Hot flashes are usually a private matter. Alison Teal shares hers.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

We are on our way to Middlebury, Vermont. Tonight Sam will be watching the so-called debate with students at Middlebury College. Before, he is talking to them about the substance of the foreign policy debate and encouraging them to volunteer in New Hampshire.

I intend to watch the debate from under the bed in our motel room, accompanied by a magnum of wine. As Marie Antoinette said, it's such a pity about a magnum -- too much for one, but not enough for two. We'll see.

I'm Robert Mondavi and I approve of this ad.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

In an editorial with the headline "Kerry Will Restore American Dignity", The Lone Star Iconoclast gave John Kerry its presidential endorsement. The paper, which endorsed Bush in 2000, may only have a weekly circulation of 425, but it's published in Crawford, Texas and bills itself as President Bush's hometown paper. They deserve their name.

Ali Brantley sent the following letter to me in the form of a letter to Kerry.

Dear John Kerry:

I have one important thing to say to you before the presidential debate. When George Bush attacks you
personally - for once, answer in a way that counters his attack in a personal way, not just on his obviously failed
policies. This is what I suggest: Wait until he brings up Iraq (which won't take long), and when he talks about our
soldiers who are fighting so valiantly for our country, and attacks you for not supporting them, answer with these

That soldier you are talking about? I AM THAT SOLDIER. I am that soldier that went to fight in a war that didn't
need to be fought. I am that soldier - I am the soldier who came back and spent the next thirty years in politics
so I could stand here TODAY, and say that, as President, I will clean up this mess you have made in Iraq. I will not
repeat history. I will lead us to a new, stronger and smarter fight against terrorism, putting all the best and the
brightest in this country to work - Republican or Democrat. And I will never, never take this country to war on false pretenses.

The future of our country lies in the hope and courage of our young men and women. You attack me, you attack
those men and women who went to war for you, for your father, and for all the presidents down through history.
You have misled and lied to your soldiers, the very spirit of our country. They are the spirit of the future. I stand here today to give them a future, not burden them with the past; I stand here today to restore our values in the eyes of the world, and to lead this country in a new direction of what freedom and democracy mean in the 21st century. Not imperialism, but individualism; not arrogance, but respect; not lies, but the truth; not special privileges, but equality. That's the America I will build. And I will start right now.

And look into the camera, think of your daughters, and smile.

Good luck,
One of the millions of Anonymous Advisers who wish they could help you on Thursday.

Kerry is ahead in Oregon, tied in Minnesota and New Hampshire and gaining in Maine and Michigan. Things are neck in neck in Pennsylvania with the Quinnipiac University poll showing Kerry ahead. Two-hundred-fifty thousand new Democratic voters have been registered in Ohio (though there is a big problem -- with only 6 days left before the voter registration deadline, Secretary of State Ken Blackwell is trying to bar thousands of newly registered voters from the polls. Go to this site and sign the petition: http://static.act04.org/act/paperstock.htm)

In Minnesota, ACT has knocked on over 350,000 doors and made 120,000 calls to follow-up with voters around the issues they care about. In a new ad in major newspapers, MoveOn.org has indicted Gallup for its flawed method of polling, thereby humiliating CNN and USA Today who depend on Gallup's polls. Veteran campaigner Ed Perlmutter thinks we can win in Colorado where record numbers of people are being trained for poll watching and canvassing. In forty years he hasn't seen such a rush for buttons and yard signs. The operations on the ground are overwhelming and unreported.
So stop listening to the right wing noise machine. We will win this BUT NOT WITHOUT YOU. Imagine if we lost the election and you hadn't done everything you could have. How could you face your friends and relatives? How could you face the future?
Remember what Adam Friedson says: Everyone says this is the most important election of our lifetime. It isn't. The last one was. If now you could go back and give more money or time to change that election, wouldn't you?

Well do it now. Get out there. Go to a swing state. Make calls. Write letters to the editors of papers. Put up yard signs. Contribute. Wear buttons. Use the new Kerry Call Center to mobilize volunteers in swing states:

Alison Teal

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Another outrage is in the Washington Post, which reports that U.S. attorneys in at least three states have launched probes into alleged fraud in voter registration - an ill-disguised attempt to intimidate new voters. When asked if that was the case, the Justice Department said, no, there are outside civil rights lawyers working to insure that no one is disenfranchised. I remember when civil rights lawyers worked for the Justice Department, not against it.

But at least there have been several days with no news stories on the organization of the campaign. Thank God for that. Let’s get on with it. We know there have been some changes in the management. We can hope for the best. The test is not in whose doing it but in what they do. Let’s not give Bob Novak another chance to quote people like Democrat Bill Kerrick of California on CNN saying the campaign is in disarray or Tony Coehlo who wrote a scathing article about the campaign. It’s time for people to park their egos and help rather than tear things apart. Whether there is disorder in the house or not, Democrats need to stop eating our young and get on with it.

Win or lose, people will say the campaign is accountable. In fact it’s the candidate who is responsible. To date, no one has ever won anything by betting against John Kerry. What we know is that we have a candidate who loves the last weeks of the campaign. Kerry is a fourth quarter guy, a finisher, a fast closer. So let’s stop worrying about what the campaign does and try to figure out what we can do. TAKE ACTION!

1. TRAVEL TO A SWING STATE if you possibly can. The campaign will help you do so. Contact and go to Kerry traveler or just put in this site: http://volunteer.johnkerry.com/traveler/
Here are specific people to call if you can give time in one of these states:

Pennsylvania: Cynthia Metzler will give people who will come for one or two weeks real jobs (without pay, of course) cmetzler@padems.com or cmetzler@att.net

Ohio: Matt Gabriele can provide information. His e-mail is or (510) 684-8326.

Oregon: Yacy Zand at yacy@carryoregon.com or (541) 345 5981 for information.

Nevada: Tina Valkanoff at for information.

New Mexico: Sandy Buffett at for information.

These are all the state contacts I have right now. Many are from the California office but they will be happy to help anyone from any state. I will add to the list as soon as I have additional names.

2. GO TO A SWING STATE THROUGH ACT (American Coming Together):. Or directly contact my friend Sarah Kovner at ACT: skovner@ACT4Victory.org

3. VOLUNTEER FOR MOVE ON. Go to http://moveon.org. MoveOn PAC is running an ambitious precinct-level neighbor-to-neighbor campaign called Leave No Voter Behind: MoveOn's Neighbor-to-Neighbor Victory Drive. They will work in 10,000 key neighborhoods in battleground states to get 440,000 new voters for John Kerry to the polls. Each Volunteer Organizer will work for 10 to 14 days. They will recruit and train volunteers, develop leaders, hold meetings and organize rallies. They need you to commit ten days minimum. Ideally from October 18 – November 3. They definitely have opportunities in the following states: OH, PA, FL, WI, MN, IA, NM, NV, NH. Potentially, they will have opportunities in ME, WV, NC, TN, LA, AR, MO, CO, AZ, OR, WA. For more information or to discuss possible assignments, please contact: Chris Lindstrom. Best via email: clindstrom@moveon2004.org. Phone: (617) 542-1936

4. ENCOURAGE FRIENDS TO WATCH DEBATES AND HAVE HOUSE PARTIES, particularly those from swing states. Host a debate party with your friends and neighbors on September 30th. Get more information online at . If you sign up to host a party online, you will receive a call-in number for a conference call with Paul Begala, noted Democratic strategist.
In San Francisco, contact Kevin Brinkley for a house party packet for Kerry-Edwards Victory 2004 or the Battleground Victory Funds. Email: wkevinbrinkley@yahoo.com. Phone: SF office at 415-896-6840.

