Sunday, October 31, 2004

being non-partisan

I'm finding it a bit tougher to toe this line than I thought. Not with voters out in the neighborhood--that's easy, mostly because I care far too much about voting integrity.

But with other volunteers, especially when you realize someone is on the same wavelength as yourself. But since Election Protection is a non-partisan group, you don't want your personal opinions to bleed in too much!

annoying people

I've been very surprised to discover that, so far at least, I've annoyed very few people by knocking on their door and exhorting them to vote.

Well, OK, there was the guy who'd obviously been woken from an afternoon nap in front of ESPN--but hey, without us he'd have missed that Packer's 4th quarter. Then there was the older lady, the only one who said flat out she wasn't going to vote, but that was ok because her daughter would be voting.

But most people seemed happy to announce that yes they certainly would be voting come Tuesday, while others proudly announced they'd already done the deed. Several people happily engaged in conversations and asked questions about the process.

All round, a worthwhile afternoon.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

arizona bound

I don't think I've mentioned it, but I decided to through my election day lot in with the non-partisan poll watching group Election Protection. In their wisdom, they assigned me to Phoenix, which was fine with me since I'd never been there before.

So this morning I packed my bag and flew to Phoenix. I'd been a little apprehensive wondering if there'd be any level of harrassment of election volunteers at airport security. Yes, I'm paranoid. Surprise, surprise, this was the very first time since 9/11 that I haven't been singled out for some kind of random special attention. No pat down at security, no extra questions at the gate. Had to remove the shoes, but everyone was doing that.

So here I am at a nice suburban motel in Phoenix, hoping I'll have time to check out the Heard Museum and the Science Center between bouts of annoying people with GOTV drives. More of substance soon.

Friday, October 29, 2004

island bound

Salon's War Room summarizes Newsday: "Aloha! Hawaii really is a battleground state, and befitting a battleground state will get a visit from Dick Cheney before too long. (Al Gore, who won Hawaii by nearly 20 points four years ago, will be there today, and Alexandra Kerry will also fly to the islands to stump for her dad.) "

Congrats to Alexandra for winning that coin toss! Can't you just feel the entire political press corps rooting for it all to come down to Hawaii's 4 votes?

Thursday, October 28, 2004

milking republican seniors

The Seattle Times: Fund-raising group milks vulnerable senior citizens

This group labels itself "Republican", but its just a straight con. Its not clear that any of the money raised went for political causes: "Of the money spent by the group this year, nearly 90 percent went to direct-mail vendors and postage expenses."

BTW--for those with the phrase "liberal media bias" foaming on their lips, the Seattle Times is considered Seattle's conservative newspaper. The Times is one of the flippers who endorsed Bush in 2000, but switched to Kerry in 2004.

Monday, October 25, 2004

simpson blues

I'm trying to figure out why I'm supposed to be shocked and outraged by Ashlee Simpson's heartburn. Aside from the fact that I don't have a clue who she is, are there really people out there who think pop singers are really belting out on a stage? And risk hitting a wrong note or two on national TV?

air america comes to seattle!

Air America Radio | Hurray!!! Now I can listen in on my way to work!

wsj covers failure to hit zarqawi - Questions Mount Over Failure to Hit Zarqawi's Camp.

Mostly the same facts, with a slightly more detailed timeline, few new quotes from interested parties and a new justification from the Bush admniistration:

"Another factor, though, was fear that a strike on the camp could stir up opposition while the administration was trying to build an international coalition to launch an invasion of Iraq. Lawrence Di Rita, the Pentagon's chief spokesman, said in an interview that the reasons for not striking included 'the president's decision to engage the international community on Iraq.' Mr. Di Rita said the camp was of interest only because it was believed to be producing chemical weapons. He also cited several potential logistical problems in planning a strike, such as getting enough ground troops into the area, and the camp's large size."
The new timeline indicates that the original plans were drawn up in June 2002 and then sat on by the White House until about February 2003.

For those with shaky memories, during the summer of 2002, the Iraq invasion was still just a marketing plan that hadn't yet been officially rolled out. Throughout most of the fall of 2002, Bush was openly disdaining any collaboration with the United Nations, and did not seriously start coalition building until late 2002.

One weird note about the WSJ article. Not once does the article mention that Zarqawi's camp was in an area of Iraq not controlled by Saddam Hussein. As a result, a casual reader could easily assume this was proof that Hussein had a chemical weapons plant and was harboring al Qaeda.

