Saturday, October 30, 2004

The politics of trauma

Being the blithely arch but lighthearted creature she is, your blogstress maintains an alter-ego to handle life's more somber moments: a mostly serious journalist who writes under the byline of Adele M. Stan.

For weeks, Stan has labored over a piece on what she calls the politics of trauma, a brand of politicking she claims has replaced the much-vaunted politics of fear:

The politics of fear is based around ideas such as these: that
homosexuals are out to recruit your children, that God will punish the
nation for its sins, that the family is broken when women have power,
that membership in the United Nations demands the surrender of our
nation's sovereignty. In short, the politics of fear exploits the
trepidation innate in humans when facing change of any kind, and tweaks
it to a twitchy pitch in times of great social change.

The politics of trauma is another beast entirely, based as it is, not
on fear of the unknown, but the exploitation of something atrocious
that has already occurred, the fear that it will happen again, and the
psychological toxins produced by experiencing the atrocity.

The piece explores the ways in which the politics of trauma have been practiced in the 2004 presidential campaign, and offers a prescription.

Read the full story

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Enter Osama, right on time

Well, it looks as though Osama bin Laden, in his new release, has spared the Bush administration a need to concoct an elevated alert out of archival material. Your blogstress has yet to discern exactly what bin Laden means by this message, but your cybertrix can't help wondering if he isn't operating a 527.

In bellwether New Jersey (yes, your Webwench knows you non-Jerseyans out there are sick of hearing of her beloved homeland), every time the alert meter ticks up to a richer hue, Bush's numbers spike upwards, even on the domestic issues--economy, health care, etc.--on which Garden Staters usually rate him as a slacker. (Do recall, dear reader, that your net-tête predicted an elevated alert in time for this Sunday's papers.)

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Friday, October 29, 2004

Creative visualization

From our friend, Spirit Guide, comes this story on the Guerrilla News Network. Russ Baker breaks news with his interview of Mickey Herskowitz, a ghostwriter of Bush's campaign biography, A Charge to Keep: My Journey to the White House (2000, William Morrow):

HOUSTON--Two years before the September 11 attacks, presidential candidate George W. Bush was already talking privately about the political benefits of attacking Iraq, according to his former ghost writer, who held many conversations with then-Texas Governor Bush in preparation for a planned autobiography.

“He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999,” said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. “It was on his mind. He said to me: ‘One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.’ And he said, ‘My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.’ He said, ‘If I have a chance to invade….if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it. I’m going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I’m going to have a successful presidency.”

Read full story

Well, guess he was workin' on that vision thing...

Speaking of creative visualization, Breaker sends us this inspirational video, which advocates the Tinkerbell approach (believe, believe, believe) in a really amusing way.

Now, everybody clap your hands...

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Thursday, October 28, 2004

Court back as an issue

The timing of the chief justice's cancer surgery has thrust the issue of Supreme Court appointments back into the public eye--which should have never averted its gaze from this one--just before Americans head to the polls.

Anybody who thinks this election is just about tax cuts, job losses, gay marriage and Iraq (as if those weren't enough) will hopefully be shocked back to reality.

More than anything, this election is about the Constitution of the United States, and whether or not that gorgeous Enlightment document* will survive the age of Chaos Theory.

Anyone who doubts the breadth of this proposition should contemplate this specter: Justice John Ashcroft.

NOTE: You may have to first obtain your free day pass in order to get the Ashcroft link to work. Well worth the extra clicks.

*Gorgeous Constitution--In form, the girl is clearly stacked. In short, it's the Consitution's shape, its form, that has allowed it transcend the limitations of its framers. If ever the Divine Hand shaped a piece of literature, it was at a little convention in Philadelphia. There's lots of good content, too, of course, except for the part about who gets to vote, and who's less than a full person.

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So glad to hear that the democratic party is ready to pull out all the stops to win Arkansas's six electoral votes, according Ryan Lizza's Campaign Journal at The New Republic Online:

ARKANSAS REALLY IN PLAY?: The DNC is buying ads, and Clinton will be there Sunday, according to The Arkansas Times's blog:

Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, just held a conference call with Arkansas media to announce a $250,000 television ad buy for Arkansas...

McAuliffe also confirmed that Bill Clinton will visit Arkansas on Sunday afternoon for a campaign event, although the details have not been finalized. He said it will be Clinton's last campaign stop in 2004 -- the former president will return to to his home in New York from Arkansas.

Hey, Bill, think ya could manage a swing through Jersey on your way back to Chappaqua? Not that those 15 Northeastern electoral votes mean as much as six big, fat, batter-dipped Southern votes or anything. Still, the folks who saw the towers fall on 9-11 seem to still be on the fence. Hoboken awaits you.

Note: Another confusing poll, this one from The Record of Bergen County finds Kerry seven points ahead of Bush, while two others, from Quinnipiac University and Strategic Vision, call it a dead heat. The Dems obviously have absolute faith in their own tracking polls, since they've not put a dime of advertising in any market that would reach North Jersey, where the undecideds dwell.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Is it a tie?
Or a rout for Bush?

It looks as though the Red Sox are about to win the World Series, which would be a good thing, thinks your blogstress. Those poor people in Boston have suffered long enough, and besides, your cybertrix is still holding a torch for the Mets--which means the Yankees are bad, bad, very bad.

Your cyberscribe's blogger colleague, Kurt Gallagher, posits that a Red Sox victory would signal a cosmic shift of a positive nature, while the Internationalist, a die-hard Yankees fan, will be sobbing in his beer for the human race, doomed, obviously, by the coming apocalypse.

Which leads us to the topic at hand: will New Jersey tip the scales toward the apocalypse by delivering 15 unexpected electoral votes to Geroge W. Bush? A new Quinnipiac poll calls the race a tie, with 46 points apiece.

Bush, Kerry In Dead Heat In New Jersey,
Quinnipiac University Poll Finds;
Terrorism Concerns, Campaign Visit Help President

President George W. Bush has closed a four-point gap with Democratic challenger John Kerry and the two candidates are locked in a 46 - 46 percent tie among New Jersey likely voters, with 2 percent for independent candidate Ralph Nader, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Six percent remain undecided...

Given four choices, 30 percent of New Jersey voters list terrorism as the most important issue in the presidential race, followed by 27 percent who list the economy, 26 percent who list the situation in Iraq and 13 percent who list health care.

Other polls show Kerry up by as many as eight points, so who the heck knows what is going on in the fertile land that spawned your Webwench? (For an excellent aggregation of all New Jersey polls, check out the excellent site,

All of this leaves your blogstress tearing at her silken tresses, wondering: WHY THE H*LL THE DEMS ARE PUTTING NO RESOURCES INTO WINNING JERSEY?

Notes Quinnipiac pollster Maurice Carroll: "Bush's quick drop in to New Jersey last week probably helped him. Will Kerry and/or former President Clinton stop by before Tuesday?"