5. Sign up online at John Kerry.com and at the DNC website at as a volunteer phone banker. A soon-to-be-rolled-out feature includes ability to phone bank other states from lists provided by JohnKerry.com.

The following are suggestions from friends and readers (often the same category) about things you can do every day. Please send me more. Every idea helps.

1. Use the word “RECKLESS” when talking about Bush. Connect him to the word. He has been reckless with America’s economy. He is reckless with our liberties and has been reckless with America’s word and role in the world. Reckless. The word will stick. Even Bush’s past is reckless. He was a reckless young man. It’s his reckless nature that scares us.

2. Create a sense of ground swell. Wear Kerry buttons and t-shirts at all times. While wearing them, commit random acts of kindness such as the one my friend Dermot Purgavie saw at a bar in the Minneapolis airport. A uniformed soldier was sitting alone drinking a beer and eating dinner. A stranger wearing a Kerry button thanked him for serving the country and paid his check.

3. Fran Lerner of California suggests we constantly repeat the line "Bush has painted us into the corner" in order to counteract his mantra that we have “turned a corner”.

4. Olin Robinson, President of the Salzburg Seminar, says he is asked daily if Kerry will be elected. “I was asked at a dinner in NYC recently (at which almost all of the other guests were Republicans) whether I ‘liked’ Kerry. My reply was that I only know him at a great distance and that it really doesn’t matter whether I ‘like’ him or not. What I do know, I said to my dinner friends, is that any president of the US brings into the government roughly 4000 people – and therefore displaces about that number who are there now. I said that what I know for absolute certain is that I am going to be more happy with the 4000 Kerry brings in that I am with the ones there now. So, it is, and will remain, an easy call.”

Alison Teal


Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Hot Flashes From The Campaign Trail
September 21, 2004
Alison Teal

For Those of you who missed John Kerry's appearance on the David Letterman Show last night:

John Kerry's
Top Ten Bush Tax Proposals:
#10. No estate tax for families with at least two U.S. Presidents.
#9. W-2 form is now Dubya-2 forms.
#8. Under simplified tax code, your refund check goes directly to Halliburton.
#7. Reduced earned income tax credit is so unfair, it makes me want to tear out my lustrous, finely groomed hair.
#6. Attorney General Ashcroft gets to write off U.S. Constitution
#5. Texas Rangers can take business loss for trading Sammy Sosa.
#4. Eliminate all income taxes; just ask Teresa to cover the whole damn thing
#3. Cheney can claim Bush as a dependent
#2. Hundred-dollar penalty if you pronounce it “nuclear” instead of “nucular.”
#1. Bush gets deduction for mortgaging our entire future.

Monday, September 20, 2004

A friend sent me the following note about the speech John Kerry delivered today:

"You might find yourself cheered by Kerry's speech today. I just heard a thirteen minute excerpt on WNYC, and it was brilliant, lucid and moving. We live in an age when a speech that appeals convincingly to reason and common sense is almost enough to bring one to tears. The Bush mafia will, of course, paint this as yet another position Kerry has taken on Iraq. But it was so strong and persuasive, the tone so fluid and direct, that I hope reporters push Bush's face in it rather than sit back (as they always seem to do) and let him shrug it off. Anyway, for a moment, a very long moment, listening to Kerry's speech today I wept. I actually found myself in the embarrassing position of feeling genuinely, cleanly, unhesitatingly, hopeful."

Remarks of Senator John Kerry

(As Prepared for Delivery)

New York University
New York, New York

Monday, September 20, 2004

I am honored to be here at New York University -- one of the great urban
universities, not just in New York, but in the world. You have set a
high standard for global dialogue and I hope to live up to that
tradition today.

This election is about choices. The most important choices a President
makes are about protecting America... at home and around the world. A
president's first obligation is to make America safer, stronger and
truer to our ideals.

Only a few blocks from here, three years ago, the events of September 11
reminded every American of that obligation. That day brought to our
shores the defining struggle of our times: the struggle between freedom
and radical fundamentalism. And it made clear that our most important
task is to fight... and to win... the war on terrorism.

With us today is a remarkable group of women who lost loved ones on
September 11th ... and whose support I am honored to have. Not only did
they suffer an unbearable loss - they helped us learn the lessons of
that terrible time by insisting on the creation of the 9/11 Commission.
I ask them to stand. And I thank them on behalf of our country -- and I
pledge to them and to you that I will implement the 9-11

In fighting the war on terrorism, my principles are straight forward.
The terrorists are beyond reason. We must destroy them. As president,
I will do whatever it takes, as long as it takes, to defeat our enemies.
But billions of people around the world yearning for a better life are
open to America's ideals. We must reach them.

To win, America must be strong. And America must be smart. The
greatest threat we face is the possibility Al Qaeda or other terrorists
will get their hands on a nuclear weapon.

To prevent that from happening, we must call on the totality of
America's strength. Strong alliances, to help us stop the world's most
lethal weapons from falling into the most dangerous hands. A powerful
military, transformed to meet the new threats of terrorism and the
spread of weapons of mass destruction. And all of America's power -
our diplomacy, our intelligence system, our economic power, the appeal
of our values - each of which is critical to making America more secure
and preventing a new generation of terrorists from emerging.

National security is a central issue in this campaign. We owe it to the
American people to have a real debate about the choices President Bush
has made... and the choices I would make... to fight and win the war on

That means we must have a great honest national debate on Iraq. The
President claims it is the centerpiece of his war on terror. In fact,
Iraq was a profound diversion from that war and the battle against our
greatest enemy, Osama bin Laden and the terrorists. Invading Iraq has
created a crisis of historic proportions and, if we do not change
course, there is the prospect of a war with no end in sight.

This month, we passed a cruel milestone: more than 1,000 Americans lost
in Iraq. Their sacrifice reminds us that Iraq remains, overwhelmingly,
an American burden. Nearly 90 percent of the troops - and nearly 90
percent of the casualties - are American. Despite the President's
claims, this is not a grand coalition.

Our troops have served with extraordinary bravery, skill and resolve.
Their service humbles all of us. When I speak to them... when I look
into the eyes of their families, I know this: we owe them the truth
about what we have asked them to do... and what is still to be done.

