Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken
gozz@gozz.com

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Fox fact check 

FOX News takes a Bush mischaracterization in the debate and presents it as if Kerry said it:

From "Bush, Kerry Spar on Iraq War",

Kerry has said that if elected, he would pull American troops out of Iraq within six months although later he said he would not impose such a fast deadline.
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,134151,00.html

From "Debate Fact Check",

Bush also mischaracterized Kerry's position on withdrawing troops from Iraq: "My opponent at one time said, 'Well, get me elected, I'll have them out of there in six months.' " In fact, Kerry said he would hope to begin a withdrawal in six months, not complete it. His aim would be to finish the withdrawal in four years if conditions allow.
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,134160,00.html

News items and opinion 9/30/2004 

One news item today:

House rejects heterosexual superiority amendment

Kerry dominates in foreign policy/national security debate 

I watched the debate at a bar, appropriately, The Chatterbox Pub. The first thing I noticed was that Kerry was wearing a red tie and Bush a blue.

I had expected both candidates to do better, but hadn't expect Bush to totally bomb. I'll take it though. If what the pundits say is true: it what the debates look like, not what they sound like - Kerry all but has the election wrapped up on national security.

Kerry's confidently used his hands and body to immediately convey his message, Bush hesitated and looked like someone waking up in a strange hotel rummaging around for his keys (or teleprompter) on a strange podium. He blinked. He gazed gown. He asked meekly asked the moderator for a chance to rebut then gave a watery rebuttal. At one point, it appeared that he had written down part of his answer and read it as if he was trying to simulate a teleprompter.

A teleprompter couldn't have saved Bush anyway - the only thing that could have was a horrible Kerry performance. Kerry both effectively showed that Bush has been an ineffective leader and communicated his ideas sufficiently - although I think he could have done even better. Compared to Bush's worn out talking points about attacking when he sees a threat and staying on the offensive, Kerry's case was brilliant and wide ranging. This was a debate about three things,

Bush seemed to be playing a different ball game by concentrating on the oh so funny funny GOP concocted Kerry "flip-flops" on Iraq.

A second staple of Bush's answers was along the lines of, "I'm commander in chief, I have things under control". Saying he had things under control worked against him being that one of Kerry's themes was that Bush just wanted to give us "more of the same" and was living in a fantasy world - by leaning on his position of authority to prop himself up, Bush was actually reinforcing Kerry's message.

I was somewhat surprised that the name "Cuba" was not mentioned. Cuba is our neighbor and it's on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism - I would think it deserved at least one question.

Both candidates said a Democratic Iraq was good for Israel. That's not the message the Arab world needs to hear - one of the things many think is that we invaded Iraq to protect Israel. Even if true, that's not a good message to send. I think both candidates may have inflamed anti-American and anti-Israel passions by pandering to the Zionist vote. (added after watching debate a second time: I think Kerry misspoke when he said "It's important to Israel" - he didn't mention Iraqis and think he meant "Iraq" rather than "Israel" - still it belies the fact that he's worrying about the Zionist vote)

Kerry could have done better on the "What will you to differently in Iraq" question. He should have started the answer with 1,2,3,4,5 just as it's laid out on his website. Instead he started talking and after criticizing Bush and later got around to explaining two or three of the changes he would make.

There are too many parts of the parallel press conferences ("debate") I want to at least briefly comment on later, but will leave this post with two:

"Of course we're after Saddam Hussein -- I mean bin Laden." - George W. Bush

"I have no intention of wilting. I've never wilted in my life. And I've never wavered in my life. I know exactly what we need to do in Iraq, and my position has been consistent: Saddam Hussein is a threat. He needed to be disarmed. We needed to go to the U.N. The president needed the authority to use force in order to be able to get him to do something, because he never did it without the threat of force. But we didn't need to rush to war without a plan to win the peace." - John F. Kerry

Blackwell defeated ahead of election 

In a previous post, I wrote of how Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell decided to begin enforcing an old law requiring voter registration forms be printed on paper the thickness of postcard stock. In his directive to election supervisors, he wrote on September 9,

The form prescribed by the Secretary of State must be printed on white, uncoated paper of not less than 80 lb. text weight. Any Ohio form not printed on this minimum paperweight is considered to be an application for a registration form. Your board should mail the appropriate form to the person listed on the application.

