picture of Amelia
the Great never look back

[something clever and obscure here]

The chronicles of Amelia's post road trip adventures

Wednesday, October 27

spread firefox 

Do you feel as though you've been a good citizen this year? Have you donated your old clothes to the Goodwill store in your neighborhood? Have you donated your blood or platelets to the Red Cross? Have you donated your time to the local soup kitchen?


Well, don't feel bad, you can make up for it by supporting the open source community today. Mozilla is launching Firefox 1.0 and for 30 dollars (10 dollars for students) you can help them advertise their launch with a full page ad in the New York Times. This donation gets your name in that ad and gets you some good karma, but you've only got 2 days before deadline, so act fast.

If you'd like to learn more about switching to Firefox, and what you're missing out on by sticking with Internet Explorer, go to your favorite search engine and type in "better browser."

Get Firefox!

PS: I can be considered a "Community Champion" if I get 9 other people to sign up through my link, so if you do decide to donate, help me out by using this link or the one above.

geek hermit 

I've spent my time lately developing a couple of database-driven websites. I really like the job, happily coding all day, but I'm finding that it leads to bad eyesight and worse posture. It also inhibits my ability to communicate with other human beings and makes me forget the day of the week. It took me three tries yesterday to form a simple sentence. I sort of shrugged it off and tried to explain to the nice lady that I'd been in front of a computer all day. I mean, she was the first person I'd seen in 8 hours, so I was having a little trouble speaking. Despite my attempts, I'm still pretty sure that she was thinking, "That's one craaaazy white girl."

There are perks, though, such as making my own hours, chatting with my feline office mates, over by the water bowl, and getting paid. That last one doesn't happen nearly as often as I'd like, but I'm making progress.

Monday, October 25

a vote for smaller government 

8 days until the election. I don't even want to think about what sort of fiasco it will turn out to be. I really can't foresee a situation where either side concedes amicably, and I don't know how many more elections like the one in 2000 that the electorate can take before losing faith in the process.

This is the time of year when politics and government are on the forefront of many American minds. I think that times are changing and that the government should adapt to the changes, but I see a dangerous federalist trend in the American government. I don't think that it's necessary to throw the majority of our decision-making to an ever-expanding bureaucracy.

Unfortunately, neither of our two main presidential candidates are going to give us smaller government. Let's just say, I'm a bit disgusted.

Friday, October 22

I thought I'd respond to this text message in a public forum. I was asked, "what is life all about?"
I don't know what it's all about. I just thought that I had it mostly figured at one point in my life, and at fairly regular intervals I realize just how wrong I can be about that kind of stuff.


My college roommate, Nikie, and I used to laugh hysterically when we'd think about how we were supposedly living in "the best four years of our lives." What was that all about? They had to be kidding. Did they realize how much stress we were under to get those papers written on time and live on a shoestring budget and learn how to remove the blinders from our eyes? Yes, they did, but I didn't believe it. I didn't believe it when they said it would just get harder. "Harder? I'm a grown-up now. I know what life is all about. I know what it's all about. With my blinding optimism, I know that I can get through any ordeal with a smile. How hard could it possibly get?"

I'm beginning to learn.

about words 

Happiness is someone kneading you. -me

I like words. I really like words, especially when they're spelled correctly.

The dictionary is definitely my favorite book with the thesaurus not far behind. I've got Merriam-Webster bookmarked so I can find the finer shades of meaning for any word at touch of a button. I've found the 'real-time words' on their homepage to be good for brainstorming. Using that, I've made up a page that's better for brain stimulation (you'll need Flash). I've also been exploring the Visual Thesaurus. You can only use it three times before buying it, so search wisely.

Here are some of the words I've looked up this year (at m-w.com):

abject acing adorable amity appreciated beck beginning bevy browbeat callipygian capricious cistern climactic conversed delectable delightful desperate emasculating embarrass enmity equanimity espoused existence expound feckless feign foolish forevermore frightening gallivanting garments germane gormless hue imminent inelegant irresponsible irreverence iterant itinerant lambast leech lieutenant mass masseuse mature mired mountain narcotic necessaries noticeable permanence perspective petpeeve phrase pithy plaintively pro bono proffers randy redeem repose reproach scary separatist solipsist sound bite tattoo technically touched travails traveling variance vetted

Most recently [this morning] I've looked up "adventuresome," because I didn't know when you should use adventuresome over adventurous, or if they meant the same thing. According to YourDictionary.com you should use adventuresome as a purely positive descriptor. Adventurous implies more risk-taking behavior, and adventuristic connotes reckless and is used to describe actions "in the absence or in defiance of accepted plans or principles." [sound like any world leaders we know?]

If you like words and art and you don't know Jenny Holzer, you should research her work today. I'm still in the process of learning about her, but so far, I am captivated. She thrills me and disturbs me and makes me feel both one with all of humanity and small and stupid and alone all at the same time. Now that is powerful art. I hope the client who gave me her book realizes that it's the reason why I'm not working on his site this morning, but reading art instead.

