The Daily Rant©
 September 2004 Archive

September 30, 2004

David Letterman:  The first Presidential debate is Thursday in Florida. I think it's Bush's way of saying thank-you for that last crooked election." 

"Well, the first Kerry-Bush debate between President Bush and John Kerry takes place Thursday in Miami. And today, thousands of local residents began evacuating." 

Conan O'Brien:  "Everyone is talking about the ground rules. Kerry wants his podium to be tall enough so he can rest his hands. And President Bush wants it to be wide enough to hide Dick Cheney." 

"During a speech this week John Kerry said if President Bush is re-elected he might bring back a military draft. When asked, Bush said, 'Trust me, even if I bring back the draft there are plenty of ways to get around it.'"

Jay Leno:  "I tell you, Bush is working very hard getting prepared for these debates. He got one of those 'Hooked on Phonics' tapes." 

"Both candidates now are trying to lower expectations for how they'll do on the debates. For example, Kerry tried to lower expectations for himself by saying Bush has never lost a debate and that he is a formidable opponent. Then Bush lowered expectations for himself when he said, 'Hey, what does "formable" mean?'"

September 29, 2004

September 28, 2004

September 27, 2004

September 26, 2004

September 25, 2004

September 24, 2004

September 23, 2004

Jay Leno:  "President Bush spoke to the United Nations. The bad news, the nations are united against us!"

"The first debate will actually take place in Miami, Florida.  Boy, first all those hurricanes, now Bush and Kerry ... Haven't these people suffered enough?"

Jon Stewart:  "We begin tonight with a simple, indisputable fact: as a young man, President George W. Bush benefited from family connections to get a place in the Texas Air National guard, thus avoiding service in Vietnam.  As you would guess, this has led to calls for the resignation of Dan Rather." 

Drew Carey:  Bush pointed to positive signs in Iraq, like how the economy is taking off, thanks to a booming car bomb business." 

Conan O'Brien:  "Democrats are saying that President Bush is refusing to take part in a town hall debate with John Kerry because Bush is worried about the questions the audience will ask him. After hearing this, the president said, 'That's ridiculous. I'm not worried about the questions, I'm worried about the answers." 

September 22, 2004

September 21, 2004

September 20, 2004

Q to the Rant: 

The Palestine Solidarity Movement is dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish State by "any means necessary" -- including terrorism and suicide bombing.  Now, Palestine Solidarity, the American student arm of the International Solidarity Movement, has announced that its National Conference will be held at Duke University, Oct. 15, 16, and 17, 2004.

Your take on this?  Does speech freedom end when one advocates harm or death to others?


No. It is easy to defend the right of free speech when you agree with the speaker.  If you have lines, who gets to decide where they are?  John Ashcroft? 

When the Nazis wanted a parade permit in Skokie in the 1970's, the ACLU rose to the defense of free speech.  In my opinion, it was a time for all true supporters of the Bill of Rights, including American Jews, to reaffirm their support of the ACLU.  It has been the ACLU which has consistently taken hard lines against the erosion of the free practice of religion and the separation of church and state. 

The Duke situation is not so simple.  The concept of free speech means that government shall enact no law which limits free speech not that individuals or non-governmental organizations have an obligation to facilitate free speech.  Nevertheless, our universities have traditionally been the bastions of free speech and the free exchange of ideas.  If these bastions are whittled away, it makes it easier for government to narrow the scope of our rights. 

September 19, 2004

Miami Hurricanes


Louisiana Tech Whatevers


September 18, 2004

The president may be out of touch with reality, but his fellow conservatives are increasingly concerned about the deteriorating situation. 

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), noting the White House's recent plan to divert $3.4 billion from reconstruction efforts to emergency security efforts, said: "Now, that does not add up, in my opinion, to a pretty picture, to a picture that shows that we're winning. But it does add up to this: an acknowledgment that we are in deep trouble."

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) also "expressed exasperation at the administration's rosy prewar assessments that as soon as Hussein was deposed, a euphoric Iraqi population would embrace democracy." He charged, "The nonsense of that is [now] apparent."


September 17, 2004

Maimonides' Ladder

The Jewish philosopher Maimonides spoke of eight levels of philanthropy, one better than the next.

