planners, or c) these guys is such bad planners that their plans are fricking worthless. He then said that Kerry's assertation that more guard call ups are coming after Nov. 2nd if the election goes to Dubya, was "false and ridiculous." One might want to note that the guard call up thing is a "planning" issue, and might want to revisit a,b,and c above.

Meanwhile Iran converts uranium in defiance of the UN. Is this a big deal? Hard to tell. Defying the UN seems to mean something if you are Saddam and you are on Mr. Swagger's shitlist. If you're Kim Jong Il, not so much. People in the administration whose daddy had not been the target of an 'assassination' attempt by anyone in Iran are on the fence about this one.

In a move one might think were designed to send a mixed message, Dubya also ended the embargo against Libya. Ghaddafi's homeland was not, however, removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. So state sponsors of terrorism are fine for trading, unless they might/claim to have nuclear weapons, in which case you ignore them.

But we were just too distracted to pay attention to any of this, because there, in the sports section of the NYTimes, there was an article that said gays are trying to take over that bastion of station: the country club. In a turn of events that just might force priviledged members of the GOP to support a gay marriage amendment, two same sex couples are suing to have spousal membership priviledges at the club extended to their partner. Not seeing how this means backing off the constitutional amendment? Check it out: for a number of reasons, many same sex couples are childless. One of these reasons is that the lack of recognition of the same sex couple as a family unit both makes it more difficult, and can make adoption a non-option in some states. Which means more disposable income not being spent on little Kevin and Katie's college fund. Disposable income. Just the kinda thing one might need to join a country club.

Meanwhile, the PoTUS is "pleased with the progress" in Iraq. Huh. Wonder how we are defining progress. There were more US combat deaths in July- the month after the handover of power- than in June. And more in August than in July. And September is shaping up to be even deadlier. We must have different measuring tools. Which begs the question- who the hell is doing the daily WH briefing, and are they serving them up Cheech and Chong style?

So all in all, not a high spin day for the Rovemeister.

On the other hand, Kerry not only got in the Letterman top ten, he got a double snap on the PoTUS when he told Regis and that other chick that isn't Kathy Lee (thank fricking god) that it's taken so long to schedule the debates because his opponent wanted a "life line". Ba-dum-chiiii.

Better still, Terry McAuliffe of the DNC decided that he'd try his hand at the turntables himself, asking the GOP to explain whether they no anything about the Post's Roger Stone being involved in Selecta-gate, the font that distracted from 18 layers of spin. In his statement he asks:

"Will Ed Gillespie or the White House admit today what they know about Mr. Stone’s relationship with these forged documents? Will they unequivocally rule out Mr. Stone’s involvement? Or for that matter, others with a known history of dirty tricks, such as Karl Rove or Ralph Reed?"

To which I say, dude. Shazam. We're all in trouble when the people of the DNC get hoppin' mad.

The Spin'n'Dry Alert Today Is:
Sunkist Orange

Finally Ralph Nader is blaming Kerry for his lack of success in getting on the ballot in all states. Gee Ralph, were your new GOP friends just not able to buy your way onto the ballot? They got you on in Florida, what more do you want? Hmmm, we have a thought, maybe you couldn't get on the ballot because people think you're an asshole. Just a thought.

Monday, September 20, 2004

GOP pollsters hit the hills of Kandahar!

As we work our way toward the debates, the WP helpfully reminds us that Dubya hasn't taken questions from reporters for more than a month, has only had 15 press conferences throughout the entire presidency, and that he only answers canned pre-screened supporter questions at the 'town hall' meetings (what the hell kinda town halls are these?). Ah, the better for his brain to spend its time elsewhere, spinning.....

The Spinmeister Alert Today is:
Flaming Pink

One of the most effective spin techniques of the current administration is their ability to get everybody utterly on message. It doesn't matter how outrageous the claim is, if everybody is saying it it must be true. Or something along those lines. For example, if one could get every Republican to state publicly, over a short period (say three days) that John Kerry wears pink speedo underpants over his suits in Congress, John Edwards used to be a woman, and that their platform states that if elected we will all be forced to have sex with goats, then there would suddenly be all sorts of discussion of pink underpants, sex changes and a proposal for executing all goats in America.