Silly holes in people are for breeding or from shooting. -Jenny Holzer

Thursday, October 21


Thank God It's Thursday and not Friday, because WhatWouldBillHicksSay.com launches Saturday, and it's not quite finished. That's what I'm doing today.

Wednesday, October 20

Bush comes to me! 

George Bush heard that I was staying in Lakeland, Florida, and has decided to come back to see me. Actually, if the President knew me, he'd have moved me back to DC, and I'd be advising him to change most of his policies. Unfortunately, he doesn't know me, and that's not why he'll be here. The real reason he's coming is for a rally. One to drum up votes, I presume. No president has ever visited Polk County twice (I wonder why?) so it's pretty big news around here. The free tickets to the event are available at the local GOP offices, so I'm going to try to pick one up and see the man in person. It's not everyday that you get a chance to see the President of the US. Do you think they'll see right through my charade? Will they ask me a barrage of questions to ensure they've got only diehard Republicans attending this rally?

I imagine a scenario where they ask me a few questions about my past and then jerk the ticket out of my hand screaming, "Dah, you're much too well-educated and well-traveled to be voting for the likes of W!"

Or something like that.

on being über everything 

Oooh, today is a gooood day. I think it's because I slept in. I worked at least 12 hours yesterday, putting the final touches and some extra functionality into a website that is set to launch this week. It's tough to say goodbye to a project sometimes, unless the client has been such a royal pain in the a$$ that you're thankful to get rid of them. There are usually so many more things that need to be tweaked. It's the problem with being a perfectionist, sometimes it's hard to be satisfied with what you've done. Deadlines do help, though. I'd hardly ever "finish" a project if it weren't for deadlines.

I think everyone has their neuroses. It's how you manage your quirks that determine whether you are successful. For example, I get distracted easily and forget things. I have a lot of energy and often feel like I could and should be doing more. While browsing the internet (with my free Firefox web browser), I'll usually have many different pages open at the same time. I open a new tab for most pages so I don't lose where I was. You've probably experienced that phenomenon: clicking interesting links to interesting pages, and then not knowing how to get back to the interesting thing on that interesting page you were on before. As long as I keep all my pages open I can be researching ten things at once and not lose my place. Then periodically, I'll go through and close the pages I don't need anymore and bookmark the ones I'd like to see again someday. This helps me work in two ways: I'm doing many things at once, so I'm not bored, and I don't think about something and forget it two minutes later, because I've got it all in front of me.

The whole concept of "Windows" is brilliant. I like that I can easily move between all of the applications that I'm using. When "the system" is set in place properly, I am a mean über efficient machine. For my current work, "the system" consists of WinEdt for editing my (XHTML/CSS/PHP) web pages, FileZilla - a monster of a free FTP client for uploading the pages, Mozilla Thunderbird email client where I get email from all of my accounts (even hotmail) and stay in touch with clients and friends, a trial copy of Macromedia Fireworks for graphic design and photo editing, and a PuTTY ssh window that opens a mail tunnel and a private IRC channel. Oh yeah, and, of course, the aforementioned free web browser where I usually have a "work" window and a "play" window open. Everything at my fingertips helps make me work like a well-oiled machine [on the good days, nothing helps on the bad days, but there aren't many of those].

As I sit here, cloaked in the optimism of a half-caff cup of coffee (stimulant-free week is over!), I ponder what fine words to leave you with today. [ponder, ponder...if a tree ponders in the woods...does it make a sound..ponder..] Ok, got it, today's words of wisdom: do the little things that make your life easier. Cling fast to the people and actions that make you better, lighter, and more whole. Trim the fat in your life that keeps you from success. Ok, that last bit sounds a little too much like a self-help sound bite, and possibly you think that I'm making it sound too easy, but it IS easy, you just gotta do it.

PS. On other fronts, the shoestring-eating cat has found a way to open the closet door.

Tuesday, October 19

Good Morning.
My fingernails still have a hint of green from a living room painting party I attended this weekend. I'd like to think that it speaks to the tenaciousness of the paint rather than my hygiene, but who am I kidding?

Saturday, October 16


Charles Bukowski is Bart Simpson. At least, that's what I dreamed this morning. What does that mean?

For the second evening in a row last night, I found myself in a tattoo parlor [not a dream]. My skin still remains pristine, but two friends made fresh additions (one of which I designed) to their older tattoos while I watched and took some photos. It's been an interesting couple of nights in Ybor City [ee-bor sit-ee]. I love that place.

I'm told it hurts.

