Thursday, September 30, 2004


From: [Wall Street Journal reporter] Farnaz Fassihi
Subject: From Baghdad

It's hard to pinpoint when the 'turning point' exactly began. Was it April when the Fallujah fell out of the grasp of the Americans? Was it when Moqtada and Jish Mahdi declared war on the U.S. military? Was it when Sadr City, home to ten percent of Iraq's population, became a nightly battlefield for the Americans? Or was it when the insurgency began spreading from isolated pockets in the Sunni triangle to include most of Iraq? Despite President Bush's rosy assessments, Iraq remains a disaster. If under Saddam it was a 'potential' threat, under the Americans it has been transformed to 'imminent and active threat,' a foreign policy failure bound to haunt the United States for decades to come.

Iraqis like to call this mess 'the situation.' When asked 'how are thing?' they reply: 'the situation is very bad."

What they mean by situation is this: the Iraqi government doesn't control most Iraqi cities, there are several car bombs going off each day around the country killing and injuring scores of innocent people, the country's roads are becoming impassable and littered by hundreds of landmines and explosive devices aimed to kill American soldiers, there are assassinations, kidnappings and beheadings. The situation, basically, means a raging barbaric guerilla war. In four days, 110 people died and over 300 got injured in Baghdad alone. The numbers are so shocking that the ministry of health -- which was attempting an exercise of public transparency by releasing the numbers -- has now stopped disclosing them.

Insurgents now attack Americans 87 times a day.
The insurgency, we are told, is rampant with no signs of calming down. If any thing, it is growing stronger, organized and more sophisticated every day. The various elements within it-baathists, criminals, nationalists and Al Qaeda-are cooperating and coordinating.
America's last hope for a quick exit? The Iraqi police and National Guard units we are spending billions of dollars to train. The cops are being murdered by the dozens every day-over 700 to date -- and the insurgents are infiltrating their ranks. The problem is so serious that the U.S. military has allocated $6 million dollars to buy out 30,000 cops they just trained to get rid of them quietly.

As for reconstruction: firstly it's so unsafe for foreigners to operate that almost all projects have come to a halt. After two years, of the $18 billion Congress appropriated for Iraq reconstruction only about $1 billion or so has been spent and a chuck has now been reallocated for improving security, a sign of just how bad things are going here.

Oil dreams? Insurgents disrupt oil flow routinely as a result of sabotage and oil prices have hit record high of $49 a barrel. Who did this war exactly benefit? Was it worth it? Are we safer because Saddam is holed up and Al Qaeda is running around in Iraq?

Iraqis say that thanks to America they got freedom in exchange for insecurity. Guess what? They say they'd take security over freedom any day, even if it means having a dictator ruler.

I heard an educated Iraqi say today that if Saddam Hussein were allowed to run for elections he would get the majority of the vote. This is truly sad.

Then I went to see an Iraqi scholar this week to talk to him about elections here. He has been trying to educate the public on the importance of voting. He said, "President Bush wanted to turn Iraq into a democracy that would be an example for the Middle East. Forget about democracy, forget about being a model for the region, we have to salvage Iraq before all is lost."

One could argue that Iraq is already lost beyond salvation. For those of us on the ground it's hard to imagine what if any thing could salvage it from its violent downward spiral. The genie of terrorism, chaos and mayhem has been unleashed onto this country as a result of American mistakes and it can't be put back into a bottle.
How is Falwell able to maintain tax-exempt status?

If a liberal or left-leaning minister conducted himself in a similar fashion, does anyone honestly think he/she would be able to keep his tax-exempt status? DeLay would be on that like flies on a dead carcass. Such a violation of the separation of church & state is tolerated and encouraged – as long as its in favor of the GOP. An outrage.

The following in the conservative Washington Times:
Falwell asks Christians to support president

The 4 million evangelical Christians who did not vote in 2000 will unite behind President Bush in November, the Rev. Jerry Falwell said yesterday.

With five weeks until the presidential election, Mr. Falwell said he is trying to muster conservative evangelical ministers to support the Republican ticket. He continued to mobilize the nation's evangelical base at Liberty University here earlier this week, by holding a seminar on preaching about conservative politics from the pulpit without forfeiting tax-exempt status.

Mr. Falwell said yesterday that he plans to hold at least 40 similar talks in several battleground states in the next month. He promised "a landslide" victory for Mr. Bush on Election Day.
The LA Times reports the following:

Nineteen percent of likely voters said the debate could affect their vote, whereas 79% said it was not likely to. One good sign for Kerry: 63% of those who said the debate could change their mind now support Bush, and 27% back the Democrat.

On Paula Zahn’s show last night, their internet poll showed something similar with 1 in 4 stating the debates could affect their vote.

So with 75-80% of the voters apparently dead-set on their choice, is the 20-25% of still-wavering voters meaningful? Given how close this election appears to be, I would say “yes.”

Yet, for those who wish to only focus on those polls showing Bush with a big lead (despite those polls suffering from methodology flaws, as discussed here and elsewhere), I submit the following interesting chart:

Donald Luskin points out that based on futures contracts (again, which I’ve discussed here many times before), Bush could go the way of – of all people – Gore. Luskin states:

What happened to Gore in early October, 2000, that sent him careening from the heights of near-certain election into the depths of political oblivion? Simple: it was the first debate. If you don't remember his bizarre performance -- all the sighing and eye-rolling and interrupting -- then perhaps you remember the Saturday Night Live version of it. Yep -- it seems like such a little thing, almost a matter of style over substance -- yet it did him in.

The point is that the same thing could happen to Bush. It ain't over till it's over.

We can only hope.

However, a big problem for Kerry is the country has grown so accustomed to the flubberings and embarrassing gaffes of our leader that GW will be allowed much more leeway to be a fool than Kerry will be granted. The country treats Bush like an inept 15-year old going up against a very competent adult; they all but feel sorry for him and therefore hold minimal expectations for him to win. Like it was for Gore, the bar is set much higher for Kerry, and whether this is fair or not is of no consequence. At least 50% of this country is comprised of dopes who make this absurd standard a sad reality.
So much for lessons learned from Abu Ghraib:

The Bush administration is supporting a provision in the House leadership's intelligence reform bill that would allow U.S. authorities to deport certain foreigners to countries where they are likely to be tortured or abused, an action prohibited by the international laws against torture the United States signed 20 years ago.

The provision, part of the massive bill introduced Friday by House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), would apply to non-U.S. citizens who are suspected of having links to terrorist organizations but have not been tried on or convicted of any charges. Democrats tried to strike the provision in a daylong House Judiciary Committee meeting, but it survived on a party-line vote. (Washington Post)

Wasn't it better when turtle-like Hastert remained in his shell? It's as if DeLay has ordered him to get out there and be more gutsy, to make inflammatory statements with no facts to support them and to propose legislation that is repugnant. In other words, given DeLay's legal troubles of late, Hastert has likely received word that he needs to now spearhead the dirty work that DeLay formerly put into motion.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

As Rev. Jim Wallis, the editor of Sojourners magazine, told me: "It's a bitter irony: these people accuse Democrats of wanting to ban the Bible, then proceed to utterly ignore the vast majority of its contents when it comes to questions of social justice, war and peace, and protecting the environment."

Perhaps the holy rollers in the Bush camp should crack open a Bible and see what it has to say about caring for the poor (Matthew 25:40), caring for the Earth (Genesis 2:15), and caring for human rights (Genesis 1:27). I've got a hunch Jesus wouldn't be too thrilled with Bush's first term.

And while they're acquainting themselves with the Book they purport to defend, the Bushies might also want to have a look at John 8:32 to see what it has to say about the moral imperative of telling the truth. Instead, they are doing everything in their power to convince nervous voters that a vote for John Kerry is a vote for another 9/11. It's the latest vile twist in the Bush-Cheney "all fear, all the time" campaign strategy, and the last desperate gasp of an administration utterly clueless about how to actually win the war on terror.

The Party of the Ignorant.
At the risk of stating the obvious, just imagine the Bush campaign without the “benefit” of 9-11. What would GW have to run on? If you take away 9-11 and Iraq (note they’re two separate items; 9-11 was/is not related to Iraq, and Bush had no control over the former but completely controlled the latter), Bush would have to run and hide in a corner when it came to campaigning this year.

Bush/Cheney/(Rove) is all about fear and hatred. Fear the enemy, hate the enemy. That’s it. While 9-11 may have changed everything (a phrase the GOP loves to reiterate over and over), is it reasonable to expect any other president during such a period to essentially accomplish nothing, sans this tragic event? Of course, if you scratch the surface it very quickly becomes apparent that this administration has been a dismal failure, but the evil genius of Rove is to keep the public from seeing things clearly, to don on the country the proverbial rose colored glasses (ala Great Gatsby).

