The Daily Rant©
June 2004 Archive 


June 30, 2004

The problem with tennis...

It's Wimbledon time.  Which has me thinking - why hasn't tennis caught on as a mainstream sport?  It ain't NASCAR.  Or football.

Tennis is viewed by many as effete (as in Agnew's "effete intellectual snobs").  There are probably a number of factors contributing to this opinion.  There's the royalty in their finery at Wimbledon, the hushed decorum of the spectators, and, Venus and Serena notwithstanding, the perception that most of the stars are from upper or upper-middle class backgrounds.

And then there is the scoring.  Love?  What is that?  The first two points are worth fifteen points, the next point is worth ten, and who knows what the last one is worth.  Why not say that each point is one, you need four points to win, and you need to win by at least two points?  Then, a winning score would be 4 - 2, or 13 - 11 (you know that this was a good game!), not something which is deliberately obtuse.

Not to fear.  NFL training camps are just a month away!

June 29, 2004

June 28, 2004

We saw Fahrenheit 9/11 on Saturday afternoon.  Our theory was that the theater would be empty in the middle of a beautiful weekend afternoon.  A defective theory!

We arrived at the theater about 45 minutes before the start of the movie.  I was shocked to find that we were in line behind nearly 100 people.  When the earlier movie let out, many people exiting the theater had comments for those of us in line such as "Vote Democratic." and "Anybody But Bush."  Nobody disagreed but, then again, I didn't get the impression that there were a lot of Young Republicans in line.

About the movie - we enjoyed it very much.  As usual, Michael Moore uses his skills as a "documentarian" to entertain and convey a message at the same time.  Biased?  Of course.  But it was funny, informative, and, at times, poignant.

Will Fahrenheit 9/11 change any minds?  In my opinion, not many.  Few Bushies will even see the movie.  Those independents who are open-minded enough to see the movie will probably vote against Bush anyway.  No.  The real impact of the movie will be to further energize the anti-Bush vote.  More people will help with local registration drives, donate money, and actually turn out to vote in November.  I don't say this to minimize the impact.  Actually, it is my belief and my hope that this, the intensity of the loyal opposition, is what will carry the day in November.

June 27, 2004

June 26, 2004

Cheney Says He Has No Regrets for Cursing Leahy

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (Reuters) - Vice President Dick Cheney said on Friday he had no regrets about a bitter exchange with Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy in which the vice president used an obscenity.

Cheney hurled the "F-word" at Leahy during a conversation between the two on Tuesday, according to congressional aides.  Asked if he cursed the Vermont senator, Cheney told the Fox News program, the Cavuto Report, "Probably."

But he said "No" when asked whether he regretted it. 

Jay Leno:  "On the Senate floor, Dick Cheney flipped out and told Senator Pat Leahy to go f-himself. Can you believe that? Aren't these the same guys trying to fine Howard Stern for bad language?"

June 25, 2004

Bush Favors Yes Men

On August 1, 2002, Jay S. Bybee, then Assistant Attorney General of the United States, responded to a request from Alberto Gonzales, Counsel to President Bush, for the views of the Justice Department regarding torture of prisoners.  Bybee's memo asserted that "there is significant range of acts that, though they might constitute cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment fail to rise to the level of torture" because they don't cause physical injury equivalent to organ failure.  Even with that stipulation, he concluded that "under the current circumstances, necessity or self-defense may justify interrogation methods that might" qualify as torture.

On Tuesday, following the release of Bybee's memo, the Justice Department repudiated the memo saying it was "overbroad and irrelevant".  The official said prisoners in Iraq were clearly covered by the Geneva Conventions and that Iraqi prisoners were "legally distinct" from Qaeda or Taliban prisoners.

What happened to Jay Bybee?  President Bush has nominated Bybee to a lifetime appointment as a federal appellate judge.

June 24, 2004

Senate Blocks Bid to Demand Abuse Memos

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Backing President Bush, Republicans in the Senate on Wednesday defeated a bid by Democrats to force the administration to release documents on the treatment of enemy combatants in the wake of the prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq.

On a party-line vote, the Senate defeated 50-46 an amendment demanding Attorney General John Ashcroft turn over documents on the interrogation and treatment of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Democrats accused Republicans of cooperating with a White House cover-up of policies that they said may have contributed to the scandal at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad where photographs showed U.S. soldiers abusing detainees.

Republicans charged Democrats with playing election-year politics on an issue that was damaging the United States' reputation and intelligence gathering abilities.

Republicans had sought to kill the measure on a procedural vote, but five Republicans sided with Democrats to defeat that effort and force a direct vote on the Democrats' amendment.

Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican and a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, said he felt the issue of the treatment of prisoners was too important to be decided with a parliamentary maneuver.

