Saturday, September 25, 2004

Why The Presidential Debates Suck

If you go to the PBS Now site, you can download the Memorandum of Understanding on the Debates between the two parties. Everything, right to the camera angles and the pens and paper the candidates will be using, has been agreed upon by the two parties.

The cameras are not allowed to show the audience members to the debate (mostly hand-picked by the two parties) except at the very beginning and very beginning of the debate.

The candidates (by agreement amongst themselves) aren't allowed to address eac other or ask each other questions. (If they do, the moderator is required to stop them.)

The moderator must brief the candidates in advance on the questions he will ask each of them, and apparently isn't allowed to ask follow-up questions or change the questions in response to what the candidates have said. Questions are strictly limited to narrow topics pre-agreed by the two candidates.

Since the cameras can't show any audience members (who must all agree to be completely quiet or be expelled without the cameras showing it), and are limited to pre-agreed angles of the two candidates and the moderator has to stick to questions prepared in advance, the most exciting thing that can happen is if the moderator makes a comical gesture.

Remember the first 2000 debate between Gore and Bush, in which the candidates seemed to do nothing but agree, and Bush called it "a great big love fest"?

Well, I think Jim Lehrer (who will be the moderator again for the first debate) was miniced on Saturday Night Live when Bush said something rediculous and he gave Bush a quizically look in return.

The ratings will stink, suffice it to say.

Will Global Warming and the resultinng Monster Storms be addressed in October 5th, which takes place in Miami, Florida? Nope. The candidates agreed the topic would be homeland security, and Jim Lehrer has agreed to immediately stop them if they even try to talk about other issues. The best one can hope is a tangential mention of Global Warming. Like, maybe, it's nice we're talking about Terrorism today, but Pentagon top planners have concluded that the geo-political instability resulting from the several Global climate change is actually a bigger threat, something we're witnessing in Florida right now as I write this.

The only debate I can recommend watching might be the October 8 debate, when the candidates will be asked questions from the audience members. Again, however, they won't be allowed to address each other or ask each other questions, so it will resemble a bi-partisan press conference more than a debate.

You'd think that, with the Republicans controlling all branches of the federal government, and the incompetent way they have been running the war (are they planning to bring back the draft so they can invade Iran? Sounds like it.) the huge budget deficits (the latter not a topic), the monster storms following the Republican's rejection of Kyoto, and everything else that's been going wrong, Kerry and the Democrats might be interested in shaking things up.

Apparently not so. Being a Democrat in Washington still can earn one a comfortable living, especially by providing those extremely lucrative lobbyist jobs for one's relatives. They're not too anxious to rock the boat.

We need to go back to the League of Women Voters debates. There's nothing like an uppidity suffragett to really shake things up. And in the past they did just that during the debates. Remember the debates before 1988, with the tough questions being asked by those bitchy women journalists? (Where's Babwah Walwahs when we need her?) And the wild far-right and far-left candidates they would invite to shake things up?

I'm so impressed, I think I'll become a card-carrying member of the League of Women Voters myself. That way, I'll be a League of Woman Voter, but just a voter rather than a woman voter. (I hear the Y chromosome is chronically underrepresented in their organization. At least I'll get lots of attention.... >:->).

Open Debates, which has a petition to sign if you're unhappy with the current, silly debate formats. The group has a long list of well-known supporting political groups on both sides of the political equation.

Hurricane spin machine

Well, the Republicans have already spun the Florida Hurricanes (and Ivan's 2nd coming) to their advantage, as expected. Had one or more Hurricanes suddenly changed course and headed out to sea, you can bet preacher Pat Robertson, founding of the Republican Christian Coalition and key Bush voter getter, would have explained that this was somehow an indication of divine favor for the Bushes. (He based his own earlier run for the Presidency on just such a sudden change of direction by a hurricane). They hurricanes hit Florida, so now the Republican spin machine has come up with other reasons why the hurricanes will be good politically for the Bushes. (Of course, there not, by any stretch of the imagination.)

In a Reuters article, the Republicans site the hurricanes as resulting in endless photo ops for the Bushes, and endless opportunities for the incumbent president to fly around the country promising billions in federal aid to hard-hit areas (which may, or may not, actually be delivered when the time comes.) Supposedly really good politically Bush.

Well, maybe not. Some political scientists have found that voters tend to vote against incumbents and incumbent parties in unusually inclimate years. They blame Gore's loss to Bush on an unusually inclimate 2000, Wilson's loss in the 1910s to shark attacks along the Eastern coast etc. (It was felt that the Democrats weren't doing enough to help weather victimes in both cases).

The Republicans say their sensitive to this, pointing out their own suspicions that King George I may have lost against Clinton in 1992 because it was felt King George I was not doing enough to help victims of Hurricane Andrew. They hope that by having George II flying about the country like mad promising billions in federal aid (which might, or might not, ever be handed out) will avoid the problems that George I had.

Most models show the economy may actually be more important. But newsmedia reports show the large number of hurricanes hitting Florida (five named systems and four hurricanes so far this year) are actually going to have an immediate negative impact on the US economy. It's already interrupted oil production in the Gulf, which has caused global oil prices to jump (despite George II's opening of the Strategic Oil Reserve this week). Higher oil prices usually mean inflatation, and in turn, will likely mean higher interest rates and will mean making a slow economy slower.

Of course, the Bush brothers are, in their own way, responsible for the wind and monster waves now battering the coast of Florida as I write this. George II is notorious in Europe for killing the Kyoto Global Climate Change Treaty, one of the few pathethic attempts by humanity to stop the severe Global Climate Change responsible for these monster storms.

Even experts in the Pentagon have private advised Bush is worried that severe economic problems caused by Global Climate Change could affect geo-political stability and international balance of power. Ultimately, some Pentagon advisers have concluded privately that Global Climate Change (as demonstrated by the monster storms in Florida) is a bigger threat than terrorism. (In economic terms, the storms did more damage in Florida than Osama bin Laden ever did in NYC.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Ivan Now Headed for Crawford (or more Hurricane Augery)

After devasting the panhandle of Florida, Hurricane Ivan has now regenerated itself over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico as a Tropical Depression. The National Weather Service is predicting that, within the next 48 hours, the storm will strengthen to a Tropical Storm and is headed straight for ... Crawford, Texas. (No joke, official map as 5PM EDT on Wednesday, Sept 22. Hurricane prediction is a difficult science, and the maps are changed twice daily. Still, prediction with 48 hours is fairly accurate, and it seems that the probability that the storm will eventually strike Texas is currently projected at greater than 30%, and their best guess as to the trajectory is that it will indeed make a bee-line for Crawford.)

Keep in mind that, between 1970 and 1994, there were only two named storm systems per year. Due to global warming, however, there are more than 15 projected for this year, Ivan being the third storm in just a few weeks to devastate Jeb Bush's Texas. The storm has regenerated, and now seems determined to do damage in the state heavily associated with the other Bush brother.