In June, the President declared, "The Iraqi people have their country
back." Just last week, he told us: "This country is headed toward
democracy... Freedom is on the march."

But the administration's own official intelligence estimate, given to
the President last July, tells a very different story.

According to press reports, the intelligence estimate totally
contradicts what the President is saying to the American people.

So do the facts on the ground.

Security is deteriorating, for us and for the Iraqis.

42 Americans died in Iraq in June -- the month before the handover. But
54 died in July...66 in August... and already 54 halfway through

And more than 1,100 Americans were wounded in August - more than in any
other month since the invasion.

We are fighting a growing insurgency in an ever widening war-zone. In
March, insurgents attacked our forces 700 times. In August, they
attacked 2,700 times - a 400% increase.

Falluja...Ramadi... Samarra ... even parts of Baghdad - are now "no go
zones"... breeding grounds for terrorists who are free to plot and
launch attacks against our soldiers. The radical Shi'a cleric, Moktada
al-Sadr, who's accused of complicity in the murder of Americans, holds
more sway in the suburbs of Baghdad.

Violence against Iraqis... from bombings to kidnappings to intimidation
... is on the rise.

Basic living conditions are also deteriorating.

Residents of Baghdad are suffering electricity blackouts lasting up to
14 hours a day.

Raw sewage fills the streets, rising above the hubcaps of our Humvees.
Children wade through garbage on their way to school.

Unemployment is over 50 percent. Insurgents are able to find plenty of
people willing to take $150 for tossing grenades at passing U.S.

Yes, there has been some progress, thanks to the extraordinary efforts
of our soldiers and civilians in Iraq. Schools, shops and hospitals
have been opened. In parts of Iraq, normalcy actually prevails.

But most Iraqis have lost faith in our ability to deliver meaningful
improvements to their lives. So they're sitting on the fence... instead
of siding with us against the insurgents.

That is the truth. The truth that the Commander in Chief owes to our
troops and the American people.

It is never easy to discuss what has gone wrong while our troops are in
constant danger. But it's essential if we want to correct our course
and do what's right for our troops instead of repeating the same
mistakes over and over again.

I know this dilemma first-hand. After serving in war, I returned home
to offer my own personal voice of dissent. I did so because I believed
strongly that we owed it those risking their lives to speak truth to
power. We still do.

Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place
in hell. But that was not, in itself, a reason to go to war. The
satisfaction we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: we have
traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure.

The President has said that he "miscalculated" in Iraq and that it was a
"catastrophic success." In fact, the President has made a series of
catastrophic decisions ... from the beginning ... in Iraq. At every
fork in the road, he has taken the wrong turn and led us in the wrong

The first and most fundamental mistake was the President's failure to
tell the truth to the American people.

He failed to tell the truth about the rationale for going to war. And
he failed to tell the truth about the burden this war would impose on
our soldiers and our citizens.

By one count, the President offered 23 different rationales for this
war. If his purpose was to confuse and mislead the American people, he

His two main rationales - weapons of mass destruction and the Al
Qaeda/September 11 connection - have been proved false... by the
President's own weapons inspectors... and by the 9/11 Commission. Just
last week, Secretary of State Powell acknowledged the facts. Only Vice
President Cheney still insists that the earth is flat.

The President also failed to level with the American people about what
it would take to prevail in Iraq.

He didn't tell us that well over 100,000 troops would be needed, for
years, not months. He didn't tell us that he wouldn't take the time to
assemble a broad and strong coalition of allies. He didn't tell us that
the cost would exceed $200 billion. He didn't tell us that even after
paying such a heavy price, success was far from assured.

And America will pay an even heavier price for the President's lack of

At home, the American people are less likely to trust this
administration if it needs to summon their support to meet real and
pressing threats to our security.

Abroad, other countries will be reluctant to follow America when we seek
to rally them against a common menace -- as they are today. Our
credibility in the world has plummeted.

In the dark days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy sent
former Secretary of State Dean Acheson to Europe to build support.
Acheson explained the situation to French President de Gaulle. Then he
offered to show him highly classified satellite photos, as proof. De
Gaulle waved the photos away, saying: "The word of the President of the
United States is good enough for me."

How many world leaders have that same trust in America's president,

This President's failure to tell the truth to us before the war has been
exceeded by fundamental errors of judgment during and after the war.

The President now admits to "miscalculations" in Iraq.

That is one of the greatest understatements in recent American history.
His were not the equivalent of accounting errors. They were colossal
failures of judgment - and judgment is what we look for in a president.

This is all the more stunning because we're not talking about 20/20
hindsight. Before the war, before he chose to go to war, bi-partisan
Congressional hearings... major outside studies... and even some in the
administration itself... predicted virtually every problem we now face
in Iraq.

This President was in denial. He hitched his wagon to the ideologues
who surround him, filtering out those who disagreed, including leaders
of his own party and the uniformed military. The result is a long litany
of misjudgments with terrible consequences.

The administration told us we'd be greeted as liberators. They were

They told us not to worry about looting or the sorry state of Iraq's
infrastructure. They were wrong.

They told us we had enough troops to provide security and stability,
defeat the insurgents, guard the borders and secure the arms depots.
They were wrong.

They told us we could rely on exiles like Ahmed Chalabi to build
political legitimacy. They were wrong.

They told us we would quickly restore an Iraqi civil service to run the
country and a police force and army to secure it. They were wrong.

In Iraq, this administration has consistently over-promised and
under-performed. This policy has been plagued by a lack of planning, an
absence of candor, arrogance and outright incompetence. And the
President has held no one accountable, including himself.

In fact, the only officials who lost their jobs over Iraq were the ones
who told the truth.

General Shinseki said it would take several hundred thousand troops to
secure Iraq. He was retired. Economic adviser Larry Lindsey said that
Iraq would cost as much as $200 billion. He was fired. After the
successful entry into Baghdad, George Bush was offered help from the UN
-- and he rejected it. He even prohibited any nation from participating
in reconstruction efforts that wasn't part of the original coalition -
pushing reluctant countries even farther away. As we continue to fight
this war almost alone, it is hard to estimate how costly that arrogant
decision was. Can anyone seriously say this President has handled Iraq
in a way that makes us stronger in the war on terrorism?

By any measure, the answer is no. Nuclear dangers have mounted across
the globe. The international terrorist club has expanded. Radicalism
in the Middle East is on the rise. We have divided our friends and
united our enemies. And our standing in the world is at an all time low.

Think about it for a minute. Consider where we were... and where we
are. After the events of September 11, we had an opportunity to bring
our country and the world together in the struggle against the
terrorists. On September 12th, headlines in newspapers abroad declared
"we are all Americans now." But through his policy in Iraq, the
President squandered that moment and rather than isolating the
terrorists, left America isolated from the world.

We now know that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and posed no
imminent threat to our security. It had not, as the Vice President
claimed, "reconstituted nuclear weapons."

The President's policy in Iraq took our attention and resources away
from other, more serious threats to America.

