But first, before we do . . .

TAX

Third quarterly estimated income tax due today – don’t forget, if you owe it.

GNATS

And . . . will someone please tell me why Microsoft puts those tiny red dots beneath anything it thinks is a place, like Belgium or Nevada? What is that about? How do I turn it off? They’re just annoying – like gnats.

THINNING YOUR JUNK MAIL

And I keep meaning to finish this thread . . .

Bob Sanderson: ‘Be careful with Alec ‘T.’ Whittaker’s system to identify junk mail by using different fake middle initials. I tried this a few years ago, and began receiving multiple mailings from the same source, addressed to me with different middle initials. The plan actually generated more junk.’

☞ Ah, but at least it was easy to spot and throw out. And if you have a five-year-old, what a great way to begin training him for a career in the mail room.

Dana Dlott: ‘I used this system. When I subscribed to Consumer Reports I was Dana C. Dlott. I get tons of junk mail addressed to him, even though Consumer Reports promised they wouldn’t sell my name.’

KERRY STRENGTHS

And one of you made a very good addition to yesterday’s list of attributes, reminding us to read this piece, to which I have linked before: Follow The Money – How John Kerry Busted The Terrorists’ Favorite Bank. And, separately, she quotes this, which may be a little harsh, but still: ‘The fact that George W. Bush borrowed money from BCCI in 1987 but John Kerry launched the investigation in 1988 that eventually brought them down really says about all you need to know about the character of the two men.’

TINY URLs

And do you know about this site – http://websearch.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm? site=http%3A%2F%2Ftinyurl.com%2F – which turns long URLs like that one into tiny ones like this: http://tinyurl.com/bl18 ?

REPORT FROM ABROAD

And speaking of yesterday’s point that George Bush has turned a massive surplus of post-9/11 global goodwill into a massive deficit, I keep meaning to post Marc Honaker’s dispatch from the Olympics:

Being overseas gives you some sense about how intensely Bush is disliked. Even the Greeks (who are considered our friends) came out in massive numbers for a peaceful demonstration when it was announced that Powell (the most liked and respected member of the Bush Administration) would come to represent the US for Closing Ceremonies. He ended up canceling his trip not to distract from what was a very successful and peaceful Games for the Greeks. But in general the POV I found from most Europeans was: “We love Americans; but not American policy” What this man has done to our country’s image overseas will take a long time to repair – but what does it say if we, the people, re-elect him? Americans won’t get such a free pass anymore.

And, so, at last, I was going to reassure Prasanth . . . when I read Paul Krugman, who should passed on, respectfully, to your well-meaning relative who thinks the way to keep us safe is to vote for four more years.

Prasanth can wait. I end with this:

September 14, 2004
Taking On the Myth
By PAUL KRUGMAN
The New York Times

On Sunday, a celebrating crowd gathered around a burning U.S. armored vehicle. Then a helicopter opened fire; a child and a journalist for an Arabic TV news channel were among those killed. Later, the channel repeatedly showed the journalist doubling over and screaming, “I’m dying; I’m dying.”

Such scenes, which enlarge the ranks of our enemies by making America look both weak and brutal, are inevitable in the guerrilla war President Bush got us into. Osama bin Laden must be smiling.

U.S. news organizations are under constant pressure to report good news from Iraq. In fact, as a Newsweek headline puts it, “It’s worse than you think.” Attacks on coalition forces are intensifying and getting more effective; no-go zones, which the military prefers to call “insurgent enclaves,” are spreading – even in Baghdad. We’re losing ground.

And the losses aren’t only in Iraq. Al Qaeda has regrouped. The invasion of Iraq, intended to demonstrate American power, has done just the opposite: nasty regimes around the world feel empowered now that our forces are bogged down. When a Times reporter asked Mr. Bush about North Korea’s ongoing nuclear program, “he opened his palms and shrugged.”

Yet many voters still believe that Mr. Bush is doing a good job protecting America.

If Senator John Kerry really has advisers telling him not to attack Mr. Bush on national security, he should dump them. When Dick Cheney is saying vote Bush or die, responding with speeches about jobs and health care doesn’t cut it.

Mr. Kerry should counterattack by saying that Mr. Bush is endangering the nation by subordinating national security to politics.

In early 2002 the Bush administration, already focused on Iraq, ignored pleas to commit more forces to Afghanistan. As a result, the Taliban is resurgent, and Osama is still out there.

In the buildup to the Iraq war, commanders wanted a bigger invasion force to help secure the country. But civilian officials, eager to prove that wars can be fought on the cheap, refused. And that’s one main reason our soldiers are still dying in Iraq.

This past April, U.S. forces, surely acting on White House orders after American television showed gruesome images of dead contractors, attacked Falluja. Lt. Gen. James Conway, the Marine commander on the scene, opposed “attacking out of revenge” but was overruled – and he was overruled again with an equally disastrous decision to call off the attack after it had begun. “Once you commit,” General Conway said, “you got to stay committed.” But Mr. Bush, faced with the prospect of a casualty toll that would have hurt his approval rating, didn’t.

Can Mr. Kerry, who voted to authorize the Iraq war, criticize it? Yes, by pointing out that he voted only to give Mr. Bush a big stick. Once that stick had forced Saddam to let W.M.D. inspectors back in, there was no need to invade. And Mr. Kerry should keep pounding Mr. Cheney, who is trying to cover for the absence of W.M.D. by lying, yet again, about Saddam’s ties to Al Qaeda.

Some pundits are demanding that Mr. Kerry produce a specific plan for Iraq – a demand they never make of Mr. Bush. Mr. Kerry should turn the tables, and demand to know what – aside from pretending that things are going fine – Mr. Bush intends to do about the spiraling disaster. And Mr. Kerry can ask why anyone should trust a leader who refuses to replace the people who created that disaster because he thinks it’s bad politics to admit a mistake.

Mr. Kerry can argue that he wouldn’t have overruled the commanders who had wanted to keep the pressure on Al Qaeda, or dismissed warnings from former Gen. Eric Shinseki, then the Army’s chief of staff, that peacekeeping would require a large force. He wouldn’t have ignored General Conway’s warnings about the dangers of storming into Falluja, or overruled his protests about calling off that assault halfway through.

On the other hand, he can argue that he would have fired Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary who ridiculed General Shinseki. And he would definitely have fired Donald Rumsfeld for the failure to go in with enough troops, the atrocities at Abu Ghraib and more.

The truth is that Mr. Bush, by politicizing the “war on terror,” is putting America at risk. And Mr. Kerry has to say that.

THINGS YOU CAN DO TO VOLUNTEER

Click here.

Tomorrow: Reassuring Prasanth

 

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