[If Ivan isn't enough for you, there is also Hurricane Jeanne, which is very likely headed back to Florida, although the NWS currently thinks it will suddenly change direction and most likely strike the U.S. further north. It's still several days off, and the NWS will probably have a better idea later in the week if and when Hurricane Jeanne will strike the U.S. The storm has already killed 700 people on various islands in the region. If it strikes Florida --- well within the realm of possibility according to NWS --- it would be the fourth hurricane in just a month to hit Jeb Bush's state].

Years ago, of course, humanity used chicken bones cracked in fire and tea leaves to augery. The idea was simple: you (or an enterprising con-man/delusion maniac) stared at the cracked chicken bones (or birds circulated in the air of what have you) until you went daffy, and then utter some prophetic-sounding platitude.

Today, thanks to modern satellite technology, we can hurricane trajectories to chicken bones, tea leaves, and other techniques of augery. Instead of trying to use patterns in tea leaves, or the cracks in bones exploded in the heat of a campfire, you can stare at hurricane trajectories until you go daffy and start to believe these things actually mean something.

I haven't stared at hurricane trajectories long enough to go daffy, so I can't claim to be an expert in hurricane augery. I leave hurricane augery and prophesy to the Republicans, who have experts like Pat Robertson, that believed that the "sudden" change in hurricane's trajectory (as if hurricanes weren't known for suddenly changing direction) was God's way of telling him to run for president of the United States.

Let's see. Prior to global warming, only two named storms (hurricanes, etc.) per year between 1970 and 1994.

This year, three hurricanes completely devastate Jeb Bush's Florida (known for vote fraud back in 2000 that lead an apathetic president to lose the World Trade Center in 2001 and then use his own incompetence as an excuse to unlease rivers of blood in 2002), and there's at least a fourth one maybe on its way, with several other systems looming out there.

And then Ivan, after mainly devasting Florida, is now projected to make a bee-line for Crawford, TX.

As I said, I leave hurricane augery and other forms of mumbo-jumbo voodoo to Republican experts like Pat Robertson, who've done it before and maybe can make some sense of it all.

Could it be that God is once again trying to send a message to the Republicans? Like, maybe, he doesn't want the Republicans to win this year, and doesn't want any more of that Republican vote-fixing in Florida like reportedly happened their in 2000 (and, like, they are reportedly trying again)?

Could it be that supposedly God-fearing George W. Bush is actually a little hard of hearing, which is why it's taken several hurricanes?

Of course, if it really were God (and that's a big if), couldn't God just use other means to cause the Republicans to lose? I mean, why the hurricanes? Why the messages with hurricanes? I know, maybe He's trying to underscore the point that Global Climate Change is real (even if Bush and his oil-buddy friends like to deny it). But, you'd think God could use subtler and more effective techniques to achieve these aims then trying to get a message through to George W. Bush, who's famously not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and reportedly likes being loyal to his crooked friends down in Texas and Florida, even when hurricanes are repeately bearing down on them.

The only way to confirm our suspicions that God was behind the hurricanes was to ask God Himself. God is reportedly notoriously camera shy, and reportedly has never granted an interview with the media, so we realize an interview with God would be a true journalistic scoop for DFW, and would probably make us even more famous and respected than Dan Rather or CBS News.

However, God has, reportedly, given interviews to delusional madmen and reportedly used various spurious spokespersons from time to time, although the credentials of many supposed spokespersons have historically been difficult and often impossible to authentic. It has been claimed that some supposed spokespersons have used forged credentials, and these supposed forgeries have remained even more controversial throughout the millenia than even the CBS forgeries, or the forged uranium Iraq documents the Bush Administration used to justify the Iraq war to the American people. Since DFW could not satisfactorily verify the authenticity of a number of supposed spokespersons living today, the only acceptable journalist standard for the inclusion of statements from such "authorities" in our report, DFW decided it could not use any such statements or pronouncements.

Instead, DFW attempted to contact God directly for this report.

God did not immediately return our messages. ;-)

Friday, September 17, 2004

Mozilla Firefox: The Browser Wars are Back

Last night I installed Mozilla Firefox. Finally someone's developed a browser that's better and more feature-rich than Internet Explorer (IE). The Mozilla folks has been around and putting out browsers for a while (it started when Netscape donated their source code to the open source project), and they haven't been plagued with the constant stream of security problems that afflicts Microsoft IE. (Just this week Microsoft put out a patch for the JPEG vulnerability in IE, which could let hackers take over your computer just by visiting a web site with a compromised JPEG image on it.)

Installation was a breeze. There are literally hundreds of plugins already available off Mozilla's website, which can be installed with the click of the mouse to further expand FireFox's already rich feature-set.

Particularily notable for blog readers are the "live bookmarks" that support RSS.

If you view DFW in Mozilla Firefox, an "RSS" icon appears at the bottom of the page, indicating that Firefox has auto-detected the RSS feed for my blog. You can add this RSS feed as a "live bookmark" to your set of bookmarks, and then move back and forth between Firefox's built-in RSS Reader and the actual blog webpages. (Which is incredibly useful, since RSS feeds typically only cover summaries of the most recent items on a blog.) Cool.

It has the history tool of IE that's been lacking in past Mozilla and Netscape browsers, as well as the cookie and pop-up privacy-management tools that I really like in Netscape and earlier Mozilla versions. Tools like the Google toolbar (easily customizable additional search engines) are built directly into Firefox. If that's enough features for you, go check out the plug-in library.

The mail reader part of Netscape and Mozilla has been made into an optional plug-in (Thunderbird), so you can install and check-out Firefox before installing its optional mail-reader.

With apparently better security and an extremely rich feature-set, it looks like Mozilla has finally built a better browser with Firebox and Thunderbird. It's no wonder that it's been steady stealing market share away from IE in recent months.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

CBS presents plausible explanation for forged documents

The New York Times is reporting that CBS is finally conceding the controversial Bush memos are forgeries, and is presenting a plausible explanation. CBS has shown an interview with Kilian's secretary, 86, saying she remembers typing memos very similar to the forged documents in CBS' possession, albeit on a fixed-space typewriter typical of this period.

The key to understanding this story, as we have reported all along (and which CBS News still has yet to admit) is that the forgeries are of an extremely poor quality.

They are a dead-on match for Microsoft Word using the default settings, strongly suggesting that the forger intended to make it obvious that the documents were produced using Microsoft Word, rather than a Vietnam typewriter. The fact that the documents were produced using Microsoft Word should have been obvious from the proportion spacing, the unique spacing of the Times New Roman 'f' that is characteristic of MS Word, as well as the exact centering, which was extremely difficult using a IBM Selectric Composer of the era. (The text also does not match an IBM Selectric's output. Only two IBM model lines produced proportional spacing, and it does not match either. It is an exact match to MS Word using the default settings, but even tiny changes to MS Word settings would alter the match, especially the exact centering, strongly suggesting the forger intended to make the forgery obvious in hindsight.)