Only if somebody wakes up and smells Secaucus.

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Today, Democrats
Tomorrow, the world

From our trumpet-playing pal, Lips Buzz, comes this fascinating BBC News tidbit about the Bush campaign's control-freak tendencies run amok:

Bush website blocked outside US
Access to the site is blocked

Surfers outside the US have been unable to visit the official re-election site of President George W Bush.
The blocking of browsers sited outside the US began in the early hours of Monday morning.

Since then people outside the US trying to browse the site get a message saying they are not authorised to view it.

The blocking does not appear to be due to an attack by vandals or malicious hackers, but as a result of a policy decision by the Bush camp.

Read the full story...

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Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Religion is sexy

Seems that while we in the reality-based community can't get enough on the topic of Bush and religion, neither can those in the faith-based community.

On the heels of Ron Susskind's masterful piece in the New York Times Magazine two Sundays ago comes
Laurie Goodstein's assessment
, in today's Times, of the president's church preferences, which she finds at odds with his political expressions of faith (such as queer-baiting and stem-cell shenanigans).

For the faith-based contingent, the Philadelphia Inquirer offers
this exposé
on the role local churches are playing in distributing a video that all but lauds W as the Second Coming. (Well, he his the second coming--of a President Bush, that is.)

For more reverent and thoughtful discussions of the presidential religion thing, your blogstress directs her readers to fellow bloggers Nathan Paxon and Josh Rhoderick, of Nate Knows Nada and Turnspit Daily, respectively.

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Monday, October 25, 2004

More confusion
in the Garden State

"What to believe?!" writes Sallie SixToes from South Jersey, urging us to check out the latest Star-Ledger/Eagleton-Rutgers Poll of likely New Jersey voters. The poll, reported last Tuesday, shows Kerry ahead by double digits:

A Star-Ledger/Eagleton-Rutgers Poll estimated Senator Kerry is supported by 51 percent of likely voters compared to 38 percent for the President--a 13-point margin that would, if accurate, mark Kerry's largest lead this month in New Jersey. The survey was conducted by telephone with 805 registered voters from October 14 to 17, 2004--after the final debate but before President Bush’s October 18 campaign stop in the state. [Emphasis added by cybertrix.]
In the meantime, Quinnipiac reports, in a survey conducted over the same period, only a four-point margin--which is practically a tie when one considers the margin of error. And The Record of Hackensack reports Kerry as being seven points up. Says SixToes:
I can tell you everyone in Monmouth County is busting their butts to make [a Kerry victory] happen. Not so in some other counties, from what I hear. And a trip north on Sunday to the Ridgewood area left this Kerry supporter more than mildly depressed.
In fairness, your écrivaine must note that Ms. Sallie sent her missive a week ago, but your Webwench has been so caught up in her oppo factory, doing the offline work of regime change, that she has been remiss in reporting the observations of her refined readership.

Nonetheless, today's edition of The Record, an excellent newspaper (with a crummy Web site) out of Bergen County, perpetuates the confusion with a well-reported piece by Tom Troncone, "N.J. lead for Kerry shifts when subject turns to terrorism" (reg. req.):

Sen. John Kerry enjoys an unassailable lead against President Bush in New Jersey polls measuring usual election-year issues--health care, the economy and the environment.

So Kerry can put New Jersey in the blue state column, right?

Not so fast.

An 800-pound gorilla lurks in Kerry's path to New Jersey's 15 electoral votes, and its name is terrorism.
Troncone goes on to talk to a number of different people--some regular folks, some pollsters and some analysts--to deliver a hodge-podge of numbers and emotions (the numbers being largely the result of emotion).
In a Quinnipiac poll released last week, 27 percent of state residents listed terrorism as the most important issue in the presidential race, followed by the war in Iraq, 25 percent, and the economy, 24 percent. When the poll asked which condidate could better deal with terrorism, respondents gave Bush a 53 percent to 37 percent advantage over Kerry. [Emphasis added by blogstress.]
And while Kerry wins, hands-down, on domestic issues, there's this chilling bit of réportage to consider:
"Even the approval ratings of Bush's handling of the economy increases with terror alerts," [said Cornell University sociologist Robb Willner]. "That suggests that people have security concerns that can even swamp other issues." [Emphasis added by Webwench.]
How much ya wanna bet on some dire warning for Northern New Jersey this week, say, just in time to make the Sunday papers?

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We have a winner

Phillip Coons, creator of the indispensible, is the winner of an autographed photo of your blogstress in her bustier for his correct answer to the question posed in the endnote to the AddieStan post titled, "Whenever the blues become my favorite song..."

The song is "I Concentrate on You" by Cole Porter. (Despite the quiz's obvious appeal to the gay male contingent of the AddieStan readership, your Webwench somehow expected that a straight man would get there first.)

Speaking of straight men getting there first, it should be said that one Mallemoraking actually was the first to report the correct answer, but was disqualified for already having seen your cybertrix in her bustier, oh, so many moons ago. Your blogstress does, nonetheless, bid him a happy birthday.

Late out of the box was a very handsome queer woman with a penchant for parody, who came in third with the correct answer. In the banquet of your blogstress's life, it seems the ladies have always come a bit late to the party.

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No cannon fodder left behind

From Nancy the New York Artist comes this chilling mass-generated missive, which she received from the suburban public high school attended by one of her very creative offspring:

Dear Parent/Guardian of [name of New York Artist's child]:

Pursuant to the No Child Left Behind Act, N. Public School District must disclose to military recruiters and institutions of higher learning, upon request, the names, addresses and telephone numbers of high school students. The District must also notify parents of their right and the right of their child to request that the District not release such information without prior written parental consent.

Parents wishing to exercise their option to withhold their consent to the release of the above information to military recruiters and institutions of higher learning must sign and return the attached form to the Principal by October 25, 2004.


[principal's name]


Thank goodness, says Nancy, that this innocuous-looking form letter surfaced to the top of her pile of mass-generated mail before the opt-out date.

His dad may have been the self-proclaimed education president, but looks like W really is the war president he claims to be.

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Thursday, October 21, 2004

Stateside military installations
Outta dough

As the vice president evokes images of bombs falling on American cities, and billions earmarked for reconstruction lay untouched in Iraq, US military installations are living on austerity budgets that could affect the nation's ability to defend itself from attack. An AddieStan exclusive.

An item on today's, making note of the fiscal 2005 defense authorization bill awaiting the president's signature, offers this plea: "It is hoped that the President will soon sign this bill into law."

It's difficult not to read this as an understatement when one considers that military installations throughout the U.S. have been essentially out of money since early May. Two memoranda--one from an Army general, and another, obtained by, by an unnamed Navy chief petty officer--express hope for relief at the end of the 2004 fiscal year, which concludes on October 30th.