 1. The highest degree of all is one who supports another reduced to poverty by providing a loan, or entering into a partnership, or finding work for him, so that the poor person can become self-sufficient.

2 Below this is giving to another so that the donor does not know the recipient, and the recipient does not know the donor.

3 Below this is giving to another so that the donor knows the recipient, but the recipient does not know the donor.

4 Below this is giving to another so that the recipient knows the donor, but the donor does not know the recipient.

5. Below this is giving to the poor without being asked

6. Below this is giving to the poor after being asked.

7. Below this is giving to the poor less than is proper, but in a friendly manner

8. Below is giving, but in a grudging and unfriendly way. 

And then there's Oprah...

who gave 276 cars to people in the audience of her national television show.  Except that Pontiac donated the cars and Oprah got all the credit and publicity for her "generosity" (kind of like OPM, "other people's money").

What would Maimonides think?  Where would this stunt fit in the Ladder?

September 16, 2004

It's Rosh Hashanah...

Today is the beginning of the Jewish New Year.  Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (September 25) are referred to as the High Holy Days.  The High Holy Days are the most-observed holidays in the Jewish religion, observed by many Jews, even those who do not observe other holidays.  As a result, these several days of the year finds synagogues packed like so many gefilte fish in a jar.

Here comes the Rant part.  Pay-to-Pray...

Most Jewish congregations in the United States (I don't know the practice elsewhere) require tickets for admission to High Holiday services.  These tickets are either purchased as part of a membership in the congregation or separately at prices which would rival a performance of the Three Tenors.  Many congregations also sell pews -  "pay more and sit closer to God."  While it is true that many congregations would not turn away someone who groveled and pleaded indigency and that, in some communities, there have been organized efforts to make a small number of complimentary tickets (in the back rows, I suspect) available to non-members, these practices are the exception rather than the rule.

I know of no other major religions which practice pay-to-pray.  True, other religions raise money through tithing, passing the plate, bingo, and TV evangelists.  But, in no other cases of which I am aware, is payment a condition of admission to a religious service.  Even as a non-Christian, if I wanted to attend a Christmas or Easter service in any church, I would be welcomed without a credit report and, if I arrived early enough, I could sit right up front with the pious folks.

As an orthodox agnostic, I have no trouble finding hypocrisy in any organized religion.  Pay-to-pray is an example which this Jew-by-birth finds particularly troublesome.

September 15, 2004

September 14, 2004



September 13, 2004

September 12, 2004

Bush and the assault weapons...

The federal ban on the sale of assault weapons will expire tomorrow night.  A poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania that said two-thirds of the public and one-third of NRA members support an extension of the assault weapons ban.  Law enforcement organizations also broadly support the ban.

Bush understands the numbers and is trying to play this one in the middle so as not to alienate any conservatives or moderates who might vote for his reelection.  He has said he will sign an extension but refuses to push the Republicans who control the House (the extension has passed the Senate) to allow the bill to come up for a vote.  This way, Bush can disclaim responsibility for the avalanche of sales of assault weapons which will begin on Tuesday and yet the puppets of the NRA in the House will not be held accountable to the electorate for opposing the ban.

The answer?  We need to wrest control of the House from the likes of Tom DeLay (and elect a president who will work politically to keep the assault weapons out of our society).

September 11, 2004

A hurricane was welcomed in Miami last night...

The Miami Hurricanes and Florida State Seminoles finally played their season opener last night after it was postponed because of Hurricane Frances.  This is the first time these two rivals have played a game as members of the same conference.  

The result was the same.  For the sixth straight time, the Hurricanes have beaten the Seminoles.  Chris Rix, the Seminole quarterback being touted by ESPN's Kirk Herbstreet as the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this year, became the first college quarterback to start and lose to one team five times.

And the beat goes on.

Bring on Ivan!

September 10, 2004

Conan O'Brien:  "Dick Cheney said that if John Kerry wins, there will be another attack. Then Cheney said, if Bush wins, I'll call it off." 

"According to a new book, when President Bush was on National Guard duty he would sometimes sneak off to smoke marijuana and snort cocaine. When he heard this, President Bush said, 'That's ridiculous. I never showed up for National Guard duty.'"

September 9, 2004


No WMD's, but...