It comes down to voters who are able to think and see through the bullsh*t, versus those who choose to be spoon-fed imagery, hopes, and dreams as framed by a win-at-all-cost gang of shameless thugs. Hyperbole? Don’t think so. Instead, your reaction to this description will speak volumes concerning which group you fall under, the more cerebral, clear-headed voter or the one who wishes to discard facts in favor of viewing the world as he/she would like for it to be (clicking ruby slippers three times may help).

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


"I saw a poll that said the right track/wrong track in Iraq was better than here in America." -- GW Bush, 9/23/04
A sign of things to come (the draft not far behind?):

WASHINGTON — Fewer than two-thirds of the former soldiers being reactivated for duty in Iraq and elsewhere have reported on time, prompting the Army to threaten some with punishment for desertion.
Danger of war on the Korean peninsula "is snowballing," but we're too busy with Iraq to notice or do anything. According to AP, "North Korea says it has turned the plutonium from 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods into nuclear weapons."

Oh GW, it looks like another evil country needs to be taught a lesson -- only this one actually has WMD. Your response....? Hello? Anyone home?
"...the F.B.I. still lacked the capacity to translate all the terrorism-related material from wiretaps and other intelligence sources and that the influx of new material has outpaced the bureau's resources." (NY Times)

Is this how Bush is making us safer? By going to war in Iraq, draining our coffers of nearly $200 bil., we now lack the resources to fight the real war on terror, therefore making us less safe. Is that too difficult for half the country to understand?
One Way For Kerry To Win, Instantly....

How? If Colin Powell were to suddenly resign. Think about it. It’s universally understood and accepted that Powell has lost all credibility and respect since being a part of this administration. Whereas prior to the Iraq debacle, most people, no matter the political persuasion, could at least take what he had to say at face value and believe that he was telling us the truth (at least as much as a political figure can tell the truth). Despite the fact he was not for the Iraq invasion and has labeled the Neocons in power “f*cking crazies,” he nonetheless complied and helped to shuck the crap that passed as intel. His willful negligence in this regard can never be forgotten or forgiven. At least others, like Richard Clarke and Paul O’Neill, had enough dignity and self-respect to say enough is enough with this pack of psychos, but not Colin. For whatever reason(s), he has remained, though his whereabouts in the last several months remains in question (he’s currently serving the role of the crazy aunt locked in the cellar).

Powell could regain much of his stature and respect if out-of-the-blue, without consulting anyone, he called for a press conference and announced his resignation. Such news would be unprecedented in an election year and absolutely drive home a strong message, namely that to reelect GW given the state of affairs in the world would be a dire course of action for this country. Kerry/Edwards would be able to jump on this obvious implication of “no confidence,” hammering away to the point where even Karl Rove would be at a loss to spin it.

It would be a beautiful thing. We would be able to forgive Colin for many of his past indiscretions as we could assume this was his devious but righteous plan all along (even if he denied it). He’d be forever remembered for such a move. Granted, many would hate him with a passion and others would dedicate their lives to making sure his life was ruined, but it’s the price he should pay given what he’s done over the last few years. Ultimately, he has time to make amends.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Chimpanzee demonstrates erasure of voting system log.

Chimp hacks Diebold's audit log (in just 10 minutes). Diebold stated its audit log could not be altered "by human intervention." They lied.

Recall CEO of Diebold is on record saying he is "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president."
Although it's old news at this point, it's striking to see and hear GW in front of the UN assembly, giving his speech to a near 100% unresponsive crowd (we're talking absolute silence), as compared to his hokey, laughable "Ask The President" gatherings, where after every sentence he receives wild applause from the carefully pre-screened crowd. Admittedly, the rules of the UN make it quite difficult for Rove to work his magic.
This is a tough one and I await the predictable angry emails from the right. The Washington Post has a story about the administration's all-out efforts to thwart any terrorist threat come the November election. OK, all well and good.

However, keeping in mind the accepted rule that more fear favors the incumbent, one has to wonder if Rove hasn't issued the order to crank up the appearance of massive threats to further instill fear in voters when they arrive at the booths. Notice some of the specifics in the story: "unusually open offensive," "...ordered a number of his officers to wear sophisticated new equipment to protect them from a biological or chemical attack," "counterterrorism officials concede they do not have new or specific intelligence outlining plans for an attack," "several sources who have been briefed on the results, and who declined to be identified because the material is classified, said little fresh information has been gleaned," and "one senior European intelligence official said his country has seen no direct evidence that al Qaeda has the ability or specific intent to launch an attack in the United States before the November elections."

The point being it's obviously expected and strongly encouraged that anti-terrorist efforts be stepped up as we approach the election (even though indications are no new evidence exists for such attacks), yet to do so in ways that are very much overtly noticeable, and therefore stirring palpable fear in the voting public, is fair game for criticism. Recall that the Clinton administration thwarted many a threat with very little notice to John Q. Public. Even bowing to the "9-11 changed everything" mantra, one could still make the case that Bush/Rove should stress extra vigilance but for the sake of fair elections, efforts should be conducted in more of a covert, less openly-alarming fashion. Attempt to calm fears, not stoke them.

As I said, the right-wing loons will no doubt scream, "You want protection, but you don't want Bush to do anything! If something were to happen, you'd then scream that he didn't do anything!" etc. etc. Anyone with a brain in their head knows exactly what I'm referring to in the above, but it will be purposefully twisted by the intellectually dishonest.

Once again, Rove is smiling. He simply can't wait for Election Day to come and as we all approach the voting booths, there to greet us will be a fully armed soldier or officer, completely suited up in heavy anti-terrorist gear, including a disturbing looking face mask with oxygen tank, etc. Upon entering the booth, you'll then have that final terrifying glimpse of what could happen -- IF YOU VOTE WRONG!
I'm just returning from a few days off. Back this morning with daily entries.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

"Despite Bush Flip-Flops, Kerry Gets Label" -- today's Washington Post

Some examples:

In 2000, Bush said he would include carbon dioxide on a list of air pollutants requiring federal oversight, a stand he abandoned within weeks of taking office. A month after the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush's spokesman said the president believed a homeland security department that Democrats proposed was "just not necessary." A year after that, Bush had switched course and was lashing some Democrats for not moving quickly enough to approve the agency.

While Bush professes himself a strong free-trader, most other free-trade proponents said he bent on principle in March 2002 when he ordered tariffs on imported steel -- a move that resonated politically in electorally important industrial states such as Pennsylvania. Facing an escalating global trade dispute, he lifted the tariffs at the end of last year.

In some cases, Democrats say, Bush's position stays the same even as his reasons flip. The most famous examples involve taxes and Iraq. He supported tax cuts in 2000 because he said they were affordable in a time of large government surpluses, and once in power he supported them amid rising deficits because he said the economy needed stimulation. The president's principal rationale for the Iraq invasion was to end Baghdad's suspected mass-weapons program and links to international terrorism. In the absence of compelling evidence of these, the main post-invasion rationale has been to rescue Iraq from a tyrant and support democracy in the greater Middle East.
From the web site Republicans for Humility (don't laugh, apparently the words "Republican" and "Humility" can still coexist):

Since 2002, policies which a number of key officials in the Bush administration have advocated since prior to the 2000 election, have received increased attention. Notable is the advocacy of preemptive war, an emphasis on unilateral rather that multilateral warfare, and an insistence on American dominance throughout all regions of the world, space, and cyberspace. This aggressively interventionist foreign policy is alien to the beliefs of many conservatives, who would consider such policies threatening if they were the held by an ally.

While the Bush Doctrine of preemption sharply contrasts with the "more humble" foreign policy publicly advocated in 2000 by presidential candidate Bush, who repeatedly promised to avoid the interventionist "nation building" exploits of his predecessor, it has a developmental history going back to at least the early 1990's.

Although aggressively interventionist policies conflict with the values of many traditional, small-government conservatives, many supported the invasion of Iraq for the purpose of disarming Saddam Hussein.

The failure to find expected weapons of mass destruction has been disturbing for many who supported the invasion for this purpose. Moreover:

* as the stated mission of the war was re-defined from the more specific goal of disarming Saddam Hussein into that of "creating democracy" in Iraq, with an indeterminate exit strategy,
* as increasing majorities of the "liberated", both Sunni and Shiite, have pronounced us to be unwelcome occupiers,
* as promises to bring our troops home promptly upon completion of our specific mission has given way to the prospect of a perpetual occupation,
* as the "occupation" has been re-defined by the Administration as having "ended" even as troop deployments are increasing and as 14 "enduring bases" are under construction,

many of these former supporters of the invasion have questioned the true intentions of our political leadership.

The site lists MANY examples of Bush's hogwash rhetoric -- and then reality (again pointing out how much this administration, and apparently half of the American public, lives in the world of fantasy). Here's a few:


"...captive people have greeted American soldiers as liberators. And there is good reason. We have no territorial ambitions, we don't seek an empire."

George W. Bush, November 11, 2002

“We have no desire to dominate, no ambitions of empire.”

George W. Bush, January 20, 2004

"....we have no interest in occupation.”