Friday, October 15

I'll take the decaf 

I'm having a stimulant-free week. depressants only

I've been consuming more and more caffeinated sodas and coffee lately, and that unbalances me somewhat. I don't like to be dependent on anything. I don't like to feel that I must have coffee in order to get my brain going in the morning, or a Coke in the middle of the day to help me push past the mid-afternoon lows. I'd also been hanging out with more smokers lately and having drags from their cigarettes [I hate smoking, but love nicotine]. I know that these substances can often insidiously work their way into your routine, and before you know it, you've got a dependence. I wanted to nip that in the bud, so I'm taking the week off: a re-centering, if you will.

It hasn't been a problem to be stimulant-free. I usually get headaches if I have caffeine for a couple of days and then stop, but I haven't had any this time. I did get into a discussion last night about the amount of caffeine in the decaffeinated coffee I was drinking. I knew that decaf had some caffeine in it, but I thought that it was miniscule amounts. I don't bother arguing if I'm not sure of my facts [usually] so I waited until I could research decaffeinated coffee on the veracious Internet.

A typical cup of coffee has about 85 mg of caffeine. A decaf cup has about 3 mg.
interesting sources: Barista Guru, International Food Information Council (ific.org)

So, by drinking decaf coffee, I'm not entirely stimulant free, but I'm 97% stimulant free, which is good enough for me.

I hope you have enjoyed this segment of "Stuff You Didn't Really Care About." Stay tuned for more later.

Thursday, October 14

a pile of rubbish 

I'd like to know what John Kerry and George Bush really think, rather than what they think the majority of Americans want to hear. I realize that this is a juvenile and idealistic thing for me to wish for. Don't I know how politics works? Don't I know that there is no room in our political system for voicing convictions that haven't thoroughly been tested in a focus group? Yes, sadly I do.

The final presidential debate was last night. What follows is a pleasant mixture of what was actually said, what I heard, and some additional morning-after cynicism. Enjoy.

Will our children grow up in a safer world?

Kerry: The president outsourced the job of finding Osama Bin Laden to Afghan warlords. The President said he didn't care about Bin Laden.

Bush: Gosh, he keeps making stuff up.

What happenened to our flu vaccine?

Bush: Don't get a flu shot if you're young and healthy. I didn't.

Kerry: We need a better health care for Americans.

Bush: He just outlines a litany of complaints. I learned a new word this week: litany. Big words make me sound smart. He doesn't have a plan. How's he going to pay for it?

What do you say to someone who has lost their job?

Bush: Go back to school. I'll help pay for you to get more education.

Kerry: Do you see how he was asked about jobs and talked about education? Who would have thought they were related? I'll talk about jobs -- after I talk about fiscal responsibility. I know how to relate to American pop culture. I'll mention Tony Soprano.

Do you blame the president for the loss of jobs?

Kerry: I blame the president for the things that one could blame a president for.

Bush: It's all lies, lies! a litany of misstatements...

Is homosexuality a choice?

Bush: I don't know, but in a free society, consenting adults can live the way they want to live. We should treat people with tolerance, respect, and dignity. However, we shouldn't make people change their minds about the sanctity of marriage. Marriage should be between a white man and a white woman. Marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Kerry: Dick Cheney's daughter munches, er, is a lesbian. I don't know why my running mate and I have brought that up twice, but somebody told us it would help us win.

Bush: I still think that there should be a constitutional amendment preventing gay folks from getting married.

What do you guys think about abortion?

Kerry: I will protect Roe v. Wade. I believe in God and that's why I protect the environment and fight against poverty.

Bush: I will continue to promote abstinence programs. This isn't the United Sluts of America. Keep your pants on.

Who bears the responsibility of rising health care costs?

Bush: Gosh darn, Bob, I hope it's not our fault. I think it's the greedy trial lawyers. And they aren't using computers, Bob. People tell me that when the health-care field is fully integrated with information technology, it'll wring some 20 percent of the cost out of the system. They didn't tell me how much it will cost to do the integration, and I wasn't smart enough to ask.

Kerry: We've got to get health care for all Americans. I have a plan.

How will you pay for this plan?

Kerry: I have a plan. I'm not actually going to say anything about how it will be paid for, but you guys are just going to love it.

Bush: Look at other countries that have tried to have federally controlled health care. They have poor-quality health care. I appreciate Tony Blair's contribution to my coalition, but seriously, folks, who would go to England for surgery? Maybe if you wanted to be put on a six-month waiting list.

What about immigration?

Bush: I was the governor of Texas. I know all about the Mexican border. If a Mexican has half a lick of sense, then he would be working here, because he can make 10 times more and take it back to his family. I would like to make this work legal, so we can protect these people and not have them hiding in the shadows.

Kerry: I still have a little more to say about the last question. The rich people got more money than the middle class. Now that's wrong. Bush said four years ago that he would reform immigration. He didn't. I will. I have a plan.

Bush: He doesn't know what he's talking about. The borders in Texas are much better protected now than when I was governor.

Kerry: I'll make the borders more secure.