"This is the most serious issue, and it goes right to what America is all about," McCain, who has urged the White House to be forthcoming on information to try to put the scandal behind it, said after the vote.

Republican Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Lindsey Graham of South Caroline, Mike DeWine of Ohio and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, also sided with Democrats on the procedural vote. 

June 23, 2004


Another beheading today.  The world shudders at the brutality.

Some people view the beheadings as a justification for U.S. treatment of Iraqi prisoners. 

I take exception to this view.  Not only do I expect us to be better than the worst among us, I believe that for every barbarian act, there is an opportunity to lead, to show, by our actions, that justice and decency is better.

Sadly, we have shown the world just the opposite.  The abuses at Abu Ghraib, Guantanemo, and Afghanistan are but one example.  Each time our fighter drop bombs which kill women and children, we are viewed as the evil super-power.  Leno joked that: "Clinton said he had the affair with Monica Lewinsky because he could. Ironically, that's the same reason President Bush gave for invading Iraq."  The point of the joke is that to much of the world, we invaded Iraq not because we were right but because we could, because no one could stop us.

We can be better but it will happen only if we demand better from our leaders (and demand better leaders).

June 22, 2004

Jimmy Kimmel:  "Only 12 days until we hand Iraq back over to the Iraqis. I don't think we're getting our security deposit back." 

Jay Leno:  "The 9/11 commission said they found no working relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. It's kind of like the FBI and the CIA." 

June 21, 2004

Clinton's Book...

I am an unabashed liberal.  I think that the Clinton presidency was, on balance, a very successful eight years for our country.  Why, then, am I totally uninterested in reading his 950 page tome?  Is it because I am not interested in the rationalizations/explanations of a man whose personal lapses* impeded his political leadership?  Or is it that I am not intellectually curious?  Or is it that I am too cheap to spend $35?

* I am among those who think Clinton is one of the greatest intellects to hold the presidency.  How do I square this assessment with Monicagate?  Look to the old adage:  God gave man a brain and a penis but not enough blood to operate both at the same time.


Jay Leno:  "Clinton said he had the affair with Monica Lewinsky because he could. Ironically, that's the same reason President Bush gave for invading Iraq." 

"The Bush administration is testing something called the Registered Travelers Program. This allows travelers to bypass the security lines and checkpoints at airports by agreeing to a fee and a background check. Boy, that's a great idea. A separate line for rich people — I'm surprised the Republicans thought of that."

June 20, 2004

On Father's Day, Ron Reagan on his father...

The Eulogy:  "Dad was a deeply, unabashedly religious man, but he never made the fatal mistake of so many politicians, wearing his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage."

Dateline NBC:

Matthews: "That [the eulogy] was in many ways the most remarked upon moment in a very dramatic week."

Reagan: "Well, what I find interesting about it is that everybody assumes that I must be talking about George W. Bush, which I find fascinating and somewhat telling. If the shoe fits—"

Matthews: "Were you?"

Reagan: "Well, I said many politicians. If he's lumped in that group then fine, fine. That's all right. There's a lot of-- I think there's a lot of false piety floating around Washington."

Matthews: "Ron, do you feel deeply that the President has used religion to make his case for the war with Iraq?"

Reagan: "I think he's used religion to make his case for a lot of things, you know."

Matthews: "Including Iraq?"

Reagan: "Including Iraq."

Matthews: "Many of the people in this administration who are most hawkish claim a Reagan mantle here in fighting this war. Should they?"

Reagan: "No. With all due respect, I don't think they knew my father as well as I did. And another thing I would observe is that my father never felt the need to wrap himself in anybody else's mantle. He never felt the need to pretend to be anybody else. This is their administration. This is their war. If they can't stand on their own two feet, well they're no Ronald Reagan, that's for sure."

June 19, 2004

June 18, 2004

Is the Bush administration's arrogance biting it in the ass?  Hope springs eternal...
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush  led the United States into an ill-planned Iraq  war that has weakened U.S. security, retired diplomats and military officers said on Wednesday in a direct challenge to one of Bush's main arguments for re-election.

"We all believe that current administration policies have failed in the primary responsibilities of preserving national security and providing world leadership," said a statement signed by the 27 retired officials. "We need a change."

The rare criticism by career officials came from a group that included members of both major political parties, a former CIA director, two former ambassadors to the Soviet Union and a retired chairman of the military Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In attacking Bush's national security record, they challenged a key Bush argument for his re-election against Democrat Sen. John Kerry, that the Iraq war has made America safer and that Bush is an effective wartime president.

"Our security has been weakened," the group said.

The former officials, some of whom said they had voted for Bush in 2000, said the Republican president manipulated intelligence on Iraq to lead the United States into an "ill-planned and costly war from which exit is uncertain."

Bush has maintained an "overbearing" approach to foreign policy that relied excessively on military power, spurned the concerns of traditional U.S. allies and disdained the United Nations), the group said.