Yesterday, Blackwell reversed this directive by issuing a "clarification" that they should not be just "considered to be an application for a registration form", but that election workers should indeed register the voter, then send them a proper registration card,

The voter registration form prescribed by the Secretary of State must be printed on white, uncoated paper of not less than 80 lb. text weight. However, any otherwise valid Ohio forms received by your Board of Elections not on 80lb. text should be processed and the newly registered voter should be sent and asked to return the legally prescribed form to be kept by your Board as a permanent record.

I wonder how many Ohio voters will end up being disenfranchised by the instructions Blackwell had election workers try to follow for three weeks.

Two articles about Bush's "War on Terror" 

A recent issue (October) of the Atlantic has two must-read articles on Bush's war on terror.

The first is Peter Bergen's "The Long Hunt for Osama", also found here.

Bergen made two trips to Pakistan and Afghanistan while writing the article - It's the story of what has been known about bin Laden since 9/11. It's a good reminder of what has happened over the last several years - an example,

When I returned to Jalalabad, I spoke with Commander Muhammad Musa, who said he had led 600 Afghan soldiers on the Tora Bora front lines; with grudging admiration he recalled the tenacity with which some of al-Qaeda's fighters resisted to the end. "They fought very hard with us. When we captured them, they committed suicide with grenades. I saw three of them do that myself. The very hardest fighters were the Chechens." Musa praised the U.S. Air Force but was dismissive of American forces on the ground. "They were not involved in the fighting," he said. "There were six American soldiers with us, U.S. Special Forces. They coordinated the air strikes. My personal view is if they had blocked the way out to Pakistan, al-Qaeda would not have had a way to escape. The Americans were my guests here, but they didn't know about fighting."

And therein lies the crux of the problem. With only a small number of American "boots on the ground," the U.S. military chose to rely on the services of local Afghan proxies of uncertain loyalty and competence--a blunder that allowed many members of al-Qaeda, including Osama bin Laden himself, to slip away. The blunder meant that, as a senior U.S. military official told me, "we don't know for sure when bin Laden disappeared."

The second article is James Fallows' "Bush's Lost Year", also found here. Through extensive interviews with named and unnamed sources directly involved, it reveals this administrations' decision to shift the focus away from al Qaeda in Afghanistan towards Hussein in Iraq,

James Dobbins, who was the Bush Administration's special envoy for Afghanistan and its first representative in liberated Kabul, told me that three decisions in the early months "really shaped" the outcome in Afghanistan. "One was that U.S. forces were not going to do peacekeeping of any sort, under any circumstances. They would remain available to hunt down Osama bin Laden and find renegade Taliban, but they were not going to have any role in providing security for the country at large. The second was that we would oppose anybody else's playing this role outside Kabul. And this was at a time when there was a good deal of interest from other countries in doing so." A significant reason for refusing help, according to Dobbins, was that accepting it would inevitably have tied up more American resources in Afghanistan, especially for airlifting donated supplies to foreign-led peacekeeping stations in the hinterland. The third decision was that U.S. forces would not engage in any counter-narcotics activities. One effect these policies had was to prolong the disorder in Afghanistan and increase the odds against a stable government. The absence of American or international peacekeepers guaranteed that the writ of the new Karzai government would extend, at best, to Kabul itself.