Ship out of luck

At Norfolk Naval Station, the world's largest naval base, the situation is dire enough that the number of tug boats and cranes assigned to move an aircraft carrier out of port have been reduced, creating a situation that the chief petty officer, reporting on a June leadership conference hosted by the station's executive officer, characterized in urgent tones:

Decreasing the number of cranes and tugs available to reduce port costs. Will reduce to only four tugs. (Four is the number required to get a[n aircraft carrier] underway - so they can not drop below this number.) This may have a major impact on inport and underway times. Already ships have been told they can not get underway on the day scheduled because services not available.

The danger scenario: Ship intends to get underway at 0800. They have a crane and tugs set up for the 0800 underway. Engineering issues result in a delay. Ship is ready at 0930, but crane has moved on to other commitments and no back up exists. Ship is told they can get underway at 1130 the next day because no services are available until then.

Overtime is a complete non-starter.

Seems like a mighty lucky deal that the Navy hasn't been faced with moving one of those things out quickly in the event of, say, a surprise attack on U.S. interests.

Also mentioned in the chief petty officer's memo is the observation that the resulting decrease in "underway days" (days when ships leave port) will create a parking crisis, as more ships in port mean more cars in the lot. The officer, however does see a bright spot in this:

MWR (Morale, Welfare & Recreation) has contracted two full-time tow trucks to tow all those that park illegally. Currently the trucks are working full-time every day, efficiently towing Sailors' cars...On the flip side, cars not picked up after towed are sold at auction quarterly, providing MWR with funds and cheap cars to other sailors.

Other austerity measures at Norfolk include cutting phone lines and voice mail, as reported by Jack Dorsey of the Virginian-Pilot.

Life and limb

Over at the Army's Installation Management Agency (IMA), things are scarcely better. A May 12 NETCALL memo to garrison commanders from Major General Anders Aadland, IMA's director, garnered some attention when first written for its draconian-sounding call for the dropping of certain environmental safeguards. When Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) posted the missive on its Web site, resulting coverage yielded a backpedaling on Aadland's demand for "increased environmental risk" (the Army suddenly found some money to forestall the risk-taking), and the reinstatement of some temporary personnel whose positions were slated for the ax. Aadland flatly attributes the budget woes to the pursuit of the Global War on Terror (GWOT), which in Armyspeak includes the war in Iraq. (One military sage suggested to your cybertrix that the severe tone of Aadland's memo was a ploy to get his higher-ups to pony up some bucks.)

It should be here noted that garrisons house and maintain armored vehicles such as tanks and personnel carriers, as well as tactical weapons. Despite partial reinstatement of IMA's funding, your blogstress has found no evidence that the general has rescinded his call for a reductions of services to on-base personnel ("Reduce/limit [services] to provide only those services essential to support an Army at war or critical to life support of supported population"), and the slowing of maintenance work on tactical equipment.

"Perform tactical equipment maintenance only to funded support levels -- stop or control work until additional funding is provided," Aadland wrote. "Ensure coordination with supported mission activities and region director in all instances where work must be refused."

And one wonders just what this one would mean at a garrison: "Limit sustainment expenditures to repairs essential to preservation of life, limb or property and payroll for on-board personnel."

Homeland defense?

In a week in which we learned of the severe supply problems experienced by Gen. Ricardo Sanchez during his tour in Iraq, and the extreme overstretching of the Army, there is, perhaps, little surprise in learning that , here in the homeland, sailors are losing phone lines, aircraft carriers can't move out of port on schedule, and tactical equipment is being maintained at minimum levels at Army garrisons. It may be tempting to say, well, war requires such sacrifice. But in a season when homeland security is all the rage, one has to ask, aren't these outfits the first line of homeland defense?

Here in America, we've had the grace to use our military primarily as on offensive force. But what if we should require defensive action?

Your cyberscribe asked a civilian garrison worker what would happen at his installation if another GWOT front was opened? "We'd have nowhere to house the troops," he said. "The start-up would kill us."

In rallying his troops, Gen. Aadland wrote, "I know that some of these actions will be painful; I also know you understand that we would not go to these severe measures if we had a choice -- but we do not...All of you must implement these actions now and ensure resources are best used to support the war effort. I need your help to do all you can do to control costs, pursue efficiencies and cost-savings, protect the SRM investments you have already made this year, and mitigate the negative impacts of these cuts to the Soldiers, family members and civilians who depend on your installation for their vitality and life support."

Our chief petty officer chimes in, "No idea on what next year may bring. If war is continued at current pace, these measures may be long-term."

Tax cut, anyone?

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Monday, October 18, 2004

Whenever the blues become
My only song...*

Noting your blogstress's fixation on electoral vote-counting (and no doubt her recent linkage to that novel site,, your cybertrix's partner in musical crimes, the fabulous Frankie G., sends along this soothing visual, instructing us all to relax.


*Readers who can cite the title and composer of the song from whence this lyric comes will receive an autographed picture of your blogstress in her bustier.

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So that's what they're up to...

One of your blogstress's favorite cyberscribes takes issue with her dire warnings about Bush make a play for the Garden State. Josh Rhoderick of Turnspit makes this fascinating observation:

In 2000, Karl Rove pumped funds and advertising into an almost hopeless California to give the impression that the campaign was confident. The idea was to generate good headlines throughout the media: "Bush Confident," "Bush Strong," etc. Well... it didn't work, but now he's trying it again with a minor shift in strategy. This time, Rove isn't wasting any valuable assets on New Jersey.

Point taken, but your Webwench is still less sanguine on account of that dark hole of undecided voters in her beloved Garden State--all 12 percent of them. And the president's despicable speech delivered today in Burlington County was, alas, very effective.

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Sunday, October 17, 2004

Too soon to sigh relief
in the Garden State

A recent Farleigh Dickenson poll puts New Jersey back in the Kerry column, but by a mere two points--which is really a tie if you factor in the margin of error.

The outcome of the toss-up rests with an unusually wide swath of undecided voters, calculated at some 12 percent of likely voters.

As noted in yesterday's post, President Bush will grace New Jersey with his presence tomorrow, to deliver what is billed as a major homeland security address. One can only hope that the voters have the good sense to see beyond the posturing to take note of the austerity budgets on which the enforcers of border protection and immigration law have been placed for nearly a year.

One also hopes that the Dems and the unions get off the denial train about what's going on west of the Hudson River, and stop sending Jersey's foot soldiers to Pennsylvania. We're talkin' 15 electoral votes, folks, that are virtually up for grabs east of the Delaware River. And yeah, Pennsylvania's 21 electoral votes are just as important, but there are plenty of folks from all over the country walking that beat.

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Saturday, October 16, 2004

Yo! Jersey!
Whassup (with those electoral votes)?

Much to your blogstress's dismay, she finds that the denizens of her beloved homeland have thrown the typically Democratic Garden State into play as a battleground. It appears to be a homeland security thing.

The largest number of undecided voters live in North Jersey which, in many ways, is a sort of the sixth boro of New York City. There many people saw the World Trade Center fall with their own eyes, and some 700 New Jerseyans lost their lives that day in the attacks.

