A Cautious Man
October 27, 2004
Better Ask Questions Before You Shoot
Sometimes the comment just writes itself. According to the White House website, this is what the President said earlier today:
Our military is now investigating a number of possible scenarios, including that the explosives may have been moved before our troops even arrived at the site. This investigation is important and it's ongoing. And a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your Commander-in-Chief.
Yes, sir, have to be careful about jumping to conclusions before the investigation is over. It's kind of like telling the inspectors to get out, because the invasion is going in whether or not they've found anything.

So far, the best come-back has been from Gen. Wes Clark:
Today George W. Bush made a very compelling and thoughtful argument for why he should not be reelected. In his own words, he told the American people that “…a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your Commander in Chief.

President Bush couldn’t be more right. He jumped to conclusions about any connection between Saddam Hussein and 911. He jumped to conclusions about weapons of mass destruction. He jumped to conclusions about the mission being accomplished. He jumped to conclusions about how we had enough troops on the ground to win the peace. And because he jumped to conclusions, terrorists and insurgents in Iraq may very well have their hands on powerful explosives to attack our troops, we are stuck in Iraq without a plan to win the peace, and Americans are less safe both at home and abroad.

By doing all these things, he broke faith with our men and women in uniform. He has let them down. George W. Bush is unfit to be our Commander in Chief.
(Via Atrios)

Some Reality-Based Talk From Above
Courtesy of Terry Jones, from the Guardian:
"This is God here ..."
"Hi, God. What can I do for you?"
"I want you to stop this Iraq thing, George."
"But you told me to do it, God!"
"No I didn't, George ..."
"But you did! You spoke to me through Karl, Rumsey and Dick and all those other really clever guys!"
"How did you know it was me talking, George?"
"Instinct, God. I just knew it!"
"Do you really think I'd want you to unleash all this horror and bloodshed on another lot of human beings?"
"But they're Muslims! They don't believe in You, God!"
"But, George, they do believe in me. Jews, Christians and Moslems all worship the same Me! Didn't you do comparative theology at school, George?"
The rest of George, God here ... is at this link.

(Link from Body and Soul).

October 26, 2004
Random Thoughts About Posting Random Thoughts
I found out about the Angry Liberal today, and that he's from my hometown.

He also makes a lot of sense, so I put him on my reading list.

Now, I feel like such a slug for not posting anything in a while. Although, I did add a few more sites to my reading list, so doesn't that count for something?

One more thought - this site's subtitle refers to "Love and Fear". So, I was moved to point out what former President Clinton told a rally in Philadelphia yesterday, about how to judge the candidates:
Clinton got right to the heart of the race in what was, for him, a fairly short speech.

"If one candidate is trying to scare you and one is trying to make you think, and if one candidate is appealing to your fears and another candidate is appealing to your hopes, you've got to go with the one who wants you to think and hope," said the man from Hope, Ark.
That's a good way to look at it.

"The Country We Carry In Our Hearts Is Waiting."
I've written before about the fuss that was made, just because some performers went on tour to urge a "Vote for Change". In addition to the idiotic calls to boycott their music, there were also comments along the lines of, "What do they know about politics, they're just musicians?" But, that's not really the point. What they "know" about is words, and music, and about expressing themselves in ways that resonate with people. For example, I posted the following from an Op-Ed in the New York Times, at the top of the page here, not because Bruce Springsteen is the world's foremost wiseman, but because these few words strike a chord (if you will):
"It is through the truthful exercising of the best of human qualities - respect for others, honesty about ourselves, faith in our ideals - that we come to life in God's eyes. It is how our soul, as a nation and as individuals, is revealed. Our American government has strayed too far from American values. It is time to move forward. The country we carry in our hearts is waiting."
During the "Vote for Change" concerts, he had an even more direct statement, concisely setting forth a reason to, well, vote for change:
"We remain a land of great promise. But it's time we need to move America towards the fulfillment of its promises that she's made to her citizens: economic justice, civil rights, protection of the environment, respect for others and humility in exercising our power at home and around the world. These core issues of American identity are what's at stake on November 2."
What's interesting is the fact that this list of concerns is not a list of issues on which the campaigns propose different solutions – to me, these are issues which the incumbent's campaign doesn't even recognize as needing attention. That's a sure sign that the country needs to set out in a different direction, for all our sakes.