George W. Bush, May 24, 2004


"2% of Iraqis View the US as Liberators, 97% as Occupiers", poll commissioned by the U.S. appointed Coalition Provisional Authority

"14 “Enduring Bases” Set in Iraq", Christine Spolar, Chicago Tribune, March 23, 2004

"Behind the Scenes, US Tightens Grip on Iraq's Future" – Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2004

All is not lost when it comes to at least a few Republicans.
Will this trend finally turn up sharply this election?

Source: American Voice 2004

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

We invaded Iraq because they had oil, but more importantly, BECAUSE THEY HAD NO WMD! If they did, even Bush/Cheney are not crazy enough to jeopardize American forces under such conditions.

Need more proof? Where's Bush's idiotic posturing and swagger when it comes to "evil" North Korea?

Charles Pritchard, formerly Colin Powell's top official dealing with North Korea, has warned for months that "the White House lacks an effective strategy to dissuade North Korea from building up its nuclear arms." Under Bush's watch, North Korea's nuclear arsenal is thought to have quadrupled. And, according to Pritchard, the situation has deteriorated because "the administration has neither offered much of a carrot nor wielded a stick." The administration has refused to engage North Korea in direct negotiations or "put the North Koreans on notice that further developments will trigger economic sanctions or perhaps even military actions." (The Progress Report)
Bush Inc., selling the country to the highest bidder(s):

For the third time, environmental advocates have discovered passages in the Bush administration's proposal for regulating mercury pollution from power plants that mirror almost word for word portions of memos written by a law firm representing coal-fired power plants.
Sen. James M. Jeffords (I-Vt.), ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and one of the senators who called for the probe last spring, said the revelation that the EPA adopted the same wording as an industry source "no longer comes as much of a surprise."

"The Bush administration continues to let industry write the rules on pollution, and this is just one more example of how they abuse the public trust," he said. (Washington Post)
And the good news just keeps coming:

A relentless insurgency in Iraq has prompted the Pentagon to begin spending money from a $25-billion emergency fund that Bush administration officials had once said would not be needed this fiscal year. (LA Times)
Bush at UN

Just galling: he gives them the middle finger, goes it alone (basically) and invades, makes a complete mess of things, and now pleads for help. Is it any wonder most of the world detests him?
Peter Beinart pens an excellent column in this week’s TNR. He discusses how Bush/Rove have tried to frame the campaign almost strictly on the fuzzy concept of “character” – just as they did four years ago vs. Gore. Why not? It worked then why change a thing, and they have nothing else to run on. As Beinart states, “An actual debate about the wisdom of Bush's foreign policy--particularly in Iraq--is precisely what his campaign's character strategy is designed to prevent.”

Bush/Rove deal in images, fiction, and illusions. It’s their job to get Americans to enter and embrace their fantasy world. They achieve this goal by playing on human emotions, not intellect. Fostering fear and hatred will trump logic and reason every day of the week in this country (sadly).

Beinart points out that “[Zell] Miller wasn't urging Americans to reelect Bush because Iraq has been a success… He was urging Americans to reelect Bush because the president believes Iraq has been a success.” Again, urging the ignorant to enter into the "Bush Funhouse," to check their brains at the door and simply accept the drivel being fed to them. “Today, just as before the Iraq war, the Bush camp dismisses facts that intrude upon its favored view of the world… If Democrats dare point out where reality diverges--that the Iraq war was based on a colossal factual miscalculation and that few Iraqis still see it as a moral enterprise--they are savaged for not believing in America.”

And Republicans don’t have a problem with the demonization for those who choose to dissent (or to think!). Instead, they applaud and endorse that ignorant phrase, “if you’re not with us, you’re against us.” This spoken by our great uniter of a president.

Meanwhile, 80+% of the civilized world is rooting against the reelection of our current leader. I guess they’re all just big, fat, stupid, commie idiots – correct, right-wing loonies?!
Jeffrey White, an associate of The Washington Institute who spent 34 years with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), has said regarding Iraq, "The overall prospects ... are for a violent political future." He estimates that there are as many as 100,000 Iraqis involved in the Sunni insurgency -- a figure that is fast approaching the total number of U.S. troops in Iraq!

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Kerry was on Letterman last night and once again he explained his vote concerning this Iraq war. As he has done so in the past, Kerry stated he voted to give Bush the authority to got to war, but he did not directly vote for invading Iraq. There is a legitimate difference.

An analogy would involve a teenage daughter and her parents. The parents agree to allow her to go out for the evening with friends. Hours later, they receive a phone call from the police. Apparently, their teenager went a bit too far with the partying and experienced a run-in with the law.

The parents granted permission to their daughter but once having left the house, they had no control over what she would eventually do. Obviously, they expected her to behave and use good judgment, but again it was ultimately out of their hands.

It's perhaps too much to ask that the GOP crowd understand this somewhat nuanced position given they prefer everything in black & white terms. Nonetheless, Kerry, the parent, should have known better than to grant authority to an irresponsible, mischievous, and dishonest teenager in GW.
How do you know NY Times columnist David Brooks leans right-wing? Because he distorts. Read Josh Marshall's commentary.

(Couldn’t the Times have done better than hiring Brooks in what perhaps was an effort to throw red meat to the Dittohead crowd?)
Great column today by E.J. Dionne Jr.:

It is to be welcomed that President Bush wants to clear up questions about his National Guard service. He wants more details out there, and good for him. This story should be laid to rest, and the one person who can do it is named George W. Bush.

Up to now, Bush has been interested in a rather narrow aspect of the story. He wanted Dan Rather and CBS News to come clean about whether they used fake documents in reporting on the president's Guard service back in the 1970s.

"There are a lot of questions and they need to be answered," Bush told the Union Leader in Manchester, N.H., last week. "I think what needs to happen is people need to take a look at the documents, how they were created, and let the truth come out."
"There are a lot of questions and they need to be answered." Surely that presidential sentiment applies as much to Bush's Guard service as to Rather's journalistic methods.
Oh, I can hear the groaning: "But why are we still talking about Vietnam?" A fair question that has several compelling answers.

First, except for John McCain, Republicans were conspicuously happy to have a front group spread untruths about John Kerry's Vietnam service in August and watch as the misleading claims were amplified by the supposedly liberal media. The Vietnam era was relevant as long as it could be used to raise character questions about Kerry. But as soon as the questioning turned to Bush's character, we were supposed to call the whole thing off. Why? Because the media were supposed to question Kerry's character but not Bush's.

And, please, none of this nonsense about how Kerry "opened the door" to the assault on his Vietnam years by highlighting his service at the Democratic National Convention. Nothing any candidate does should ever be seen as "opening the door" to lies about his past. Besides, Vietnam veterans with Republican ties were going after Kerry's war record long before the Democratic convention.

But, most important, there is only one reason the story about Bush's choices during the Vietnam years persists. It's because the president won't give detailed answers to the direct questions posed by the Times story and other responsible media organizations, including the Boston Globe. Their questions never depended on the discredited CBS documents.

Bush could end this story now so we could get to the real issues of 2004. It would require only that the president take an hour or so with reporters to make clear what he did and did not do in the Guard. He may have had good reasons for ducking that physical exam. Surely he can explain the gaps in his service and tell us honestly whether any pull was used to get him into the Guard.

But a guy who is supposed to be so frank and direct turns remarkably Clintonian where the National Guard issue is concerned. "I met my requirements and was honorably discharged" is Bush's stock answer, which does old Bill proud. And am I the only person exasperated by a double standard that treated everything Bill Clinton ever did in his life ("I didn't inhale") as fair game but now insists that we shouldn't sully ourselves with any inconvenient questions about Bush's past?

I'm as weary as you are that our politics veer away from what matters -- Iraq, terrorism, health care, jobs -- and get sidetracked into personal issues manufactured by political consultants and ideological zealots. But the Bush campaign has made clear it wants this election to focus on character and leadership. If character is the issue, the president's life, past and present, matters just as much as John Kerry's.

Dan Rather has answered his critics. Now it is Bush's turn.
This morning, Col. Jack Jacobs discussed (on a morning radio show) his thoughts on the Iraq war and (surprise!) stated he believes things will get VERY ugly in 2005. The main problem? Lack of troops. He stated the growing insurgency should have been stomped out a year ago but due to gross incompetence in the upper echelons of leadership, miscalculations have been made, often. I wrote in May about how the number of troops sent was massively short of what was needed, based on studies Rumsfeld & Co. likely read and tossed aside.

Jacobs referred to what is a main premise in these studies and that is that it’s one thing to seize a target, it’s quite another to hold it. He said it’s the holding that is the hard part, requiring the ample number of troops – which we’ve lacked in Iraq. This is Military 101 stuff. With Rumsfeld choosing to go “lean,” insurgents have been allowed to organize and grow, leading up to the day by day reports of fighting, death, etc. In effect, Rumsfeld’s amazingly wrong choice (in part due to politics, i.e. hiding from the public the true amount of soldiers needed, fooling them and therefore obtaining their approval to invade) has translated into additional dead soldiers that did not have to be.