"It justified the invasion of Iraq by manipulation of uncertain intelligence about weapons of mass destruction, and by a cynical campaign to persuade the public that Saddam Hussein was linked to al Qaeda and the attacks of September 11," it said. "The evidence did not support this argument."

"Never in the two and a quarter centuries of our history has the United States been so isolated among the nations, so broadly feared and distrusted," it added. 

Dateline NBC - Friday

Chris Matthews interviewed Ron Reagan.  Apparently, Ron Reagan criticized the Bush administration for trying to benefit from Ronald Reagan's legacy as relates to the war in Iraq.  I can't wait to see this!

June 17, 2004

June 16, 2004

Vote Bush.  Defeat Terrorism.

WASHINGTON -- (AP) A U.S. State Department report that incorrectly showed a decline last year in terrorism worldwide was a "big mistake," Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday.

June 15, 2004

Did Bush Order Torture?

Last Thursday, Bush said, "what I authorized was staying within U.S. law." But we now know that the Bush administration believed the law permitted him to authorize torture.

A 2002 Justice Department memo to the White House – described by Ashcroft as "information from [the president's] attorney general that is confidential" – said that "necessity...may justify" interrogation methods that violate the federal anti-torture statute. The memo, which Ashcroft still refuses to release but which was leaked to the Washington Post, argued that even the severe pain that the government acknowledged was torture could be legally authorized by the president "pursuant to his Commander-in-Chief authorities."  According to the memo "capturing, detaining and interrogating the enemy" are core functions of the Commander-in-Chief.  The Justice Department argued that preventing the president from authorizing torture would be unconstitutional.

June 14, 2004

Former Officials to Criticize Bush Foreign Policy
Sun Jun 13, 2004 05:10 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A group of former U.S. officials is urging voters to defeat President Bush in the November election, saying his policies have isolated the United States, a spokesman for the group said on Sunday.

The group of 26 former diplomats and military officials, including appointees of former Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, plan to issue an open statement on Wednesday criticizing Bush's foreign policies.

"We just came to agreement that this administration was really endangering the United States," said William Harrop, a former ambassador to Israel under the previous Bush administration.

The signers are a mix of Democrats and Republicans, Harrop said. They include Jack Matlock and Arthur Hartman, two former ambassadors to the former Soviet Union during the 1980s.

Also in the group are several other former ambassadors and retired military officials, the group said.

Signers of the statement are concerned that the administration has undermined U.S. leadership in the world and alienated U.S. allies, Harrop said.

As an example, Harrop cited the decision to launch the war in Iraq without sufficient international support.

"Our view is that the President Bush administration has chosen American domination of the world as in our best interest," Harrop said.

"We don't think that's going to work."

June 13, 2004

The John Kerry TV ad I want to see this week...

June 12, 2004

NEWS FLASH:  In response to demand, the funeral of Ronald Reagan will continue until Labor Day
 or until every conservative in the country has invoked the name of Reagan on national TV, whichever is last.

NEWS FLASH:  The Reagan Legacy Project has introduced a bill to change the name of the nation's capital to Reagan, D.C.

June 11, 2004

Ray Charles  1930 - 2004

We lost a treasure yesterday.

I was fortunate enough to have seen Ray Charles perform twice.  I know of no performer who had a more palpable connection with his audience.

One of my favorite Ray Charles songs is In The Heat Of The Night, the title song for the 1967 movie.  The last verse of the song is:

I've got trouble wall to wall
Oh yes I have
I repeat in the night
Must be an ending to us all
Oh Lord, it won't be long
Yes, just you be strong
And it'll be all right
In the heat of the night.

June 10, 2004

Ashcroft Stonewalls...

Attorney General John Ashcroft told Congress yesterday that he would not release a 2002 policy memo on the degree of pain and suffering legally permitted during enemy interrogations. 

Angry Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee called on Ashcroft to provide the document. They said portions that have appeared in news reports suggest the Bush administration is reinterpreting U.S. law and the Geneva Conventions prohibiting torture. 

Ashcroft acknowledged that the memo was not confidential advice to the president and was "widely distributed throughout the executive branch." Ashcroft has decided to thwart the constitutional authority of Congress to conduct oversight of the executive branch because he believes it is "not good policy" to release the memo.

Tom Selleck:  "This week, if you can't say that Reagan was a great president, at least say that he was a good man."

David Letterman:  "Prosecutors are having a difficult time building a case against Saddam Hussein. I'll tell you something, the guy is smart. See, when he tortured people, he didn't take snapshots." 

"President Bush met with the Pope in Rome. Did you see the picture of the two of them? Man, that poor guy, he has a blank look on his face like he doesn't know where he is. Then, the Pope told him, just be quiet and relax." 

Jay Leno:  "President Bush has returned after remembering D-Day. Or, as it was known in his house, report card day." 