Friday, October 22, 2004

bush staffer indicted but still employed

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: October 17, 2004 - October 23, 2004 Archives: This story concerns Larry Russell, that Bush-Cheney director in South Dakota who with several other staffers resigned amid allegations of voter fraud and was promptly rehired to run the Bush-Cheney GOTV in Ohio. South Dakota has now handed down indictments against those staffers, several of whom he brought with him to Ohio.

Are these people still employed by Bush-Cheney? Why?

Thursday, October 21, 2004

liberal media

It's been enjoyable this week watching the newspaper endorsements rolling in for Kerry and Bush. Kerry is way ahead in both number of papers and in circulation. Here's a particularly fun fact:

Florida Newspapers:

St. Petersburg Times (G): 358,502
The Miami Herald (G): 325,032
South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale) (G): 268,927
The Palm Beach Post (G): 181,727
Daytona Beach News-Journal (G): 112,945
Florida Today (Melbourne) (G): 90,877
Bradenton Herald (B): 52,163


[crickets chirping]

That's right. According to Editor & Publisher, Bush hasn't received a single endorsement from a major Florida newspaper. One paper has refused to endorse anyone. The Tampa Tribune--described as having endorsed Republicans in every presidential election (but one) over the past 50 years--said it could not back Bush "because of his mishandling of the war in Iraq, his record deficit spending, his assault on open government and his failed promise to be a 'uniter not a divider' within the United States and the world." The paper had less than kind words for Kerry as well, saying his "Senate record stands at odds with our conservative principles".

taking out zarqawi

Under the heading of yet more amazing issues the Kerry campaign isn't pushing: LiberalOasis notes that Kerry is finally pushing the "why didn't we take out Zarqawi when we had him?" question. Unfortunately, nobody seems to be listening. LO sort of suggests this might be another case of something that's common knowledge to the media (and news junkies) but to no one else.

But again, this matters. While the BCCI topic is good Kerry-character material, the Zarqawi fiasco is concrete and egregious. And it speaks to every criticism leveled at Bush with regard to Iraq and his cavalier attitude to his own "war on terror".

So here's the story to start talking up, folks. Get your facts and figures down, and start inserting the question in the discussion whenever you can. LO thinks that this little truth will shake that blind faith of average joes around the country. And LO is rarely wrong.

(Note: my "heading" was mostly just a joke--everybody's got a different opinion on what Kerry should be talking about, but there are only so many hours in the day and only one campaign manager!)

dirty tricksters

Josh Marshall has been keeping tabs on the story of Jim Tobin and the New Hampshire phone-jamming scandal. This story can't seem to break out of its low profile in spite of the big giant dots and the flourescent lines connecting them.

This matters. Tobin was fingered in the criminal investigation no later than July of this year. But the Bush-Cheney campaign, which employed Tobin as its New England regional director kept him in charge until mid-October, after his name was finally leaked to the public.

Couple this story with that of the group of Bush-Cheney staffers from South Dakota who, after resigning over questionable absentee ballot practices found positions in the Ohio branch of the campaign, and you have a picture of the GOP attitude toward dirty tricks. Far from eschewing practicioners, the GOP rewards and encourages them.

Isn't that worth an investigative reporter's time?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

mum on bcci?

What Paul Glastris says. Lots of people have been wondering why the Kerry campaign never does more than mention in passing Kerry's BCCI investigation. After all, we're talking about exposing money laundering on a global scale, which included funding for terrorists. But the most relevant issue related to Kerry's BCCI work is the fact that he did it in spite of tremendous pressure from colleagues and supporters. There were so many senators who had personal and professional ties to people involved in BCCI, the pressure was extreme. But Kerry did the right thing in spite of that, and was instrumental in ending a global crime network. (For a decent summary of Kerry's role in BCCI, see here.)

This was only one of several times Kerry took the hard road against peer pressure, starting with his work with Vietnam Veterans Against the War, through Iran Contra, through BCCI, deficit reduction, and most recently his vote against mandating $87B to the Iraq war effort without working out a way to fund it.

Bob Shrum's position is apparently that average people won't understand the BCCI story. Its certainly true that the entire conspiracy is a complex and tangled web that almost no one really understands. But why doesn't Shrum understand that a good communicator can craft several compelling themes from the story? Create some conventional wisdom based on big picture truths?

One question is--what's the downside to the story? What could Bush/Cheney drum up to counter the CW? The worst I've heard is that Kerry was "more showhorse than workhorse". But this doesn't jive with the facts at all. The BCCI scandal was a hot potato that nobody wanted to handle. Kerry got a tremendous amount of flack for refusing to drop it or orchestrate a whitewash. Sheesh, Kerry even got an angry phone call from Jackie Onassis wanting know why Kerry was skewering a good friend of hers (Clark Clifford).