Somehow that trauma has drawn ordinarily Democratic voters to President Bush, on the premise that he is somehow better able to protect them and the homeland from the schemes of the terrorists. And this perception could cost Sen. John Kerry the election, since it's hard to imagine how he can win without Jersey's 15 electoral votes.

On Monday, the president will make a rare visit to New Jersey to deliver what is being billed as a major address on homeland security. At this stage in the campaign, the only reason the president would make a personal appearance there was if his advisors thought he had a good chance of winning those 15 votes. The volatile situation in Jerseyland is serious enought to have drawn the attention of the Washington Post.

The dark irony in all of this is the president's actual record
on homeland security. Since April, the Border Patrol and the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection have worked under a hiring freeze, meaning that if an officer leaves or retires, he or she can't be replaced. While offers struggle with faulty equipment of the most basic sort--radios, patrol cars, expired body armor--DHS bigs spend millions on high-tech toys whose purchase lines the pockets of defense contractors.

At the Bureau of Customs and Immigration Enforcement a spending freeze has taken effect that has caused some officers to be turned away at the gas pump when trying to fill the tanks of their official vehicles; their government credit cards were refused.

Your blogstress has deep compassion for what her countrypeople suffered on September 11, 2001. And because of that, she begs them to examine the record, not the posture. Anybody can stroll into disaster and speak into a bullhorn. But someone committed to the safety of everyday people would not have the nation's homeland security enforcers on a budget that deprives them of the most basic resources.

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Thursday, October 14, 2004

Blue suits, red ties, white shirts
and those cute little flag pins

The final debate in Tempe

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The measure of the man

Kerry's on a roll; it's too bad there are no more debates--clearly an arena in which the Democrat excels.

Bush was, once again, twitchy, and got himself in trouble by denying his 2002 comments about Osama bin Laden, about whom he claimed to have no worries. (Note, dear reader, that AddieStan had aptly rebutted this claim within minutes of its utterance with a link to the transcript of the March 13, 2002, press conference at which Bush made that assertion. Scroll to item, "Exaggeration? You decide".)

Torn between tracking down links and making original analysis or commenting on every question and answer, your Webwench chose the former path. Consequently, a number of consequential issues--Social Security, the minimum wage, abortion rights--escaped the wisdom of her pen. So she will do her best to follow up on those matters tomorrow, with special attention the women whose votes the candidates were wooing.

Your cybertrix also received insightful commentary and questions from her readers during the debate, which she will endeavor to address in the daylight hours.

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Who's outta line?

How awful of that John Kerry to mention Vice President Dick Cheney's out lesbian daughter in a discussion of sexual orientation and gay marriage! Just ask MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, or Ben Ginsburg, legal adviser to the Swift Boat Veterans for Bush and late of the Bush Cheney campaign (not that the two have anything to do with each other). According to these two, it was just despicable and depraved for the Democratic presidential candidate to note the vice president's top campaign adviser and beloved daughter as an example of a queer person who apparently knows who she is.

Your blogstress concurs with those pundits who suggest, as did MSNBC's Ron Reagan, Jr., that Kerry's mention of Mary Cheney in this context wasn't exactly a smooth move. Indeed, this sort of thing always makes your Webwench squirm.

However, a Google search of Scarborough's response to GOP senatorial candidate Alan Keyes' assertion that Ms. Cheney was, by definition, as "a selfish hedonist" (see Krazy Keyes' explanation of his comment to your blogstress during the Republican National Convention; scroll to the 7th item, The anti-Obama: Alan Keyes talks to AddieStan about Mary Cheney, sex organs and journalists) came up mysteriously empty.

[NOTE: Readers' challenge--your Webwench, with her undying faith in humanity, would love to stand corrected on this. Send in your citations.]

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Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Bob Schrum: Arf!

Whoa! Out of the dog house?

Schrum sighting on MSNBC for spin. As the Internationalist said, "Who took the sock out of your mouth, Bob?"

For those outside the Beltway, Bob Schrum was the the big wheel on the Kerry campaign before he got kicked aside by the Clinton crew when Kerry was lookin' like toast.

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The the question that led to the candidates' stating their personal theologies escaped your Webwench's ears, overridden as they were by the Internationalist's exclamations of joy as the Yankees extended their lead over the Red Sox.

The answers were, nonetheless, fascinating. Here's the president at his most eloquent:

"I received calmness in the storms of the presidency [from prayer]."

But then he went on to say that he had "unleashed the armies of compassion," heedless of the hackles once raised elsewhere in the world when he delcared a "crusade" against America's enemies. (Onward Christian soldiers...)

"That's part of my foreign policy," the president said of his faith. "I believe that the freedom [in Afghanistan] is a gift from the Almighty."

From the peanut gallery came an alarming cry of, "Yes!"

The Yankees had just scored.

In a poignant rejoinder, Kerry replied,"I believe that all things are a gift from the Almighty." Nice move; amazing statement of a comprehensive, universalist personal theology.

"Yankees 3-0!"

(In the Internationalist's eyes, a gift from the Almighty, to be sure.)

As he went on, Kerry delved even deeper, citing not only the essence of Christian theology, but noting the many scriptures and traditions--including the Koran and "the Native Americans who gave me a blessing"--as really being different means to the same end.

As your blogstress's friend, the Jazzman, stated recently, "There are many paths that lead to the same road."

Your Webwench did indeed experience a near swoon when the Massachusetts senator offered this:

I was taught—I went to a church school and I was taught that the two greatest commandments are: Love the Lord, your God, with all your mind, your body and your soul, and love your neighbor as yourself. And frankly, I think we have a lot more loving of our neighbor to do in this country and on this planet.

Or perhaps she just needed to loosen the stays on her bustier.

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Standing tall against the hierarchy

When asked about the unconscionable cadre of Roman Catholic bishops who are all but instructing their flocks not to vote for Kerry, the Massachusetts took no bait but brooked no bitterness, with the simple response that he did not agree with the bishops' position.

What a change in perception from even the last presidential election. It seems that someone seems to have gotten the message--unlike much of the media--that there is no "Catholic vote," nor has there been one for some time.

For at least 15 years, Catholic voters have split about the same as the general population on the subject of abortion, and most other subjects, for that matter. It's all about class and geography--not the ethno-religio thang.

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Calling all blimps

The Internationalist got all excited--alas, not by your blogstress's fetching attire, but by the president's mention of unmanned vehicles tracking illegal immigrants.

So that's where the blimp (item: "Big Peep") went, he said.

On a more serious note, the administration is starving the Border Patrol for human resources (the entire Department of Homeland Security is under a hiring freeze) while spending big bucks on unmanned surveillance drones. But, as one sage told your blogstress, "A drone never made an arrest."