...The Administration later placed great emphasis on making Iraq a showcase of Islamic progress: a society that, once freed from tyranny, would demonstrate steady advancement toward civil order, economic improvement, and, ultimately, democracy. Although Afghanistan is a far wilder, poorer country, it might have provided a better showcase, and sooner. There was no controversy about America's involvement; the rest of the world was ready to provide aid; if it wasn't going to become rich, it could become demonstrably less poor. The amount of money and manpower sufficient to transform Afghanistan would have been a tiny fraction of what America decided to commit in Iraq. But the opportunity was missed, and Afghanistan began a descent to its pre-Taliban warlord state.

Facts for right-wingers on Bush taking the US to war with Iraq 

  1. Members of the UN did not fail to enforce UNSCR 1441 by not attacking Iraq

    Here is the UNSC press release which implicitly states the vote on 1441 was not a vote to authorize force.

    John Negroponte - US ambassidor to the UN's - comments,

    The resolution contained, he said, no "hidden triggers" and no "automaticity" with the use of force ... If the Security Council failed to act decisively in the event of further Iraqi violation, the resolution did not constrain any Member State from acting to defend itself against the threat posed by that country, or to enforce relevant United Nations resolutions and protect world peace and security.

    Negroponte correctly noted that if forces were to be called upon to invade Iraq ("authorized"), it would be by a later Security council action. It would have included wording "calling on" member nations to provide troops and materiel, as do all resolutions calling for military action. "Facing serious consequences" is something Iraq would do, not an action UN members states were authorized to take.

    France and other Security Council members held the position, "We cannot accept an ultimatum as long as inspectors are reporting cooperation."

    Of course, Bush later made the determination that Iraq "wasn't cooperating" but "deceiving" and the only way to "disarm" Iraq was to remove Hussein form power.

    Our own Iraq Survey Group has now found Bush was wrong. Iraq wasn't moving stockpiles from location to location, they didn't have mobile or secret underground labs. It was Bush that was deceived - he used bad judgment.

  2. Bush promised to call for a vote authorizing force, but didn't

    Trying to convince our allies that the deluded belief was real, Bush promised to call for a vote "no matter what" on a resolution which would have authorized force.

    Q Thank you, Mr. President. As you said, the Security Council faces a vote next week on a resolution implicitly authorizing an attack on Iraq. Will you call for a vote on that resolution, even if you aren't sure you have the vote?

    THE PRESIDENT: Well, first, I don't think - it basically says that he's in defiance of 1441. That's what the resolution says. And it's hard to believe anybody is saying he isn't in defiance of 1441, because 1441 said he must disarm. And, yes, we'll call for a vote.

    Q No matter what?

    THE PRESIDENT: No matter what the whip count is, we're calling for the vote. We want to see people stand up and say what their opinion is about Saddam Hussein and the utility of the United Nations Security Council. And so, you bet. It's time for people to show their cards, to let the world know where they stand when it comes to Saddam.

    The US never called for a vote.

  3. The purpose of invading Iraq was to disarm Hussein of (fictional) weapons

    In Bush's ultimatum, bizarrely issued to US television audiences instead of Hussein or a representative of Iraq, he told us he would deal with Saddam's fictional arsenal with force, "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."

    Two days later when the first strikes began, Bush explicitly described the purpose for the invasion he had at the time, "Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly - yet, our purpose is sure. The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder."

At best, the Commander in Chief panicked.

We need someone steady who can keep his head commanding our military.

Postscript: Here is the most reasonable response a right-winger has given the facts expressed above,

The UN is a fraud, and so is your arguemnent. Even if there weren't any WMD's, Liberlism is still a Mental Disorder. You bottomfeeders are blind to reality, even when it's in your face. Everybody in the world knows that Iraq moved the WMD to Syria. They also (or would have) stolen sectrets from Iran's Nuclear program too.

Debate questions 

Hoping to see some spontaneity resembling debate during the parallel press conferences tonight, I spent a while looking for questions others would like answered.