Kerry did apparently weather some personal attacks, allegations that his family had ties to drug dealing (!) that appear to be your typical slimy political pressure. Perhaps Shrum decided that the slime, if recycled right before the election, would hurt more than the BCCI themes would help.

As far as I can make out, most people have been assuming Kerry was holding the BCCI story as a hole card. Now that the election is only 13 days away, however, that hope is shrinking fast. BCCI is not a two-day story--it's a character tell that would have been best woven into the public perception of Kerry as a man. A really good man who truly demonstrates principled action in spite of political cost.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

highlights from bush's one-term presidency

In case you're wondering how a second Bush term might look, Molly Ivin's recaps lowlights from the first term: WorkingForChange-No more years

"But I like to remember the little things, those itty-bitty things that really made it special. Those touches of style. The je ne sais quoi of it all. Like choosing Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday to announce his administration would oppose affirmative action in the University of Michigan case, calling it "divisive," "unfair" and "unconstitutional." Classy timing."
Here's one I'd forgotten:

"Here's one of my faves. In his big address of 2002, Bush said: "A good job should lead to security in retirement. I ask Congress to enact new safeguards for 401(k) and pension plans." The Bush plan allows companies to switch from traditional fixed-benefit plans to what's called cash-balance plans. It saves corporations millions a year -- in the case of large companies, as much as $100 million. Older workers can lose up to 50 percent of their pensions. The Bush rules not only permit the conversions, they also give cash-balance plans a tax advantage, as well as protection from age discrimination lawsuits. It's the perfect Bush plan: Corporations get to screw workers, and they get a tax break for it -- plus, nobody can sue."
To me, this particular effort perfectly epitomizes Bush's priorities and intents. It wasn't enough to relax the rules in the corporations favor, shifting huge amounts of risk from the corporation to the individual. By attaching a tax incentive to it, he's effectively rewarding companies who do make the shift, and punishing those who place a higher value on the individual.

Why the extra push? Partly, I think, it was merely taking advantage of an opportunity to reduce corporate taxes. But could it also be evidence of Bush's "transformational" philosophy? Could it be that by muscling through a fundamental change in the prevailing corporate approach to retirement plans, he's willfully altering the entire playing field on which corporations and employees negotiate benefits?

Monday, October 18, 2004

cnn on gore gets it right and wrong

In this short story on Al Gore's speech today: " - Gore: Bush purposely deceived public on Iraq", CNN gets one detail right, but makes two disappointing errors.

What CNN got right:

"He [Gore] delivered his remarks in strong but measured tones..." Hurray, at least one media outlet is finally refraining from characterizing the former VP and winner of the 2000 election as a deranged nut! Could the tide finally be turning in the media's hate-hate relationship with Gore? Too soon to tell. Unfortunately they followed it up with....

What CNN got wrong:

1. "He [Gore] delivered his remarks in strong but measured tones, avoiding the overheated passion that had marked several of his appearances earlier this year." Ouch! So close! As anyone knows who was paying attention to coverage of the Gore speech in May, the media almost uniformly characterized Gore's as a hopeless "rant" (one well-known pundit commented "it looks as if Al Gore has gone off his lithium again"), but utterly failed to produce any video to back up their characterizations. For more discussion on this instance of Gore-ing, see the here.

2. And apparently this story was written by someone who was not yet born in 2000: "Gore, who won the popular vote in 2000 but lost the electoral vote after a recount of ballots in Florida..." Of course, as anyone who was sentient in 2000 knows, Gore lost the presidency because the recount in Florida was HALTED--by the US Supreme Court. It is quite possible Gore would have won Florida--and the presidency--If a full recount had been allowed to proceed.

bush health care plan

GW Bush has at last announced his health care plan. He describes it as a stunning leap forward in providing health care to every American man, woman and child in the country, even while eliminating costly government programs such as Medicaid and Medicare (but not FEHBP). Here are the details:


Saturday, October 16, 2004

mutiny part ii

If true, this is the key issue: News | Revolt in the ranks in Iraq: "Most absurdly, though, the jet fuel that these members of the 343rd Quartermaster Company were risking life and limb to transport wasn't even usable. It was contaminated with diesel and had already sensibly been rejected by one base and would undoubtedly be rejected again in Taji -- if the convoy managed to make it to its destination at all. "

mutiny in iraq

A friend just asked me what I thought about the mutiny in iraq. Since I'm not the most prolific of writers, here's my answer. She's guaranteed to chew on my thoughts and spit out something way more profound, so I may have to revise my opinion later, but here goes.

Well, I have mixed feelings. After all, the Normandy invasion was basically a suicide mission, too. I guess I feel pretty inadequate to judge.

