Why do I do this to myself? And on a Monday morning no less. I listened to and half-watched the president’s grudge conference this morning, and got angry all over again that 59 million of “my fellow Americans” think he’s going to make them safer and richer (oh, yes, and more virtuous; I keep forgetting – it’s easy to do – how much Bush and his merry band of war mongers, war criminals, and profiteers have to teach us about moral values). Why does the press bother with these? He yaps, he stammers, he gropes for words (today I heard only one reference to “hard work,” but many things are “complex”), and he looks like he’s waiting to have a tooth pulled. And for all of that, what do we learn?

He gave a statement about the sure-footedness of the economy, and about the “progress” in Afghanistan and Iraq. He assured us that free people will never choose to live in tyrrany, but he also downplayed (as it sounded to me; you decide) the significance of the planned January elections in Iraq:

“My point is, the elections in January are just the beginning of a process, and it’s important for the American people to understand that. As the Iraqi people take these important steps on the path to democracy, the enemies of freedom know exactly what is at stake. They know that a democratic Iraq will be a decisive blow to their ambitions, because free people will never choose to live in tyranny.

And so the terrorists will attempt to delay the elections, to intimidate people in their country, to disrupt the democratic process in any way they can. No one can predict every turn in the months ahead, and I certainly don’t expect the process to be trouble-free. Yet, I am confident of the result, I’m confident the terrorists will fail, the elections will go forward, and Iraq will be a democracy that reflects the values and traditions of its people.”

Perhaps most amusingly, he derided reporters for trying to “make me play my cards” when they had the audacity to ask for a few concrete details about his plans for social security and budget cuts: “I will try to explain how without negotiating with myself. It’s a very tricky way to get me to play my cards.” I’m sure there’s an extended gambling metaphor we can play with here… (I thought he used that expression several times, because it started ringing in my ears; however, I can’t find all the instances in the transcript. [White House transcripts have been known to be tidied up, however.]) Gosh, isn’t it thrilling to be governed in secret, by committees formed in secrecy, with secret members, and secret plans for social security and cuts to “entitlement” programs?! (Remember what Bush said about free people not choosing to live in tyrrany, and let’s revisit it in a few years.)

And the man who doesn’t make mistakes (who only appoints people who do) isn’t budging on Rumsfeld:

Well, first of all, when I asked the Secretary to stay on as Secretary of Defense, I was very pleased when he said “yes.” And I asked him to stay on because I understand the nature of the job of the Secretary of Defense, and I believe he’s doing a really fine job.

The Secretary of Defense is a complex job. It’s complex in times of peace, and it’s complex even more so in times of war. And the Secretary has managed this Department during two major battles in the war on terror — Afghanistan and Iraq. And at the same time, he’s working to transform our military so it functions better, it’s lighter, it’s ready to strike on a moment’s notice. In other words, that the force structure meets the demands we face in the 21st century.

Not only is he working to transform the nature of the forces, we’re working to transform where our forces are based. As you know, we have recently worked with the South Korean government, for example, to replace manpower with equipment, to keep the Peninsula secure and the Far East secure, but at the same time, recognizing we have a different series of threats. And he’s done a fine job, and I look forward to continuing to work with him.

And I know the Secretary understands the Hill. He’s been around in Washington a long period of time and he will continue to reach out to members of the Hill, explaining the decisions he’s made. And I believe that in a new term, members of the Senate and the House will recognize what a good job he’s doing.

Here are a few of their ringing endorsements, so far.

  • A few days ago, Joshua Marshall had a smart post about the manufactured Social Security “Crisis” and how Democrats should fight the administration on this.
  • You’ve probably received this a few hundred times by now (I have), but just in case… Here’s where Democrats might consider doing their last minute holiday shopping (I haven’t found the original source; one copy I received says its from the DNC):

    WITH US:

    * Price Club/Costco donated $225K, of which 99% went to Democrats;

    * Rite Aid, $517K, 60% to Democrats;

    * Magla Products (Stanley tools, Mr. Clean), $22K, 100% to Democrats;

    * Warnaco (undergarments), $55K, 73% to Democrats;

    * Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, $153K, 99% to Democrats

    * Estee Lauder, $448K, 95% to Democrats

    * Guess? Inc., $145K, 98% to Democrats

    * Calvin Klein, $78K, 100% to Democrats

    * Liz Claiborne, Inc., $34K, 97% to Democrats

    * Levi Straus, $26K, 97% to Democrats

    * Olan Mills, $175K, 99% to Democrats

    * Gallo Winery, $337K, 95% to Democrats

    * Southern Wine & Spirits, $213K, 73% to Democrats

    * Joseph E. Seagrams & Sons (includes beverage business, plus considerable media interests), 2M+, 67% Democrats.