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The tie that binds

Our dear friend, the Internationalist, who is wandering between your your blogstress's oppo factory and another television (torn 'twixt the Yankees' contest against the reviled Red Sox and the Arizona presidential slugfest) ambles to his laptop, wine glass in hand, to e-mail your blogstress from the next room:

What's so damn great about marriage?

Being a single, straight man, he appears flummoxed by Shieffer's question about gay marriage.

To this, your ambisexual cybertrix knows not the answer. But she does know the correct answer to Shieffer's main question: Do you think homosexuality is a choice?

It doesn't matter, Bob, whether or not it is. What consenting adults do in their own bedrooms matters not to me. As Thomas Jefferson said about those whose religious practice differed from his, "It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

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What's with the matching suits?

Must be a Skull 'n' Bones thing...

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Exaggeration? You decide

From the President's press conference of March 13, 2002

President Bush: So I don't know where [Osama bin Laden] is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly [Kelly Wallace, Cable News Network], to be honest with you...

Q: But don't you believe that the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead or alive?

The President: Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And again, I don't know where he is. I--I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban...

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Will our children live in as safe a world as we did? The opening gambit, that. (Your blogstress, who admires Mr. Shieffer, regrets to remind him that people in, say, Cambodia or Angola or Bangladesh weren't living in a very safe world when your cybertrix was but a young Selectric-vixen.)

Kerry's answer was good: question is not whether we're safer than we were, but "Are we as safe as we ought to be?" He then reminded viewers that Bush once said he wasn't terribly worried about Osama bin Laden; that he didn't think about him much. To which the president, replied, "That's one of those ex-ag-ger-a-tions."

Oh, you mean like Saddam's awesome weapons of mass destruction?

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Tune in, dammit!

While watching tonight's big finale in the presidential debate, be sure to keep up on your screen for drole and pithy real-time analysis of the candidates' on-screen antics. As usual, your bustiered blogstress will be cranking out the commentary from her Capitol Hill oppo factory.

In the meantime, contemplate this: If the Bush family has its way, it won't matter who won tonight's debate, or anything else, for that matter. Check out this Washington Post report on brother Jeb tossing out the voter registration forms of African-Americans.

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Monday, October 11, 2004

It's a start

With the Afghanistan presidential election having taking place without a burst of violence on Election Day, fortune has smiled upon the Bush administration--not to mention the Afghan people.

Your blogstress has little doubt that fraud occurred through both nefarious intent and simple confusion, but it's important for critics to understand that A VOTE TOOK PLACE in a nation long controlled by demi-Napoleons claiming crowns for themselves.

Western commentators would be wise, thinks your cybertrix, to drop that line about the Afghans having no tradition of voting to which to refer: the Loya Jirga, a sort of tribal council, has been the traditional instrument of rule in villages and provinces for hundreds of years. Reminiscent of native American Indian councils, the Loya Jirga is a body of elders who determine courses of action by votes among themselves. Hardly a perfect form of government in a nation where women are locked out of governance structures, but nonetheless it does constitute a somewhat representative structure governed by votes.

In 2000, your cyberscribe had the privilege of interviewing two courageous young women activists from Afghanistan who were advocates for democracy. When your blogstress began to wax poetic on the glories of the United States Constitution, she was gently interrupted. Our democracy won't look like yours, she was instructed. Our democracy will reflect our culture, not yours.

Oh. Guess that's a point. The trick for Westerners, in our inevitable paternal posturing, is to appreciate cultural expression in the shape of government without resorting to the destructively patronizing position of blessing, or turning a blind eye to, violations of human rights with the rationale known as, "That's how they are."

If that's how they are, we need to acknowledge our complicity in creating that reality. It was the U.S., after all, that poured weapons into Afghanistan for the purpose of defeating the Soviet Union in that theatre (not an unworthy goal), and then once the Afghans turned the Soviets out, declared that Ronald Reagan had won the Cold War, splitting without so much as a "by your leave." One wonders, did Uncle Sam mutter under his breath as he looked over his shoulder, "have fun pointing those Stingers at each other."

And so, as political opponents of Afghan interim president (and presidential candidate) Hamid Karzai boycott the election, or demand an investigation into fraud (as two or three candidates who've backed away from the boycott have done), it is ours to applaud their right to do so, and the courage of the millions of Afghans who voted despite threats of violence from the Taliban and others.

It's said that U.S. Ambassador Zalmad Khalizad made deals with two who backed out of the boycott. Hey, Zal--cough up the details, huh?

For readers who wish to aid the cause of the women of Afghanistan, or to simply stay on top of developments there, your blogstress recommends a visit to the Web site of Women's Alliance for Peace and Human Rights in Afghanistan (WAPHA), a resource rich in information run single-handedly by Zieba Shorish Shamley, Ph.D., an Afghan refugee from Herat.

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Saturday, October 09, 2004

Momentary bliss

This piece was originally posted on Friday, October 8, 2004.
It was moved for indexing purposes.

It's a perfect caress of an evening here in the nation's capital, with a breeze stirring just enough to make its presence known, the air neither too cool for short sleeves nor too warm for long. Behind the Capitol dome, a sky recently vacated by the sun forms an indigo backdrop streaked with teal-tinted clouds.

In the day-to-day leading up to the Most Important Election in a Generation (or a Lifetime, or the Century, depending on whom is speaking), it's become all too easy to forget what a truly lovely place this can be. The denizens, including your blogstress, can hardly be blamed as they navigate checkpoints and endure surveillence and warnings of impending doom.

To the nation, Capitol Hill is the place where the laws, the kielbasi, whatever you want to call them, get made. But it is also a neighborhood lined with trees and quaint row houses that take on a twinkly glow as evening falls. Those who live far from Washington no doubt view the machinery of politics as something large and lumbering, left over from the manufacturing era--just retrofitted with cyberware. The apparati this election year, however, are found not in some giant sausage plant, but in the living rooms and kitchens of Capitol Hill.

Taking her evening constitutional last night, your cybertrix passed by the home of a senator, the windows of which revealed a gathering that could only have been a political fundraiser. People in blazers and khakis and very subdued suits stood facing a single point in the room, glasses of chablis in hand. The focal point was likely the host giving the requisite speech calling for a keeping of the faith and ponying up. Judging from her own mail, your blogstress can assure you that dozens such events take place every night here, and will until Election Day.

In other homes on the Hill, strategy is debated across dining room tables and whispered in bedrooms. Living rooms such as your Webwench's are transformed into oppo factories wherein mind-numbing facts submit to the propagandist's alchemy to become shocking claims.

Some toil for the preservation of the Constitution, others for global domination, most for movement forward in their own careers and all for the victory of their man. All in one charming little village.

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The town hall (Oh, come on!)
presidential smack-down

Mea culpa

Watching Kerry perform tonight, your blogstress is nearly poised to take back every mean thing she ever said about the senator from Massachusetts. (Note the adverb, "nearly.")

What she has most to answer for is her premature prediction that he couldn't win the election, and for that she is indeed beating her comely breast.