Threats like North Korea, which actually has weapons of mass
destruction, including a nuclear arsenal, and is building more under
this President's watch...

... The emerging nuclear danger from Iran...
... The tons and kilotons of unsecured chemical and nuclear weapons in

... And the increasing instability in Afghanistan.

Today, warlords again control much of that country, the Taliban is
regrouping, opium production is at an all time high and the Al Qaeda
leadership still plots and plans, not only there but in 60 other
nations. Instead of using U.S. forces, we relied on the warlords to
capture Osama bin Laden when he was cornered in the mountains. He
slipped away. We then diverted our focus and forces from the hunt for
those responsible for September 11th in order invade Iraq.

We know Iraq played no part in September 11 and had no operational ties
to Al Qaeda.

The President's policy in Iraq precipitated the very problem he said he
was trying to prevent. Secretary of State Powell admits that Iraq was
not a magnet for international terrorists before the war. Now it is,
and they are operating against our troops. Iraq is becoming a sanctuary
for a new generation of terrorists who someday could hit the United

We know that while Iraq was a source of friction, it was not previously
a source of serious disagreement with our allies in Europe and countries
in the Muslim world.

The President's policy in Iraq divided our oldest alliance and sent our
standing in the Muslim world into free fall. Three years after 9/11,
even in many moderate Muslim countries like Jordan, Morocco and Turkey,
Osama bin Laden is more popular than the United States of America.

Let me put it plainly: The President's policy in Iraq has not
strengthened our national security. It has weakened it.

Two years ago, Congress was right to give the President the authority to
use force to hold Saddam Hussein accountable. This President... any
President... would have needed the threat of force to act effectively.
This President misused that authority.

The power entrusted to the President gave him a strong hand to play in
the international community. The idea was simple. We would get the
weapons inspectors back in to verify whether or not Iraq had weapons of
mass destruction. And we would convince the world to speak with one
voice to Saddam: disarm or be disarmed.

A month before the war, President Bush told the nation: "If we have to
act, we will take every precaution that is possible. We will plan
carefully. We will act with the full power of the United States
military. We will act with allies at our side and we will prevail." He
said that military action wasn't "unavoidable."

Instead, the President rushed to war without letting the weapons
inspectors finish their work. He went without a broad and deep
coalition of allies. He acted without making sure our troops had
enough body armor. And he plunged ahead without understanding or
preparing for the consequences of the post-war. None of which I would
have done.

Yet today, President Bush tells us that he would do everything all over
again, the same way. How can he possibly be serious? Is he really
saying that if we knew there were no imminent threat, no weapons of mass
destruction, no ties to Al Qaeda, the United States should have invaded
Iraq? My answer is no - because a Commander-in-Chief's first
responsibility is to make a wise and responsible decision to keep
America safe.

Now the president, in looking for a new reason, tries to hang his hat on
the "capability" to acquire weapons. But that was not the reason given
to the nation; it was not the reason Congress voted on; it's not a
reason, it's an excuse. Thirty-five to forty countries have greater
capability to build a nuclear bomb than Iraq did in 2003. Is President
Bush saying we should invade them?

I would have concentrated our power and resources on defeating global
terrorism and capturing or killing Osama bin Laden. I would have
tightened the noose and continued to pressure and isolate Saddam Hussein
- who was weak and getting weaker -- so that he would pose no threat to
the region or America.

The President's insistence that he would do the same thing all over
again in Iraq is a clear warning for the future. And it makes the
choice in this election clear: more of the same with President Bush or a
new direction that makes our troops and America safer. It is time, at
long last, to ask the questions and insist on the answers from the
Commander-in-Chief about his serious misjudgments and what they tell us
about his administration and the President himself. If George W. Bush
is re-elected, he will cling to the same failed policies in Iraq -- and
he will repeat, somewhere else, the same reckless mistakes that have
made America less secure than we can or should be.

In Iraq, we have a mess on our hands. But we cannot throw up our hands.
We cannot afford to see Iraq become a permanent source of terror that
will endanger America's security for years to come.

All across this country people ask me what we should do now. Every step
of the way, from the time I first spoke about this in the Senate, I have
set out specific recommendations about how we should and should not
proceed. But over and over, when this administration has been presented
with a reasonable alternative, they have rejected it and gone their own
way. This is stubborn incompetence.

Five months ago, in Fulton, Missouri, I said that the President was
close to his last chance to get it right. Every day, this President
makes it more difficult to deal with Iraq - harder than it was five
months ago, harder than it was a year ago. It is time to recognize what
is - and what is not - happening in Iraq today. And we must act with

Just this weekend, a leading Republican, Chuck Hagel, said we're "in
deep trouble in Iraq ... it doesn't add up ... to a pretty picture [and]
... we're going to have to look at a recalibration of our policy."
Republican leaders like Dick Lugar and John McCain have offered similar

We need to turn the page and make a fresh start in Iraq.

First, the President has to get the promised international support so
our men and women in uniform don't have to go it alone. It is late; the
President must respond by moving this week to gain and regain
international support.

Last spring, after too many months of resistance and delay, the
President finally went back to the U.N. which passed Resolution 1546.
It was the right thing to do - but it was late.

That resolution calls on U.N. members to help in Iraq by providing
troops... trainers for Iraq's security forces... a special brigade to
protect the U.N. mission... more financial assistance... and real debt

Three months later, not a single country has answered that call. And
the president acts as if it doesn't matter.

And of the $13 billion previously pledged to Iraq by other countries,
only $1.2 billion has been delivered.

The President should convene a summit meeting of the world's major
powers and Iraq's neighbors, this week, in New York, where many leaders
will attend the U.N. General Assembly. He should insist that they make
good on that U.N. resolution. He should offer potential troop
contributors specific, but critical roles, in training Iraqi security
personnel and securing Iraq's borders. He should give other countries a
stake in Iraq's future by encouraging them to help develop Iraq's oil
resources and by letting them bid on contracts instead of locking them
out of the reconstruction process.

This will be difficult. I and others have repeatedly recommended this
from the very beginning. Delay has made only made it harder. After
insulting allies and shredding alliances, this President may not have
the trust and confidence to bring others to our side in Iraq. But we
cannot hope to succeed unless we rebuild and lead strong alliances so
that other nations share the burden with us. That is the only way to

Second, the President must get serious about training Iraqi security

Last February, Secretary Rumsfeld claimed that more than 210,000 Iraqis
were in uniform. Two weeks ago, he admitted that claim was exaggerated
by more than 50 percent. Iraq, he said, now has 95,000 trained security

But guess what? Neither number bears any relationship to the truth.
For example, just 5,000 Iraqi soldiers have been fully trained, by the
administration's own minimal standards. And of the 35,000 police now in
uniform, not one has completed a 24-week field-training program. Is it
any wonder that Iraqi security forces can't stop the insurgency or
provide basic law and order?