    * Sonic Corporation, $83K, 98% Democrats

    * Triarc Companies (Arby’s, T.J. Cinnamon’s, Pasta Connections), $112K, 96% Democrats

    * Hyatt Corporation, $187K, 80% to Democrats

    AGAINST US:

    * WalMart, $467K, 97% to Republicans

    * K-Mart, $524K, 86% to Republicans

    * Home Depot, $298K, 89% to Republicans

    * Target, $226K, 70% to Republicans

    * Circuit City Stores, $261K, 95% to Republicans

    * 3M Co., $281K, 87% to Republicans

    * Hallmark Cards, $319K, 92% to Republicans

    * Amway, $391K, 100% Republicans

    * Kohler Co. (plumbing fixtures), $283K, 100% Republicans

    * B.F. Goodrich (tires), $215K, 97% to Republicans

    * Proctor & Gamble, $243K, 79% to Republicans

    * Coors, $174K, 92% to Republicans; (also Budweiser – sd)

    * Brown-Forman Corp. (Southern Comfort, Jack Daniels, Bushmills, Korbel wines, Lennox China, Dansk, Gorham Silver), $644, 80% to Republicans

    * Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. (chicken), $366K, 100% Republican

    * Outback Steakhouse, $641K, 95% Republican

    * Tricon Global Restaurants (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell), $133K, 87% Republican

    * Brinker International (Maggiano’s, Brinker Cafe, Chili’s, On theBorder, Macaroni Grill, Crazymel’s, Corner Baker, EatZis), $242K, 83% Republican

    * Waffle House, $279K, 100% Republican

    * McDonald’s Corp., $197K, 86% Republican

    * Darden Restaurants (Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Smokey Bones, Bahama Breeze), $121K, 89% Republican

    * Mariott International, $323K, 81% to Republicans

    * Holiday Inns, $38K, 71% to Republicans

    So head on over to Costco, buy yourself some Stanley tools and some Estee Lauder cologne, stop at Arby’s for lunch, and then check into a Hyatt hotel where you can drown your sorrows over the election with a jug of Gallo wine!

  • Thanks to JC for forwarding this. The original source appears to be here, but someone has added the relevant links. Good work, whoever did that!

    1. 80% of all votes in America are counted by only two companies: Diebold and ES&S.

    Here and here

    2. There is no federal agency with regulatory authority or oversight of the U.S. voting machine industry.

    Here and here

    3. The vice-president of Diebold and the president of ES&S are brothers.

    Here and here

    4. The chairman and CEO of Diebold is a major Bush campaign organizer and donor who wrote in 2003 that he was “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year.”

    Here and here

    5. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel used to be chairman of ES&S. He became Senator based on votes counted by ES&S machines.

    Here and here

    6. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, long-connected with the Bush family, was recently caught lying about his ownership of ES&S by the Senate Ethics Committee.

    Here, here, and here

    7. Senator Chuck Hagel was on a short list of George W. Bush’s vice-presidential candidates.

    Here and here

    8. ES&S is the largest voting machine manufacturer in the U.S. and counts almost 60% of all U.S. votes.

    Here and here

    9. Diebold’s new touch screen voting machines have no paper trail of any votes. In other words, there is no way to verify that the data coming out of the machine is the same as what was legitimately put in by voters.

    Here and here

    10. Diebold also makes ATMs, checkout scanners, and ticket machines, all of which log each transaction and can generate a paper trail.

    Here and here

    11. Diebold is based in Ohio.

    Here

    12. Diebold employed 5 convicted felons as senior managers and developers to help write the central compiler computer code that counted 50% of the votes in 30 states.

    Here and here

    13. Jeff Dean, Diebold’s Senior Vice-President and senior programmer on Diebold’s central compiler code, was convicted of 23 counts of felony theft in the first degree.

    Here and here

    14. Diebold Senior Vice-President Jeff Dean was convicted of planting back doors in his software and using a “high degree of sophistication” to evade detection over a period of 2 years.

    Here and here

    15. None of the international election observers were allowed in the polls in Ohio.

    Here and here

    16. California banned the use of Diebold machines because the security was so bad. Despite Diebold’s claims that the audit logs could not be hacked, a chimpanzee was able to do it! (See the movie here.)

    Here and here

    17. 30% of all U.S. votes are carried out on unverifiable touch screen voting machines with no paper trail.

    Here

    18. All — not some — but all the voting machine errors detected and reported in Florida went in favor of Bush or Republican candidates.

    Here, here, here, here, and here

    19. The governor of the state of Florida, Jeb Bush, is the President’s brother.

    Here and here

    20. Serious voting anomalies in Florida — again always favoring Bush — have been mathematically demonstrated and experts are recommending further investigation.

    Here, here, here, here, here and here

    Urgent thoughts from Renee at Ohio Counts:

    SPECIAL NOTE: I urge everyone to stay focused on the 2004 election; it’s not over until January 6th, 2005, when Congress meets. Generalized activities geared to long range election reform, ‘anti- inaugurals’ to blow off steam, or attacks on the Bush administration’s politics, are a luxury; specific actions, geared towards getting a correct result in the 2004 election, are a necessity. I urge everyone who is not in Ohio to make it his or her first priority to come to Ohio to participate in protests, assist the recount, and/or assist the attorneys prosecuting litigations to contest the election and/or defend the recount. If you participate in activities in other states, I strongly urge you to focus the attention of the event towards the very provable Ohio election crimes. And if you possibly can, please contribute financially, and support the organizations that are doing important work on the ground in Ohio, such as C.A.S.E., the National Voting Rights Institute, the Free Press and its 501(c)(3) recommendations, Alliance for Democracy, and the Green Party Recount, and please give to DefendTheRecount.org.

  • Another great column by David Sirota, who these days seems to be enunciating the most principled vision of Democratic direction. I’d like HIM to be the chair of the DNC!
  • I probably could have used this last Tuesday, and the president could use it every day (or at least -Lord, have mercy- on the days he subjects the rest of us to a press conference). But it also stirs sad memories of Flowers for Algernon… doesn’t it?
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