Republicans have decided to leave the pink underpants claim for sometime in October. Meanwhile, they appear to have all received the memo that this week's message is: terrorists love John Kerry.

You might ask, how on earth could they know such a thing? Are they doing terrorist polling? Have they called up Osama and asked him what his thoughts on the election are? If they know his number, why not just capture him? Wait a second, you may be thinking, there's no way in hell that they could actually know something like this. And if they don't actually know this to be true (because if they actually know these things, then they are in contact with and asking the opinion of Osama and terrorists like him), then they are making this up.

But a complete lack of evidence never stopped this administration and its supporters! No siree bob! And it wasn't going to stop 'em now, by golly!

Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert stopped accusing George Soros of making money from illegal drugs long enough to state that Al Qaeda "would like to influence this election" reminding people of the train bombings in Madrid (be afraid to vote! you'll probably be blown up on the way to the polls!). He then told reporters that it was his opinion that Kerry being elected would make it easier on al Qaeda. His spokesperson John Feehery clarified by stating "If John Kerry is perceived as being weak on the war, then of course, his election would be perceived as a good thing by the terrorists." (be afraid of voting for John Kerry if you don't get blown up going to the polls!) So apparently the Speaker knows how terrorists will perceive the U.S. elections. Does this knowledge come from empathy, or was he channeling the spirit of a suicide bomber or what?

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage minced no words in his adherence to this week's message when he "alleged Friday that insurgents have stepped up their deadly assaults in Iraq because they want to "influence the election against President Bush"..." Is Mr. Armitage at the insurgents' planning sessions? Do they send him memos? Dear Richard, Enclosed please find the minutes of this week's meeting. Please pay particular attention to point number two, where we state that our purpose in assaulting Iraqi police cadets and American soldiers is purely out of a desire to see John Kerry in office. Sincerely, The Insurgents

Even the old hands are out there on message- and they got the memo early! Ollie North (the guy who made running drugs for guns with an embargoed country "patriotic") said on the June 8th Sean Hannity show that: "
Every -- every terrorist is hoping John Kerry gets elected. I'll say it. Every terrorist out there is hoping John Kerry is the next president of the United States." Well, gosh, Ollie, do you know every terrorist? Or just a few terrorists? Are you taking a random sample to come to this conclusion? And how did you devise your sample? Were you sure to have al Qaeda, Chechen insurgents, Iraqi insurgents, Palestinian suicide bombers and homegrown white supremicist nutjobs in numbers proportionate to their populations when you comprised your sample? Cause you know, Ollie, if your sample isn't well devised it can have a real effect on the results of your survey. And it really isn't very good methodology to extrapolate the opinion of just a few terrorists you know and could get on the horn. You should be more careful- you know, not make things up.

Of course, the Reverand Moon, stealer of old ladies' money, has been saying since mid-August that Osama is an anti-GOP guy:"The goal of the next attack is twofold: to damage the U.S. economy and to undermine the U.S. election," the official said. "The view of al Qaeda is 'anybody but Bush.' " Perhaps the reverand was catching al Qaeda's radio chatter through his crown and that's why he knows so well what Osama really wants. Or maybe he's just been talking to Ollie.

On September 16th Morton M. Kondracke stated on Brit Hume's FOX channel 'special report' that: "There's clearly a campaign going to raise the level of casualties. And I think this is a rolling tent is what we're seeing, you know, like 1968 in Vietnam, designed to discourage the United States from persisting in the -- and maybe even trying to help elect [Senator] John Kerry for all I know." Huh. Leave it to these Fox guys to figure out that the rising casualties are an attempt by insurgents to get Kerry into office. And what a clear explanation Mr. Kondracke gives- why the "rolling tent" thing in Vietnam just explains exactly what the terrorists' strategy might be. (?!?)

So hats off to the doctor of spin, who waxes and maxes the vinyl.

Oh yes, and in case you were wondering, your toothpaste may be gay.