CBS News made the mistake of claiming document experts had vetting the documents, when, in hindsight, this appears to have not been true. Crack journalists have typically spent significant fractions of their lives staring at output from Microsoft Word (and IBM Selectrics in earlier days), so there really is no excuse for CBS' vigorous attempts earlier in the week to insist they were authentic.

It would have been trivial to change MS Word settings to produce a much more convincing forgery, such as changing the font to a fixed-spacing font. Techniques to simulate typewriter output are widely known, as they are a widely-used convention in certain technical publications. The use of the fixed-spaced font typographic conventions are also widely known to web designers, such as bloggers.

Given the extremely poor quality of the forgeries, DFW concluded that the most logical explanation was that the forger was a right-wing operative attempting to discredit similar, legitimate documents somewhere in existence.

Further evidence of this comes from the White House reaction to the documents, which was initially very low key despite the explosive nature of the revelations had the documents been true. Republicans have attributed this to the "strong leadership" qualities of Brave Leader Bush, who was unfazed by the existence of documents, reported by a major news organization, that appeared to incriminate him (even if they were forgeries). Most strong leaders would have issued a statement, questioning the validity of the documents based on their own recollection of events. (This was not possible in this case for Strong Leader Bush, as the documents, although forged, were close to the true events.) Instead, Bush ignored them, confident that they would soon be revealed as forgeries, because his own operatives had designed the forgeries that way.

It is unfortunate that CBS chose to defend the authenticity of the documents, and thereby fell in to the trap set by the right-wing forger. Had CBS been more cautious, they would have eventually discovered the poor quality of forgeries, and realized an effort was likely afoot to discredit their news organization and any similar authentic documents that still might exist.

Although CBS News now acknowledges serious questions about the document's authenticity exist, CBS News has yet to acknowledge that the forgeries were (likely deliberately) of a very obvious nature, a key to understanding the forger's intentions.

DFW speculated as early as Friday that the forgeries were a sophisticated attempt to discredit similar but authentic documents that DFW speculated likely exist. CBS News is now reporting a story similar to this, citing Kilian's secretary, 86, as a witness to the existence of similar, yet authentic, documents.

It is surprising and unfortunate that DFW's coverage of this important news story has been orders of magnitude better than that of legendary journalist Dan Rather and a highly-respected news organization, CBS News.

Hurricane Jeanne targets Jeb Bush

Years ago, Pat Robertson interpreted one hurricane's "sudden" change of course as a message from God that he should run (unsuccessfully, praise be to God!) for President.

I suggest instead that that the repeated poundings of Florida by Global Climate Change-created monster hurricanes is a message from God to Global Climate Change-disputing Jeb Bush not to rig the Florida presidential elections again this year!

Not yet convinced Hurricane Ivan is a manifestation of God's Wrath against the environmentally and fiscally irresponsible Bush brothers, a herald of soaring interest rates and slowing economic growth and a military draft yet to come in a --- God forbid --- second Bush term?

Not convinced that that political cloud over Jeb Bush’s head that has followed him around since 2000 has now manifested itself as an almost surrealistic hurricane cloud that seems to follow him around and hang over his head? Not convinced Jeb Bush is a surreal magnet for monster hurricanes?

Not yet convinced that the flooding in Florida is a sign from God that the Bush brothers have lost The Mandate of Heaven? Not yet convinced that the Bush brothers have displeased the rain gods? (Or that perhaps Jeb Bush, like the equally dyanstic and imperial Emperor Caligula in I Claudius, has metamorphized into a rain god?)

Well, out in the Atlantic there's tropical storm Jeanne. The National Weather Service is currently predicting that, by Sunday, it will most likely grow to Hurricane strength and reside --- you guessed it --- off the coast of Florida.

My suggestion to Florida residents: dump rain god Jeb Bush safely where they need rain and wind, before Jeanne arrives early next week.

This way, an angry and vengeful God will send the monster storms over to Jeb, and Florida residents will be safe. ;-)

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Hurrican Ivan as the Wrath of God on Florida Republicans

It is not a concidence that the American legal system (uniquely) refers to hurricanes and other natural disasters as "Acts of God." Our ancestors believed such natural disasters were not necessarily mere coincidents, but quite possible the acts of the avenging Diety or the inexplicable judgement of a Divine Providence sacrificing one region for the greater good of another. Hurricane Ivan, nicknamed "Ivan the Terrible," the third hurricane to strike Florida in less than a month, is expected to strike the U.S. in the form of a rare, monsterous Category Five hurricane, with wind speeds of more than 140 miles per hour (200 km/hr). Of the course, the Republicans are at fault. Consider this: 1970 and 1994 averaged less than 2 Atlantic hurricanes per year, but ever since 1995 we've been busy. This year we'll have 16 monster storms, with three hitting Florida in a just a few short weeks. (Source: Time Online.) The cause is rising ocean temperatures due to Global Warming (or, more accurate, Global Climate Change), a phenomenon Bush's own scientists tell him is real (as do European Petroleum Firms), but which he, under the influence of his friends at Halliburton and in the oil industry, insists is not.

"The jury is still out" on Global Warming, Bush told outraged Europeans, and de facto had the United States kill the Kyoto Protocol, much to the delight of his Texas oil buddies. Tell that to the Gulf Coast residents, about to get hit with their third monster storm in just a few weeks. Tell it to one of the 16 other monster storms scientists are predicted this hurricane season.

Not convinced it is the Wrath of God against the Florida Republicans? Hurricane Charley, the first hurricane to hit Florida a few weeks back, suddenly and very unexpectedly changed course, swiping the Republican enclaves of Sanibel and Orlando, catching residents of both communities, which had not been evacuated, badly off-guard. Sanibel, of course, is one the richest Republican playgrounds in the United States. Condos on that tiny Florida island sell for millions of dollars. Congressman Goss Porter, Bush nominee for CIA director, used to be the mayor of the Republican city of Sanibel, where he made millions on a newspaper business. Orlando, home of Bush-backing media giant Disney, eager to have a Bush-controlled FCC further increase its media concentration in key markets at the expense of democracy, is not far behind; its gated communities are a Mecca for the very richest Americans, the one Bush "calls his base," as he himself once put it. These are folks Bush wants to give big federal tax cuts to by drastically cutting the top bracket tax rates, while state and local governments squeeze the middle class with increases in their much flatter taxes as the feds cut handouts to the states while forcing them to spend more on terrorism and other new federal mandates.

Don't think it's fair to say that Hurricane Charles was the Wrath of God just because it unexpectedly changed course and struck the two major Republican playgrounds in Florida? Well, prior to running for President, Pat Robertson (now a Senator) went on T.V. after a hurricane unexpectedly changed course and headed out to sea.