Is it time to raise the minimum wage?

Kerry: Yes.

Bush: Let's talk about education instead.

Do you want to overturn Roe v. Wade?

Bush: I'm not going to have a litmus test for my judges. I'm not actually going to answer this question, because I may lose votes.

Kerry: I'll answer it straight to America. I'm not going to appoint a judge to the Court who's going to undo a constitutional right, whether it's the First Amendment, or the Fifth Amendment, or some other right that's given under our courts today (except the Second Amendment)-- under the Constitution. And I believe that the right of choice is a constitutional right.

What about a draft?

Kerry: I've said it before, I say it again: I believe the president broke faith to the American people in the way that he took this nation to war. He said he would work through a real alliance. Well, we didn't. And the result is our forces today are overextended. I'll double the number of special forces. I've said this a number of times without actually explaining how I'm going to pay for it.

Bush: The best way to take the pressure off of our troops is to succeed in Iraq. We'll be resolute, we'll be strong, and we'll wage a comprehensive war against the terrorists.

You said that if Congress would vote to extend the ban on assault weapons, that you'd sign the legislation, but you did nothing to encourage the Congress to extend it. Why not?

Bush: I was told that the assault weapons ban legislation was dead in the water, so there was nothing I could do about it. The best way to protect our citizens from guns is to prosecute those who commit crimes with guns. And that's why early in my administration I called the attorney general and the U. S. attorneys and said: Put together a task force all around the country to prosecute those who commit crimes with guns.

Kerry: I am a hunter. I'm a gun owner. I've been a hunter since I was a kid, 12, 13 years old. And I respect the Second Amendment and I will not tamper with the Second Amendment. [ooh, I like you more already, Kerry, sorry about picking on you earlier]

Do we still need affirmative action?

Kerry: The president hasn't met with the NAACP or the Black Congressional Caucus. He's practically dressed in a white sheet.

Bush: Education is the key. My opponent tells lies about me all the time.

What part does your faith play in your policy decisions?

Bush: I pray all the time. But I'm mindful in a free society that people can worship if they want to or not. You're equally an American if you choose to worship an almighty and if you choose not to. If you're a Christian, Jew or Muslim, you're equally an American. That's the great thing about America, is the right to worship the way you see fit. Prayer and religion sustain me. I receive calmness in the storms of the presidency. Religion is an important part of who I am. I never want to impose my religion on anybody else.

Kerry: Me, too, except I'm better at it than he is.

What have you learned from the women in your lives?

Bush: To listen to them and stand up straight. I love my wife, it was love at first sight.

Kerry: The three of us all "married up". And some would say maybe me more so than others. My wife's a billionaire and I'd be the richest man ever in the oval office. My mom, before she died, told me three words to remember: integrity, integrity, integrity. I respect the president and think we're both pretty lucky men.

Closing Statements?

Bush: I think I've said enough, don't you?

Kerry: I'm going home to pray for the Red Sox.

Both: God Bless America.

Here is the transcript of the debate, for when you want to check on what was actually said.

Wednesday, October 13

plane to RI 

I successfully increased my cushion time so that I made it to the airport with some time to spare on Friday morning. I ingested part of a sub-par egg sandwich and chatted with Justin to confirm that he'd be picking me from the airport in Providence. My laptop battery didn't last very long on the plane, and I was forced to read Skymall, which I've already memorized from my other flights recently. I flew on Southwest and their in-flight magazine did have a couple of interesting techie gadgets. The guy next to me poo-poo'd a poll about what Americans thought about the UN and claimed aloud that he thought only 25% of Americans even knew what the UN was. I was bored, bored, bored, and entertained myself by crossing my eyes and looking at the spots on the carpet. Fortunately, we landed before my face froze that way.

honky tonk 

Things have settled down enough for me to start telling you about the last few days. I started to write this yesterday, but didn't have enough time to finish and didn't feel like posting something less than complete. I've decided that if I wait until I think that it's complete, then nothing will ever get published on this site again. Instead, throughout the rest of the day, I'll put up the recap in bits and pieces. What do you have to look forward to? The country and western bar, flying to Rhode Island, driving to Maine, the Kancamagus Highway, finding a hotel on the busiest weekend of the year, Vermont, magic show ... lots.

We'll start with last week. Last Thursday was the Honky Tonk Tailgate Jam down at the notoriously trashy bar, Buck Wild (aka BuckNasty). If you remember, I'd won tickets to this concert the week before. I was supposed to be flying out of Florida on Thursday, but didn't want to miss the experience of the Honky Tonk Tailgate Jam, especially since it seemed as if I'd been ordained by space, time, and all that is holy in the universe to be there. Changing my flight cost about as much as the value of the tickets, but it was worth it, if only to say that I'd been there. It was a good place for people watching, but I didn't feel much like interacting. Some days I do, and some I don't. The music was good, even though I'm not a huge country music fan and didn't know most of it. I do have this small fantasy of being the queen of someone's doublewide trailer, so hanging out at line dancing bars satisfies me in a very odd way.