The President should urgently expand the security forces training
program inside and outside Iraq. He should strengthen the vetting of
recruits, double classroom training time, and require follow-on field
training. He should recruit thousands of qualified trainers from our
allies, especially those who have no troops in Iraq. He should press
our NATO allies to open training centers in their countries. And he
should stop misleading the American people with phony, inflated numbers.

Third, the President must carry out a reconstruction plan that finally
brings tangible benefits to the Iraqi people.

Last week, the administration admitted that its plan was a failure when
it asked Congress for permission to radically revise spending priorities
in Iraq. It took 17 months for them to understand that security is a
priority ... 17 months to figure out that boosting oil production is
critical ... 17 months to conclude that an Iraqi with a job is less
likely to shoot at our soldiers.

One year ago, the administration asked for and received $18 billion to
help the Iraqis and relieve the conditions that contribute to the
insurgency. Today, less than a $1 billion of those funds have actually
been spent. I said at the time that we had to rethink our policies and
set standards of accountability. Now we're paying the price.

Now, the President should look at the whole reconstruction
package...draw up a list of high visibility, quick impact projects...
and cut through the red tape. He should use more Iraqi contractors and
workers, instead of big corporations like Halliburton. He should stop
paying companies under investigation for fraud or corruption. And he
should fire the civilians in the Pentagon responsible for mismanaging
the reconstruction effort.

Fourth, the President must take immediate, urgent, essential steps to
guarantee the promised elections can be held next year.

Credible elections are key to producing an Iraqi government that enjoys
the support of the Iraqi people and an assembly to write a Constitution
that yields a viable power sharing arrangement.

Because Iraqis have no experience holding free and fair elections, the
President agreed six months ago that the U.N. must play a central role.
Yet today, just four months before Iraqis are supposed to go to the
polls, the U.N. Secretary General and administration officials
themselves say the elections are in grave doubt. Because the security
situation is so bad... and because not a single country has offered
troops to protect the U.N. elections mission... the U.N. has less than
25 percent of the staff it needs in Iraq to get the job done.

The President should recruit troops from our friends and allies for a
U.N. protection force. This won't be easy. But even countries that
refused to put boots on the ground in Iraq should still help protect the
U.N. We should also intensify the training of Iraqis to manage and
guard the polling places that need to be opened. Otherwise, U.S forces
would end up bearing those burdens alone.

If the President would move in this direction ... if he would bring in
more help from other countries to provide resources and forces ...
train the Iraqis to provide their own security ...develop a
reconstruction plan that brings real benefits to the Iraqi people ...
and take the steps necessary to hold credible elections next year ... we
could begin to withdraw U.S. forces starting next summer and
realistically aim to bring all our troops home within the next four

This is what has to be done. This is what I would do as President
today. But we cannot afford to wait until January. President Bush owes
it to the American people to tell the truth and put Iraq on the right
track. Even more, he owes it to our troops and their families, whose
sacrifice is a testament to the best of America.

The principles that should guide American policy in Iraq now and in the
future are clear: We must make Iraq the world's responsibility, because
the world has a stake in the outcome and others should share the burden.
We must effectively train Iraqis, because they should be responsible for
their own security. We must move forward with reconstruction, because
that's essential to stop the spread of terror. And we must help Iraqis
achieve a viable government, because it's up to them to run their own
country. That's the right way to get the job done and bring our troops

On May 1 of last year, President Bush stood in front of a now infamous
banner that read "Mission Accomplished." He declared to the American
people: "In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have
prevailed." In fact, the worst part of the war was just beginning, with
the greatest number of American casualties still to come. The president
misled, miscalculated, and mismanaged every aspect of this undertaking
and he has made the achievement of our objective - a stable Iraq, secure
within its borders, with a representative government, harder to achieve.

In Iraq, this administration's record is filled with bad predictions,
inaccurate cost estimates, deceptive statements and errors of judgment
of historic proportions.

At every critical juncture in Iraq, and in the war on terrorism, the
President has made the wrong choice. I have a plan to make America

The President often says that in a post 9-11 world, we can't hesitate to
act. I agree. But we should not act just for the sake of acting. I
believe we have to act wisely and responsibly.

George Bush has no strategy for Iraq. I do.

George Bush has not told the truth to the American people about why we
went to war and how the war is going. I have and I will continue to do

I believe the invasion of Iraq has made us less secure and weaker in the
war against terrorism. I have a plan to fight a smarter, more effective
war on terror - and make us safer.

Today, because of George Bush's policy in Iraq, the world is a more
dangerous place for America and Americans.

If you share my conviction that we can not go on as we are ...that we
can make America stronger and safer than it is... then November 2 is
your chance to speak... and to be heard. It is not a question of
staying the course, but of changing the course.

I'm convinced that with the right leadership, we can create a fresh
start and move more effectively to accomplish our goals. Our troops have
served with extraordinary courage and commitment. For their sake, and
America's sake, we must get this right. We must do everything in our
power to complete the mission and make America stronger at home and
respected again in the world.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

Alison Teal


Political groupies be warned. This one’s about food, not politics.

R.W. Apple of the New York Times is covering the election for the Midwest: Apple’s Almanac. Sunday his column was titled “Minnesota Returns to a Star Role on National Stage” (page 26) and the dateline was Deer River, Minn.. Deer River is currently the closest thing we have to a hometown. We live on Deer Lake about twelve miles away, just east of the old Voigt’s Resort and a little west of the Blue Haven fishing cabins. Our cabin is on Oklahoma Hill Road, named for the people who first built their summerhouses up here to escape the sweltering heat of their home state long before air-conditioning. This is where Apple accompanied by his wife Betsey came to interview us about the campaign in Minnesota and elsewhere. Sam suggested they come for dinner. They accepted.

The Apples are fun, affable people who are interested not only in politics, cities, art and architecture, but also in the environment, nature, birds and wildlife. They were bound to love Deer Lake, one of Minnesota’s cleanest and most beautiful. So far so good. But DINNER? Apple is the most renowned food critic in the Untied States, soon to be honored as such by Bon Appetit Magazine. “Cooking dinner for him,” I wailed to Sam, “would be like doing card tricks for Siegfried and Roy.”

Taking them out was not an option. Deer River is a town of 903 according to its prominent welcome sign that sits just beyond the White Oak Fur Trading Post. There are a couple of cafes in town, a pizza place attached to the Blueberry Bowling alley and a four-table restaurant in the White Oak Casino out on the Ojibwa Reservation. The best of these is the Blueberry Bowl that specializes in frozen pizza and pitchers of beer delivered right to your lane. We were going to have to cook.

I emailed Mr. Apple suggesting menus and informing him that the choices were limited up here: beef or pork, or bear, elk, deer, or buffalo. (The latter are all available courtesy of local hunters.) And, of course, fish. By return mail he sent me an article he’d written a couple of years ago about his favorite fish, walleye. In the article he told about eating it all through his childhood: “nothing beat filets of flaky, fine-textured walleye, coated with cornmeal, sautéed until golden -- always sweet-tasting and not at all "fishy"-smelling, in the pejorative sense of that word, though my mother made my father cook them outdoors lest her dream kitchen be sullied.” In fact, he concluded, maybe it wasn’t just his favorite fish but actually his favorite food.