Pat Robertson said he prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed to God for the Hurricane to change course, and, after he had finished praying, the Hurricane changed course and headed out to sea, halleluia and praise to God, and this convinced Pat Robertson that God wanted him to run for President of the United States as a Republican. (He didn't win, Praise Be God.) Well, presumably, given his direct phone line to God, Pat Robertson was once again praying for his fellow Republicans down in Florida. This time, however, the hurricane once again changed course unexpectedly. But, rather than head out safely to sea, it struck the homes of Pat Robertson's friends down in Florida. It was a message from God to George Bush's brother Jeb Bush: I am God, Global Warming is Real, I hate what you've done in Iraq, and don't steal the election for your brother this year!!!!!

In case Bush didn't get the message, God has sent two more hurricanes, each one more terrible than the last! (Unfortunately for God, the Bush Brothers are a little hard of hearing. Sooner or later, though, those high winds will get through Jeb Bush's thick skull, if not during Hurricane Ivan, than during God's next disaster.)

Jeb Bush's operatives have reportedly been trying to steal Florida for Bush once again this year. The felon list, once again wildly in error (According to PBS, 95% of those on the list had a legitimate right to vote in 2000.), although it was thrown out. Of course, the Republicans have an ace up their sleeve: the Diebold voting machines. Hence God had no choice but to send no less than three Hurricanes to send a message to those stubborn Bush brothers!

Of course, there is a scientific basis for all of this as well. The Gaia Hypothesis
is a theory that the Earth has complex internal negative feedback loops (like in an electronic amplifier, or in a living organism) that act to maintain ideal conditions, and, like in a living organism, these internal systems will react to an irritant (such as Halliburton) by reacting to expel it. Halliburton causes Global Warming, Global Warming causes majorly nasty Hurricanes, nasty Hurricanes (one, two, three) come after Bush's brother Jeb in Florida.

Incidentally, leaving asside issues like Diebold, bogus voter purge lists, and outright vote fraud, Florida is expected to be extremely close once again this year --- a major battleground state. One pundit already pointed out that these three Florida Hurricanes, like the weather in Shakespeare's Tempest, seem to forshadow the political events of men. A political hurricane, perhaps a repeat of 2000, is forecast to follow shortly the real hurricanes, if Jeb Bush doesn't get religion soon. To prevent that (and get this nasty electorial political hurricane to change course and spare our nation), we shall have to pray for him, and hope Pat Robertson will join us.

This is, of course, a very serious issue. One real concern is New Orleans (fewer Republicans than in Florida, so perhaps it will be spared the worst) could sink under a massive hurricane. This is because New Orleans is below sea level, and relies on a massive system of huge man-made pumps and levees along the Mississippi, to keep the water out. If the sea level rises above the pump's capacity, they will become inoperable for many weeks, and engineers will have no choice but to cut open the levee. High Mississippi waters could prevent that as well, forcing New Orleans to be abandoned for many weeks and perhaps even indefinitely, with billions of dollars in damage. Simulations by Lousiana State Univeristy (which has been trying to convince an apathethic Congress to do something about man-made coastal erosion in the protective wetlands surrounding New Orleans) predicts 300,000 won't leave when asked to do so, potentially resulting a boat life larger than the Dunkirk WWII boat lift. (Source: Associated Press).

The loss of New Orleans due to an Act of God (and the man-made acts of Global Warming , Coastal Erosion, and apathethic Republicans in power who prefered using the billions to purge Iraq of non-existant WMDs and insist Global Warming isn't real) is projected to happen if a hurricane of more than 120 mph hit just west of New Orleans, due to the counter-clockwise rotation of hurricanes. Fortunately, Ivan, which has 140 mph winds, is project to hit somewhere east of New Orleans, which should spare the Big Easy of the doomsday scenario. New Orleans is at the outside of Ivan's projected path (it's thought more likely to hit the panhandle of Florida), but the Big Easy's million residents have still been forced to evacuate.

Global Warming (and the resulting monster storms we've seen these last few years) is, of course, real. Even Bush's own advisors tell him that. So do European petroleum companies, who believe it is one of many reasons they must eventually move away from oil to do business in other forms of energy. But not those boys in Texas. They like the comfortable life, and fear any admission that Global Warm is real might force them to give up their lavish Texas ranches.

Besides, Global Warming (and these monster hurricanes) won't affect them. They've got tons of mullah. When Charley came calling on Sanibel and Orlando, thanks to not signing Kyoto, they had the cash to breeze out of town and head off to their next fancy mansion, somewhere else in the world. (Well, actually, no --- the predictions were off and some of them got hit. But they learned their lesson and didn't stick around for the next one.)

It's the Working Classes, who can't afford to head off to the next vacation home, who get hit by these things. It's the working classes who have to pay the higher gas taxes. It's the working classes whose kids are dying in Iraq while these guys arrogantly drive their gas-guzzling Hummers and insist that Global Warming isn't real even after it's blown one of their houses down.

Like Pat Robertson once pointed out on national television, Hurricanes' paths are controlled by Divine Providence (and are can be omens in Presidential races, or so he once told us :-) ), and this year the Hand of God seems set against Jeb Bush and the Florida Republicans. All of that furious wind and water are the Wrath of God against Jeb and George Bush for rejecting the global Kyoto treaty and stealing that election in 2000. :-) Americans might not know what they did, but God does, and His hand against them is a mighty one. :-) [Too bad for all the poor people suffering down there right now who had nothing to do with Bush's rejection of Kyoto.)

If the voters don't get the Bush boys this year, it seems Global Warming, the Gaia Hypothesis, and God will. Eventually, anyhow.

Colin Powell accuses U.S. of taking a step back from Democracy (humor)

[PARODY OF TODAY'S COLIN POWELL/RUSSIA STORY.] Responding to domestic US concerns that the GOP was using terrorism as an excuse to consolidate its hold on power through media concentration and broken voting machines, Colin Powell said today: "We understand the need to fight against terrorism . . . but in an attempt to go after terrorists I think one has to strike a proper balance to make sure that you don't move in a direction that takes you away from the democratic reforms or the democratic process." The US Secretary of State remarks referred to attempts by Republicans to increase their domestic influence by allowing Republican-aligned media organizations to control a greater share of US media markets than allowed under current US law.

Powell also expressed concerns about the Diebold voting machines, which have lack a voter-verifiable paper trail and have been widely-criticized by experts as being wide-open to fraud. Republicans reportedly wrote the Help America Vote Act in such a way as to make major Republican campaign-contributor Diebold one of the view voting machine vendors eligible for purchase by states under federal funds; key executives in the Diebold firm are known to be enthusiastic supporters of the GOP, and promised writing that they were "committed" to "delivering" the electoral votes of Ohio to the GOP. They now say they regret the wording of the letter.

Powell's remarks may also have referred to the gerrymandering of congressional districts in a number of states with legislatures under GOP control to ensure a GOP victory in the House of Representatives this fall.

Powell may have also been referring to the corrupting influence of large amounts of Saudi oil money into U.S. politics by means of business partnerships with U.S. defense and anti-terrorism firms, such as the Carlisle and Halliburton firms that the President's family and Vice President have been actively involved in. The inflows of foreign cash into supposed business relationships may have reduced the influence of domestic business concerns, weaking the U.S. democratic infrastructure.