I know in the military its supposed to be all about obeying orders without question, but you have to figure that for that kind of structure to hold, there has to be a level of trust by the soldier in his/her higher-ups. I mean of course in the abstract everyone thinks their top brass are morons, but when you're jumping out on the Normandy shore (or over the walls at Gallipoli for that matter), into the face of major artillery, you gotta have some faith that your commanders wouldn't be sacrificing you without a really good reason. That they were doing everything they possibly could to strengthen your odds. So to me this whole thing is all about a breakdown of that trust.

Since giving that blind trust to GW has been driving me nuts for the past 2 years, being what seemed a stunningly willful refusal to face facts in order to get through the day, I suppose I should be glad the whole house of cards is tumbling. But mostly it makes me sad for those 17 (and overwhelmingly glad I've never had to make a decision like that). Also I can't help wondering what happens to the people out in the field who were waiting for that supply convoy.

In political terms, how long do you think it'll be for Bush to start blaming Kerry and the Dems for this "breakdown in morale, brought about by their endless pessimism and politically motivated refusal to support the troops"????? Up is down, baby. But I think we need to be ultra careful here--not for political reasons, but for the 150K or so troops in Iraq. This could get really bad if not handled right--and I think its a guarantee Bush et al won't handle it right, they'll certainly crack down hard on the soldiers rather than deal with the systemic problem. So Kerry will need to step up. Also, Dems need to find a way to step up, too. Supporting the troops isn't just a slogan, and pointing fingers at Bush won't be enough. After all, if Bush actually pulls out this election, we'll have 150K people stuck in a disintegrating Iraq with little hope of real improvement.

Friday, October 15, 2004

education = jobs? reports today:

"'In the final debate I talked about the vital link between education and jobs; the senator didn't seem to get it,' Bush told thousands of supporters in the heart of the biggest media market in Iowa that covers some 30 counties in the eastern part of the state."

Oh he gets it, Mr. President. He just understands that it takes more than some half-assed college grant program and a semi-funded no-child-left-behind mandate to honestly claim you've got a jobs program. He also gets that telling people the problem behind their inability to manage their livelihood is not enough education is more than a little condescending, not to mention blazingly obtuse. Not to mention a few other choice words, considering the role you've had in gutting the middle class's security and even viability.

repub second-guessing

Gee is sure is nice to see the gun shooting the other foot! Politics: "Almost flailing

"Even as stalwart a Republican as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, now a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, thought there might be uneasiness. 'If you don't have some anxiety you are not in touch with reality,' he said."

" ... One senior Republican strategist not affiliated with the campaign said he began to think the Bush camp might be nervous when it launched a hard-edged ad that mischaracterized Kerry as describing terrorism as a 'nuisance.' 'I would describe that as almost flailing,' the strategist said.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

debate impact

Totally aside from the crucial issues:

I think the clearest thing to come out of the debates is that when it comes to looking "presidential", Kerry just has to be himself while Bush has to gather himself into a persona. Whether it's true or not, Kerry came across as quite genuine, as well as far more self-assured. Bush came across as like actor who had trouble finding the core of his role.

political tool?

Tim Grieve of thinks Kerry made a mistake with his reference to Mary Cheney's sexual orientation in last night's debate. I disagree for two reasons:

1. When Grieve says Kerry's mistake was in handing Republicans something to talk about today, he's being remarkably naive. If it hadn't been Mary C., it would have been that Kerry didn't (horrors!) mention his own wife's name during the final question. Or perhaps it would have been a parsing of Kerry's response to either of the "faith" questions, or Kerry's lack of an education plan. (Actually, Kerry has a darn good education plan, but you wouldn't know it by listening to any of the debates.)

2. It seems to me that Mary Cheney is indeed being used as a political tool, but not by John Kerry. It is her own parents, and by extension the Republican Party, who are victimizing her in the truest sense of the word. The likelihood that they are doing it with her full support makes it a non-issue for Kerry.


Kevin Drum says, about Bush's bin Laden gaffe last night:

"I suspect the answer lies in the cocoon Bush lives in. Not only has he convinced himself that he never really said that he wasn't concerned about Osama, but he has no idea that the outside world believes otherwise. He doesn't realize that not only is his Osama statement well known, it's actually quite a popular target of mockery. What's more, nobody on his staff has ever clued him in.

It's a pretty good metaphor for Bush's biggest problem: his staff spoon feeds him a rosy view of the outside world and he honestly believes that this rosy world is the real world."
Yup. That was my take, too. How else would he have dared to deny making the comment?

most improved

From Early Debate Reactions: "In contrast to his first debate performance, Mr. Bush was smiling through most of the debate, said host Brit Hume, who described the president as comfortable, aggressive and more in command of his facts and figures than he had been in previous debates. 'It was the president who was most different in term of his performance and his command of his material,' he said."