Bush's standard stump speech now defends the war in Iraq by asserting that the the United States is safer and better off and the world is safer and better off with Saddam Hussein removed from power.

Yes, but was it worth the cost?  

September 8, 2004

The Rant is back...

After a two day hiatus while we temporarily relocated to premises with AC while Frances ravaged parts of Florida, the Rant will resume its regular irregular schedule.  Our loss of power and even the loss of the Rant are insignificant compared to the losses being suffered by so many people in the middle of Florida.  

Elsewhere, and with an even greater import than Frances, we are under two months until the presidential election.  Kerry has not been helped by the month during which he had to refrain from advertising in order to have spending parity with Bush during September and October.  There are five factors which will determine the election:

The last factor - turnout - is the one which those of us who are convinced that this is as important a choice as we have ever made can influence.  The side which does a better job turning our its constituency will win.  I urge you to support those organizations - be it a labor union, the Democratic Party, or Move-On.Org - which are working so hard to get out the vote.

Jay Leno:  "Bush and Kerry both focused on the battleground state of Ohio. See Bush knows no Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio. Of course, before Bush, no Republican had ever won the White House without winning the election."

"A Bush administration official said today we're moving closer and closer to capturing Osama bin Laden. Of course we're moving closer, it's almost election day. I'm predicting we'll get him, maybe, November 1st."

"In his speech at the Republican convention, President Bush said that America should create an ownership society. For example, if you're homeless, buy a home. Don't have a job? Buy a company, give yourself a job. These are simple solutions."

September 5, 2004

The Rant is a refugee from Hurricane Frances.  We lost our power.  

September 4, 2004

September 3, 2004

President Bush: Flip-Flopper-In-Chief

From the beginning, George W. Bush has made his own credibility a central issue. On 10/11/00, then-Gov. Bush said: "I think credibility is important.It is going to be important for the president to be credible with Congress, important for the president to be credible with foreign nations." But President Bush's serial flip-flopping raises serious questions about whether Congress and foreign leaders can rely on what he says.  Over the next two months, I will share documentation, compiled by the American Progress Action Fund, of 30 Bush flip-flops.

Bush Flip-Flop #1

Social Security Surplus

BUSH PLEDGES NOT TO TOUCH SOCIAL SECURITY SURPLUS... "We're going to keep the promise of Social Security and keep the government from raiding the Social Security surplus." [President Bush, 3/3/01]

...BUSH SPENDS SOCIAL SECURITY SURPLUS The New York Times reported that "the president's new budget uses Social Security surpluses to pay for other programs every year through 2013, ultimately diverting more than $1.4 trillion in Social Security funds to other purposes." [The New York Times, 2/6/02]

September 2, 2004

Speaking of flip floppers...

In a 2001 speech, Miller called Kerry "one of this nation's authentic heroes, one of this party's best-known and greatest leaders – and a good friend." He said, "John Kerry has fought against government waste and worked hard to bring some accountability to Washington…He fought for balanced budgets before it was considered politically correct for Democrats to do so. John has worked to strengthen our military, reform public education, boost the economy and protect the environment."

Jay Leno:  "President Bush now says the problems we're having in Iraq are because we won the war too quickly. He says the war was 'a catastrophic success.' He's also calling the economy a 'disastrous achievement.'"

David Letterman:  "The Republican Convention goes on all week, and of course, the highlight will be toward the end of the week. George Bush will show up for one day, you know, just like he did in the National Guard."

Conan O'Brien:  "Many people in Britain are upset because last night at the convention Giuliani compared President Bush to Winston Churchill. Not only that, President Bush is upset because he has no idea who Winston Churchill is." 

September 1, 2004

Changing Tack, Bush Says Terror War Winnable

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Reuters) - President Bush said on Tuesday the war on terror could be won by America and explained away an earlier comment that it could not be won by blaming his lack of articulation.

As he prepared to address the Republican Party convention in New York on Thursday, Bush found himself forced to adjust his message in a central issue for his re-election campaign. 

Bush's drive to convince Americans that they should not change presidents in the middle of a war was not helped by his interview on Monday with NBC's "Today" show, when he was asked if the war on terrorism would ever be won.  "I don't think you can win it," he replied.