With any other president, Rumsfeld and his crew would’ve been forced to resign (as Al Gore urged months ago), but not with this unaccountable leader. He simply operates on denial, dodging, fudge facts, ignorance, hope, bury, etc. Jacobs didn’t mention the word “draft” but he certainly hinted that it’s either that or continue to see Iraq implode in the next several months, costing us hundreds (thousands?) of more casualties.

Iraq has been a tragic failure. Newsweek's Jonathan Alter sums up how Kerry should proceed:

What John Kerry needs to do is what Bill Clinton did to George Bush the father in 1992 where the key moment was not when George Bush looked at his watch, that obviously hurt him a lot but that's the thing that everyone remembers from those debates. In my book the key moment for Clinton was when he said, 'You won't lead. I will.' At that point he kind of pushed old man Bush aside and said, 'I am the leader of the future not you.' Now the equivalent of Kerry doing that to this Bush would be to basically say, 'You failed in Iraq. You can't clean it up. You haven't caught Osama Bin Laden. I will' and make that credible.

Monday, September 20, 2004

In an effort to combat Bush's actions to reverse 30+ years of environmental progress, states are being forced to legislate and fight back to protect their residents. And taxpayers have to foot the bill (on both ends) as states go to court versus the federal government. Just pathetic.

New Jersey is an example:

NEW YORK, NY (September 16, 2004) - The State of New Jersey today announced it will use state air pollution laws to limit emissions of heat-trapping emissions that cause global warming. Adding considerable weight to a growing trend of state-based climate protection in the face of federal inaction, Governor James E. McGreevey officially designated carbon dioxide as an air pollutant. The decision paves the way for New Jersey to join a northeast regional plan to cut global warming pollution.

In the absence of any federal action on global warming, states have taken the lead on fighting global warming. There are currently regional programs to cut global warming pollution on both coasts, with more than a dozen states participating. For instance, California is expected to adopt global warming emissions standards for vehicles next week.

"Governor McGreevey and New Jersey deserve great credit for their actions today," said John Adams, President of NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), the New York-based environmental group. "They are taking responsible action to protect their residents' health, New Jersey's economy and the environment. Compare that to the Bush administration and others beholden to the oil and coal industries, who continue to avoid any responsible action to fix the problem."
"Name The October Surprise... Because The Only Surprise Will Be If There Isn't One."
Someone slap me....

I've posted a few entries of late about election polls and how they're flawed and not a fair representation of what is likely to occur come November. Some may think I point such things out only because Kerry is behind in many polls. They'd be wrong since the inherent flaws in the polling methodology would obviously remain no matter who might be ahead.

However, to stay truthful (my main goal here), I've also written about market-driven election predictors, normally associated with online gambling casinos. I have been a big believer in such dollar-based "polls" as they've been very accurate when used in the past. It hurts me to report that based on two casino web sites, Bush's recent surge is even more dramatic than Gallup-like polls are showing. shows the following chart for Bush's chances of winning:

Ouch! Whereas GW's fate was in freefall for months prior to the GOP convention, he's currently enjoying a rip-snorting rally with the chart looking like a biotech stock that just discovered a cure for cancer! To further confirm this figure, World Sports Exchange shows the exact same, 70% Bush / 30% Kerry.

I'll state the obvious: what is wrong with this country?! That aside, I will mention a few things that can favor Kerry. One, he's now the underdog and many smart pundits have written how that's Kerry's preferred standing heading into a hard fought election. Two, the three upcoming debates could change everything. Three, unlike elections since the Vietnam era, the highly volatile Iraq situation and the threat of terrorism in general could greatly impact the election right up until November 2nd.

Finally, if this chart represented a stock, it's current price action could be classified as a "dead cat" bounce, meaning the stock was left for dead and with no more sellers it doesn't take much buying pressure to send the stock zooming. Granted, not an apples-to-apples comparison, but nonetheless what most often happens to these stocks after they enjoy a brief but powerful rally is they revert and resume their downward slide.

Please let GW = a bear market rally.
Apparently House Speaker Hastert didn't learn anything from his embarassing comments when he smeared George Soros, offering no evidence to support his outrageously dumb statements. Looking/sounding like a moron is what Denny does best.

Whelp, he was recently at it again, this time reading from the same RNC talking points handed to Cheney. Hastert was spreading fear in Illinois at a GOP dinner, letting it be known that Al Qaeda may attack to throw the election Kerry's way. Of course, he added, "I don't have data or intelligence to tell me one thing or another." When asked if Al Qaeda would have it easier under a Kerry presidency, he replied "yes."

Karl Rove must be so proud.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Military Draft To Return?

I've read a few articles stating the draft could return as early as next year. Much of it is hush-hush until after the November election. However, there are House and Senate bills (twin bills S 89 and HR 163) which would "provide for the common defense by requiring that all young persons [age 18--26] in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes."

I did some checking and found that, the well-known "Urban Legend" debunking web site, had already commented on this topic in May. I've read several Snopes entries in the past and they've been very convincing and complete; yet in this case, much doubt remains after reading the attempt to clarify things.

Snopes does NOT categorically dismiss the notion and in fact confirms the twin House and Senate bills do indeed exist. If anything, it's the date (Spring 2005) that is rendered highly suspect: "Since a reimposition of conscription would require Congressional approval, which has not yet been given, it is unlikely that a draft (even if approved by Congress) would be underway as early as Spring 2005." Oh, that's comforting! Snopes continues, "Obviously some thought has been given to the issue, but the possibility that such thoughts will be turned into reality appears rather small at this point. Still, conditions and attitudes can change very quickly."

Nice try Snopes, and I applaud your attempts to put this rumor in proper perspective. However, unlike most of the other items on the web site, this circulating rumor is absolutely NOT baseless and has ample reality and true possibility surrounding it.
Interesting article on growing unrest in the National Guard as they become the go-to choice for troops in Iraq. Morale is reportedly low with fights breaking out. The following is a revealing quote:

"I think before we deploy we should be allowed to go home and see our families for five days, because some of us might not come back," said Spec. Wendell McLeod, 40, a steelworker from Cheraw, S.C. "Morale is pretty low. . . . It's leading to fights and stuff. That's really all I got to say."

Dare say many of these soldiers realize the cause in Iraq is highly questionable, or at least perceive that the situation has turned into a dire mess?

Ironic that GW chose the National Guard to escape Vietnam, and yet the Guard is what he has chosen to supply soldiers to his war in Iraq.
How low can they go?

WASHINGTON (AP) - Campaign mail with a return address of the Republican National Committee warns West Virginia voters that the Bible will be prohibited and men will marry men if liberals win in November.

If you're an educated, reasonable, compassionate human being, how can you be a Republican (i.e. how can you be associated in any way with this party)?
Ruy Teixeira on yesterday's CBS News/New York Times Poll:

As many have already heard, the new CBS News/New York Times poll, conducted September 12-16, gives Bush an 8 point lead (50-42) among RVs--but also gives the Republicans a 4 point edge on party ID. Reweight their data to conform to an underlying Democratic 4 point edge (using the 39D/35R/26I distribution from the 2000 exit poll) and you get a nearly even race, 47 Bush/46 Kerry.

Nearly even. That goes along with the 46-46 tie in the Pew Research Center poll (which gave the Democrats a 4 point edge on party ID without weighting) and the 48-48 tie in the Gallup poll (once weighted to reflect an underlying Democratic 4 point edge). Not to mention the two other recent national polls (Harris, Democracy Corps) that show the race within one point.

Perhaps all this is just a coincidence, but the pattern seems striking. Once you adjust for the apparent overrepresentation of Republican identifiers in some samples, the polls all seem to be saying the same thing: the race is a tie or very close to it.

It's the duty of all Kerry supporters to understand this distortion, keep the faith, and communicate polling flaws to as many people as possible. Let's not allow deceptive polls to be self-fulfilling and influence the election.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

A new report is to come out on Iraq and supposed WMD. The two main findings:

1) there is zero evidence of any "large-scale program for weapons production" prior to the U.S. invasion (shocker!);
2) Saddam intended to produce WMD if United Nations sanctions were lifted.

With the latter point, expect GW & Co. to jump all over this one, however note the key part that undoubtedly will be left out: the UN sanctions were working! The implication here is if sanctions were allowed to remain in place and continue to function effectively, Saddam's evil desires would've been held in check, thus completely undermining and discrediting the bogus reasons given by Bush/Cheney to go to war.

If this were Clinton, he would've been impeached by now (and this time it would've been absolutely justified!).
Purposeful Incompetence?

This a tough one. We've read the recent reports about a senior CIA officer criticizing the administration for underfunding and understaffing the unit assigned to tracking and capturing Osama bin Laden.