October 06, 2004
Meet Me Out in the Street
Although I have nothing substantive to add to the Cheney/Edwards debate post-mortems ...
CHENEY [to Edwards]: Now, in my capacity as vice president, I am the president of Senate, the presiding officer. I'm up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they're in session.

The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight.

Now, some may say that's not true, but the only thing I could think of on hearing that was:

I guess that means that he never told Edwards to go "intercourse" himself.

October 05, 2004
In Decent Men's Eyes
There would be no reason to comment on this, if it didn't turn out to be the subject of one of the more obvious (well, obvious if you have the right frame of mind) disinformation efforts in the current Presidential campaign. In the Presidential debate last Thursday, Senator Kerry discussed what a President, and a country, need to do when going into war:
No president, though all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America.

But if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons.

Here we have our own secretary of state who has had to apologize to the world for the presentation he made to the United Nations.

I mean, we can remember when President Kennedy in the Cuban missile crisis sent his secretary of state to Paris to meet with DeGaulle. And in the middle of the discussion, to tell them about the missiles in Cuba, he said, "Here, let me show you the photos." And DeGaulle waved them off and said, "No, no, no, no. The word of the president of the United States is good enough for me."

How many leaders in the world today would respond to us, as a result of what we've done, in that way? So what is at test here is the credibility of the United States of America and how we lead the world.

(I added the emphasis, because it seems that some people keep missing those words) Now, that seemed fairly obvious and clear to me. Not so to the President:
Let me -- I'm not exactly sure what you mean, "passes the global test," you take preemptive action if you pass a global test.

My attitude is you take preemptive action in order to protect the American people, that you act in order to make this country secure.
The President's momentary failure to comprehend has not only been added to his stump speech (where he calls it the "Kerry Doctrine"), but has actually been turned into a campaign ad (you can watch, but trust me, they basically repeat "global test" over and over again).

The best commentary I've read (provided by Through the Looking Glass) about the President's inability (whether purposeful or not) to understand the meaning of Senator Kerry's position is this:
Worst confusion: Bush wondering what "global test" Kerry was talking about for preemptive action. Kerry said what he meant: that the maintenance of future alliances, and, as someone once said, "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind", requires that you be able to offer a reasonable explanation for what you were doing afterwards. Was Bush just not listening?

I think that's a great way of looking at it - and pointing out that the "Kerry Doctrine" is not new, it's the "American Way".

The controversy which the President is trying to create, is sort of the campaign in a nutshell - taking a couple of words out of context, and relentlessly hammering home a distorted interpretation. Don't we deserve a little better?

October 04, 2004
Brilliant Disguise
Digby at Hullabaloo has an extended discourse on the President, and on a perceived contrast between his public and private faces. Among the litany of examples in that essay:
He ostentatiously calls himself a committed Christian and yet he rarely attends church unless it’s a campaign stop or a national occasion. The man who claims that Christ is his favorite political philosopher famously and cruelly mocked a condemned prisoner begging for her life. He portrays himself as a man of rectitude yet he pumped his fist and said "feels good!" in the moment before he announced that the Iraq war had begun. (One would have thought that if there was ever a time to utter a prayer it was then.) How many funerals of the fallen has he attended? How many widows has he personally comforted?

Now, I don't think that anybody would be counting days of church attendance, if the President's supporters hadn't made such a big deal about it. It's not just the Kerry "wafer watch", but also those news stories that Republicans are "more religious". And how is that determined? Why, by church attendance! So, they can't have it both ways. If the President can be both religious and an infrequent church attendee, then maybe we can stop hearing about a "religion gap" and claims that Religious=Republican?