Though my brother-in-law Tom thought competing with the memory of Apple’s father’s cooking was incredibly risky if not downright stupid, walleye it would be. Both Sam and I knew and loved walleye. I’d had it during my Minnesota childhood summers on Boy Lake and Lake Vermilion and Sam had eaten it during his summers on Deer Lake. Sam had fished for it with little success, which secretly pleased him, since if he caught it he had to clean it. Later, when we lived in Vienna, we discovered that both the highly prized fogas in Hungary and zander in Germany were close relatives of our beloved walleye.

The only walleye in the grocery stores are bags of tiny frozen Canadian fillets with the skin on. It’s illegal to sell fresh walleye in Minnesota, a law that protects the lakes from overfishing. (A similar law protects trout in Colorado.) We asked several of the local Daves if they could provide us with any. Dave the winter caretaker and his son Dave were willing to go fishing for us. “But like I say,” Dave said, “It’s been so cold and rainy, the fish are huddled down low someplace. Worst summer ever for walleye. We got a bunch of bear though.” Their good intentions hardly mattered since when the day came, the skies opened and no one could go out on the lake.

We called a restaurant/hunting lodge about forty miles away. A deal was struck. Dave, the chef, was willing to give us some of his plump and delicious walleye fillets if I would bring him cilantro from my garden. As it turns out, I have nothing BUT cilantro in my garden. In late spring I spent two days on my hands and knees carefully covering seeds of exotic lettuces, old-fashioned beets, leeks, radishes, peas, beans and heirloom tomatoes. Everything was laid out in tidy rows. I gathered willow sticks for the peas to climb on just as they do in Italy and I balanced sections of trellis for the beans just as they do in Slovenia. And then I waited for the sun. When the nights were still below freezing around the Fourth of July, I abandoned its care entirely. Only the cilantro – an herb I never actually planted this year – survived. I spent the better part of August trying to think up ways of using it. My friend Jane took two days of her visit here making a cilantro soup that took eight quarts of homemade chicken stock and ended up tasting like an ash-laced mudflow.

Now we had the walleye. A neighbor who had gone home to warmer climates had peas and spinach in his garden, a crop that normally would have been harvested in June. This along with my abundant mint and Jane’s leftover stock would make a great first-course soup. The only other thing growing outside was basil. It should be the size of small Rhododendron bushes by this time of year. But my plants were scrawny tiny-leafed survivors of frosty nights that looked more like thyme than basil. Twenty carefully picked-over plants provided enough leaves to make pesto for four and I had a supply of Parmesan Reggiano and Romano I had brought from the coast. Then there is the old fallback up here, wild rice. Personally I think it’s overrated, though I love one recipe from Silver Palate that has it served at room temperature with pecans, oranges, scallions, raisins and lots of my plentiful mint. That was the meal. That, and Sam’s brother Tom’s new bread find that he brings with him to the lake: Dharma from an Artisan bakery in Omaha, a beautifully crunchy loaf with a mild sour dough taste that was great with the soup.

We had planned to dredge the fillets in Shoreline Lunch, a breadcrumb and herb mixture that’s a local favorite, but after reading the preservatives list, we eliminated it as an option. I also had cornmeal on hand, Apple’s father’s favorite and also cornflakes highly recommended by Danny Meyer, owner of Union Square Café and Gramercy Tavern in New York, but our local chef Dave recommended Panko Japanese breadcrumbs. It was the perfect choice and Mr. Apple pronounced the walleye “expertly cooked”.

4 ten-ounce skinless boneless walleye fillets
3 eggs
Dollop of heavy cream
Panko breadcrumbs
8 ounces of clarified butter
2 oranges

Procure the fillets (Good Luck!)
Whip the eggs with a fork until fluffy.
Add the heavy cream to the eggs and mix again. (This will
work equally well with just egg whites.)
Melt clarified butter in large frying pan. Heat it until
breadcrumbs dropped into it sizzle.
Dip fillets in the egg mixture and then dredge in the Panko. Place fillets carefully in butter. Brown 2-3 minutes on each
side until browned on the outside and flakey on the
inside. At the last minute before removing from the pan, quickly squeeze 1⁄2 orange over each fillet. Serve at once.

Next time back to politics.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Hot Flashes From The Campaign Trail
September 14, 2004
Alison Teal

No good news from Florida today. The sunshine state is once again operating from the Dark Side. The Florida Divisions of Elections is putting Nader on the ballot despite a court order not to do so. Division of Elections director Dawn Roberts has filed an appeal against the temporary injunction issued by the Circuit Court, an injunction that calls for a hearing on Wednesday that will rule on a permanent injunction. The Circuit Court took the position the Reform Party didn’t qualify as a national party under state law. But now an appeal has been filed by the state Division of Elections that effectively lifts the injunction and allows Nader’s name on overseas ballots. The overseas ballots have to be mailed by Saturday so, naturally, they can’t wait for Wednesday’s hearing to get them printed and, even more important according to Roberts, Hurricane Ivan has raised “a substantial question as to when such a hearing” will be held.

The chairman of the Florida Democratic Party said ``I'm in disbelief, This is blatant partisan maneuvering on the part of Jeb Bush to give his brother a leg up on election day. They are trying to get ballots printed with Nader's name on them… I am astounded that Jeb Bush is willing to defy the judiciary to help his brother.''

Excuse me? You’re astounded?? Where were you in 2000? And where is Mayor Daley the elder and all our dead relatives when we really need them?

On a lighter note, today Kitty Kelley’s new book “The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty” hits the bookstores and it is already number two on Amazon.com’s best-seller list. Dermot Purgavie, a British newspaper correspondent (and husband of my college chum and oldest friend Jane Barlow) wrote a long piece for the Daily Mail, which concludes:

"Meanwhile, brother Jeb Bush, now the governor of Florida, had his own financial adventures, being accused of profiting from property deals with the government when his father was president and representing American companies selling pumps in Nigeria while he was helping to organize a state visit to the U.S. for Nigeria's president.

The Bush children's willingness to exploit their father's power became embarrassingly public after son Neil Bush was invited to become a director of an opportunistic Denver bank because "he had a name and he and his wife
photographed well at cocktails." When the bank collapsed under the weight of huge speculative and unsecured loans, it came out that he had endorsed a loan of more than 100 million dollars, never repaid, to business partners who were investing in his own oil ventures. The bank lost a billion dollars but he and other directors were charged - deferentially, it was said – with only negligence, while Bush pleaded he was just a dope, not a crook.