On the one hand, with this administration it's not difficult to imagine the incompetence he describes; we've seen such pathetic bumbling over and over. However, we also know that this administration (thanks to Cheney & Rove) is one of the most cold-calculating and secretive in history. There is the chance that this unit was purposefully depleted and neglected, either due to the Bush family & bin Laden business ties or perhaps due to the all-along plan to capture bin Laden in a more politically convenient time (like next month?).

Don't put anything past these guys. I am not a conspiracy nut, yet I do believe come October Osama will miraculously show up on all TV networks primetime, caught and being led away by "coalition" forces. Hopefully, it will not be a surprise to anyone.

Friday, September 17, 2004

"Bush clear leader in poll" -- USA Today, 9/17/04

"2 Polls Say Race Is Tied Again" -- LA Times, 9/17/04

Ahh, polls. Which to believe? How can they be so different?

The best article I've come across on this topic is by Ruy Teixeira. He points out two major problems:
The two problems are: (1) samples that have an unrealistic number of Republican identifiers and hence tend to favor Bush; and (2) the widespread and highly questionable practice of using likely voters (LVs) instead of registered voters (RVs) to measure voter sentiment this far before the election.

For the first problem, he suggests:

weighting poll results by a reasonable distribution of party ID may be necessary to avoid giving the public distorted impressions of the state of the race.

Adjusting for this, it offers,

a clear picture of a tight race, with Bush likely running a small lead, but not the solid--and even large--advantage that has been conveyed to the public.

As for the second problem, most of these polls are based on so-called "Likely Voters" (LVs), not registered voters (RVs). LVs are defined by each polling group, pending on their screening methodology based on a set of questions. It's clear the composition of this group can fluctuate and vary from one polling group to the next. In addition, daily news events can greatly affect the composition of this group, offering the potential for misleading results. As quoted in the article,

[E]stimates of who may be likely voters in the weeks and months prior to Election Day in large part reflect transient political interest on the day of the poll, which might have little bearing on voter interests on the day of the election.

Whereas LVs are much more volatile, changing day to day and week to week, registered voters (RVs) are not; one could make the case to use RVs instead. In fact, when focusing strictly on those polls that use RVs:

they suggest something far different: the race is damn close and Bush's substantial lead is a myth.

Is it too much to ask for mainstream media to enunciate these very important points?

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Campaigning 101, by the "King of Morality":

Declaring that his campaign strategy is dependent on controversy, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Alan Keyes told the state's top GOP donors at a recent closed-door meeting that he plans to make "inflammatory" comments "every day, every week" until the election, according to several sources at the session.

The sources said Keyes explained that his campaign has been unfolding according to plan and likened it to a war in which lighting the "match" of controversy was needed to ignite grass-roots voters.

"This is a war we're in," one source recounted Keyes as saying. "The way you win wars is that you start fires that will consume the enemy."
(Chicago Tribune)
More flippity-flopping

Bush expressed support for some gun control measures, including the ban on assault weapons. (Source: Dan Balz, The Washington Post, Apr 25, 1999)

Supports the current ban on automatic weapons.
Supports banning the importation of foreign made, “high-capacity” ammunition clips.
(Source: ‘Issues: Policy Points Overview’ Apr 2, 2000)
To delve into the world of oil and economics, The Capital Spectator states a good point concerning the price of oil and the Saudi's embarrassing pickle in this regard. Recall the now-famous Saudi promise on 60 Minutes, with Prince Bandar vowing he would do what it took to lower oil prices to ensure a Bush win on election day.

As it turns out (and as I've reported here), the Saudis have indeed recently opened up all the oil spigots, so to speak, attempting to flood supply and help drive down oil prices. But alas, to their possible surprise, this move has had little effect on the price of oil.

From a line in the great movie "Spinal Tap," the Saudis can't "turn it up to 11." They are producing as much black gold as possible, none more can be thrown at demand, meaning prices can't come down. The irony is short of increasing supply (which will take years), the alternative is conservation -- that dreaded word/concept that keeps Cheney up at nights. It's far easier and timely to strongly encourage the country to take steps (many of which are painless and already available) to conserve energy, versus undertake new drilling, etc. Yet this administration will do anything possible to avoid asking us to "sacrifice" in this regard (and yet they have no problem sending others over to Iraq to sacrifice). Despicable.
Think of Kerry's service in Vietnam when reading this:

A review of the regulations governing Bush's Guard service during the Vietnam War shows that the White House used an inappropriate--and less stringent--Air Force standard in determining that he had fulfilled his duty. Because Bush signed a six-year "military service obligation," he was required to attend at least 44 inactive-duty training drills each fiscal year beginning July 1. But Bush's own records show that he fell short of that requirement, attending only 36 drills in the 1972-73 period, and only 12 in the 1973-74 period. The White House has said that Bush's service should be calculated using 12-month periods beginning on his induction date in May 1968. Using this time frame, however, Bush still fails the Air Force obligation standard.

Moreover, White House officials say, Bush should be judged on whether he attended enough drills to count toward retirement. They say he accumulated sufficient points under this grading system. Yet, even using their method, which some military experts say is incorrect, U.S. News 's analysis shows that Bush once again fell short. His military records reveal that he failed to attend enough active-duty training and weekend drills to gain the 50 points necessary to count his final year toward retirement.

The U.S. News analysis also showed that during the final two years of his obligation, Bush did not comply with Air Force regulations that impose a time limit on making up missed drills. What's more, he apparently never made up five months of drills he missed in 1972, contrary to assertions by the administration. White House officials did not respond to the analysis last week but emphasized that Bush had "served honorably."

Some experts say they remain mystified as to how Bush obtained an honorable discharge. Lawrence Korb, a former top Defense Department official in the Reagan administration, says the military records clearly show that Bush "had not fulfilled his obligation" and "should have been called to active duty."
[U.S. News]
Memos on Bush Are Fake but Accurate, Typist Says

The secretary for the squadron commander purported to be the author of now-disputed memorandums questioning President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard said Tuesday that she never typed the documents and believed that they are fakes.
But she also said they accurately reflect the thoughts of the commander, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, and other memorandums she typed for him about Mr. Bush. "The information in them is correct." [NY Times]

The right-wing blogosphere went absolutely ballistic over trying to pound home that these CBS documents were forged. And while the jury is still somewhat out concerning a definitive answer concerning this issue, things do not appear good for CBS.

OK, fine. But it appears once again as if the larger point is purposefully getting drowned out by the fever-pitch sound of gotcha-talk concerning this much more minute topic. I ask what is more important: this election and the facts surrounding Bush and his supposed military record (esp. since nearly the only thing he’s running on is his integrity and his word), OR the incessant hounding of a story to “bring down” Dan Rather and the CBS news department?

As the secretary properly points out, these memos (i.e. the medium) may be fake (and therefore shame on CBS), HOWEVER their content is accurate -- and in the bigger scheme of things that’s a far more meaningful outcome to the story that should be emphasized, and reemphasized in the media.

Anytime I had brought the above up to right-wing bloggers, they would adamantly refuse to acknowledge these obvious points. The truth be damned as their main goal was to fan flames until you had an out-of-control brush fire, one that would require tons of media attention, therefore serving as an effective wag-the-dog away from the larger, more meaningful issues. Divert, divert, divert – Rove’s key tactic.
Naderites, Listen (Wake!) Up.

If there was ever any doubt that Ralph Nader's former supporters understand that redefeating Bush is the top priority for progressives in this election, it ended this morning when the overwhelming majority of Nader's 2000 National Citizens Committee issued a strong statement urging support for John Kerry and John Edwards in all swing states.

Among the more than 75 signers are Phil Donahue, Noam Chomsky, Barbara Ehrenreich (who used one of her New York Times column to come out against Nader), Jim Hightower, Randall Robinson, Howard Zinn, Tim Robbins, Eddie Vedder, Susan Sarandon, Ben Cohen and Cornel West.
(The Nation)

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Our tax-cut-and-spend president:

The expansive agenda President Bush laid out at the Republican National Convention was missing a price tag, but administration figures show the total is likely to be well in excess of $3 trillion over a decade.

A staple of Bush's stump speech is his claim that his Democratic challenger, John F. Kerry, has proposed $2 trillion in long-term spending, a figure the Massachusetts senator's campaign calls exaggerated. But the cost of the new tax breaks and spending outlined by Bush at the GOP convention far eclipses that of the Kerry plan.
(Washington Post)
Iraq: an escalating, underreported disaster?

"When the Americans fire back, they don't hit the people who are attacking them, only the civilians," said Osama Ali, a 24-year-old Iraqi who witnessed the attack. "This is why Iraqis hate the Americans so much. This is why we love the mujahedeen."

An iron fist also runs the risk of alienating allies. On Monday, Turkey's foreign minister, Abdullah Gul, said his government would end all cooperation with the United States in Iraq if the military did not stop pounding Talafar, a northern city of ethnic Turkmen where 50 have died over the last two days.