I was glad I'd brought a posse (Harlan and Randy (aka Randy Bucknasty or Randy the Sex Ed Teacher)) because there were a few leering creepy guys at Buck Wild. I was glad to have backup. We met Randy several weeks ago and took him under our wing. Well, not really, but all of us were looking for friends and he's turned out to be a pretty great guy. I feel sorry for the high school girls he teaches, because I think it would be hard to learn about puberty and sex from such a hottie.

more later...

Monday, October 11

It's not so bad. You're only the best I ever had. --Vertical Horizon

It's early and I really need to be in bed, but I figured I'd put something up here for those of you who check this site early Monday mornings. I agree, it IS a great way to start your week.

I can't think anymore, but I know I've got a lot to say. My head hurts a bit and it's late. I'm going to go to bed now. Sorry 'bout that.

PS: I like Brattleboro, Vermont. I recommend it to most.
PPS: Ben Mack is famous.

Friday, October 8


I flew to Rhode Island this morning. I'm going to be leaf spotting this weekend.

no time to write now, but soon

Thursday, October 7

spam sucks 

This morning has been great, even though I was up much too early. I was searching Google's image database this morning while brainstorming design for a new site. I clicked on some image and I found a blog where you could comment on the posts (like lots of sites) and the comments section was filled with interesting quotes. The quotes had nothing to do with the post and were peppered with phrases such as, "buy viagra" or "floricet for headaches." Computer generated spam comments! I knew they existed, but hadn't seen them around much. How annoying! I thought that a comments section would be a worthwhile addition to this site, but I'll have to figure out a way around the spam that isn't a pain for the real people leaving comments. In the meantime, when you have something to say, send me an email.

Experiment with electronic voting. [emailed from JL]

"one thing really does, quite literally, lead to another", a quote from this sermon, by Marilyn Sewell, which I read this morning. It's chock full of good advice that she's giving her two sons. I found it by doing a search for Joan Didion, who wrote one of the interesting quotes used in the computer generated spam. It was:
Innocence ends when one is stripped of the delusion that one likes oneself.

While researching spam and comments, I found a gay gun-nut in Vermont, whom I enjoyed. Then, while googling "gay gun nut" I found Classical Values, whose wit is unparalleled.


Wednesday, October 6

checking facts 

One thing I did want to mention about the VP debate, before I go off to a lunch meeting, was that Cheney mentioned factcheck.com last night, when I believe he meant factcheck.org.

Factcheck.com takes you to George Soros' site, which I'm pretty sure Cheney didn't mean to plug.

Check them both out, if you'd like.

Bush's speech in Penn. Not so significant... 

The two running mates met last night. The empty promises of a campaign never cease to amaze me. I'll write more about the VPs later.

The President just finished speaking in Pennsylvania. It was supposed to be a "significant" speech about Iraq and terrorism. Here are some quotes:

My opponent is a tax and spend liberal, and I'm a compassionate conservative. My opponent wants to empower government, and I want the government to empower the people.

The world is better off with Saddam Hussein sitting in a prison cell.

We will stay in the fight until the fight is won.

Bush talks about Kerry's indecisiveness and says, "You hear all that, and you understand why somebody would make a face."

We won't wait until the next attack, but take the fight until the enemy.

If America waits until the threat is at our doorstep, it might be too late to save lives.

We've heard all that. We know where Bush stands. What was so significant?

George Bush is speaking right now in Pennsylvania about terrorism and the economy.


REGISTER TO VOTE, and then vote.
You've got to register by October 8th.

Tuesday, October 5

What brings me down now, is love, 'cause I can never get enough. -Counting Crows

The wireless connection in the hotel I'm in has steam coming out of my ears. Really, truly, in the past I have been described as a patient person, but they never met me on a day like today. I really could throw something, but I have a modicum of restraint left, so I haven't yet.

Goldfish and lincoln logs have me giggling. It doesn't have to be an inside joke.

Today's illusions:
Stare at the middle of this one and watch the circle move inwards. Then, move your eyes around the inside of the ring in this one and watch it move out.
I really liked these wannabe spirals.

my mother and I talk today:
she: Have you ever wanted a manhole?
me: a manhole?
she: Yes, they're doing some roadwork all over town and ...
me: don't you mean a manhole cover?
she: No, the manhole, too. The round thing that the monhole cover sits on. It's about 9 inches tall. Or 8 inches. They're lying all around town.
me: Yes. Yes, I would like a manhole. It would make a great coffee table don't you think?
she: and you wouldn't need any hotmats!

my mother and I talked last week:
she: I've always wanted to be a bucket man. What a great job.
me: Well, you should become a buket man, then.
she: And when they ask me what my qualifications are, I'll say I've got a low center of gravity, so they don't have to worry about me falling out.