Weekend Roundup

For those of you who wondered what the hell PoTUS meant when he declared a desire for an "ownership society" during his acceptance speech at the RNC, take a look-see at what privatizing K-12 education looks like in California. One man's "ownership society" is another man's educational disaster, but hey why be nitpicky when it's only your health care, pension and your kids' schooling. That stuffs for pussies, so quit yer whinin'!

The Bush Administration has now decided that Cuba may not be armed after all. Glad it didn't take an invasion to figure that out. Apparently they are still worried that the Cubans might be making "dual use" products. The NYTimes gives this helpful definition for clarity: "The term "dual use" refers to items that could be used for both civilian and military programs." That's about as broad as the side of a barn and as easy to hit. Wouldn't underpants go into that category?

The WP notes that tax reform "in Mr. Bush's hands, it would probably be bad." At least for the 99% of us who won't benefit, one might imagine.

There was further grist for the mill of the Frank Rich/David Brooks debate (appearing to lean more towards Rich) on the question of whether people vote against their economic interests because of "values," (Rich) or because the Dems are a snooty coastal people (Brooks). Apparently the economy might be an issue in the campaign upon which voters will decide, unless they're in Missouri, in which case making sure gays are discriminated against is far more important than one's own access to health care. Or so it seems.

Perhaps the most interesting story of the weekend was the interruption of a speech made by Laura Bush in New Jersey by a woman whose son had been killed in Iraq. She demanded to know why her son had been sent to die, and was drowned out by a crowd that boxed her in and yelled 'four more years' at her. What kind of compassionate conservatism is this? Give us your sons and daughters while ours sleep tight (and for Jenna that should be taken in Dashel Hammett sense), but dare not question. Sue Niederer, whose son Seth Dvorin died in Iraq in February, was arrested for having the audacity to ask why her son, and not those of the men and women who sent us to war. Mrs. Niederer can't have her son back: the least they can do is give her an answer.



Thursday, September 16, 2004

Bounce this, bitch!

The Spinmeister Alert today is:
Red Hot

Where to start where to start where to start...? Well, could start with the news that George Soros is asking for a probe into the ethics of Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert making public and potentially slanderous remarks about the provenance of Soros' money. Hastert stated that Soros' fortune might be the result of the illegal drug trade. Interesting theory, and yet utterly without substantiation. Kind of like statements made by people wearing tin foil hats claiming to have cloned alien babies. Except potentially illegal rather than just weird.

What else? Well, to my mind the most underplayed story of the day is that Kofi Annan declared the war in Iraq illegal. Did you miss that? It kind of felt like everyone in the media did too-- it was not front page on either the WP or the NYTimes. One might suspect that the head of the United Nations declaring of the invasion:

"I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter from our point of view, from the charter point of view, it was illegal."

One might think this would prompt a flurry of denials and accusations from the invading party- and the UK and Australia were immediate in their responses, including an official spokesperson for the UK foreign office and Australia's Prime Minister Howard. From the Bush administration? Well, they've got
Randy Scheunemann on their side! Randy Scheunemann? Who the hell is that? Why, he is a former Bush administration aide. He used to work for Rummy. And he's 'angry', so everyone better watch out for Randy- he'll have that Kofi Annam yiping home with his tail between his legs! I'm glad to see they got out the big guns. But the real question is- where the hell is Poland? Why aren't they calling for Annan's head?

When the media don't think it's a story, there ain't no point in wasting the spin.

Wait! What is that I see on the horizon?? Could it be?? I suddenly feel like I should be wearing day glo orange ray-ban sunglasses and fingerless lacy gloves...

That "eleven point bounce" that was much discussed- particularly in conjunction with labelling the Kerry campaign a "disaster"- has bounced back. Bush and Kerry now appear to be running neck and neck according to polls (of which I am avowedly always suspicious). How to spin this:

" In the Harris Interactive poll, 51 percent said they do not believe Bush "deserves to be re-elected for another four years," compared with 45 percent who said they do, according to The Wall Street Journal."

Huh. Now, if I were a spinmeister, I would do all I could to create a distraction. War in Iraq not going so great, economy not so hot, gas prices up, and now all these major probes into whether or not the PoTUS disobeyed a direct order while he was shirking his duty in the guard! Shit shit shit-- everything seems to be going to hell! Unless...