Republicans reportedly used the constant terror alerts and "war" issues to distract voters while they consolidated their domestic power.

Powell stressed the need to make greater strides back towards democracy in the United States in spite of the "war" on terror.


Monday, September 13, 2004

Dan Rather, FOX News, the hoaxing of America, and tips on forging anti-Bush documents

Microsoft Word produces a dead-on copy of the forged documents with the default settings. It's true there were two model lines of IBM typewriters that could have produced proportional spacing in the 1970s. Extensive output of both has now been posted to the web, and the bottom line is: if you fought with a IBM Selectric Composer for many hours (a very pricey typesetting machine unlikely to be used by a colonel for his memoirs, or found in an administrative office) you could get something that almost, but not quite, looks like the documents. Some things, like the centering, would be inconsistent and likely way off on the IBM Selectric. It would quite look like the forged documents CBS News still insists are authentic. But some things would be close. Maybe. Like you'd have proportional spacing.

Like many writers, I've spent a lot of time fighting with Microsoft Word, and I know it's capabilities. Even small changes to the defaults will produce completely different (from my perfectionist's perspective, trying to author a document) word-wrap positions.

The fact that Microsoft Word, with its default settings, produces dead-on versions of those documents, full of all the idiosyncrasies of Microsoft Word, suggests the forger was either grossly incompetent, wasn't trying very hard, or was a Bush-fanatic Republican (none of which are mutually exclusive).

(If you change even the margin a teeny-tiny bit from its American default, the resulting documents no longer match the CBS forgeries to within a teeny-tiny bit of an inch. IBM Selectric Composers, or any IBM typewriters, didn't do automatic centering in the 1970s --- it was very difficult, was done manually, and won't match MS Word to thousands of a point.)

To put it mildly, this is an incredibly bad forgery.

Take a look at the way Microsoft Word handles the 'f' in Times New Roman, in words like "different." They even look different (no pun intended) in MS Word even than in this web browser, which spaces the 'fs' differently. If only the forger had been smart enough to turn on a proportional spaced font like Courier New. Everyone that has ever designed a web site knows about proportional spaced typewriter fonts.

The 'fe's and 'fr's in the forged CBS documents show the tell-tale characteristic spacing that are unique to MS Word Times New Roman, and not found in other typesetting systems (even ones that use Times New Roman), as is know by anyone that has painstaking had to convert complex documents from one system to another.

Some more types for the forger: Next time, when you're forging your anti-Bush documents, be sure to first turn off AutoCorrect. (It's what created the now infamous 'th.' And the moron also typed a space before "2" and "nd" because he didn't know that Control-Z undoes the AutoCorrect superscript that was the dead giveaway that this was Microsoft Word.) And be sure to first save the document in ".txt" format and print in Notebook so the centering isn't perfect (another Microsoft Word giveaway).

I had to learn all of these things while preparing documents for publications that, for reasons of tradition, wanted them in a format produced by very old word processing software, that emulated the way a typewriter works. (Microsoft Word emulates a sophisticated, modern digital typesetting system of the 80s, not a typewriter. Forger didn't know that. Duh.)

There's a couple of other Microsoft Word features you should turn off first. Be sure 'Smart Quotes' is turned off, even if you are using Courier, or you'll get those fancy directional quotes that Selectrics couldn't do. Better yet, though, don't use MS Word. At least not on the default settings. Why not just go out and buy an $80 electronic typewriter from Staples. (They all use fixed fonts today, like almost all models did in the 1970s). Or use the old typewriter your grandma's probably still got in her attic. (The ribbons last forever; just re-ink them. Duh.) Where did you get your forgery degree?

It won't fool the experts, even after running repeatedly through a dirty, broken fax machine or whatever you did to it. There are subtle differences between typewriting models, even ones that use the same font. (But, if you used a fixed-point font, it would at least not be blindingly obvious that this is a total forgery.)

See, manual typewriters have tiny dots on the letters that help them grip the paper better when the user is typing. These dots can be seen on the original as indentations, and might show up in copies as well. (Copies might also show if some letters are slipped, as manual typewriters do.) Electric typewriters have their idiosyncrasies. If you're stupid enough to use a proportional font, that limits to you to two IBM models that can be closely examined and carefully compared to what you've don, and they're really screwed unless you actually use an IBM Selectric or IBM Executive. They're still around, but unfortunately our forger was too stupid to use one and decided MS Word, (on the default settings!) would be good enough.

How do I know about manual typewriter forensics? Well, I used to be a detective mystery fan, and these discussions would come up in old detective stories. You'd think a forger would be interested in typesettings systems and manual typewriters and at least have read enough detective mysterys to know that MS Word produces something completely different than what a typewriter does. Apparently, our forger was absent that day in forging class, and was later flunked out of forging school.

Accurate information in the media is vital to the function of a democratic society. How can we possibly win the "war" on terror with this tabloid trash that Fox News presents and distorts as fact every single day? How can we win the war on terror when such an acclaimed journalist as Dan Rather goes to bad for this terrible forgery?

How can win the war on terror if the forgeries amongst our political operatives are stupid to know you don't use Microsoft Word's default settings to forge a document that was supposedly typewritten in the early 1970s.

There's tons of ex-CIA forging talent. (They've even got a whole forging department, I hear.) Why couldn't they have hired one of those guys, instead of this goof who flunked the Microsoft Word class in his high school? (Probably, because these terrible forgeries were done by right-wing operatives trying to discredit this story.)

I suggest CBS News take the kind advice of their friends at the Washington Post and USA Today, who, like me, have probably spent years fighting with typewriter and typesetting systems. They know, from years of fighting with ^&*! things, how sensitive Microsoft Word and other modern typesetting systems are to tiny changes in default settings, which cause them to produce noticeably different documents. They know something has been in Microsoft Word on the default settings and when something has been done on an IBM Selectric Composer, which has radically different (and far more primitive) capabilities.

The press has a lot of blood on its hands for the fawning way it covered the supposed WMDs in Iraq prior to the war. We're now $200 billion in the hole for WMDs that didn't exist, and have the largest deficits in history. Our rambling, flip-flopping leader talks of tax cuts for the rich while the nation goes silently bankrupt.

And the crack journalists at CBS obvious have written enough in their lives to be familiar with Microsoft Word’s default settings, and haven’t stared at its output long enough to recognize the special way it spaces its ‘fs’ in Times New Roman. What's the world coming to?

My guess is that there is some truth to the underlying story. The only explanation for forgeries this bad is that someone sneaky is worried there may be genuine documents out there they'd like to discredit preemptively.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Right Wing Operatives Hoax Dan Rather

Simple experiment: Go to, today's CBS News article in which Dan Rather vigorously defends controversial documents that incriminate Bush as authentic. Open the PDF versions of the articles using the widely-installed, free Adobe Acrobat Reader software. Now, enter the text of the documents into Microsoft Word using the default MS Word settings of 12-point font and default (American paper) margins. What do you get? You get the exact word wrap of the text in the documents. In other words, these documents are totally forgeries, not only produced using Microsoft Word, but done in such a way as to make it TOTALLY OBVIOUS that they were produced in Microsoft Word.