The approach appears to be straining the Iraqi government as well. On Monday, the office of Ayad Allawi, the interim prime minister, said Mowaffak al-Rubaie, the national security adviser, had been relieved of his duties and replaced with a close ally of Dr. Allawi, Qassim Daoud.

The precise reasons for Dr. Rubaie's dismissal were unclear, but he and Dr. Allawi disagreed sharply over how to quell the insurgency and, in particular, how to deal with Moktada al-Sadr, the rebel Shiite cleric. While Dr. Rubaie favors coaxing Mr. Sadr into the political mainstream, Dr. Allawi is demanding Mr. Sadr's surrender first.
(NY Times)
NY Times:

Over the last three and a half years, federal officials have accelerated resource development on public lands. They have also pushed to eliminate regulatory hurdles for military and industrial projects.
From the start, Bush officials challenged the status quo and revised the traditional public-policy calculus on environmental decisions. They put an instant hold on many Clinton administration regulations, and the debates over those issues and others are intensely polarized.
The administration's approach has provoked a passionate response. Asked about his expectations in the event of President Bush's re-election, Senator James M. Jeffords, the Vermont independent who is the ranking minority member on the Environment and Public Works Committee, wrote in an e-mail message: "I expect the Bush administration to continue their assault on regulations designed to protect public health and the environment. I expect the Bush administration to continue underfunding compliance and enforcement activities."
Mr. Jeffords concluded, "I expect the Bush administration will go down in history as the greatest disaster for public health and the environment in the history of the United States."
For many environmental groups, Mr. Bush's legacy was assured in his first year, thanks to highly publicized decisions that effectively repudiated Clinton administration positions. Mr. Bush backed off a campaign pledge to regulate carbon dioxide and abandoned the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement to reduce heat-trapping gases linked to global warming. Then the administration pushed, unsuccessfully, for a law allowing oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It scrapped the phaseout of snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park and briefly dropped a Clinton proposal to cut the permissible level of arsenic in drinking water by 80 percent.
The cumulative effect was striking. The decisions sought to reverse environmental action for which there was broad support. Polls by The New York Times in mid-2001 and late 2002 consistently showed public opposition to drilling in the Arctic refuge. A CBS poll in the same period showed that, by ratios of better than two to one, those polled said that environmental protection was more important than energy production.
A proud record from our compassionate president:

President Vladimir Putin announced plans Monday for a "radically restructured" political system that would bolster his power by ending the popular election of governors and independent lawmakers, moves he portrayed as a response to this month's deadly seizure of a Russian school.

Under his plan, Putin would appoint all governors to create a "single chain of command" and allow Russians to vote only for political parties rather than specific candidates in parliamentary elections. Putin characterized the changes as enhancing national cohesion in the face of a terrorist threat, while critics called them another step toward restoring the tyranny of the state 13 years after the fall of the Soviet Union.
(Washington Post)

Wow, thank goodness we live in a democracy where this kind of thing could never happen in response to a terrorist strike.... (tongue pressed firmly against cheek).
Future Senior Citizens Can Thank GW & the GOP-controlled Congress!

Recall the slimy, unprecedented Republican-led 3AM vote on the Medicare Bill??

This in today's USA Today:

With a new Medicare drug benefit set to begin in 2006, Americans 65 and older can expect to spend a large and growing share of their Social Security checks on Medicare premiums and expenses, previously undisclosed federal data show.
Information the Bush administration excluded from its 2004 report on the Medicare program shows that a typical 65-year-old can expect to spend 37% of his or her Social Security income on Medicare premiums, co-payments and out-of-pocket expenses in 2006. That share is projected to grow to almost 40% in 2011 and nearly 50% by 2021.

And yet GW's lead continues to widen in the polls.... The public deserves what they get.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Mission Accomplished??

NY Times:

Scores Are Dead After Violence Spreads in Iraq

The attacks were the most widespread in months, seeming to demonstrate the growing power of the insurgency and heightening the sense of uncertainty and chaos in the capital at a time when American forces have already ceded control to insurgents in a number of cities outside of Baghdad.

Afghan Crowds Loot and Burn Over Governor's Dismissal

Violent demonstrators ransacked and burned at least four United Nations office compounds and a human rights office here on Sunday as they clashed with the national police and army in an angry protest at the removal of Gov. Ismail Khan by the central government.

Four people were killed and up to 50 wounded, most of them civilian demonstrators suffering from gunshot wounds, doctors at the provincial hospital said. Fifteen American soldiers and two national army soldiers were injured, mostly from stones and bricks hurled at them, said Anne Bodine, an American State Department official based in Herat.
"They were shouting 'Death to America,' 'Death to Karzai,' 'Death to the army,' " said Gul Muhammad, 26, a soldier from Parwan in central Afghanistan.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

I was just watching "Meet The Press" and Russert was dogging Madeleine Albright with questions about Kerry and Iraq. That's fair, right? However, watching this display drives home the very pertinent analogy to that of a baseball team's starting pitcher who is removed from the game in the top of the first inning after allowing eight earned runs. The relieving pitcher comes in to the game with moderate expectations as his job in this case is to do the best he can given the abysmal circumstances. Fans can only he hope he doesn't make an already horrible situation worse.

While obviously Kerry (the reliever) needs to answer questions about Iraq and have a plan, please, let us not forget who the starting pitcher (Bush) was that got us eight runs behind, i.e. who started this entire mess. Trust me (a baseball fan), as the analogous game progresses, fans would not forget for the rest of the game why their team was down eight runs from the get-go, placing appropriate, justified blame.

It's unfortunate that it appears as if the American public has quickly forgotten who the starting pitcher was that caused the top-of-the-first-inning debacle (the decision to invade Iraq); according to current polls, incredibly they favor leaving this starting pitcher in the game and not go to the bullpen.

If I were the team owner and had the American public as my baseball manager, I'd fire them.

P.S. below Madeleine offers a superb answer to Russert, who often seems as if he's straining to be objective (even he must realize the stupidity of his question once Albright answers). Note her McCain reference:

MR. RUSSERT: Knowing that Saddam Hussein does not have large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, Senator Kerry still said he would have voted to authorize war. Why?

MS. ALBRIGHT: Because what he said, as he explained right there, he wanted to give the authority to the president to get the international community together to put pressure on Saddam Hussein to live up to his obligations, accountability. And, in fact, as a result of that vote, President Bush was able to go to the United Nations and get support for getting the inspectors back in. What surprises me is how President Bush did not use that diplomatic victory in order to let the inspectors do their work and then go about trying to get international support for further action against Saddam Hussein. And that is what Senator Kerry voted for. He voted to give the authority--and let me just say this. When we were in office, we had people that voted for us to have authority, Senator McCain, for instance, and then was very critical in terms of the way that the war was being carried out. So giving authority, I think, is something that is appropriate. Giving a blank check is not, and Senator Kerry, in his floor statement, made very clear that he expected the president to go to the United Nations and rally international support.
Kerry has regained his lead in electoral map, by 273-233 margin.
Meanwhile, in the country that truly has WMD, a nuclear test? An accident? <"Major explosion in North Korea">
Says It All

Kevin Drum:

9/11....I'm not much for memorials, but even I don't think that an amateur discussion of typewriter fonts of the early 70s is a great choice of blogging topics today. Instead, here is Juan Cole's reminder of what Osama bin Laden was trying to accomplish with his attacks three years ago:

Bin Laden hoped the US would timidly withdraw from the Middle East. But he appears to have been aware that an aggressive US response to 9/11 was entirely possible. In that case, he had a Plan B: al-Qaeda hoped to draw the US into a debilitating guerrilla war in Afghanistan and do to the US military what they had earlier done to the Soviets. Al-Zawahiri's recent message shows that he still has faith in that strategy.
The US cleverly outfoxed al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, using air power and local Afghan allies (the Northern Alliance) to destroy the Taliban without many American boots on the ground.
Ironically, however, the Bush administration then went on to invade Iraq for no good reason, where Americans faced the kind of wearing guerrilla war they had avoided in Afghanistan.
....It remains to be seen whether the US will be forced out of Iraq the way it was forced out of Iran in 1979. If so, as al-Zawahiri says, that will be a huge victory. A recent opinion poll did find that over 80 percent of Iraqis want an Islamic state. If Iraq goes Islamist, that will be the biggest victory the movement has had since the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan. An Islamist Iraq might well be able ultimately to form a joint state with Syria, starting the process of the formation of the Islamic superstate of which Bin Laden dreams.

You should read the whole thing, but the bottom line is pretty simple: if we stay in Iraq and fight a long, grinding, unwinnable guerrilla war against Islamic militants, bin Laden is delighted. If we give up and leave Iraq, bin Laden is delighted.
It didn't have to be this way, of course. We could have spent our military energies on smashing al-Qaeda and our diplomatic energies on gaining allies in the Middle East — demonstrating that Osama bin Laden's murderous vision was neither the best nor the only path for the Muslim world. Instead, thanks to George Bush's obsession with Iraq, America is the Great Satan, bin Laden is the most popular public figure in every Arab country in the world, al-Qaeda is bigger and more broad-based than ever, a thousand American soldiers are dead, and Iran and North Korea pursue their nuclear plans with impunity.
We are where we are because of George Bush. Never forget that.