Unless the documents prove to be faked... Jackpot! What could be better than this? This is like manna from heaven!! Manna from heaven? you say, scraching your head. How the hell can having your guy be called a priviledged ass who couldn't take orders be manna from heaven? Okay, listen here peeps, I'm gonna break it down for you:

1) Papers come out which state that PoTUS did not show up for duty, disobeyed a direct order to get physical, was all around goof-off, and that his CO was PO'd about having to sugarcoat what a lout his charge was because of who he was.
2) Is that a typewriter in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me? Papers printed out on computer, not typewriter. Uh-oh.
3) Papers fake = accusations fake?
4) Scott McClellan, the WH spokesman (read: Spinderella) says:
"It's really because Sen. Kerry cannot win when the discussion is on the issues and the future for the American people," he said. "There is no question about the timing (of the attacks) and there is no question that this is an orchestrated effort by the Kerry campaign and Democrats to bring down the president."
5) Now no one is paying attention to the content of the papers because they are forged, and no one is paying attention to any issues, because Scott McClellan says we should be angry/worried that he thinks the Kerry campaign is forging documents about Bush's decidedly poor showing in the Guard.
6) The din becomes so loud, what with the media prostrating itself, and people asking who authenticated the documents, that one might wonder who is paying attention to what the woman who used to type the good Colonel's letters has to say on the topic: "I know that I didn't type them," she said in an interview with CBS. "However, the information in those is correct."
7) And to tie it all up in a neat bow, the Queen of Slander puts out an op-ed piece bashing the "elite media," who blame Karl Rove for everything. Like they shouldn't or something.

Now everybody put on your tin foil hat because it is now conspiracy theory time. The possiblity that this might be pure spin had not occurred to me until I read about the possibility in the paper.... Imagine if this were spin. What amazing spin that would be! By admitting in writing to all of the horrible things that your boy is said to have done- and then pull the rug out from under the accusations by having forged real charges. Is it possible? This is pretty spectacular, even for a dirty tricks professional. But if it is then this would be Red Hot Spin.

By the way, I found this headline today: Miss America to Showcase More Skin, Less Talent. Uhhh, less talent?

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

New Spinmeister Alert System

I must admit to being amazed in a horrified and, well, terrified sort of way at the spin skills of Bush's Brain. He is the frigging Terminator X of Republican politics. (And the GOP being the world of bizarro, this means that the message is more of a Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain kinda spin) Were his plans not evil, his abilities would be admirable. But they are evil, so really he's just mofo scary, yo.

So I'll take this moment to institute the New Spinmeister Alert System. This is the brilliant idea of a friend of mine, and I love it so much that I decree it must be put into action. Decreed! I'm going to start each blog with a color coded alert for the day's spin. The bigger the spin and/or the lie, the higher the alert.

Today's Alert is:
ORANGE


In the LA Times our fearless leader is quoted as saying:

"You cannot be pro-doctor, pro-patient, pro-hospital and pro-trial lawyer at the same time," Bush said at a rally Friday in West Virginia. "You have to choose. My opponent made his choice, and he put him on the ticket."

Hmmm. So if you are pro-trial lawyer you must be anti-doctor, anti-patient, and anti-hospital. What do you do if your mother is a patient at the hospital where your doctor brother works and you're married to a trial lawyer? Maybe you vote for Nader.

Dubya's obsession with trial lawyers is an interesting one. This certainly isn't the first time this has been brought up. Trial lawyers were mentioned in his acceptance speech at the RNC, and they were the point of Dubya's word wrassle the other day. But this is actually an issue that has been on his platform since his gubanatorial days. Back in the pre-Edwards days this was called federal tort reform, and he brought a certain measures of it to Texas.

Could it be that trial lawyers and "lawsuit abuse destroys jobs, drives doctors out of business and forces companies into bankruptcy," as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has stated? (By the way, the Chamber of Commerce has traditionally stayed the hell out of presidential election politics. Karl Rove in the house! Go Rovie! Go Rovie! It's your birthday! It's your birthday!) (Sidebar number two, the CoC has produced a $10 million ad campaign to educate us voters about the virtual sodom and gomorrah that is trail lawyer-dom. I doubt that was paid out of pocket by Mr. Donohue. I kind of suspect that, like John Ashcroft's $8,650 boob shield (which someone should take off the statue and put on the boob), we are probably footing the bill).