Church attendance aside, the other examples in the above passage do seem to show an inconsistency between professed beliefs and visible actions. This personality trait was seen even before the Republican primaries for the 2000 election. An old National Review web page preserves excerpts from Tucker Carlson's Talk magazine interview with Mr. Bush from 1999, including the following:
In the week before [Karla Faye Tucker's] execution, Bush says, Bianca Jagger and a number of other protesters came to Austin to demand clemency for Tucker. "Did you meet with any of them?" I ask.

Bush whips around and stares at me. "No, I didn't meet with any of them," he snaps, as though I've just asked the dumbest, most offensive question ever posed. "I didn't meet with Larry King either when he came down for it. I watched his interview with [Tucker], though. He asked her real difficult questions, like 'What would you say to Governor Bush?' "

"What was her answer?" I wonder.

"Please," Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, "don't kill me."

What's interesting is that the George W. Bush summed up in Digby's essay, appeared evident in the National Review excerpt from 1999:
Carlson's major theme is that Bush is "comfortable with himself" and "doesn't give a damn what you think of him." (Message: I don't care.) He has risen above the obsession with what other people think that marks most politicians. Yet the Bush who emerges from the profile is remarkably thin-skinned. Carlson notes that while "the Larry King–Karla Faye Tucker exchange Bush recounted never took place" on television, "Tucker did imply that Bush was succumbing to election-year pressure from pro-death penalty voters. Apparently Bush never forgot it. He has a long memory for slights." If this is what Bush considers payback, remind us to stay on his compassionate side.

For sheer ugliness, nothing else in the article matches Bush's remarks on the death penalty. (When he sees Carlson's horrified reaction, Bush "immediately stops smirking": " 'It's tough stuff,' Bush says, suddenly somber, 'but my job is to enforce the law.'") But the section other Republicans in the race are likely to seize on comes when Carlson asks "whether the number of abortions has gone up or down since he's been governor. 'I don't know,' he shrugs. . . . 'Probably down. Not because of anything we've done, though. We haven't passed any laws.'" Where Carlson sees a refreshing reluctance to exaggerate accomplishments, others -- including a lot of pro-lifers who have been giving Bush the benefit of the doubt -- are likely to see a breezy indifference to what Bush says he considers to be the taking of innocent human life.

Does any of this really matter? Well, yes, since religiosity is a theme for the President's supporters (his own as a positive, and an implied lack in Kerry, as a negative). I don't think the press should "tear down" anybody, but I also don't think that the President should get a "free pass", with his supporters using religion as a way to lift him up, and push down Senator Kerry.

October 01, 2004
Deja Vu (All Over Again)
One by one I see the old ghosts rising
Stumblin' 'cross Big Muddy
Where the light gets dim
Day after day another Momma's crying
She's lost her precious child
To a war that has no end

Did you hear 'em talkin' 'bout it on the radio
Did you stop to read the writing at The Wall
Did that voice inside you say
I've seen this all before
It's like Deja Vu all over again
It's like Deja Vu all over again
- John Fogerty, Deja Vu (All Over Again)

There was a moment during the Bush/Kerry debate last night, when it seemed to me that the President was actually arguing that it didn't matter whether it was right to invade or not - now that there are troops in the field, nobody should criticize his decisions.
I don't see how you can lead this country to succeed in Iraq if you say wrong war, wrong time, wrong place. What message does that send our troops? What message does that send to our allies? What message does that send the Iraqis?

No, the way to win this is to be steadfast and resolved and to follow through on the plan that I've just outlined.
Isn't that outrageous? "I'm terribly sorry your child was killed in the war, but the fact that he died protects me from all blame."

Mr. Fogerty is right. We've seen this before - and now the role of Lyndon Johnson is being played by the latest President from Texas.

(On a lighter note, did I mention that I'll get to see Mr. Fogerty perform that song, backed up by the E Street Band, at the Vote for Change concert in Philadelphia this evening?)


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