Kitty Kelley may not be the October Surprise always anticipated in American campaigns, but the cumulative effect of her dredging through Bush family history is alarming for the president and could even turn out to be significant for a
close election in a deeply divided country with increasingly poisonous politics ("Has America really faced the fact that we have an alcoholic as our president?" asks one prominent Democrat). For now, certainly, Kelley will supplant Hillary Clinton as the woman Republicans hate most."

Sam and I were particularly amused by the Denver reference. Sam once met with Silverado, the bank in question, to borrow money for a business venture. They promptly offered to lend him 20% more than he had sought. It did not take a rocket scientist to know there was something amiss and he borrowed the money elsewhere. Meanwhile, I had an encounter with Neil’s ex-wife through the school where their children and ours were students. One day she approached me to ask, “How do you hire a legal nanny?” She went on to explain that –in case I didn’t know --her father-in-law was vice-president, so she thought she shouldn’t break the law with an illegal nanny and all the other mothers told her I had a legal one and knew how to do it legally. I explained politely but briefly that there are laws governing such things and the only requirement is to follow them. To this day it amazes me that she was worried about the nanny while her husband was bilking the bank for millions.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Today the Washington Post looks like a Bush campaign rag, but there is good news out there. Don’t despair. I’m not just a Pollyanna.

According to the recent CNN/Gallup and Zogby polls Bush’s convention bump was nothing close to what Time and Newsweek reported. And nothing like what the Post is saying.

CNN/Gallup/USA: Bush 52%, Kerry 45% (Sept. 3-5) a “small increase in voter support”. This poll also notes that among registered voters the results are Bush 49%, Kerry 48%, a statistically insignificant difference. It is among likely voters that Bush’s numbers go up emphasizing the importance of the Get Out the Vote effort.

Zogby: Bush 46%, Kerry 44% (Aug. 30-Sept. 2) “it simply is not an 11 point race. It just isn’t”.

American Research Group: Kerry 48%, Bush 46% (Aug. 30-Sept. 1)

Breaking down those numbers further, Kerry continues to lead among Independent voters (49-46) and both parties' partisans are equally polarized for their respective candidates (90-7).

The Gallup analysis continues: "The CNN/USA Today/Gallup post-Republican convention poll -- the first national poll conducted entirely after the completion of that convention -- shows George W. Bush getting a small increase in voter support . . . Bush's two-point convention bounce is one of the smallest registered in Gallup polling history . . . Bush's bounce is the smallest an incumbent president has received."

So much for the Bush bounce.

How did Time and Newsweek get it so wrong? Zogby, who came to radically different conclusions, offers an explanation after reviewing the methodology of the Newsweek poll: They overstated the Republican vote by 6% basing it on the assumption that 38% of the most likely to vote people are Republicans. Most other polls assume something closer to 32%, which means all the polls are based on a miscalculation from the beginning and therefore flawed. I believe this to be true from talking to Republicans. Rasmussen, who does daily tracking polls says that, as of noon EST yesterday the results were Bush 47.5%, Kerry 46.8%, a dead heat.

The weirdest results I have seen are the polls which consistently show that a majority disapprove of the way Bush is handling Iraq but, by large margins, think Bush is better at dealing with terrorism. I am way over my head here, but it seems strange to me.

Send this on to all your friends – especially those in swing states. AND WEAR YOUR BUTTONS. WE NEED THE VISIBILITY!!


Thursday, September 09, 2004

For the final word on Dick Cheney, check out my good friend Garry Mitchell's blog: http://themitchellreport.typepad.com/
He writes from Washington with wit, humor, incite and outrage. I highly recommend it for your “Favorites” file.

Here is the most current Mitchell Report:

Red Badge of Cowardice

Cowards have many covers and many costumes. They need them, so as not to give themselves away in advance of their next sneak attack.

In politics, we've grown accustomed to the time-honored practice of "hitting below the belt," and few who have fought for their political lives in campaigns for President or County Commissioner have risen above that form of combat.

Occasionally, someone plows new ground, sets the bar a little lower, distinguishes himself from the pack.

This year the honor goes to Dick Cheney.

In the heat of battle, it's one thing to state that George W. Bush is the clearly superior Commander-in-Chief. It's perfectly acceptable to claim that he would be more resolute than his opponent. It's fair game to say that his opponent has flipped and flopped on matters of national security. It's within the bounds of fair play to suggest that the country would be unequivocally safer under a Bush Administration. And at the outer bounds of hyperbole, it's OK to say that George W. Bush is the reincarnation of Pershing, Patton, and Douglas MacArthur.

That's politics.

But to wear the badge of Vice President of the United States, while claiming that "if we make the wrong choice" -- one can presume he's not talking about a vote for Ralph Nader or a write-in campaign for Neville Chamberlain -- " then the danger is that we'll get hit again," is another matter altogether.

That's the act of a coward.

Leaving aside Dick Cheney's five deferments as a young man, the consistently flawed advice to his President (about WMD's, Ahmed Chalabai, deficits, the reconstruction of Iraq, to name a few,) and the audacity of his accusations about the weapon systems that Senator Kerry voted against (which Defense Secretary Cheney also opposed,) this is a Vice President who abuses his public trust, if not his office.

Much of the country -- something like 50% -- may see this as "politics as usual." But for those who recall JFK's "missile gap" charges in the 1960 presidential race -- a clear prevarication - there is a subtle, important difference between a "red herring" and a "red badge of cowardice."

And in case any one is still wondering, Dick Cheney stepped over the line and reached well below the belt in Iowa yesterday.

It recalls that wonderful exchange between Winston Churchill and Lady Astor many decades ago.

At an evening event, when Churchill was in his cups, they had this exchange:

"Lord Winston, you are disgustingly drunk."

"Yes, Madam, 'tis true. And you are remarkably ugly. The difference is that in the morning I shall be sober."

So, Mr. Vice President, you have landed a good one on your opponent. And he has yet to land one on you. But the difference is that in the morning, you are the sole rival for the Spiro Agnew Award, and you have demeaned yourself,
your President, and politics, in the process.

Nice going.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Because I am hiking and because Dick Cheney's recent fear tactic remarks make me sick to my stomach, I am simply going to send on a brilliant article by Garrison Keillor. Please read it if you haven't already.

We're Not in Lake Wobegon Anymore
By Garrison Keillor

Here in 2004, George W. Bush is running for reelection on a platform
of tragedy--the single greatest failure of national defense in our
history, the attacks of 9/11 in which 19 men with box cutters put
this nation into a tailspin, a failure the details of which the
White House fought to keep secret even as it ran the country into
hock up to the hubcaps, thanks to generous tax cuts for the
well-fixed, hoping to lead us into a box canyon of debt that will
render government impotent, even as we engage in a war against a
small country that was undertaken for the president's personal
satisfaction but sold to the American public on the basis of brazen
misinformation, a war whose purpose is to distract us from an
enormous transfer of wealth taking place in this country, flowing
upward, and the deception is working beautifully.

The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few is the
death knell of democracy. No republic in the history of humanity has
survived this. The election of 2004 will say something about what
happens to ours. The omens are not good.