P.S. to Naderites: Kerry just as bad? Really?

Saturday, September 11, 2004

To All My Reaganite Friends (who feel they must cancel out my vote with their "Bush" vote).

Posted on Salon yesterday, Doug Bandow makes a good case that if you're a Reaganite (like he is) and vote for Bush, than you're really just voting for a team and not for the principles which Reagan supposedly represented:

Why conservatives must not vote for Bush

A Reaganite argues that Bush is a dangerous, profligate, moralizing radical -- and that his reelection would be catastrophic both for the right and for America.
Republican partisans have little choice but to focus on Kerry's perceived vulnerabilities. A few high-octane speeches cannot disguise the catastrophic failure of the Bush administration in both its domestic and its foreign policies. Mounting deficits are likely to force eventual tax increases, reversing perhaps President Bush's most important economic legacy. The administration's foreign policy is an even greater shambles, with Iraq aflame and America increasingly reviled by friend and foe alike.

Quite simply, the president, despite his well-choreographed posturing, does not represent traditional conservatism -- a commitment to individual liberty, limited government, constitutional restraint and fiscal responsibility. Rather, Bush routinely puts power before principle. As Chris Vance, chairman of Washington state's Republican Party, told the Economist: "George Bush's record is not that conservative ... There's something there for everyone."

Even Bush's conservative sycophants have trouble finding policies to praise. Certainly it cannot be federal spending. In 2000 candidate Bush complained that Al Gore would "throw the budget out of balance." But the big-spending Bush administration and GOP Congress have turned a 10-year budget surplus once estimated at $5.6 trillion into an estimated $5 trillion flood of red ink. This year's deficit will run about $445 billion, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation reports that in 2003 "government spending exceeded $20,000 per household for the first time since World War II." There are few programs at which the president has not thrown money; he has supported massive farm subsidies, an expensive new Medicare drug benefit, thousands of pork barrel projects, dubious homeland security grants, an expansion of Bill Clinton's AmeriCorps, and new foreign aid programs. What's more, says former conservative Republican Rep. Bob Barr, "in the midst of the war on terror and $500 billion deficits, [Bush] proposes sending spaceships to Mars."

Unfortunately, even the official spending numbers understate the problem. The Bush administration is pushing military proposals that may understate defense costs by $500 billion over the coming decade. The administration lied about the likely cost of the Medicare drug benefit, which added $8 trillion in unfunded liabilities. Moreover, it declined to include in budget proposals any numbers for maintaining the occupation of Iraq or underwriting the war on terrorism. Those funds will come through supplemental appropriation bills. Never mind that Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz had promised that reconstruction of Iraq could be paid for with Iraqi resources. (Yet, despite the Bush administration's generosity, it could not find the money to expeditiously equip U.S. soldiers in Iraq with body armor.)
Conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan worries that Bush "is fusing Big Government liberalism with religious right moralism. It's the nanny state with more cash."

Yet some conservatives celebrate this approach. Kevin Fobbs and Lisa Sarrach of the National Urban Policy Action Council opine that Bush is "a strong leader, a comforter in chief." A comforter in chief?

Why, then, would any conservative believer in limited, constitutional government vote for Bush? It is fear of the thought of a President John Kerry.

Bobby Eberle of the conservative Web site GOPUSA warns, "One can only imagine the budgets that would be submitted by Kerry." President Bush has made the same point, repeatedly charging that Kerry "has promised about $2 trillion of new spending thus far." Maybe that is true, though the cost of Bush's actual performance would be hard to beat. After all, the president initiated a huge increase in the welfare state with his Medicare drug benefit bill. Veronique de Rugy of the American Enterprise Institute points out that, in sharp contrast to Presidents Reagan and Clinton, "Bush has cut none of the [federal] agencies' budgets during his first term."
Bush's foreign policy record is as bad as his domestic scorecard. The administration correctly targeted the Taliban in Afghanistan, but quickly neglected that nation, which is in danger of falling into chaos. The Taliban is resurgent, violence has flared, drug production has burgeoned and elections have been postponed.

Iraq, already in chaos, is no conservative triumph. The endeavor is social engineering on a grand scale, a war of choice launched on erroneous grounds that has turned into a disastrously expensive neocolonial burden.

Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, contrary to administration claims, and no operational relationship with al-Qaida, contrary to administration insinuations. U.S. officials bungled the occupation, misjudging everything from the financial cost to the troop requirements.

Particularly shocking is the administration's ineptitude with regard to Iraq. Fareed Zakaria writes in Newsweek, "On almost every issue involving postwar Iraq -- troop strength, international support, the credibility of exiles, de-Baathification, handling Ayatollah Ali Sistani -- Washington's assumptions and policies have been wrong. By now most have been reversed, often too late to have much effect. This strange combination of arrogance and incompetence has not only destroyed the hopes for a new Iraq. It has had the much broader effect of turning the United States into an international outlaw in the eyes of much of the world."

Sadly, the Iraq debacle has undercut the fight against terrorism. The International Institute for Strategic Studies in its most recent study warns that the Iraq occupation has spurred recruiting by smaller terrorist groups around the world.
A few conservatives are distressed at what Bush has wrought in Iraq. "Crossfire" host Tucker Carlson said recently: "I think it's a total nightmare and disaster, and I'm ashamed that I went against my own instincts in supporting it." William F. Buckley Jr., longtime National Review editor and columnist, wrote: "With the benefit of minute hindsight, Saddam Hussein wasn't the kind of extra-territorial menace that was assumed by the administration one year ago. If I knew then what I know now about what kind of situation we would be in, I would have opposed the war."

And opposed it he should have. The conflict is undermining America's values. As social critic Randolph Bourne long ago observed, "War is the health of the state." Although the Constitution is not a suicide pact, the so-called PATRIOT Act threatens some of the basic civil liberties that make America worth defending. Abu Ghraib has sullied America's image among both friends and enemies.
Bush's record has been so bad that some of his supporters simply ask, So what? Bush is "a big government conservative," explains commentator Fred Barnes. That means using "what would normally be seen as liberal means -- activist government -- for conservative ends. And they're willing to spend more and increase the size of government in the process."

But this political prostitution is unworthy of venerable conservative principles. Undoubtedly, reducing the reach of government is not easy, and there is no shame in adjusting tactics and even goals to reflect political reality. But to surrender one's principles, to refuse to fight for them, is to put personal ambition before all else.

The final conservative redoubt is Bush's admirable personal life. Alas, other characteristics of his seem less well suited to the presidency. By his own admission he doesn't do nuance and doesn't read. He doesn't appear to reflect on his actions and seems unable to concede even the slightest mistake. Nor is he willing to hold anyone else responsible for anything. It is a damning combination. John Kerry may flip-flop, but at least he realizes that circumstances change and sometimes require changed policies. He doesn't cowardly flee at the first mention of accountability.
Those who still believe in Bush have tried to play up comparisons with Ronald Reagan, but I knew Reagan and he was no George W. Bush. It's not just that Reagan read widely, thought deeply about issues and wrote prolifically. He really believed in the primacy of individual liberty and of limited, constitutional government.
Serious conservatives must fear for the country if Bush is reelected. Is Kerry really likely to initiate more unnecessary wars, threaten more civil liberties and waste more tax dollars? In any case, there are other choices (e.g., the Libertarian Party's Michael Badnarik, the Constitution Party's Michael Peroutka and even Independent Ralph Nader).

Serious conservatives should deny their votes to Bush. "When it comes to choosing a president, results matter," the president says. So true. A Kerry victory would likely be bad for the cause of individual liberty and limited government. But based on the results of his presidency, a Bush victory would be catastrophic. Conservatives should choose principle over power.
Bin Laden still issuing orders
Is Rumsfeld catching GW's "disease"....?

Rumsfeld Mixes Up Hussein, Bin Laden in Speech
Is it possible that due to universal criticism of media coverage leading up to the Iraq war (it was inadequate) that perhaps in haste to prove such laxness away CBS fell trap to overly aggressive pursuit of a story at the expense of accuracy?

Friday, September 10, 2004

Evil Dick (Cheney) recently stated that a vote for Kerry this November could jeopardize the safety of the country. In addition, he's STILL peddling his unfounded belief that Saddam was connected to Al Qaeda, saying so yesterday but continuing his habit of offering zero proof. The "Fear Campaign 2004" marches on! (As I asked weeks ago, I ask again: where is John Edwards? Is he in hiding? Can we see his evil side, at least a bit?).

The following from a terrific column by Rich Lewis:

Vice President Dick Cheney proved himself to be a champion of democracy this week by advising us that anyone who votes for John Kerry is inviting another terrorist attack on the United States.