Hume seems to be saying Bush won the "most improved" award. Remember in school? The Most Improved Student award always went to the underachiever who the teacher wanted to encourage. While we all might wish Bush might improve with regard to actual policy, I'm not interested in hanging my future on a goof-off.

And, within the context of the article, Hume's comment was apparently his justification for why he thinks Bush won the debate. He won because he changed the most? Wow. This about a man who prides himself on his constancy and refusal to change course even when the facts go against him. Who has built his entire campaign on falsely painting his opponent as one who changes too much?

Perhaps we should be grateful. It proves Bush can admit a mistake (albeit privately) and adjust accordingly.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


Scott Rosenberg over at Salon notes:

"Demonstrator's sign seen over Wolf Blitzer's shoulder during CNN pre-debate: "What's the frequency, W?"

mary cheney outed?

Not hardly. Talking Points Memo points out that Republicans are trying to turn Kerry's reference to Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter into some sort of attack. Odd seeing as how the same subject came up in the VP debate and there was no hue or cry then.

What this tells me is that those Republicans think Bush lost tonight's debate. And that he lost badly enough for them to be lashing out in fear.

I feel so much better now!

debate gap

Not one single question on the environment. Not one single question on energy policy.

Immigration was more important?


classic conflict of interest

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Bush special envoy embroiled in controversy over Iraq debt

No shame.

Apparently Baker, who was appointed by the Bush Administration to negotiate Iraqi debt forgiveness with countries around the world, simultaneously wears another hat. As a Carlyle Group senior exec, he is also involved with making sure Kuwait gets its debts paid.

Baker v. Baker. That must be one tough negotiation session.

Why would any other country be interested in dealing with Baker when they know right off the bat he's acting in bad faith?

jobs creation--or not - Tax Windfall May Not Boost Hiring Despite Claims:

"Big companies long lobbied for a tax cut on their overseas profit as a way to spur U.S. job growth. But now that it has been granted, much of the windfall won't go toward hiring but for such uses as strengthening balance sheets, buying back shares and making acquisitions.

The one-year break, included in a sweeping tax bill that cleared the Senate and went to the president this week, will allow hundreds of billions of dollars in overseas profit to be brought home by dozens of U.S. companies at a steeply reduced tax rate. By some estimates, U.S. companies have parked as much as $500 billion in profit abroad to avoid taxes back home.

Companies say the repatriated money, which would be taxed at a 5.25% rate instead of 35%, will provide stimulus and better position them for hiring in the long run. Software company Oracle Corp., for instance, likely will use some of the billions it will bring home to help finance its aggressive acquisition strategy. Computer maker Hewlett-Packard Co. says it may devote a substantial portion of the several billion dollars it plans to bring back to paying down debt from its purchase of Compaq Computer Corp. -- a transaction that led to layoffs.

The Bush administration has been lukewarm about the tax bill, though President Bush, who has been attacked by Democratic opponent Sen. John Kerry over sluggish job growth during his administration, is expected to sign it.

The repatriation provision is among the most far-reaching of the many business tax breaks included in the sweeping bill, formally dubbed the 'American Jobs Creation Act of 2004.' ""Companies say"??? Well, heck, I'm sure we can trust the word of a megacorporation when billions of dollars are at stake.

Note that the different between 5.25% and 35% is 29.5%. On $500B, the tax break is $147.5B--for one year.

nevada registration

Weird. Is it just a coincidence that the voter fraud story regarding trashed registrations broke on the evening voter registration ends in Nevada? Lots of theories come to mind. Perhaps the company managers only got brazen on the final few days? Maybe the former employee blowing the whistle had some reason for delaying? Hmmm.

more on las vegas voter fraud

Las Vegas SUN: Democrats accuse voter registration group of fraud

According to this story, the FBI is NOT currently working the case at all.

dem registrations trashed by GOP-funded group

See this Las Vegas, Nevada news story, Voter Registrations Possibly Trashed, but there's no "possibly" about it:

"Two former workers say they personally witnessed company supervisors rip up and trash registration forms signed by Democrats.

'We caught her taking Democrats out of my pile, handed them to her assistant and he ripped them up right in front of us. I grabbed some of them out of the garbage and she tells her assisatnt to get those from me,' said Eric Russell, former Voters Outreach employee.

