Some end-of-the-week slap-dashery (update: slapdash numbers have been fixed!). I studiously avoided watching the RNC, although I experienced accidental and hopefully harmless exposures to recaps on the morning news as I got ready for work each day. Sometimes I was able to get to the “mute” button in time, but in the process incurred above-average incidental visual exposure to Repugnican speakers. I wasn’t wearing protective clothing or anything, so I’m going to try to find some herbal remedies to flush toxins from my system during the long weekend. (I have no comment on Bush’s speech, as I haven’t read it yet. Undoubtedly, more later.)

(1) HALLIBURTON, a model of Bush administration corporate ethics, apparently discussed bribing Nigerian officials for business if necessary. But note: “company officials” assure us that the bribery discussions took place at least 10 years ago. (Cheney became CEO in 1995.) Company officials say there’s no indication he knew of any such improprieties. Well, then; I’m convinced.

(2) Via Juan Cole, here is a sad site that will give you a little more information on US casualities in Iraq than you’ll get from convention speeches.

(3) Kevin Drum rounds up commentary on Zell Miller’s psychotic episode Wednesday night. Of course, “commentators” on the other side are THRILLED — claiming that he later took Chris Matthews “to the woodshed,” etc. Here’s the text of Miller’s speech, if you can stomach it. But the short, illustrated version is here. (If you’re one of those readers who tell me you don’t always have time to follow links, that one’s worth it.) As of today, the Bushies are trying hard to distance themselves from Miller. What a pathetic stooge. He did exactly what Repugnicans wanted. He screamed all the ugly things they knew would fire up the base, and yet they can claim, “he’s not one of us! He’s a Democrat!”

(4) Compelling words from William Saletan:

So now you have two reasons to show up at the polls in November. One is to stop Bush from screwing up economic and foreign policy more than he already has. The other is to remind him and his propagandists that even after 9/11, you still have that right.

(5) Another item via Kevin Drum: The man who got Prince George into the Texas Air National Guard has decided to speak: Watch 60 Minutes II next Wednesday!

(6) Everybody has advice for Kerry, but I sure can’t argue with Josh Marshall’s.

(7) From Krugman today:

Why are the Republicans so angry? One reason is that they have nothing positive to run on (during the first three days, Mr. Bush was mentioned far less often than John Kerry).

The promised economic boom hasn’t materialized, Iraq is a bloody quagmire, and Osama bin Laden has gone from “dead or alive” to he-who-must-not-be-named.

Another reason, I’m sure, is a guilty conscience. At some level the people at that convention know that their designated hero is a man who never in his life took a risk or made a sacrifice for his country, and that they are impugning the patriotism of men who have.

That’s why Band-Aids with Purple Hearts on them, mocking Mr. Kerry’s war wounds and medals, have been such a hit with conventioneers, and why senior politicians are attracted to wild conspiracy theories about Mr. Soros.

It’s also why Mr. Hastert, who knows how little the Bush administration has done to protect New York and help it rebuild, has accused the city of an “unseemly scramble” for cash after 9/11. Nothing makes you hate people as much as knowing in your heart that you are in the wrong and they are in the right.

But the vitriol also reflects the fact that many of the people at that convention, for all their flag-waving, hate America. They want a controlled, monolithic society; they fear and loathe our nation’s freedom, diversity and complexity.

(8) David Sanger and Elizabeth Bumiller find yet another way to avoid calling Bush a liar. The so-called liberal media journalists timidly suggest that some of Bush’s statements last night are “challenged by the historical record.” They proceed (after a stupid comment about the Kerry campaign disputing some statements and “pleading guilty with an explanation” to others) to correct a few of the more blatantly historically challenged items in the president’s speech. They fail to note, however, that a letter Bush read, pretending it was from a soldier, was actually written by a “fellow” at a conservative think tank.

(9) Brief rant: All week I’ve been hearing Bush spinners telling interviewers that Bush “inherited a recession,” and no one challenges them! No one says, “Economists disagree.” So what exactly is the point of a news media personality today? Why not just point a camera at the Bushie and let him or her tell their stories and we’ll all decide for ourselves what seems plausible – which is what we have to do, anyway, no thanks to the Matt Lauers of the world. Let me help y’all out, here. I did a little googling. I landed on Bush Campaign Lies, which led me to this Business Week article:

Gregory Mankiw, is trying to get away with exactly such revisionist history. The CEA’s Economic Report of the President, released Feb. 9, unilaterally changed the start date of the last recession to benefit Bush’s reelection bid. Instead of using the accepted start date of March, 2001, the CEA announced that the recession really started in the fourth quarter of 2000 — a shift that would make it much more credible for the Bush Administration to term it the “Clinton Recession.” In a subsequent press conference, Mankiw said that the CEA had looked at the available data and “made the call.”

This simple statement masks an attack on one of the few remaining bastions of economic neutrality.

Yes, that was (Business Week – liberal leftie commie rag.) Understand? Bush “inherited” a recession only after he changed the time frame economists would normally use to calculate a recession.

(10) National Catholic Reporter columnist Joan Chittister has a good column this week on politics and religion. Here’s an excerpt:

It isn’t that religion doesn’t have a place in the public debate. On the contrary. It’s that politics has no place in religion.

It is not the place of political parties to seek to enlist the religious community as part of its campaign staff. That smells far too much like collusion to me. It smacks far too much of the kind of theocratic thinking that preceded both the French and the Russian revolutions. It sounds too much like the rise of a new Christian Taliban to me. It sounds too much like this year’s election, in fact.

It is not the function of religious figures to condemn specific politicians. That, as far as I know, is still God’s role. It is the function of religion to teach religious values and criteria that can then be applied by you and me to the political positions of our politicians. Religion must form us “to hear the cries of the poor” and then to vote accordingly.

We must be called to conscience — not to the political campaign strategies of either party.

The church officials who are violating this important kind of separation of church and state are not simply crossing the line politically, they are hurting religion, hurting the country, obscuring the overall moral issues of the campaign.

If you want to cast a moral vote, print out one of the many comparative lists of the issues espoused by each candidate. Ask yourself the question, “Will this proposal, this position, affect the poor of this country or the world positively, negatively or neither? Ascribe to each of the items in the platform or on the proposed legislative agenda a plus, a minus or a zero. Now count up the pluses. The program that will bring the most aid to the poor is the moral position. That is the way you and I are really expected to vote this year.

How do I know? Easy. You see, what God says to Moses at the burning bush after “And I mean to deliver them” is this: “So I am sending you to pharaoh to say, ‘Let my people go.’ ”

That’s the most direct election guidance I’ve seen so far — including what we’re getting from bishops and campaign committees.

From where I stand, sending that message to pharaoh is the only real reason to vote.

(Second update: OK, I think I really fixed the numbers, that time.

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