Monday, October 4

mind tricks 

This week's theme is illusions, since I'm going to be co-starring in a magic show this weekend.

here are two:
rotsnake looks like it's moving

checker board A and B are same color

Sunday, October 3

Buck wild 

You would be so jealous. Tonight i went to a country and western bar where they were line dancing all night. On top of that i entered a contest like musical chairs except with men instead of chairs and won 60 dollars worth of tickets to a honky tonk concert. It was redneck white trash heaven. Cool.

Friday, October 1

debate recap, part III 

If you weren't tired of this already, here is the last segment of last night's Presidential debates. We begin again with Question 13: what is Kerry's opinion of pre-emptive war?

Kerry: You have to pass a global test. Our own secretary of state apologized to world about the presentations he made to the UN. How many leaders would say now that the word of the President of the United States is enough for me. It doesn't help your relations with other nations when you turn away from a global warming treaty or refuse to talk with the UN.

Bush responds: I don't have to pass a global test. My opponent talks about me not signing certain treaties and I wouldn't join the international criminal court. That wasn't a popular move, but it was the right move. Trying to be popular in the global sense is wrong. I'm not going to win a popularity contest, but I'm going to make decisions that are wrong for America.

Question for Bush: Do you think diplomacy and sanctions can solve problems in North Korea and Iran?
Yes. I found out my agreements weren't being upheld in North Korea. China has more influence than we do. I built an alliance there of 5 nations.

Kerry tells us the real story with North Korea.

Jim Lehrer, the moderator, says lets make sure we have this clear. Bush wants to continue the alliance with 5 nations, Kerry wants to be in it more on our own, with bilateral talks?
It's best if you just read the transcript for this question, because it's quite substantive, and my notes don't do it justice.

The question for Kerry is: why has no one talked about sending troops to Sudan?
We can do this through the African Union. We must. They currently don't have the logistical capacity. We need to send logistical aid, and at the moment, we're only sending humanitarian aid. We're overextended. I would add two more active duty divisions to armed forces. We can never allow another Rwanda. Do the American people even know what that means?

[16] Does Kerry have character flaws that you think are serious enough to keep him from being a good president?
That's a loaded question. He's a great dad. His daughters have treated my daughters well. I admire his service in Vietnam and the Senate and I won't hold it against him that he went to Yale. My biggest concern is that he changes his core beliefs on the war. I know how the world works, we change tactics, but not strategic beliefs.

Kerry appreciates personal comments.

Bush interjects that he's trying to put a leash on his daughters.

Kerry: I'm not going to talk about a difference of character, that's not my job.
Certainty is one thing, but it's another thing to be certain and be wrong. He's not acknowleging benefits of stem cell research or the truth about global warming. He's not acknowleging when things are going wrong in Iraq.

Bush: I won't change my core values because of politics and pressure. There is enormous pressure when you're president and you can't wilt under that pressure.

Kerry: I have no intention of wilting. I've never wilted in my life. We didn't need to rush to war without a plan to win the peace.

Question for Kerry: what is the single most serious threat to the US?
Nuclear proliferation. I agree Bush has cut funding for finding nuclear material. The US is pursuing a new nuclear weapons program. What kind of mixed message is that?

Bush: We've actually increased funding for anti-proliferation. I think the biggest threat is WMD in the hands of a terrorist network. We convinced libya to disarm. To protect America in the long run we need to continue with a missile defense program.

Jim wants clarification. So, both of you believe that nukes are biggest threat? Bush adds, "in hands of a terrorist network"

And the last question was one of the more interesting ones for me. I haven't really been paying that much attention to Vladimir Putin and Russia. I knew that he was getting a little power hungry, but I didn't really realize it was as bad as it is.

The Question for Bush: did you misjudge Putin? or is it okay to change some of the democratic processes that he's changed?
i don't think it was a good idea, and I've said so publicly. He's removed some of the checks and balances. I've got a good relationship with Vladimir. It's the nature of the enemy to gun down school kids.

Kerry: I saw the transformation [to democracy] in Russia. Mr. Putin controls all of the television stations, now.

Kerry doesn't really say more about Russia, but brings up North Korea again: just because the president said it can't be done, doesn't mean it can't be done. This was the same president that said mission accomplished.

Bush says that he has nothing else to say about North Korea. He's said it all already. Jim Lehrer prods him, asks him if his hackles got raised at all when Kerry is talking about the "truth" or lack of truth coming from the White House.

Bush: I'm a pretty calm guy.

Kerry: Bush didn't go to war as a last resort. It's not what the Americans thought they were getting when they were voting. The Americans thought they were getting Gore.

Final Comments from Kerry:
We have different convictions. Who can get your kids home? What kind of world are your kids going to grow up in? I defended this country as a young man, and I'll defend it again. I'm not talking about leaving, I'm talking about winning. I have a plan. I believe that the future belongs to freedom not fear. Strong at home, respected in the world. God bless America.