For the list you have to hit Control-Z at one point to turn off the auto-indent on the list. And there is an extra space in front of one of the periods in one of documents (which is obvious from the PDF).

But if you enter this, you get the IDENTICAL TEXT, with identical word wrap in the paragraphs as produced. So yeah, this was done in the American version of Microsoft Word, a program that almost every American with a computer has.

The text was then run through a cheap fax machine over a noisy telephone line, creating an uneven base-line that fooled 60 Minutes' experts into thinking it was done on a manual typewriter of that era.

Now, any forger worth his salt would know to use a real manual typewriter from the period to type these forgeries. Everyone's family has one of these things lying around in their attic somewhere as an attic. It might not fool all of the experts, but, after running through a noisy fax line, it wouldn't be BLINDING OBVIOUSLY (once revealed by the Republican hench-men) that these were totally forgeries.

And, every (well, almost every) user of Microsoft Word knows that you set "Courier New" as your fixed point font if you want to emulate a typewritter --- which one sometimes needs to do in the preparation of any sort of complex documents. People publishing computer source code, for example, (or preparing web sites like us bloggers), use this font all the time to turn off kerning and get that typewritter effect that is the convention for "quoted machine text."

Conclusion: The forger wasn't a blogger.

But was the forger totally incompetent? After all, he (or she) was smart enough and technically savvy enough to know that running the text through a dirty fax machine would create the "uneven" character effect of a manual typewritter. This could be done more cleanly (and more convincingly) by making some modifications to the MS Word document (which any skilled MS Word user could easily figure out, as well as those with an understanding of Adobe PostScript.)

But, then, millions of Americans wouldn't be able to reproduce the forgery at home. So, they might not be easily convince after the fact by Republicans that these things were total frauds.

Incidentally, Dan Rather's reliable sources are all Texans, and probably Republicans.

So, guess who it was who made the most reliable name in journalism look like stupid?

Chalk another one up for Karl Rove's boys --- they are good, if total crooks.

The White House, of course, immediately accepted these documents as authentic, and distributed them on their website after the 60 Minutes report came out. The White House (namely, George W. Bush) is in an unusually good position to know whether or not these documents are real. In fact, given that they are hoaxes, you'd expect them to realize that immediately. And they would have were they acting in good faith. Yet they accepted the documents as genuine, and are only now starting to raise questions.

So, it's clear who is behind this, and it's clear this is a total screw job on Dan Rather.

Incidentally, might there by any truth to these documents? Might real versions exist somewhere?

One strategy for discrediting a story is to do something like this --- break the story using fake documents that can easily be proven to be fake after the fact. Once Dan Rather is duped, provide evidence that they are fake. (Like the Dallas News --- those Texans again --- reporting today that one of the officers mentioned in the documents was discharged a year before the documents were written. A forger researching all of this wouldn't have done that, unless the intent was to make it easy to prove the documents as fake after the fact.)

By proving (very poor) fake documents were behind the story, this will discredit the story completely, even if there is some truth to it.

And it's easy to do, as the Republicans know which parts of this story are fake and which parts are real.

And some parts were real, but they may now forever be discredited.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Day 4: After Yesterday's Doom, It's Mourning in America Again

At first I thought this might be a difficult entry to write. You can't win unless your positive, Bush strategists have kept telling the media. After the two horsement of the Apocalypse gave incredibly angry speeches yesterday, tonight was supposed to optimistic. That's why I titled this column "It's Mourning in America Again," a play on Reagan's famous 1984 propaganda video. It was Mourning in American Again --- the RNC's video tried to invoke the optimistic feel of the 1984 Reagan video with this lines like "He restored our nation's [optimism], this man did [after 911]." But, of course, it was after 911. After he blew it big time. And, anyway, Rudi Guiliani's leadership was a whole lot memorable after 911 --- after reading "My Pet Goat," Bush is best remember for going into hiding for three days, while Guiliani faced the media with lines from Winston Churchill. (True, after the Senate sang "God Bless America" on the steps of capital, Bush did briefly show himself.)

I have to say I liked Guiliani much better when he was quote from Winston Churchill right after 911 (when I was still living in the greater NYC area) then a few nights back when he engaged in Euro-bashing quoted one of Hitler's favorite lines (one that happened to be shared by Nietzsche and Bush).

The eurobashing, which I pointed out in my earlier blog entries on those days, has already come to haunt the Administration. Arnold's anti-UN diatribe was brought up in the UN Security Council, and the Administration was forced to distance itself from Arnold's comments.

So it was "Mourning Again" in American tonight, with an attempt to put an optimistic face on the dismay failure of the last four years, and distract from the Two Horsement of the Apocalypse who gave their angry speeches yesterday, as well as the angry but peaceful anti-Bush demostrators 500,000 who marched Sunday.

So, as they might say of Mao, Strong Leader Bush spoke tonight! Great Leader Bush gave LOOOOOOOOOOONG speech! Great Leader put me to sleep!

It was a very liberal speech, almost appropriate for a Democratic candidate. He wants to spend on education so that every child can go to college. And he wants to lower insurance premiums on small businesses. And cut insurance premiums on Oby/YGNS (He pronounced it "Obie Y-G-Ns." Many of them are quite wealthy. They are definitely in Bush's base, and they do pay very high insurance premiums, it's true. But mainly he spoke to Democratic values and how he would advance a liberal social agenda.

The right-wingers were kept locked away all week. Where was Trentt Lott, Tom Delay, Frist, Jessie Helms, & Friends? No where to be seen. To right wing and not ready for prime time. So we had nice moderates like Arnold and Guiliani that even moderates like me like (and sometimes supported) when they stood for responsible government (unlike Bush) and weren't supporting Bush or engaging in ultra-nationalistic Euro bashing or quoting from Hitler.

True, he did say he'd cut federal spending, so it's not clear how he's going to help all these children get more Pell grants and help more than 25% go to College. (There are only so many professors and so many college slots, you know. If you want to send more children to college, someone has to pay for all those children, and with million jobs Bush has erased while in office it is going to have to be the federal government.)

He wants to increase payouts to state governments, but the largest deficits in history and Great Leader Bush only talking about more tax cuts, it is not clear how he would accomplish that.

Of course, he didn't mention he mainly wants to cut federal spending on social programs. He plans to increase military spending further, of course. He has to reward Cheney's friends at Halliburton, and he's got several more countries on his axis-of-evil hit list left to go. And he's got years of Iraq rebuilding to pay for, money that has already been committed (and its billions and billions and billions) but not yet made it into the federal budget.

So he's going to increase military spending, payouts to the states, and spend on all sorts of social programs. But he wants to cut taxes and cut federal spending, or so he says. (He said that four years ago, but massively increased federal spending while cutting taxes with disasterous results.) Lovely.