Eric Russell managed to retrieve a pile of shredded paperwork including signed voter registration forms, all from Democrats. We took them to the Clark County Election Department and confirmed that they had not, in fact, been filed with the county as required by law."

"The company has been largely, if not entirely funded, by the Republican National Committee. Similar complaints have been received in Reno where the registrar has asked the FBI to investigate."
They couldn't possibly expect to get away with this, although daylight was more likely to come after the election. In which case, based on past experience, its considered a fait accompli and all remedies are aimed at future elections (and end up being ignored anyway).

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

civil rights & bush

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights report (draft Sept 2004), "Redefining Rights in America: The Civil Rights Record of the George W. Bush Administration, 2001–2004", is out. Here's the summary:

Several themes emerge from this study. Specifically, this examination will show that the administration’s statements frequently do not match its actions. Its civil rights promises often suffer for lack of funding and ineffective implementation. To his credit, President Bush has not dismantled some good programs that previous administrations had implemented. However, he has also not comprehensively advanced them or demanded accountability for their outcomes. And finally, through the views of his executive and judicial appointments and his own professed priorities, President Bush redefines civil rights, at times by promoting unrelated initiatives under a civil rights banner.
Here's another telling passage:

The Commission thus identified as a key indicator of the administration’s commitment its willingness to develop a strategy in collaboration with civil rights leaders and representatives from affected communities. Rarely during his first three years in office did President Bush speak at meetings of civil rights organizations.19 As a candidate in 2000, President Bush gave a speech at the NAACP’s national convention, but during his first three years in office, did not attend the group’s meetings or call its leaders to the White House to confer with him. Nor has he engaged the NAACP in policy conversations, breaking a tradition that began under President Warren G. Harding and had been carried on by 11 consecutive Presidents beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt and ending with Clinton.
(emphasis added)

fight to survive

New blog: Fight To Survive: describes itself as a "mouthpiece for a group of soldiers who are fighting in a war they oppose for a president they didn't elect while the petrochemical complex turns the blood of their fallen comrades into oil."

Thanks to Different Kitchen.

Monday, October 11, 2004

josh on sinclair

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: October 10, 2004 - October 16, 2004 Archives:

"It's not a 'fairness' or a free speech issue. It's a massive and quite public case of election and campaign finance fraud. It's the sort of thing that, if it happens, will put the legitimacy of the entire election into doubt."

debate best line

OK, so I'm a little behind the times, but here's what I thought was the best line of the night:

John Kerry: "The military's job is to win the war. A president's job is to win the peace."

And a major reason why this is true is because peace requires diplomacy and a desire for good will--skills Bush not only doesn't have, he doesn't even value.

checking the checkers

Kevin Drum over at Political Animal gives us a handy summary of the various media fact-checking for last Friday's debate.

Shorter Drum summary: Stick with the Washington Post's "debate referee" and avoid the NYT's "shockingly bad" vapor at all costs.

greenhouse gas levels leap

The Guardian via Salon: Puzzling pattern
(direct link to the Guardian: Climate fear as carbon levels soar

An unexplained and unprecedented rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere two years running has raised fears that the world may be on the brink of runaway global warming.
Scientists are baffled why the quantity of the main greenhouse gas has leapt in a two-year period and are concerned that the Earth's natural systems are no longer able to absorb as much as in the past.
But the fear held by some scientists is that the greater than normal rises in C02 emissions mean that instead of decades to bring global warming under control we may have only a few years. At worst, the figures could be the first sign of the breakdown in the Earth's natural systems for absorbing the gas.

That would herald the so-called "runaway greenhouse effect", where the planet's soaring temperature becomes impossible to contain. As the icecaps melt, less sunlight is refected back into space from ice and snow, and bare rocks begin to absorb more heat. This is already happening.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

some water for cheney believers

For anyone who thought Cheney came across articulate and authoritative in Tuesday's debate, here's a cold dose of reality:MSNBC - Rewriting History

perfect storm

Now this is what we like to see!

Projected Electoral College Votes: Kerry 538 Bush 0

It's just experiencing minor technical difficulties but let's hope its a prescient glitch! After all, it could have gone the other way and depressed us all.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

finding america

Excellent, excellent article here: | Looking for votes, finding America

Jonathan Alford is a California postal working and jazz pianist who took a week off to volunteer for Kerry in Pennsylvania. His article about the experience is insightful and reflective, humble and wholly unpatronizing.

I hope at least part of it is open to non-subscribers. Here's a taste:

I reach a few stalwart old working-class Dems -- "kick those bastards out of office" -- right at the start, but soon enough the typical responses to my questions become expressions of confusion and hopelessness. "I don't know who to believe -- I don't what to think -- something needs to change -- they always promise old people things but nothing ever happens -- my income hasn't changed in 12 years and everything keeps going up." One old woman says that her friend is being forced to sell the house she has lived in for 40 years because she can't pay her bills. She says it is happening all over and it just makes her sick.