From Bush:
America can show no uncertainty or weakness, or else. I'll strengthen intelligence and reform military, which will remain all-volunteer. We'll stay on offense and we won't turn over national security decisions to other countries. A free Iraq and Afghanistan will serve as powerful example. We've climbed the mighty mountain, and the valley of peace lies below, I see it. Let's keep our word. I ask for your vote and may God continue to bless our great land.

debate recap, part II 

This is the second third of the Presidential debate last night. A debate that George Will calls parallel press conferences, which is a pretty accurate description. Ooh, the candidates are asked questions and they have to respond without their speechwriters giving them notes. Some debate.

What follows here is not a transcript! This is the transcript.


In response to a question about the miscalculations in Iraq, Bush says we won it too quickly. It's hard work: I see on TV how hard it is. brilliant I know we won't achieve if we send mix signals. We have a plan in place: elections in January. It's hard work to go from a place where people get their hands cut off to a democracy.

Kerry: Knowing there was no connection with Al Quaeda, knowing there were no weapons of mass destruction, Bush says he would still go to war. Kerry says we're 90% of the troops and 90% of the money. It's not a real coalition. On top of that North Korea has nukes. We let them get nuclear weapons. Talk about sending mixed messages.

A question for John Kerry: You've accused the president of lying. Tell us more.
I never said lying. That's harsh. Say what you mean. The only reason you haven't said Bush is a liar, is because it doesn't poll well. The President said he would go through the UN. He said there were WMD. He rushed to war. He misled american people when he said we'd plan and go as a last resort. This has cost us deeply with world leaders. I've worked with those leaders for longer than this president has. I'll follow in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan. huh?

Bush: Osama doesn't decide what America does. I decide. Kerry said it was right to disarm Iraq. What is misleading is to say that you can lead the country when you keep changing your mind. That is not how a commander in chief acts. The only thing consistent about my opponents positoin is that he's been inconsistent. We have a duty to achieve a free Iraq and a free Afghanistan.

Has the war been worth the casualties?
Bush: I do the best I can to provide care to the loved ones who have lost someone. Missy johnson lost her husband. I told her, after we prayed and teared up and laughed some, I told her that I thought her husband's sacrifice was noble and worthy.

still Bush: We need to deal with threats before they materialize. We need to spread liberty and end hatred by spreading freedom. Every life is precious, that's what distinguishes us from the enemy. A free Iraq and a free Afghanistan will help send a message to the region.

Kerry: I know what it means to lose people. This reminds me of Vietnam Did you guys forget that I'm a war hero? It's vital for us to not confuse the war with the warriors oh, I like that. That sounds memorable. I'm determined for the troops. They're noble. We want the out come to honor their nobility. This President is not getting the job done. Go to my website. I've got a four-point plan, and the President has a four word plan: More Of The Same. I won't let the troops down.
good response, hard to follow

So Bush presses for more time, and leans on his old standby phrases: WWWPWT [wrong war, wrong place, wrong time] The troops will wonder, how can i follow this guy who calls the war a grand diversion?

Kerry mentions the Pottery Barn rule: if you break it, you fix it? that's just silly If you break it, you own it. and then you've got to fix it. that's makes slightly more sense, but still... I have plan and he doesn't.

Well then, Kerry, give us specifics of your plan. Give us a timeline.
The president has misled again.

From the split screen, we see Bush making faces. Don't get flustered, Bush. You can do it. Come on, I want to see a good fight.

Kerry says we must change the dynamics on the ground, close borders.
Are there really other countries who are going to send their troops in if Kerry is president? Is that realistic?

Bush gives details of trained troops. We're getting the job done. It's hard work.
kerry says he's going to change dynamics on the ground, but Kerry questioned credibility of prime minister. We've got to send consistent, sound messages to the Iraqi people. I reject the notion that muslims don't want to be free. They are fighting us because they are fighting freedom. They are fighting us because we invaded their country.

For Bush: Does the Iraq experience make you less likely to use force elsewhere?
i never dreamt I'd be commiting troops. The enemy attacked us. I have a duty to protect american people. The president must always be willing to use troops, as a last resort. There is no doubt in my mind that Saddam would be stronger. Libya is peacefully dismantling weapons programs.

Kerry pounces: The President said "the enemy attacked us," but the enemy wasn't Saddam Hussein. We outsourced the job of getting Osama. He is factually incorrect, about Saddam Hussein being stronger. If president had shown patience...

Bush: of course, I know that Osama attacked us. I know that. To think that another round of resolutions would have made a difference to Saddam is ludicrous. He would have made weapons.


