Thursday, September 30, 2004

I watched the presidential debate tonight and I thought John Kerry won. The reviews on Talking Points Memo, Daily Kos, and Electablog also favor Kerry. My DD shows the results of several polls that have Kerry winning. Daily Kos has links to several conservative bloggers who thought Kerry won.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The MacArthur Fellowship, sometimes called the "genius" grant, is a five-year grant to individuals who show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work. The program selects individuals of all ages and from all fields and offers recipients flexibility to pursue their work without reporting requirements. Individuals cannot apply for this award; they must be nominated.

The stipend for the MacArthur Fellowship is currently set at $500,000, paid in quarterly installments over five years. There are no restrictions on how the money can be spent.

Click here to see this year's winners of the MacArthur Fellowship.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The Lone Star Iconoclast, the local newspaper in Crawford, Texas, endorses John Kerry for president.

"Few Americans would have voted for George W. Bush four years ago if he had promised that, as President, he would:

• Empty the Social Security trust fund by $507 billion to help offset fiscal irresponsibility and at the same time slash Social Security benefits.
• Cut Medicare by 17 percent and reduce veterans’ benefits and military pay.
• Eliminate overtime pay for millions of Americans and raise oil prices by 50 percent.
• Give tax cuts to businesses that sent American jobs overseas, and, in fact, by policy encourage their departure.
• Give away billions of tax dollars in government contracts without competitive bids.
• Involve this country in a deadly and highly questionable war, and
• Take a budget surplus and turn it into the worst deficit in the history of the United States, creating a debt in just four years that will take generations to repay.

These were elements of a hidden agenda that surfaced only after he took office. The publishers of The Iconoclast endorsed Bush four years ago, based on the things he promised, not on this smoke-screened agenda. Today, we are endorsing his opponent, John Kerry, based not only on the things that Bush has delivered, but also on the vision of a return to normality that Kerry says our country needs."

Monday, September 27, 2004

In this New Yorker article, George Packer explains the relationship between the war in Iraq and the presidential campaign:

"No one can now doubt the effectiveness of the President’s political operation. Here’s one measure: between May and September, the number of Iraq stories that made page 1 of the Times and the Washington Post dropped by more than a third. During the same period, the percentage of Americans who support the President’s handling of the war increased. It’s the mark of a truly brilliant reĆ«lection campaign that these trends at home are occurring against a background of ever-increasing violence and despair in Iraq. The latest reports from mainstream think tanks, such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies, show every indicator of progress moving in the wrong direction. In July, the National Intelligence Council issued a classified and quite gloomy analysis of Iraq which had no effect on the President’s rhetoric or on his policy. After a year and a half of improvising and muddling through, there seems to be no clear way forward and no good way out. But because the President—as his chief of staff, Andrew Card, recently said—regards Americans as ten-year-old children, don’t expect to hear an honest discussion about any of this from the White House."

Sunday, September 26, 2004

How will voter registration drives effect the presidential campaign? According to this New York Times article:

"A sweeping voter registration campaign in heavily Democratic areas has added tens of thousands of new voters to the rolls in the swing states of Ohio and Florida, a surge that has far exceeded the efforts of Republicans in both states, a review of registration data shows.

The analysis by The New York Times of county-by-county data shows that in Democratic areas of Ohio - primarily low-income and minority neighborhoods - new registrations since January have risen 250 percent over the same period in 2000. In comparison, new registrations have increased just 25 percent in Republican areas. A similar pattern is apparent in Florida: in the strongest Democratic areas, the pace of new registration is 60 percent higher than in 2000, while it has risen just 12 percent in the heaviest Republican areas."

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Juan Cole explains what America would look like if it were in Iraq's current situation in this post from his weblog Informed Comment.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

In this column, Gene Lyons compares the CBS News failure in the phony memo controversy with "three of the most egregious press failures in American history: the Whitewater hoax; the Washington Press clique's "war on Gore" during the 2000 election, and its disgraceful parroting of Bush's Iraqi "weapons of mass destruction" propaganda."

"All three benefited the Republican right. All were perpetrated not by Rush Limbaugh and The Washington Times, although they did their best, but by The New York Times, The Washington Post and the major broadcast networks. Each involved ethical and professional lapses far worse than CBS’ recent screw-up; to my knowledge, none of the perpetrators has paid any price whatsoever. It just doesn’t happen."

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

In this Boston Globe article, linguistics professor George Lakoff answers the question, "How do Republicans continually frustrate Democrats, keeping them on the defensive?" According to Lakoff, "It's not just their media control (Fox News, Clear Channel, etc.), it's not just the $2 billion they've put into think tanks over the past 30 years, and it's not just lies and dirty tricks. It's their skill at 'framing.'"

Monday, September 20, 2004

The weblog The American Street presents States Writes, a directory of progressive mass media and weblogs in all 50 states. Blogenheimer makes the cut. (Hey, I'm a Progressive!) Be sure to try some of the other progressive blogs on the list.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

In this post from his weblog, David Corn explains why he thinks we are losing the war in Iraq, and then discusses a conversation he had with a Kerry aide about the tough time the Kerry campaign is having communicating its message on Iraq.

"The Bush campaign has succeeded in convincing the mainstream media that the key question is, what is Kerry's plan for Iraq? Not, say, what is Bush's plan for Iraq? If Kerry is so fortunate to win on November 2, he won't take office until January 20, and the situation in Iraq could be dramatically different. Any specific plan he tossed out now could be--and probably would be--totally irrelevant at that point. Yet Republicans and echo-chamber reporters keep asking Kerry to state precisely how he would undo Bush's mess."