OK, so this wasn't very realistic of Great Leader Bush.

But he express great enthusiasm for his one great passion: regressive taxation. Tax the poor. Relieve the rich. "Some people call you the rich; I call you my base" as he says. He said he wants "tax simplification," which is Bush code for regressive taxation.

If you're in the middle class, chances are you get a W-2. It's easy for Uncle Sam to tax you. He knows exactly what you made.

If you're a businessman (and, for tax reasons, even guys like doctors and lawyers present themselves as businessowners when dealing with the IRS, so this the upper class we're talking about) it gets more complicated. The IRS wants to encourage businesses while taxing them fairly.

Thing is, it's hard to do. Ever heard of depreciation? Was that Lexus your company (which you control) bought necessary to impress clients, or was it a luxury? (Yeah, and the tax code is complicated. If you leased that Lexus, you reportedly can deduct the full lease expense of whatever you used for business. But if you bought it outright, anything above a used junker is considered a "luxury car" and can't be deducted. Go Figure.)

But mainly the tax code is complicated because it keeps responding to crooks trying to use rules that were originally written to try to tax people fairly. Take off-shore accounts. The IRS really can't stop people from investing in businesses off-shore. Trouble is, some of these are really tax shelters, like Roth IRAs for the super-rich.

They do get taxed when the money gets brought back into the country. So, some accountants came up with wild ideas. Like lease swaps. No, you're not bringing the money back into the country. Your off-shore "company" (bank account, really) has used its money to lease a sewer system somewhere in Europe, which, in turn, leased it back to you.

Actually, a bank leased the sewer system (using your off-shore money), and then had it leased back, and now it wants to use that money to give you a low-interest loan (backed by the sewer system in Europe). See, you're not really bringing your money back into the country. You're getting a loan from a bank (which, in theory, would be tax free).

Well, of course, the IRS figured that one out (widely reported in media). And so the tax rules got ever more complicated to deal with the latest scam. (And the guys that tried it ended up paying huge fines, despite having been advised to do this by the largest accounting firms in the world, because it was obviously a tax scam.)

Strong Leader Bush wants to do away with all of these complicated rules. Don't you feel sorry for all these rich folks hiring the most expensive tax lawyers around to come with these lease-swaps, and then still having to pay their fair share, because the IRS code just wasn't on their side?

Your taxes are probably pretty simple. Maybe they get complicated if you own a home (depreciation, see, but it's pretty simple in reality). But mainly you get a W2, and the government pretty much knows exactly how much to tax you.

But these rich folks have a nightmare trying to get around these tax rules. Legal advice on tax loopholes is very expensive, and sometimes unsound. And, keep in mind, they are doing it for the good of the country. The more money in their pocket, the more servants, private security, &c, they can hire and make work more efficiently (i.e., harder) than those nice unioned government jobs.

The super rich make millions because they are thousands of times more productive than you are, so they should get to keep more of taxes than you do, so they have an incentive to work harder when po' folk like yourself don't need one. Right. Sure.

But this is what Strong Leader Bush feels needs to be done.

I was going to say a few words about the protests.

PBS reported that three demonstrators were arrested from inside the hall during Bush's speech. (Lord knows how they got inside the hall. They had to sign loyalty oaths and were carefully screened. Democrats evened warned those planning to attend Republican events to be carefully about political messages on underwear, since even that was supposedly being inspected by extra-tight security.)

PBS reported that "Bush was never aware of what was going on. He didn't even pause."

Not true. I have it all on video.

The delegates were told to cheer Bush loudly if there were any protestors, so that security could remove the protestors without the TV audience (hopefully) knowing.

Twice Bush was interrupted ad odd times by "4 More Years" and had to stop and pause. TV cameras then zoomed in on a terrified elderly lady being rapidly forced marched by goons out of the hall.

Bush clearly noticed, because convention delegates were all looking at the protestors.

And it clearly affected him. After the first disruption, there was a long pause while degates shouted and TV cameras followed the protestor being carried out. When the crowd quieted and Bush was allowed to continue, he looked momentarily shaken. He smiled uneasily at people in the crowd before continuing. He began stumbling over his words, like "Afgan.... free Afganistan."

Moments later, there was a second disruption, as delegates again felt the need to drown out Bush to also drown out a protestor.

Bush contined. " members of both parties including...."

And then a third disruption followed as the delegates disrupted Bush with their loud chanting. Bush's faced changed in recognition of what was happening, and he stopped speaking. The disruption lasted long enough for the TV cameras to see it. All the delegates were looking at the protestor being led out.

As the crowd quieted down, he repeated his entire sentence (since it would have been forgotten by the TV audience by now. "...members of both parties...." Yes, members of both parties were in the audience tonight.

PBS' denial that Bush was affected by the protests inside the hall was clearly false. I don't the reasoning. It struck me as being similar to the old classic movie, in which a priest persuades a fearless condemned criminal to feign fear in the electric chair, so that his cult persona of "strong leader" amongst young juvenile delinquents will not lead any more to the dark side. "Say it isn't so" a delinquent challenges a newspaper report. "It was so.... He was a coward" the reporter responds.

That was sort of the line coming from PBS. The protestors never even affected the President. Bush was "never aware", the reporter insisted, of that elderly lady being whisked out the door like a terrified animal. The demonstrators were completely foiled, so don't try this, all you out there at home.

I don't know what that usually Democratic-leaning reporter was afraid of. Perhaps they feel the audience will be alarmed by the protestor's tactics, and vote (God forbid) Bush in four another four years.

But when a preponderous of evidence (ignored and whitewashed by a media with a realistic understanding of the dangerous of political instability in a dangerous world) suggests Bush operatives stole that election in Florida in 2000. In an era where theft of Presidential elections occurs, and this is covered up by the corporate media, this type of (peaceful) protest becomes one of the few remaining avenues of political discourse.

Those protestors sacrificed themselves to show America and the world the real Bush. One who will not help those who can't afford to send their children to college. One who will not increase outlays to the states, but will only increase the flow of money going to his cronies at Halliburton, and only (noticeably) reduce the taxes of "the rich [his] base." And one who has been disasterous for democracy, for our economy here at home (erasing 1 million jobs), persuading a neglient foreign policy responsible for 911, and a neglient foreign policy in its wake that his diminished American's standing in the eyes of the world while enriching Cheney and his friends at Halliburton.

But, who knows? Perhaps those weren't even real protestors. According to PBS, delegates were told not to enter the aisles during Bush's speech for security reasons.

The poor, frightened old lady might not have sacrified herself to show the true nature of America after all.

She might just have had a bladder control problem, and made the mistake of entering the aisle against instructions at a time when Republicans were most paranoid. The resulting disruption was caused by the Republican crowd just following orders to yell "4 more years" if the security detail grabbed anyone.