Here's what Cheney said at a town hall meeting in Iowa on Tuesday:

"It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, we make the right choice. Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again. That we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States...."

See how simple it is? Make the "right choice" (vote Bush) and we are safe; make the "wrong choice" (vote Kerry) and risk getting "hit again."

I hope all you Democrats and Kerry-leaning Independents and Republicans are properly terrified — because that's the intent of Cheney's remark. To scare you into voting the "right" way. Fear is such a reliable stimulant.

But wait.

Suppose Al Gore had said to you in September of 2000: "If you elect George Bush in November, the danger is we'll get hit by terrorists in a way that will be devastating to the United States."

Well, by golly, he would have been right! We did elect George Bush (sort of), and we were hit by terrorists just nine months later.

So, by Cheney's logic, everyone who voted for Bush the last time made the "wrong choice" and is to blame for 9/11.
Democratic vice-presidential nominee John Edwards correctly interpreted Cheney's words in Iowa to mean "that if you go to the polls in November and elect anyone other than us, and another terrorist attack occurs, then it's your fault."

He labeled Cheney's comments "scare tactics" that "crossed the line."

But really, what line? We still have lines?

A young John Kerry enlisted in the Navy and requested duty in Vietnam — a dangerous place where any American serviceman could be killed at any minute by the enemy, accident or disease — and tens of thousands were. He survived and received multiple combat medals.

Now we are supposed to believe that his decision to go to Vietnam was a mere stunt designed to enhance his political career? That he is a self-serving coward who only exposed himself to danger to pad his resume?

To echo a famous line in American history: Have we no shame?
First the "Swift Boat Vet for Truth" diversion, then the "Christmas in Cambodia" diversion, now this "CBS document forgery" diversion.... Karl Rove and his right-wing minions are very good at the "look over here...." tactic.

Regarding this latest bit of nonsense to get the country's attention off those things that truly matter, I agree with Atrios when he states, "the whole thing is so goddamn stupid" (and then offers proof). Where could this go? CBS was duped? OK, fine. But need we remind everyone that this doesn't change the far bigger issue, that being that 1) GW did not in fact release all military records (despite saying he did), 2) still leaves many unanswered questions concerning his whereabouts during his "military" days, and 3) if all of this B.S. were to apply to John Kerry rather than Bush (do a mental switcheroo), Kerry would be a politically dead carcass by now.

Their hope (and it's working!) concerning this difficult topic for them: weave, dodge, confuse, make the public so numb with headaches that they become completely disinterested, then crank up the terrorist alerts & threat reminders (keep them scared!) -- mission accomplished!
The best book I've read about America after 9/11 isn't about either America or 9/11. It's "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning," an essay on the psychology of war by Chris Hedges, a veteran war correspondent. Better than any poll analysis or focus group, it explains why President Bush, despite policy failures at home and abroad, is ahead in the polls.

War, Mr. Hedges says, plays to some fundamental urges. "Lurking beneath the surface of every society, including ours," he says, "is the passionate yearning for a nationalist cause that exalts us, the kind that war alone is able to deliver." When war psychology takes hold, the public believes, temporarily, in a "mythic reality" in which our nation is purely good, our enemies are purely evil, and anyone who isn't our ally is our enemy.

This state of mind works greatly to the benefit of those in power.
Another president might have refrained from exploiting that surge of support for partisan gain; Mr. Bush didn't.

And his administration has sought to perpetuate the war psychology that makes such exploitation possible.

Step by step, the fight against Al Qaeda became a universal "war on terror," then a confrontation with the "axis of evil," then a war against all evil everywhere. Nobody knows where it all ends.

What is clear is that whenever political debate turns to Mr. Bush's actual record in office, his popularity sinks. Only by doing whatever it takes to change the subject to the war on terror - not to what he's actually doing about terrorist threats, but to his "leadership," whatever that means - can he get a bump in the polls.

-- Paul Krugman, NY Times, 9/7/04

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Some overdue items from the USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll:

* "Likely Voters" favor Bush by a 52-45 margin, however "Registered Voters" favor Bush by just a 49-48 margin. As I’ve discussed here before, if you assume that registered voters will turnout in a surprising robust fashion this election year, in effect perhaps throwing off what’s typically deemed a “likely voter,” than the category “Registered Voters” may be the more accurate margin count. As further proof, when registered voters were asked when "compared to previous elections, are you more enthusiastic about voting than usual," 65% were “More Enthusiastic” vs. just 23% who were “Less Enthusiastic.”

* For the question, “if the elections for Congress were being held today, which party’s candidate would you vote for in your Congressional district,” 48% of reg. voters said “Democrat” vs. 44% “Republican.”

* When it came to “Stance on the issues” or “Leadership skills” as to which is more important, the latter won by a 47%/39% margin. I am just dumbfounded by this one. I realize the theme of this campaign has come down to so-called leadership abilities, but c’mon, you’ve got to be kidding me that Bush towers over Kerry when it comes to this quality. What has Bush done to make him such a great leader? In a very minimal sense, he did what he was getting paid to do (he simply did his job). What other president wouldn’t have bombed Afghanistan? However, is it a great leader that fails to assemble an international coalition to go to war vs. a country that never had anything to do with 9-11? So the logic of the results to this question is leadership trumps a candidate’s stance on education, health care, Iraq, tax policy, the economy, abortion, the environment, judicial nominees, etc. What?!

* What is the #1 issue to voters? What is it every election year? You guessed it: the economy. If you guessed terrorism, that would be second.

* On the question, “Cares about the needs of people like you,” Kerry wins by a 48/41 margin. Kerry should play this up, exploiting the fact that HE is the compassionate one – not Bush.
Shocking news: Pollution harms children's lungs.
The World Wants Bush Out.

Of 35 countries sampled, 30 (or 86%) choose Kerry over Bush. This poll showed "Kerry was particularly favored in traditionally strong U.S. allies and beat Bush on average by more than a two-to-one margin." The only three countries choosing Bush: Philippines, Nigeria and Poland (India & Thailand were divided).

Republicans will simply dismiss these results as either "liberal media bias" (which is what they use to dismiss 97% of anything), or better yet, with a "who cares what they think!" sneer. The main point being if we wish to rebuild our standing in the world, it cannot be done with GW & Co. in office.
Updated list of just some of GW's flip-flops.
President Flip-Flop.

Bush/Rove attack Kerry on supposed flip-flopping and his military service -- two obvious areas of severe weakness for Bush. Watch for their criticism of Kerry's environmental record next.
OK, so we have Kerry's KNOWN service in Vietnam where he bravely fought, was injured, and saved the lives of other soldiers. Now, compare that to this clown of a president and his "service." Can you imagine the outcry from Republicans if shoe was on the other foot, i.e. if Kerry and Bush switched military backgrounds?!! The Republicans would make absolute mince meat of Kerry and the polls would be 70-30 in favor of Bush!!

Yet, as it is, we have things like the following:

Bush's military records show gaps in drill attendance from May 1, 1972, to April 30, 1973, when his Texas supervisors could not account for his whereabouts and said so in his last written evaluation. During that time, Bush lived briefly in Alabama, where he worked for the Senate campaign of Winton "Red" Blount. He returned to Texas to work in a Houston program for troubled youth.

C. Murphy Archibald, who worked on the Blount campaign, said that in the fall of 1972, Bush frequently was late for work on the Alabama campaign and often bragged about how much he drank the night before.
(USA Today)

So Bush was AWOL from his military duty AND on top of that couldn't manage to show up on time for his campaign job, too hung over to even do that! Yes, this our current president!

And this:

In one of the most damaging attacks, Ben Barnes, the former lieutenant governor of Texas, said he had helped Mr Bush dodge the Vietnam draft by securing him a sought-after place in the Texas air national guard.

"I would describe it as preferential treatment. There were hundreds of names on the list of people wanting to get into the air national guard or the army national guard."

Yesterday, a group calling itself Texans for Truth - an echo of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, who have questioned Mr Kerry's service - aired a 30-second advertisement claiming that Mr Bush did not show up for service in the Alabama air national guard after his transfer from Killian's unit.

In the advert, retired Lt Col Robert Mintz said he could not remember Mr Bush serving in his unit, the 187th air national guard in Montgomery, Alabama.

"I called my friends and said: 'Did you know that George Bush served in our unit?'. Everyone said: 'No, I never saw him there.' It would be impossible to be unseen in a unit of that size," he says in the ad.
(Guardian Unlimited)

Robert Kuttner summed it up in yesterday's Boston Globe:

Based on the issues, it's astonishing that Kerry is running slightly behind Bush. The Iraq war is an unpopular fiasco, the economy is not delivering for regular people, and Bush's repeat deceptions are far more disqualifying than Kerry's much-exaggerated flip-flops. As actor John Lovitz, playing a sinking Michael Dukakis listening to Bush the First blither through scripted remarks, memorably said on Saturday Night Live in 1988, "I can't believe I'm losing to this guy."