For Kerry to hit home runs on

Questions for Bush to strike out on

The format of the debate ended up being extremely boring. The Commission suggested the candidates be seated at a table and be able to ask each other questions. The campaigns agreed to require limiting answers to one minute. Frederick Douglas opened the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates with a 5,378 word speech. The President's 2004 State of the Union Address was just shy of that at 5,206 words. One minute and lights like a game show. Bah.

I'd love it if either candidate went over and in response to the moderator reminded America that we were talking about the future of our nation, not their choice of whatever is behind Doors 1-3. But it was the campaigns that set out these restrictive rules for themselves. I suppose it's a free country in a way, and they can agree to dumb down the debates if they wish.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

News items and opinion 9/29/2004 

George Will writes of what Kerry needs to do at Thurday's debate. He's right as far as America doesn't understand Kerry's plan for Iraq, but is curiously an incurious journalist in that he can't find out hiumself what Kerry's plan is. He's given speeches, issued press releases, and on his website in a easily digestible fashion, he lists at least a dozen things he will change or start to do in Iraq.

But Will is right - Kerry needs to make himself heard above the din of the Republican noise machine.

Meanwhile, under the current administration cars continue to blow up and the insurgency continues in Iraq. And 30% of our soldiers who have been called back from the Individual Ready Reserve to active duty in Iraq or Afghanistan have failed to show up on time. Maybe what they need is a secret weapon - perhaps a flaming human cannonball. That would scare the hell out of the insurgents.

As far as what the Republican's plan for fighting terror is, they suggest deporting undesirables to countries where they will be tortured. Actually, this idea is not new - it's already been field tested.

Republicans still counting on voter stupidity 

I just got an email from the Bush campaign, touting a "Debate Briefing Book for John Kerry".

Most of the points assume voters have forgotten that three months after the Senate voted to delegated the decision to Bush wether to go to war with Iraq, Bush said,

You said we're headed to war in Iraq - I don't know why you say that. I hope we're not headed to war in Iraq. I'm the person who gets to decide, not you.

A point of note is that they're now comparing the Iraq resolution of 2002 to Congresses' January 12, 1991 voted to send US troops to the Gulf to take part in the conflict between Kuwait and Iraq, of which Kerry said,

This is not a vote about a message. It is a vote about war.

At first blush, the distinction is clear, but it probably isn't to many Americans. Here's how well informed Americans are about the candidates, according to a recent Annenberg Election Survey (full results at the Annenberg Public Policy Center),

Talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations.

How accurate is Gallup? 

MoveOn.org recently ran a full-page ad in the NY Times noting "Gallup's methodology has predicted lately that Republican turnout on Election Day is likely to exceed Democrats' by six to eight percentage points." This is true.

As I've noted before, many have the misconception that Gallup first decides how many Republicans and Democrats are going to show up and then figures out how they'd vote. The actual problem has been that the questions used to determine what a "likely voter" are biased towards people who will vote for Bush - they don't take into account the "anybody but Bush phenomenon".

MoveOn.org's ad doesn't stretch anything other than perhaps calling it a "long standing problem." Indeed, two days before the 2000 election CNN/USA Today/Gallup had Bush ahead of Gore by 5 points - they were 5.5 points off in the spread.

But two days ahead of the 1996 election, the same poll had Clinton 16 points ahead of Dole, Clinton ended up 8.5 points ahead of Dole on Election Day. So the "long standing problem" would go back no further than 2000.

Becoming curious if there was a long-standing bias of some type, I looked into pre-election Gallup polls back to 1996, which Gallup conveniently compiles in two pages. (Note: a common confusion is that the "Gallup" and "CNN/USA Total/Gallup" polls are the same poll - they are not. They use the same data, but different methodologies).

Suspecting that it might be a bias towards the incumbent. I graphed the inaccuracies over a background indicating who the incumbent party was as well as if an incumbent is running for re-election. Here is what it looks like:

Gallup has ...

So it appears that there is a bit of a long-term bias towards Republicans.