I've only seen the video of them being whisked out (with the crowd faced and chanting at them, disrupting the President), so I can only go by the PBS reported who claimed that some seemed to have been whisked away merely for entering the aisle. This is the same reporter who claimed Bush did not see the disruptions, nor pause his speech because of them, something the video show is patently untrue.

Who knows? "Say it wasn't so." Say it wasn't so about Florida as well.

The media in this country, largely, have been saying it wasn't so, largely out of fear, these four years. And we paid the price for that stolen election in blood, ash, and tears on 911.

God forgive those Florida Republicans, for they knew not what they did.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Day 3 of the RNC: The image of Halliburton is given Breath and Voice

"He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak" (Rev 13:13-15) or so says the Apocalypse. Tonight Halliburton was given an image and voice in the form of a man named Dick Cheney, the current Veep, in another night of ultra-nationalism at the Republican National Convention. In what must have shocked foreign observers and moderate Americans alike, ultra-nationalist delegates chanted "USA" when Cheney defended Bush's insistence on a unilaterial right to pre-emptively invade other nations on the basis of incorrect intelligence.

Cheney's a huge crook, so he's easy to refute. Cheney thinks its out to hold on to a huge number of Halliburton shares while Halliburton stood to make record profits as a direct result of Cheney's "war fever," so described by Colin Powell in Bob Woodward's book. Here are some statistics from literature widely distributed by the Democratic Party:

When we talk to you about the influence of special interests like Halliburton, and the difference that you can make, it is NOT just campaign rhetoric. No firm has benefited more than Texas-based Halliburton, Dick Cheney's former
company. Let's look at the facts:

  • Halliburton was awarded a no-bid contract worth more than $7 billion for the rebuilding of Iraq. This contract was "coordinated" by the vice president's own office. That same year, 2003, Dick Cheney received $178,437 in "deferred compensation" from Halliburton.
  • Reports show that Halliburton drastically overcharged America for gas being imported into Iraq, and skimped on basic services to troops like providing clean working conditions and safe food.
  • In all, Halliburton has overcharged the U.S. government $186 million. They even used tax dollars to pay an employee in Iraq $82,000 a year to "walk around and look busy."
  • Dick Cheney is watching out for Halliburton, and Halliburton is watching out for Dick Cheney. A recently filed 2003 financial disclosure form reveals that Halliburton invoked an insurance policy last year to indemnify Cheney for what could be steep legal bills "arising from his service" at the company.

Legal fees arising from service to Halliburton? Might that arise from those internal Pentagon emails, leaked to the press, in which Halliburton contracts are excluded from the bid process specifically because they have been already precleared by the "Office of the Vice President?" All of this while Mr. Cheney's office (or, should I say Halliburton's office?) insisted to the press (not knowing they had these memos) that these very same Halliburton contracts had gone through the normal Pentagon channels without interference from a very financially interested Vice President? Those same contracts on which Halliburton later had to refund millions because the Pentagon concluded (at the urging of an angry press) that it had been severely overcharged? Or does that sentence in Halliburton's financial disclosures refer to some scandal that has not yet broken, and Halliburton dearly hopes never will? This must be some scandal waiting to brew, for the insurance was so expensive Halliburton could not hide it in its financial statements....

Cheney severely distorted Kerry's record, of course. Both Cheney and, I believe, Zell Miller claimed (using the usual Republican scare tactics, which ruled the evening), the Kerry had said, at the Democratic Convention, that he would not go to war without Paris' backing (referring to the UN Security Council), an outright lie, as columnist Mark Shields pointed out on PBS (and even Republican David Brooks was forced to agree it was quite a stretch).

In fact, Kerry has endorsed Clinton's rhetoric that we should be "multilateral when we can, unilateral when we must," while they argue Bush is "unilateral when we can, mulitlateral when we must," somethat that was evident at the RNC tonight when ultra-nationalistic Republican delgates enthusiastically chanted "USA! USA!" in response to Cheney's praise of Bush's desire to invade nationals unilaterally. At the Democratic Convention Kerry specifically said that, while he would attempt to seek UN support for US military adventures, he would never put the national security of the United States under the exclusive domain of the UN Security Council, completely the opposite of what Cheney claimed. That's why it was a lie, and Mark Shields called it as it was.

Of course both Cheney and Zell Miller and other speakers told many lies, not only about Kerry's foreign policy, but also about taxation. If you are in the middle or lower classes, George Bush will raise your taxes; perhaps he already has! He carefully lowered federal taxes so that the middle class has gotten a tiny sliver while the wealthest 1% --- what "[Bush] calls [his] base" --- received huge benefits. Federal outflows to states has diminished while the burden on states to pay for anti-terror related services and other federal mandates has never been greater, forcing them to raise taxes, either equally across the board if not primarily on the middle class. Net result? Higher taxes on the middle class, which is not, as Bush himself admits, Bush's poltical base.

Speaking of liars and the Apocalypse, didn't Zell Miller of Georgia look like one of the Four Horsemen of Doom of the Apocalypse today?

Were Prophet of Doom's statement that Strong Leader Bush is the "only man who can keep this nation safe" true, that would pretty much spell the end of Democracy. Oh let's scrap Presidential Term limits! Strong Leader Bush is the only man who can keep us safe from his disgruntled ex-CIA terrorists once hired by his father! Let's make Strong Leader Bush the King so he can keep us safe!!!

This sort of nonsense from the Republicans is why we must fight Bush's re-election tooth and nail. (And the fact that the evidence suggests his operatives stole the last election.) We feel most strongly the very essence of American Democracy is at stake. Karl Rove's strategy, that the so-called "war" on terror was a "horse" that could be ridden through the elections (by terrifying the American people) must not be allowed to succeed, for it is fundamentally the same strategy as that used by the fascists of the early twenty century. And I have documented the frightening parallels many times in my last emails in great detail, so there is no need to repeat them here.

We Democrats vastly outnumber Republicans. But, as Michael Moore pointed out in a column today in USA Today, we can be soft. If Zell Miller had been a Republican doing what he did today, the Republicans would have informed him that he was no longer a Republican.

Then they would have printed his face on rolls of toilet paper, and sold them over the Internet and on Fox News. I'm not making this up --- they did it just in 2001 to the senator that "became" an Independent.

Where are the rolls of toilet paper with Zell Miller's face on them?

No, we Democrats are nice people.

Our enemy is not nice. Our enemy does not stop at egregious violations of International law, or widespread torture of innocent civilians in slash-and-burn intelligence operations. Our enemy does not stop at vicious, "independent" smear campaigns with "facts" fabricated out of whole cloth and "witnesses" purchased with millionaires' millions. No, we face a truly ruthless foe, whose operatives apparently plan once again to steal Florida (as the recent court case demonstrates).

We Democrats are going to have be ready and willing (not necessarily do, but be ready and willing) to use legitimate counter-measures when we can and fight extremely dirty when we must this election, for the democratic nature of our society is at stake.

We must expect the worst in our enemy, and learn to think like him, so that we can plan to counter and respond in an instant to every one of his machinations.