In order to facilitate her self-flagellation, your cybertrix is closing up the blog shop for the evening.

Bon nuit, mes amis.

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Friday, October 08, 2004

Counselor to the president

Karen Hughes turned up on MSNBC as Bush's heavy artillery, looking ebullient, no doubt ecstatic not to have witnessed a second meltdown of her candidate. In assessing the president's purported success in this evening's forum, the former counselor to the president (now counselor to the candidate) asserted: "He's a people person."

To her credit, MSNBC's Chris Jansing challenged this perception: "He looked angry, he looked mean," she said, "[and] he nearly charged Charlie Gibson at one point."

"He looked friendly," countered the grinning Ms. Hughes. "He had that twinkle in his eye."

Apparently what your blogstress saw as a twitch turned out to be a twinkle.

Naughty to be haughty

Watch word of the night: haughty. The Bush spinners--most recently, Karen Hughes--are all using it. They say that's how Kerry looked. And they're a bit right. He's a haughty guy. But your cybertrix is not so sure it matters. If your blogstress was John Kerry (a mind-bending scenario), she would ignore the charge and talk about issues.

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Hillary pirouettes

She just turned up on Chris Matthews' show in the guise of a spinner, a role for which she's a bit too thoughtful. No dervish, she; rather, the senator from New York took a characteristically artful turn.

When asked how well Kerry did on the issues of stem-cell research and tort reform, Sen. Clinton noted the complexity of both of those issues, and stated her belief that the latter could be effected in such a way that protects both patients and health-care providers. The answers to such questions lay not in the extremes, she asserted, but more often "in the mushy middle." Hardly a spinner's yarn.

Her best line: "President Bush [admonishes] Senator Kerry for changing his positions to suit the facts, while the president changes the facts to suit his positions."

How can ya not love her?

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Different planet

Shocked, shocked is your blogstress at the universal suggestion among pundits that President Bush did well in tonight's debate. Perhaps it's the law of diminished expectations at work.

Having spent the so-called town-hall meeting (enough with this euphemism, already) attuned to her inner human rather than her inner wonk, your cybertrix was certain that the senator came across as much more calm, confident and commanding than his plaintive opponent.

Righties will no doubt accuse her of bias, which would defy reason when one considers how much less than sanguine she has been about the senator's chances, and her lack of love for the mature Kerry. (Back when she was young and crunchy, she loved the young, shaggy Kerry.)

Out on her limb your Webwench will stay, betting on her gut, which tells her the president didn't come off well.

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No litumus test

(except for how they interpret the Constitution)

Now, there's an objective test. The president wouldn't appoint a justice who would prohibit the Pledge of Allegiance from being said in public places with the "under God" phrase.

If the Republican House has its way, the president won't have to worry about that, for decisions delivered by the federal courts will be dictated by the Congress. Check out this legislation, which would virtually undo the structure of the Constitution.

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Kerry to endorse Ginkoba

Well, he's obviously doing something to keep all those synapses firing at once. Your cybertrix is most impressed with the senator's referral, by name, back to an audience member (Nikki) who earlier asked a question about U.S. relations with other nations.

Here your cyberscribe must apologize for glossing over much of the substance of this discussion, so distracted is she by the glorious dynamic of the president so supremely p*ss*d off that he's either yelling at or pleading with the audience. (Well, he just got a tiny laugh with his rejoinder to Kerry, "I own a timber company? That's news to me. Need some wood?")

Bush is so clearly rattled by Kerry's relentless onslaught that he's looking less than presidential. But don't get too smug there, Senator. There are moments when you're looking like you're having too much fun batting the mouse around. (A little Botox could've gone a long way on both faces tonight.)

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Practicing their love

The president is speaking once again of all the OB-GYNs gone out of business because of the scurrilous work of trial lawyers such as the one, according to Mr. Bush, that Senator Kerry "put on the ticket."

Here we delight in the opportunity to remind the American people of the president's September 6 comments at a campaign stop in Poplar Bluffs, Missouri:

"Too many good docs are getting out of business...Too many OB-GYNs aren‘t able to practice their love with women all across this country." [Emphasis added by blogstress.]

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Blinky the sputtering president

Bush's head may explode the next time Kerry opens his mouth. Restraining the scowl seems to result in rapid eyelid movement.

"I'm worried," he says...worried about his blood pressure, we're sure.

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A little twitchy

Bush is clearly trying to master the reaction shots that did him in during his last outing against the Senator from Massachusetts, but his attempts at facial-muscle control is leaving him looking startled and verging on tics.

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Channelling Cheney

Bush spouts the line; Kerry takes the tactic.

Bush tried pulling out the line Cheney used against Edwards, saying that Edwards and Kerry only took issue with the war in Iraq after Howard Dean, who stood against the war, began to pull ahead in the Democratic primaries. Kerry, however, took his cue from Cheney's debate strategy.

He didn't directly address the president's assertion; instead he went after Bush on the way in which he prosecuted the war. He went directly on attack about the Bush strategy. Kerry appears to be kicking ass.

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Weapon of mass deception

A very nice midwestern lady just asked Kerry how she can defend him against the charge of some co-workers and family that he is wishy-washy. Kerry started out reasonably well with the "weapons of mass deception" line. (Bush didn't find WMD in Iraq so he's turned his campaign into a weapon of mass deception.) Excellent explanation of his position on the Patriot Act: supported it; just doesn't like the way Ashcroft "has applied it." (Your blogstress, for the record, finds fault with both the act and the application.)

But then he yammered on a string of facts that lost your cybertrix in their intricacies.

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Momentary bliss

It's a perfect caress of an evening here in the nation's capital, with a breeze stirring just enough to make its presence known, the air neither too cool for short sleeves nor too warm for long. Behind the Capitol Dome, a sky recently vacated by the sun forms an indigo backdrop streaked with teal-tinted clouds.

In the day-to-day leading up to the Most Important Election in a Generation (or a Lifetime, or the Century, depending on whom is speaking), it's become all too easy to forget what a truly lovely place this can be. The denizens, including your blogstress, can hardly be blamed as they navigate checkpoints and endure surveillence and warnings of impending doom.

To the nation, Capitol Hill is the place where the laws, the kielbasi, whatever you want to call them, get made. But it is also a neighborhood lined with trees and quaint row houses that take on a twinkly glow as evening falls. Those who live far from Washington no doubt view the machinery of politics as something large and lumbering, left over from the manufacturing era--just retrofitted with cyberware. The apparati this election year, however, are found not in some giant sausage plant, but in the living rooms and kitchens of Capitol Hill.

Taking her evening constitutional last night, your cybertrix passed by the home of a senator, the windows of which revealed a gathering that could only have been a political fundraiser. People in blazers and khakis and very subdued suits stood facing a single point in the room, glasses of chablis in hand. The focal point was likely the host giving the requisite speech calling for a keeping of the faith and ponying up. Judging from her own mail, your blogstress can assure you that dozens such events take place every night here, and will until Election Day.