"I have two young daughters at home," I said to this Kerry aide. "If one takes a glass jar and throws it on the ground of their bedroom and smashes it into thousands of pieces, I don't point my finger at the other one and say, 'Okay, what's your plan for cleaning this up.'"

Thursday, September 16, 2004

The weblog Seeking the Polls posts this critical analysis of the current efforts in the Global War on Terror.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

In this New York Review of Books review of the 9/11 Commission Report, Elizabeth Drew explains that, "In its effort to achieve a unanimous, bipartisan report, the commission decided not to assign "individual blame" and avoided overt criticism of the President himself. Still, the report is a powerful indictment of the Bush administration for its behavior before and after the attacks of September 11."

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

In this post from the weblog Political Animal, Kevin Drum points out an interesting similarity between recent events in Russia and a scene from the first Star Wars movie.

Monday, September 13, 2004

John Shirley "wanted to know about the quality of life in the future." So he asked science fiction writers Cory Doctorow, Pat Murphy, Kim Stanley Robinson, Norman Spinrad, Bruce Sterling and Ken Wharton a series of questions about the future. You can read the questions and answers in this Locus article.

Here are some examples:

1) In the past you've written science-fictionally about the social future. What's changed in your estimate of the social future since then? Do you have a sharper picture of where we're going, socially?

Norman Spinrad: “The biggest change, one which I didn't get at the time, was the rise to dominance of the American Christian fundamentalist far right. Where are we going? If Kerry should be elected, back to the Clintonian middle. But if Bush is re-elected, straight into the worst fascist shitter this country has ever experienced. We're on a cusp like that of the Roman Republic about to degenerate into the Empire. Though in many ways it has already.”

6 ) Will there always be war?

A consensus emerges that war is staying but changing shape. Bruce Sterling: “Well, if you gather in armies and raise a flag, the USA will blow you to shreds, so the trend is to strap a bomb around your waist or pile artillery shells into a car and then blow yourself up. The idea that a 'war on terror' is going to resolve this kind of terror by using lots of warfare is just absurd.”

Sunday, September 12, 2004

In this article, University of Michigan professor Juan Cole examines the goals of Al-Qaeda and the United States and finds that, "The U.S. is not winning the war on terror. Al-Qaeda also has by no means won. But across a whole range of objectives, al-Qaeda has accomplished more of its goals than the U.S. has of its."

Friday, September 10, 2004

Thanks to Atrios and Mad Magazine, here's "The Bush Campaign's TV Commercial If He Was Running Against Jesus."

Thursday, September 09, 2004

White House chief-of-staff Andrew Card said, "It struck me as I was speaking to people in Bangor, Maine, that this president sees America as we think about a 10-year-old child. I know as a parent I would sacrifice all for my children."

In this American Prospect column, Charles Pierce writes that, "What Card said perfectly encapsulates this administration’s approach to governance -- its fundamental contempt for democratic restraints and its hubristic insolence toward any limits on its political appetites. Our president is our Daddy. He will make his wars to keep us safe, and all we have to do is love him back, and do what he tells us to do. Go shopping. Go on happy vacations. Leave the decisions to Daddy and to Daddy’s friends. They run things so we don’t have to."

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

According to this Guardian Unlimited article, "Police in Paris have discovered a fully equipped cinema-cum-restaurant in a large and previously uncharted cavern underneath the capital's chic 16th arrondissement."

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Before he underwent quadruple bypass surgery, Bill Clinton discussed campaign strategy with John Kerry in a 90-minute telephone conversation. Clinton advised Kerry to focus on change. As this Slate article explains, Kerry has begun to use that advice. Kerry's new message is:

"Go vote for Bush if you want four more years of falling wages, of Social Security surpluses being transferred to wealthy Americans in the form of tax cuts, of underfunded schools and lost jobs. But if you want a new direction, he said, vote for Kerry and Edwards."

Monday, September 06, 2004

"Every year researchers at Project Censored pick through volumes of print and broadcast news to see which of the past year's most important stories aren't receiving the kind of attention they deserve. Peter Phillips, head of Project Censored, and his team acknowledge that many of these stories weren't "censored" in the traditional sense of the word: No government agency blocked their publication. And some even appeared – briefly and without follow-up – in mainstream journals.

But every one of this year's picks merited prominent placement on the evening news and the dailies' front pages. Instead they went virtually ignored."

Here is Project Censored's list of the 10 big stories the national news media ignored.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Jeffrey H. Smith discusses why the President of the United States should be able to learn from the mistakes of Viet Nam and Iraq in this Washington Post column.

"A true test of any future president should be whether he can recognize a failing policy and has the moral courage to change course and lead our nation out. Bush has not demonstrated that he understands the magnitude of the errors he made in getting us into Iraq. Even some leading Republicans, including Rep. Doug Bereuter of Nebraska, have now said the war was a mistake. Does Bush recognize that?

The debates of 1971 have echoes in our current one. We have gotten deeply involved in a region that we do not understand, and we have unleashed forces we cannot control. We must have a president who can recognize our strengths and our shortcomings, who will ask hard questions and who will challenge advice, even intelligence information that is presented to him. Did Bush ask those hard questions before making the decision to send our forces to war?

In 1971 Kerry recognized that we needed to change our policy. In 2004 he recognizes the need to change our policy. That is the issue. Who is better equipped to lead us: Bush, who rigidly insists that he is right, or Kerry, who has charted a new direction?"

Read the whole column here.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

According to Fred Kaplan, "Half-truths and embellishments are one thing; they're common at political conventions, vital flourishes for a theatrical air. Lies are another thing, and last night's Republican convention was soaked in them."

Kaplan tries to set the record straight in this Slate article.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

After hearing Dennis Hastert's recent comments on George Soros, Slate's Jack Shafer has decided that the Speaker of the House is "an absolute nut job."