Ok, we'll have the last questions in a bit. I need to eat breakfast.

debate recap, part I 

These are my notes from the first half of the televised debate tonight. I've got the notes from the rest, but it's after midnight, now, and I'm too tired to make them into complete sentences. I'll finish in the morning, I promise.

Regarding these notes, they aren't exhaustive, and I don't guarantee their accuracy, but I tried. I'm not the AP. You also may notice a slight anti-Bush slant. I try to fair and balanced, but I'm not Fox News.Read the transcript.


Candidates have not been told what the questions are. That's good. We'll still hear BS even if it hasn't been prepared word for word in advance.

Bush doesn't look that much shorter. I'd heard that they'd wanted to minimize the height difference.

All smiles

Coin toss sends first question to Kerry, who starts by not answering the question, can Kerry do a better job of preventing attacks like September 11?
Kerry first criticizes Bush's ability to build alliances, and says that he has a better plan for homeland security.

Bush's rebuttal, our prayers are with Florida. Since September 11, we've had to look at the world differently. 10 million people have registered to vote, we got Saddam, etc.

The question for Bush is will Kerry's election make the country less safe? The impetus for this question being Cheney's comment earlier this month, which most in both parties agree was out of line, but which hasn't been denounced by Bush. You've got to stand by your VP, even when he's a jerk. Bush answers by saying he doesn't think Kerry will win, and then launches into answering some other question. 10 million citizens registered to vote in Afghanistan. Bush is not answering this question, but that's pretty much what I expect from the debates.

Kerry says he will hunt down and kill the terrorists, but says we have to be smart, which is apparently not Bush's forte. He brings up the 9/11 commission and a lack of focus on the true threat, Osama. Kerry says the president made colossal misjudgments.

What are these colossal misjudgments of which you speak? President didn't want to go the UN, president changed his mind. Kerry says, Bush's "campaign has a word for that" referring to the "flip-flop" accusations of late. Kerry says Bush said he would go to war only as a last resort. There is massive opium production in Afghanistan, elections have been postponed, and we have 10 times the troops in Iraq as we do in Afghanistan. Those are the colossal misjudgments.

Poor George Bush. Is Kerry beating up on you?

Bush's responds that the world is safer without Saddam Hussein. Nobody tells me what to do. I made up my own mind about going to the UN. I'm not a puppet. I'll make my own decisions, even if they're wrong.

Bush: To say that there is only one focus in the war on terror, Osama, is misunderstanding the war. Of course Iraq is a important center in the war of terror, or else they wouldn't be fighting back. What? So, if they don't drown then they're witches?

What was the question again?

We have the first of the one minute extensions. Bush says Kerry voted for war, but now sends the message of wrong war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time [WWWPWT].

Kerry: I believe we can succeed in Iraq, but I don't believe this president can succeed.

What would you do differently to increase homeland security?
The president is spending too much money abroad and cutting police and firefighter programs here.

George Bush is making faces.

That's cute, Bush. He's baffled at how is Kerry going to pay for this, but says we'll save that question for later.

Bush says that the FBI (and counterterrorism) is the number one priority. The Patriot Act is vital, because it enables law enforcement to disrupt terrorist cells. He says he's allocated funds for the homeland. [remember: my words, not his]

Kerry says of the FBI, the question isn't are you spending more money, it's are you doing everything you can to protect America.

Bush says, I wake up everyday thinking about how to protect America. It's hard work, and we're doing everything we can at home, but you better have a president who goes out and hunts down terrorists.

The question for Bush: When will you know it's time to bring troops home? When our generals tell us that Iraq is ready to protect itself and when elections are held. Kerry is on the wrong track when he says he'll have the troops out in 6 months. Putting artificial deadlines on the isn't the road to success. Thank you, troops. We'll get you home as soon as the mission is done. A free Iraq is necessary for peace in the region. A free Iraq will help secure Israel. A free Iraq is essential.

Kerry says Bush's daddy didn't go in because there was no exit strategy, he wrote it so in his book. oh, he didn't go there, talking about Bush's daddy


Kerry:The President made a mistake. How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?What?
Kerry believes we have to win this, now. He thought Saddam was a threat, too, at one point, but Bush misled the American people when he started this war. He said he would proceed cautiously, he wouldn't make an infinite war. Bush didn't listen to experts who said that invading Iraq for September 11 was like invading Mexico in response to Pearl Harbor.

Bush, stop making your silly faces

Bush: That's absurd. We had allies. We had Britain and Poland. Did he pronounce those leaders' names right? He's been practicing. Are the allies really going to jump at your offer, Kerry, when you say, join us for a grand diversion? I sit down with the world leaders, and talk to them on the phone. We aren't going to have allies in a war when the leader calls it the WWWPWT, a leader whose core convictions change with politics. We have 30 nations involved. Kerry denigrates these allies, calling them the coerced and the bribed.

Alright, bedtime. Tomorrow, North Korea and nuclear proliferation. Fun!

Rabbit, Rabbit

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