In other homes on the Hill, strategy is debated across dining room tables and whispered in bedrooms. Living rooms such as your Webwench's are transformed into oppo factories wherein mind-numbing facts submit to the propagandist's alchemy to become shocking claims.

Some toil for the preservation of the Constitution, others for global domination, most for movement forward in their own careers and all for the victory of their man. All in one charming little village.

Sphere: Related Content

Presidential debate: stay tuned

Don't forget to tee up tonight as you watch the presidential debate. As usual, your cybertrix will be blogging her original observations and analysis in real time during the debate.

Pulchritudinous punditry, to be sure.

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Dick Cheney and the Open Society

White Dragon, a dear reader, writes with a most fascinating observation regarding an odd clash of interests in a single domain name:

[C]ouldn't help but notice Mr. Cheney's boo-boo during the VP debate. Cheney asked viewers to visit to find out the "real" facts about Edwards and Kerry.

If you visit, you'll find yourself at a Web site owned by George Soros [the financier who supports liberal causes around the world, often under the aegis of his Open Society Foundation]. The site has a large banner that reads:

"Why we must not re-elect President Bush: A personal message from George Soros"

Mr. Soros then explains his take on the Bush regime.

The good people at Soros HQ report heavier traffic on their Web site since the debate. More than triple. They [seem to be saying] that they don't own the domain and that they are checking into the matter to see what happened... After all, people who support open society play fair.

Cheney must have meant to say

There is such poetic irony in this mixup...

Your blogstress asks: Orggie or commie? Choose or lose.

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Who loves ya, baby?

Continuing a run of being under the weather, your blogstress has taken to flying under the radar, hence the lack of posts since the veep debate. Most perplexing is your Webwench's inability to smoke cigarettes, which really puts a dent in her blogstress persona. Can your blogstress be The Blogstress without a cigarette in her hand? Even more pressing, how cool is it to be hanging about in spandex and leather with a lollipop stick poking out of one's mouth?

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Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Et tu, Faustus?

Oh, to have the supreme, serene self-confidence of Richard B. Cheney. What's his secret? Does he meditate in morning? Has he gone to the Crossroads? Tonight's exercise in debate history proved how demeanor can trump reality. When challenged on issues on which he was clearly weak, he simply ignored them or denied what he had actually done. And it worked.

Edwards often made his points quite ably, only to be flicked off by the vice president, as if a fly on his sleeve.

For the record, the MSNBC crowd is all self-congratulatory for having dug up footage of Cheney asserting the link between Saddam Hussein and 9-11, which they showed about 20 minutes after the debate. Meanwhile, your blogstress, just minutes after he denied having made it, posted a link to a newspaper story in which the vice president made that assertion. (See item titled "Saddam and Osama: What'd you say?"- posted at 9:20 p.m.) So there!

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I'm in charge here

Best line of the evening came not from either of the candidates, but from the son of a late president, Ron Reagan. After it was brought to his attention that Cheney never once invoked the name of George W. Bush, Reagan quipped, "I guess Cheney can be forgiven for forgetting that George Bush is really president."

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The big gimmick line of the evening was Cheney's very effective accusation of Senate absenteeism on the part of Edwards, asserting that even though the vice president serves as the body's president and comes to the Senate chamber every week, he had never met John Edwards.

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, the Democrat who got famously F.U.'d by the veep on the Senate floor, made the point on MSNBC that, on his Tuesday visits to the Senate, "unlike all of the vice presidents before him, he meets only with Republicans."

Somebody needs to tell the Edwards camp to stop trying to use Cheney's having met Edwards at a prayer breakfast to refute the charge. Through his dismissive demeanor and judo tactics, Cheney is able to ignore charges made. But Edwards has a ways to go before he can use a prayer breakfast to defend himself against the charge of truancy.

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Gay marriage

The gay marriage exchange was perhaps one of the most expectation-defying of the whole lot. Edwards, who, though loved in the gay community, does not have a stellar record on the issue (not only opposes gay marriage, but unclear on civil unions, supporting undefined "domestic partnership" benefits), riffed for a few minutes on a topic that is not his strongest, and then, in a way that made your blogstress squirm, applauded the vice president and his wife for "embracing" their "gay daughter".

Having already acknowledged his belief, in opposition to the president's advocacy of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, that the definition of marriage should be left up the states, Cheney used his rebuttal time to thank Edwards, in very few seconds, for his kind words about his daughter. Great tactic.

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MSNBC's Chris Matthews just characterized the debate as "a water pistol versus a machine gun." Your blogstress fears he's stated the dynamic aptly, if hyperbolically.

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"The bright light of America"

Edwards just gave a great closing statement after an uneven final half-hour of the debate. The image of his dad sitting in front of the television in the morning to learn math, and knowing that he lived in a country where he could get a college education, which made him hopeful, knowing that he grew up in "the bright light of America...But now that light is flickering." Great stuff.

Now Cheney is giving his, scaring the cr*p out of people about the "global war on terror." I have a feeling that, having the last word, and playing to a traumatized population, Cheney's forceful closing statement had the higher impact.

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Bridging the divide

Cheney calls the polarization of the nation "a disappointment," noting what a shame it is that the administration was not able to create the bipartisan amity that a Governor Bush apparently enjoyed in Texas.

While Cheney did mention the effect of the closely divided chambers of Congress of creating "minority/majority shifts" that are "difficult for both sides to adjust to," he seemed to imply that the Dems refused to play nicely with Tom DeLay.

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The personal story

Now this is interesting: Cheney is appropriating Edwards' personal story, which is a strong aspect of the latter's appeal. (Son of a mill worker makes good.)

Your cybertrix was indeed a bit taken aback to learn that Dick Cheney once "carried the ticket of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers". If you're proud of that, sir, why is your administration doing everything possible to squeeze the nation's labor unions?

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Gwen throws a curveball: AIDS at home

Making the point that young African-American women are more than 13 times more likely to die of AIDS than other Americans with the illness, the moderator asked Cheney what should be done to address that problem. Cheney spoke largely about the administration's international effort, but to his credit admitted that he wasn't aware of the numbers Ms. Ifill cited. But that he had no idea of the degree of the problem among African-Americans speaks volumes.

Alas, Edwards never really took on the question, either.

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Cheney: "A fundamental philosophical difference"

On taxes, all Cheney seems to have about canceling tax cuts for those earning more than $200,000 a year is that small businesses often pay their taxes through personal income tax (sole proprietorships), and that would stifle job creation. Hey, why not figure out a tax credit for sole proprietorships with employees?

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As Cheney went after Edwards on his Senate record, noting a pretty significant absentee record of Edwards' in the Judiciary Committee (thanks to life on the campaign trail), Edwards looked down at his notes, and with a long stroke, appeared to cross out a line before writing something else. Would love to know what it said.