June 9, 2004

Laura Bush Says Cannot Support Stem Cell Research

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Laura Bush, whose father died from Alzheimer's, said on Wednesday she admired Nancy Reagan's devotion to former President Ronald Reagan until his death but could not back her call for relaxation of stem cell research restrictions.

Mrs. Bush said she did not endorse Nancy Reagan's call, already rebuffed by the White House, to allow greater stem cell research to proceed in the hope it would provide some answers to the disease or possibly a cure.

The Bush administration has placed restrictions on embryonic stem cell research and opposes using stem cells from most embryos, a stand Mrs. Bush said she supported.

"There are stem cells to do research on and ... we have to be really careful between what we want to do for science and what we should do ethically," the first lady said. "Stem cell ... is certainly one of those issues that we need to treat very carefully."

Pressed on whether she was prepared to endorse Mrs. Reagan's impassioned call for restrictions to be lifted, she replied, "No."

More than 200 members of the U.S. Senate and House (of Representatives have also urged Bush to allow researchers to use embryonic stem cells to eventually provide brain cell transplants to Alzheimer's patients. They also hope to use embryonic stem cells to treat Parkinson's, spinal cord injuries, heart disease, diabetes and a range of other illnesses.

Bush Unyielding On Stem Cells...

The fact that the Bush administration has put Laura Bush, a very popular first lady, out front on this issue signals that Bush will not change his rigid restrictions on stem cell research even in the wake of Nancy Reagan's plea and strong Congressional support for a change.  

Why?  Bush wants to be sure that the religious right is strongly in his camp for the election.  It isn't that he fears that they will vote for Kerry or Nader.  Bush needs their solidarity, their sense that Bush's reelection is a moral imperative.  If he softens on this issue, so too will their support.

June 8, 2004

June 7, 2004

The Monday Quiz
Win a free subscription to The Daily Rant!

The Census Bureau has hundreds of categories of jobs in the 2000 Census.  Women earn the same as or more than men in only five categories.  Which one of the following job categories is not one of the five, that is, in which one of the following jobs do women earn less than men?

construction trade helpers
dining room / cafeteria workers
hazardous material removal workers
kindergarten / preschool teachers
meeting / convention planners
telecommunications lines installers / repairers

June 6, 2004

Ronald W. Reagan, 1911 - 2004

As a liberal, I hope Ronald Reagan's greatest legacy is yet to be realized.  On May 8, Nancy Reagan, speaking at a benefit to aid stem cell research, said:

"Science has presented us with a hope called stem cell research, which may provide our scientists with many answers that for so long have been beyond our grasp," she said. "I just don't see how we can turn our backs on this."

"Ronnie's long journey has finally taken him to a distant place, where I can no longer reach him," she said. "We've lost so much time already, and I just really can't bear to lose any more."

May she be motivated to and find comfort by being heard on this important issue in the future.

June 5, 2004

June 4, 2004

June 3, 2004

Let's follow this story...

June 2, 2004

IRAQ - Bush evolves?

Too little too late.

On Sunday, I watched House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Meet the Press.  Tim Russert asked Pelosi about the differences on Iraq between Bush and Kerry, particularly in light of Bush's movement toward international cooperation after a year of go-it-alone defiance of the majority of the international community.  Unfortunately, Pelosi was not adequately prepared for this softball and she whiffed on it rather than knocking it out of the park.

The correct answer is that Kerry will be successful at mending the fences which were demolished by W. marching through with his armies like Sherman through Atlanta.

A new broom sweeps clean.

Get it?  Or do you need another metaphor?

June 1, 2004

How to fix Kerry...

I have been struggling to figure out why sometimes Kerry connects so well and other times, well...

Jay Leno:  "John Kerry has a new 757 jet to use while he campaigns for president. In the event that Kerry starts speaking, oxygen masks fall from the ceiling to keep people awake." 

He was great talking to Tim Russert for almost an hour on Meet the Press a couple of months ago.  But, most of our Kerry sound bites come from his stump speeches and, in those, he is feeding the comedians with material...

Jon Stewart:  "Please explain to me why John Kerry sounds more dickish telling the truth than Bush sounds when he's lying. How is that possible?" 

Get it?  Kerry needs to talk, not orate.  When he is talking, he is good.  When he is orating, well, he gets into this lyrical, sing-song, rhythm which is annoying, at best.

I assume Kerry has some high-paid media and image consultants.  Why haven't they seen the problem and fixed it?  It has been written that Gore wouldn't listen to the "experts" he was paying.  I hope Kerry doesn't have the same problem.  After all, if Bush could learn to deliver a speech, well, you know...

I do think my analysis bodes well for the debates when Kerry will be talking.  That will be an opportunity for him to think on his feet and articulate.  The contrast with Bush should be striking.