To answer my own question, uh, no. Or rather, only if you are, say, a company like Haliburton (or its susidiary KBR) who buys a company like DII Industries who might be, like, being sued for asbestos claims. But don't take my word for it, check out the horse's mouth. I'm particularly fond of the passage where it is explained that filing chapter 11 doesn't mean they will skip out on all of their obligations, "except for contract provisions regarding asbestos- and silica-related indemnity claims. (These claims will be handled by the settlement trusts.). Remember that this filing is being done only for the purpose of resolving the asbestos and silica liability issue." It's right after the place where they explain that chapter 11 doesn't mean 'bankrupt' the way it does in Europe.

I wonder who might be interested in making sure that companies like Haliburton/KBR don't get their pants sued off by people dying of cancer from asbestos exposure? Can't imagine.

But are "frivolous lawsuits" actually ruining the "American way of life," as the CoC claims? Roll out the numbers!

"The Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Center for State Courts track civil trials and verdicts in the nation's 75 largest counties. In April, the bureau reported that in the last decade, the number of cases had gone down, not up.

The number of general civil cases disposed of by trial in the nation's largest counties declined from 22,451 in 1992 to 11,908 in 2001, it reported — a 47% decline. The plaintiffs won about half the time, and the overall median award was $37,000 in 2001, down from $65,000 in 1992.

These cases included automobile accidents, medical malpractice and product-liability claims. About one-third of the cases involve contract claims, which typically involve one business suing another.

The medical malpractice claims resulted in larger verdicts; 27% won a verdict, but the median amount in 2001 was $431,000, up from $253,000 in 1992.

These data include only trials and verdicts; most civil suits are dismissed or result in settlements, and no figures are available on those outcomes. Nonetheless, government statistics do not show a sharp rise in big-money verdicts."

Fewer lawsuits, and for lawsuits in general the settlements have gone down since 1992. The amount paid out in medical malpractice suits has gone up over the last 12 years (though so has the price of milk), however, only 27% of suits won a verdict. The impact of these suits on medical malpractice insurance- the reason cited for doctors, particularly OB-GYNs, ceasing to "love" their patients- is, however, not so much. The price of stocks on the market may be a better indicator of why malpractice insurance is going up.

Okay, so why are we being told over and over and over that there is a direct corallary between trial lawyers and OB-GYNs deciding not to practice in parts of Nevada? One reason might be because of the information we are getting from the media:

"A study over six years in the New York area found the median jury award to be $250,000. However, during the same period, the median of the jury awards cited in the New York Times and New York Newsday was $4.3 million."

The New York Frigging Times. The "paper of record," was off by more than $4 million. Was Jayson Blair writing this stuff? That is a 1720% markup.

Where else might this information be coming from? What is that I hear? Is it....

"Karl Rove [Bush's political strategist] figured out a long time ago that attacking the civil justice system is a good fundraising tool for the Republican Party," said Suggs, the trial lawyers' leader. "These days, we get mentioned more often in presidential speeches than Osama bin Laden. But then again, Bush knows where we are."

The Spinmeister strikes again!!!

Also, in case you missed it, Marion Barry, the erstwhile mayor of Washington, DC, unseated the incumbant city councilperson for the city's Ward 8 in the primary election on September 14th. Yes, the man who made the phrase "the bitch set me up!", among others, famous and who showed that you could become something even if you get busted doing crack with hookers, is a shoe-in for the council seat. Glad to see there is no end to the number of second chances one can have.

The WP had a couple of choice quotes from the man soon to be Ward 8's representative in city government:

He went on: "There's this phrase in the Bible, goes something like, 'Don't talk about the splinter in my eye if you have a plank in your eye.' "

"Amen," someone said, and Barry smiled and leaned back a little. In the cool air, he let out a croon.

"Victory is miiiiine," he sang, holding the note, sounding like an old-time doo-wop singer on a street corner, which is where he was.