Our beloved land has been fogged with fear--fear, the greatest
political strategy ever. An ominous silence, distant sirens, a
drumbeat of whispered warnings and alarms to keep the public uneasy
and silence the opposition. And in a time of vague fear, you can
appoint bullet-brained judges, strip the bark off the Constitution,
eviscerate federal regulatory agencies, bring public education to a
standstill, stupefy the press, lavish gorgeous tax breaks on the

There is a stink drifting through this election year. It isn't the
Florida recount or the Supreme Court decision. No, it's 9/11 that we
keep coming back to. It wasn't the "end of innocence," or a turning
point in our history, or a cosmic occurrence, it was an event, a
lapse of security. And patriotism shouldn't prevent people from
asking hard questions of the man who was purportedly in charge of
national security at the time.

Whenever I think of those New Yorkers hurrying along Park Place or
getting off the No.1 Broadway local, hustling toward their office on
the 90th floor, the morning paper under their arms, I think of that
non-reader George W. Bush and how he hopes to exploit those people
with a little economic up tick, maybe the capture of Osama, cruise
to victory in November and proceed to get some serious
nation-changing done in his second term.

This year, as in the past, Republicans will portray us Democrats as
embittered academics, desiccated Unitarians, whacked-out hippies and
communards, people who talk to telephone poles, the party of the
Deadheads. They will wave enormous flags and wow over and over the
footage of firemen in the wreckage of the World Trade Center and
bodies being carried out and they will lie about their economic
policies with astonishing enthusiasm.

The Union is what needs defending this year. Government of Enron and
by Halliburton and for the Southern Baptists is not the same as what
Lincoln spoke of. This gang of Pithecanthropus Republicanii has
humbugged us to death on terrorism and tax cuts for the comfy and
school prayer and flag burning and claimed the right to know what
books we read and to dump their sewage upstream from the town and
clear-cut the forests and gut the IRS and mark up the constitution
on behalf of intolerance and promote the corporate takeover of the
public airwaves and to hell with anybody who opposes them.

This is a great country, and it wasn't made so by angry people. We
have a sacred duty to bequeath it to our grandchildren in better
shape than however we found it. We have a long way to go and we're
not getting any younger.

Dante said that the hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who
in time of crisis remain neutral, so I have spoken my piece, and
thank you, dear reader. It's a beautiful world, rain or shine, and
there is more to life than winning.

How did the Party of Lincoln and Liberty transmogrify into the party
of Newt Gingrich's evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a
dull and rigid man, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured
body parts trying to walk?

Something has gone seriously haywire with the Republican Party.
Once, it was the party of pragmatic Main Street businessmen in
steel-rimmed spectacles who decried profligacy and waste, were
devoted to their communities and supported the sort of prosperity
that raises all ships.

They were good-hearted people who vanquished the gnarlier elements
of their party, the paranoid Roosevelt-haters, the flat Earthers and
Prohibitionists, the anti-papist antiforeigner element. The genial
Eisenhower was their man, a genuine American hero of D-Day, who made
it OK for reasonable people to vote Republican. He brought the
Korean War to a stalemate, produced the Interstate Highway System,
declined to rescue the French colonial army in Vietnam, and gave us
a period of peace and prosperity, in which (oddly) American arts and
letters flourished and higher education burgeoned, and there was a
degree of plain decency in the country. Fifties Republicans were
giants compared to today's. Richard Nixon was the last Republican
leader to feel a Christian obligation toward the poor.

In the years between Nixon and Newt Gingrich, the party migrated
southward down the Twisting Trail of Rhetoric and sneered at the
idea of public service and became the Scourge of Liberalism, the
Great Crusade Against the Sixties, the Death Star of Government, a
gang of pirates that diverted and fascinated the media by their
sheer chutzpah, such as the misty-eyed flag-waving of Ronald Reagan
who, while George McGovern flew bombers in World War II, took a pass
and made training films in Long Beach. The Nixon moderate vanished
like the passenger pigeon, purged by a legion of angry white men who
rose to power on pure punk politics. "Bipartisanship is another term
of date rape," says Grover Norquist, the Sid Vicious of the GOP. "I
don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the
size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the
bathtub." The boy has Oedipal problems and government is his daddy.

The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party
of hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based
economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of
convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shrieking
midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants,
brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs,
aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil
Armstrong's moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little
honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt's evil spawn and their
Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free
flow of information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is
a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk. Republicans:
The No.1 reason the rest of the world thinks we're deaf, dumb and

Rich ironies abound! Lies pop up like toadstools in the forest! Wild
swine crowd round the public trough! Outrageous gerrymandering!
Pocket lining on a massive scale! Paid lobbyists sit in committee
rooms and write legislation to alleviate the suffering of
billionaires! Hypocrisies shine like cat turds in the moonlight! O
Mark Twain, where art thou at this hour? Arise and behold the Gilded
Age reincarnated gaudier than ever, upholding great wealth as the
sure sign of Divine Grace.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

I know, I know, I find it discouraging too. But I believe that this will pass. And that is why I’m saying the following to all of my friends on the left and right coasts: STOP BEING SO BLEAK! Four days of a Republican county fair and you’re all hopeless. Trust me, Zell Miller’s speech will end up costing the Republicans big time and whoever had the idea of wearing purple-heart Band-Aids will be in deep hiding soon. Those Band-Aids were a base insult to anyone who ever served in any war. The military awards honors according to what happened in the field, not over the precise quantity of spilled blood. To make a mockery of those awards is to insult the 3,700 soldiers in Iraq who have won the Purple Heart as well as everyone who has ever worn a uniform. Many of the people wearing those Band-Aids are the very ones who managed to avoid service altogether. Some of the people were in the home state delegation of deferment-crazy Dick Cheney. One was a Bush politician from Texas who was active in the Florida recount. It was a stomach turning display that was too over the top for most Americans. So don’t despair. Kerry is a fighter. He knows when and how to steer into enemy fire. He got angry Thursday night after Bush’s speech and he’ll get angry again. Don’t expect him to stay in attack mode. Two months of rage could get really tiresome. But if he doesn’t speak clearly and decisively on Iraq the current problem will only deepen.

Friday, at a truck stop in Nebraska, the woman behind the counter commented on my Kerry t-shirt. “You don’t see many of those around here,” she said. “I’m not sure if I’m gonna vote for him, but I’m sure not gonna vote for Bush after that speech last night. He just said what he thought we wanted to hear. I want to know what he’s going to do about health care and jobs. He didn’t talk about anything that mattered. And then that lousy convention. All the guys I know went to Vietnam and the lucky ones who made it back came back as only half the person they used to be. What do you think they’re thinking when they see those Band-Aids? But let’s put the Vietnam War behind us. I wanna hear about the future.”

I saw a sign near a lumber mill in northern Minnesota that said: Plant a Tree. Get rid of a Bush.

I’m off to admire and commune with the trees.


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