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The Halliburton problem

Cheney is denying Edwards' well-catalogued accusations regarding Halliburton's behavior on Cheney's watch as the conglomerate did business with Iran and Libya and provided false financial information to federal regulators. Then there's the post-Cheney-as-CEO deal for a no-bid contract for work in the Iraq theatre. All Cheney has to say is that Edwards is trying to "throw up a smokescreen" and "confuse the voters" (as if the voters were children).

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Not taking the bait

Edwards is one cool cucumber. When Cheney accused him of demeaning the contribution of Iraqi troops because he doesn't count them in the casualty figures, Edwards remained unrattled as he refuted the charge. It would be useful, thinks your cyberscribe, for Edward to remind views not just how many Americans have died in Iraq, but also the numbers of wounded, which is more than 7,000. Many of the wounds result in the loss of limbs.

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Edwards: "The height of hypocrisy"

Edwards just turned Cheney's accusation about lack of support for troops back on him by reminding him that "It was you guys who send 40,000 troops into [battle] without the proper body armor." He went on to note the administration's attempt to revoke combat pay for troops in Iraq because after the mission had been claimed to be accomplished.

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Cheney: "I'm not challenging John Kerry's patriotism."

Cheney has just lectured a feisty Edwards, saying, "You can't talk tough in a 90-minute debate" when a "30-year record".

Cheney just scored a major point by asserting that both Edwards and Kerry voted against the $87 billion supplemental for the Iraq conflict after Howard Dean started to pull ahead in the Dem primary on an anti-war message. "If he can't stand up against the pressure represented by Howard Dean," said Cheney, "then how will he stand up" to that imposed by America's enemies.

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Saddam and Osama

What'd you say?

Cheney just denied that he ever asserted that al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein had worked together. Your cybertrix invites her astute readers to examine this report from January in the San Francisco Chronicle, excerpted below:

Washington -- Vice President Dick Cheney revived two controversial assertions about the war in Iraq Thursday, declaring there is "overwhelming evidence" that Saddam Hussein had a relationship with al Qaeda and that two trailers discovered after the war are proof of Iraq's biological weapons programs.

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Right out of the box

Gwen charges with Bremer and Rumsfeld claims

Having won the first question, Cheney is forced to start the debate on the defensive as moderator Gwen Ifill raises today's reported comments by Paul Bremer, the former U.S. viceroy of Iraq. Bremer asserted that there never have been enough troops on the ground in Iraq to deal with the aftermath of the war.

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The veep debate

The pre-game shows

Watchword of the night: avuncular. Everybody's saying that Cheney will present as avuncular, which conveys the kindness of an uncle according to your blogstress's Webster's New Collegiate (old school version, circa 1978). So far the word flowed from the lips of Russert, Brokaw and one of the commentators on MSNBC. Your Webwench seems to recall having heard the word used earlier this evening on "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer".

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Monday, October 04, 2004

Counting on you

At Kerry campaign headquarters, they're apparently taking that ballot-counting thing pretty seriously. Your blogstress today received a personalized e-mail from the campaign, informing her that the Federal Election Commission (FEC) just approved the campaign's creation of a fund (to which your cybertrix is invited to donate) for financing a possible recount. (Subject line: Be very prepared.) Has this ever been done before?

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Big Peep

Our cosmopolitian friend, The Internationalist, brought to our attention a charming set of panels by cartoonist Richard Thompson for the Washington Post on the matter of the surveillance blimp (item: "The humanity") that annoyed the cr*p out of your blogstress last week as it hovered over her 'hood. Alas, Thompson's cartoon column, "Richard's Poor Almanac," appears only in the print paper, so you'll have to make do with your cybertix quoting the best lines: it is now, the blimp is such a featurless blob, maybe it needs a name or a decorative scheme, somthing that will strike fear into the heart of a potential terrorist.

So here's your chance - VOTE for the blimp name you like best!
Vote for only one, please.






Once you've voted, simply hold your ballot skyward.
Don't worry, it will be seen.

By the way, your blogstress tried to make a stinkeroo on Romenesko regarding the Post's jingoistic coverage of the blimp. ("Don't worry; it's on our side," reads the lede.) For her trouble, she received a funny note from a reporter with a mainstream Washington bureau who concurred with your Webwench on the creepiness of the whole deal, a mean note from an ill-mannered righty, and a gently chiding yet not quite condescending missive from a nice man at the Pentagon.

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Jumpin' Jimminy Kerry

Speaking of ballots, Bai Lon, our White Dragon, sends this clever little mock-up of a Florida ballot--one well worth the click on the link.

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If it's not one thing,

it's your mother

Difficult though this may be to imagine, your blogstress did arrive on earth by the usual means, meaning that she does indeed have a mother.

Much like yours, Maman de la Webwench writes periodically with family news--a baby born, somebody graduated, don't forget it's the birthday of somebody whose birthday one should never forget. (Perhaps unlike yours, the mother of your cybertrix has been online since, like, the 1980s, before Al Gore invented the internet.)

As Mother prepares to leave the continent for a spell, voyaging away from the mayhem we call Election Day, she informs your cyberscribe that she has cast her vote (by absentee ballot). "Hope they manage to count it," she writes.

And in her nurturing way, the queen mother of the blogosphere's crown princess adds: "Also, Heidi is 40 today! Her email is (should you be inclined to welcome her to your generation)."

Ouch! Happy Birthday, cuz. And welcome to the world, baby Loralei! Oh, and Ma--this hot flash is for you.

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Sunday, October 03, 2004

Holey security blanket, Batman!

When those polls pop up showing that the American people think President Bush more trustworthy than his opponent on fighting terrorism and securing the homeland, your blogstress can't help wondering, on what planet do those surveyed dwell?

Are they not on the planet where Border Patrol officers, agents of the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, and indeed all of the Department of Homeland Security, toil under a hiring freeze? Do they not inhabit the blue marble on which the folks at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) enforce the law not only under a hiring freeze, but under a spending freeze, as well?

Then there's the second resignation of a cybersecurity chief in the last 18 months, apparently out of frustration for the lack of resources afforded him for securing the computer-driven infrastructure that regulates, among other things, the electricity grid.

As if that's not enough, the Department of Homeland Security's own inspector general issued, this week, a scathing report about the agency's failure to create a unified terrorist watch list, which is supposed to be one of DHS's topmost priorities.

Of course, there's also that little problem of integrating the systems of the Border Patrol and other homeland security entities charged with regulating access to and egress from the nation's interior--a task that has yet to be completed.

And remember that news item that Kerry noted in the debate--the one about the FBI failing to translate more than 100,000 hours of wiretapped conversations between potential terrorists? Check out Tom Burka's Opinions You Should Have for more about that.

The solution? Deploy a warbling Jersey mobster on every plane. (This sent to your cybertrix by the smoldering Gang of One, whose musings are soon to appear in the blogosphere near you on a site called Favorite Heretic.)

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