What is touching about some of these undecided seniors is the responsibility they feel about collecting all the information before making a decision. "Well, Al and I are planning on watching the debate and reading some more and then we will probably make up our minds." Or "we just don't know enough." It is the older generation's inbred sense of the importance of a vote. It is a precious thing, to be cast with care and deliberation. Most of the seniors are leaning toward Kerry, but most are not excited by him. An interesting -- and depressing -- note is how many have been influenced by the scurrilous GOP attacks on Kerry's wartime service. One lady, a lifelong Democrat, said she couldn't vote for Kerry because Teresa wasn't ladylike enough. "Can you imagine telling that reporter to 'shove it'? My goodness." When I pointed out that the reporter had been dogging her for days and was personally abusive, she said simply, "I don't know about that but I just don't think she is a first lady." A slender reed on which to make a decision, but gratifying, I am sure, to Republican spinners.

Many are not really willing to engage at any length, but a few every hour will tell me personal details and allow little glimpses into their lives. These phone calls are no longer a pro forma political exercise; they are achingly poignant and compelling. Irma tells me her husband can't come to the phone as he has just gotten out of the hospital and is resting. She confides that she too had a stroke two years ago and they both are pretty much housebound. "I don't know what we are going to do. I thought that you were supposed to enjoy the older years -- you work your whole life for this?" It is a hard dance, to try to talk to Irma about the political dimensions of her life woes, convince her to vote for the man I want her to vote for, and still simply be a listener and a fellow human being. And that of course is the nub. Politics has been so dehumanized by image glorification and the pursuit of power that it has become impossible for many of these men and women to even imagine a world in which the personal and the political could ever intersect.
Alford also reflects on the first debate, with some insight that unfortunately proved all too true for the second debate:

The media, unable to confront the propagandistic web of distortions and lies the administration used to make its case for war in Iraq, falls back on simply evaluating its effectiveness. Abdicating their responsibility to find out the truth, they vanish into a never-never land whose apparent cynicism ("it's all spin anyway") conceals its moral and intellectual vacuity. They would still roll over for Bush in tonight's debate, if only he had told his lies crisply and with folksy assurance. Thank God he didn't.

new bush tactic

I am not impressed with the new Bush line about Kerry's unfitness to solve the Iraq war (from AP): "'Senator Kerry assures us that he's the one to win a war he calls a mistake, an error, and a diversion. But you can't win a war if you don't believe in fighting.'"

Kerry's view that the war is in the wrong place, at the wrong time, only underscores his motivation to cleaning up the mess and getting troops home. That's the kind of approach people want to hear.

Very few people in this country are interested in pushing our commitment to war further, in extending some pseudo-democratic ideology. And this seems to be the unstated contrast Bush is pushing. Although he doesn't say it, Bush is signaling his commitment to widen the war effort, do whatever it takes to achieve whatever vision of Mid-East democracy he and the neo-cons are chasing.

classy soros

I just went to to see if Soroswould have the class to point people back to Here's the statement in the top left of the home page:

"We do not own the domain name and are not responsible for it redirecting to We are as surprised as anyone by this turn of events. We believe that Vice President Cheney intended to direct viewers to"

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

security accountability

Last week, Atrios invited us to vote for our favorite Bush line from last week's debate. Paul Krugman nails it:

So far, Mr. Bush has paid no political price for his shameful penny-pinching on domestic security and his refusal to provide effective protection for America's ports and chemical plants. As Jonathan Chait wrote in The New Republic: "Bush's record on homeland security ought to be considered a scandal. Yet, not only is it not a scandal, it's not even a story."

But Mr. Kerry raised the issue, describing how the administration has failed to protect us against terrorist attacks. Mr. Bush's response? "I don't think we want to get to how he's going to pay for all these promises."
Kerry's talking about security at ports and chemical plants, an issue that Bush has consistently and adamantly ignored for three years, and Bush treats the issue like Kerry's lining a pork barrel! And all the while he's spending far more on "offensive" adventures whose security value seems problematic at best.

Now I'm all for thinking outside the box. I don't like playing defense all the time--In my daily life I feel stronger when I'm being pro-active, looking at the larger picture and all that. So I would certainly feel very unsatisfied if our only national response to global terrorism was to hunker down at wait to find out where the chinks in our armor lay.

But geez, shouldn't we at least lock the back door when we step out for our neighborhood self-defense class?

Of course there will always be areas that we won't be able to secure, whether because of logistics, or perhaps simply priorities. But if that were the case, then Bush/Cheney should have a long list of specific measures taken (one in which "Iraq" isn't every third entry). Instead, all we get is a lecture in fiscal responsibility, which is sort of like having our uncle the lush counsel us on the evils of drink.

The reason this issue matters more than almost any other in the subject of security is because it illustrates how little concern the Bush Administation has for domestic security. Whether this lack of concern is because they don't care if a little collateral damage happens here in the US or because, deep down, they don't believe it will happen again, take your pick.

Or perhaps I'm wrong about their concern. Perhaps what really happened is that they believed their own hype about Afghanistan and Iraq. Maybe they thought they'd get in quick and cheap, set a couple of examples and scare some people, and then they'd be right back here with time and money to fill in the chinks at home. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way, and now Bush is faced with the fact that we don't have the money to do what should have been done in the first place. But since the reason for the lack of money is directly related to his complete muck-up in Iraq, he can't even acknowledge there is a problem let alone deal with it.

Well, I guess its good to know Bush can recognize a spending limit, on occasion.

acid test (pg rating here)

From The (really really) Rude Pundit:

"And don't you fuckin' gimme that stroke victim smirk, Dick, or I'll come across and start shovin' aluminum tubes up your ass, all 60,000 of 'em, one anodized tube at a goddamn time. Then, with all those tubes up your ass, you can tell me, tell all of us, if they feel like centrifuge tubes or just plain ol' rocket tubes."
Now that may be an expert finding I'd be willing to accept.

Schneier on Security

New blog worth checking out: Schneier on Security Thanks to Political Animal for pointing it out.

Monday, October 04, 2004

textbook pushback

As reported in the AP (via Seattle P-I):

Re-fighting last week's TV debate on Iraq (news - web sites), in which polls suggest Bush lost ground to Kerry, the president said, "The policies of my opponent are dangerous for world peace. If they were implemented they would make this world not more peaceful but more dangerous."

The Kerry campaign answered back, "If George Bush (news - web sites) thinks John Kerry's plans to strengthen the military, build alliances and implement the 9/11 Commission's intelligence reforms will make the world a more dangerous place, he's even more detached from reality than he demonstrated at the debate the other night."
Terrific example of a strong response that both defends and attacks. Good job, Kerry team!!

Friday, October 01, 2004

who's robotic?

National Review editor Jay Nordlinger, via Politics:

"Staying on message is one thing; robotic repetition -- when there are oceans of material available -- is another--I hate to say it, but often Bush gave the appearance of being what his critics charge he is: callow, jejune, unserious. And remember -- talk about repetition! -- I concede this as someone who loves the man."

push poll in maryland?

Push polls are one of the nastiest of political dirty tricks. I've been waiting to hear reports, and here's the first one I've seen:

The Votemaster at electoral-vote.comsays: "I got a report of push polling in Maryland ('Are you going to vote for John Kerry even though he will raise your taxes?'). I don't know which firm it was though."

Hopefully we'll hear more soon.

bush if elected

KERRY: "What I worry about with the president is that he's not acknowledging what's on the ground, he's not acknowledging the realities of North Korea, he's not acknowledging the truth of the science of stem-cell research or of global warming and other issues.
And certainty sometimes can get you in trouble.

LEHRER: Thirty seconds.

BUSH: Well, I think -- listen, I fully agree that one should shift tactics, and we will, in Iraq."
Why is Bush promising that he "will" fix problems in Iraq, instead of actually doing it?

Could he be talking about plans they're postponing until after the election? Plans that will likely increase US casualties or garner negative publicity?

Or is he just talking without any intention of acting?

fun with video

I just about fell off my chair when I heard Bush jump in and insist "Of course I know bin Laden attacked us! I know that."

Experience the fun again here:Bush's Outburst | Oliver Willis

New Bush Slogan: "I deserve to be president because I know Osama bin Laden attacked us."

hard truth

I'm having more and more of a problem with the "flypaper" argument, that is, that violence in Iraq has drawn terrorist activity there rather than here. "Better there than here" I keep hearing.

I've heard lots of logical arguments against this, about why its a fallacy, why it won't work. But my argument is moral.

It's like in order to keep ourselves safe we gave a terrorist the key to the house across the street. Better him than us, we say, shaking our heads at the evil of terrorism.

A terrorist is going to do what he does without any help from us. We're not to blame for his existence. But when we hear our leaders patting themselves on the back for inviting terrorists to invade another country in hopes that they won't attack us, it's not only faulty. It's sick.

Is that the kind of people we want to be?