What about incumbency? Gallup has,

What about wars? During the Vietnam War, Korean War and WW II, Gallup has,

There might be some biases toward Republicans exhibited by Gallup's methodology, but they would be small. I continue to believe that no poll or methodology can accurately predict how "likely" it is that "anybody but Bush" voters turn out - other than the one on November 2.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

News items 9/28/2004 

A first-hand report from a journalist patrolling in Baghdad with 1st Cavalry soldiers ran on the front page of today's Washington Post. A few Iraqi National Guard members were patrolling with them in a Nissan pickup truck,

Without warning, an orange fireball engulfed the area, followed by a deafening explosion and then gray smoke that blotted out the sun. When it cleared, the Nissan and the Iraqis inside it were riddled with marble-size ball bearings that had sprayed from a roadside bomb.

"They're dead! All of them are dead!" shouted an American soldier who had rushed to the vehicle.

The article details the gruesome attack - this month 100 such attacks have happened in Sadr City alone. An account of what the corpses of guardsmen looked like struck me differently than pictures from the invasion and war do - the narrative made me think about what it may have been like to have been there. I've been seeing pictures from the war long enough to be desensitized to most of the immediacy a photo brings. I wonder if I'd be more or less numb if I had a TV.

Stateside, since 9/11, we've accumulated a backlog of "hundreds of thousands of hours of wiretap recordings" from counterterrosism investigations, the aim of which in part is to prevent orange fireballs from engulfing areas, followed by deafening explosions, then gray smoke blotting out the sun. We still don't have enough translators. They're all in Iraq, trying to prevent orange fireballs from an insurgency George Bush's invasion and handling of the occupation made possible.

Also stateside, Rep. Diana DeGette is calling for an investigation into allegations that soldiers have been given a choice to re-enlist for service until 2007 or finish out their current enlistment in units in Iraq or Korea. There is no question that the invasion of Iraq has made us less safe on count of an insufficient number of soldiers and translators.

Another study is out showing employees' costs for health insurance are becoming dangerously expensive. The study by Families USA found that health insurance costs have risen 36 percent since 2000, three times the rate earnings have increased. I did a study of my own a month or two ago - I looked up how much my premium for my individual plan was in 1999 and compared it to what I pay now for the same plan - which now covers less. The result: an 80% increase. My study was prompted by shock to find that my copay for prescriptions increased 100% in a single month.

Oil prices continue to skyrocket as well, having increased 75% in the past year. Some have noted sharp increases in the price of oil have preceded the defeat of incumbent presidents: Ford in 1976, Carter in 1980, Bush in 1992.

An article in Salon describes a recent study of the stock market and incumbent presidents. The study found that since 1950, if stock markets are down in the April of an election year, the chances of the incumbent president being defeated are 5 out of six.

The study by Jeffrey A. Hirsch of the Stock Trader's Almanac written of in Salon did find something unquestionably significant. Since 1833, the stock market,

I take little stock in applying these types of predictions and observations to an election where people are basing their vote on the idea that either George W. Bush is the Antichrist or John Kerry likes the wrong kind of cheese. Bush likes the wrong kind of cheeses too, but he also lies about it, so on balance, Kerry has the clear advantage on the Antichrist and right kind of cheese fronts.

Undaunted by reality, the Iowa GOP mailed out a brochure touting their candidate for a state Senate seat, Ron Longmuir. The brochure boasts of his voting record in the Iowa Senate on educational issues. Problem is that Longmuir has never served in the legislature.

To his credit, Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell accepted his panel's recommendation that Ralph Nader not appear on the November 2 ballot due to many of the signatures on the petition for inclusion being forged. He's being consistent: If someone doesn't want to vote for Bush, their signature deserves scrutiny.

I've been intending to put together a map/list of states where Nader is on/off the ballot and/or there are heterosexual superiority ballot initiatives - which could turn out the vote for anti-gay bigots who will vote for the presidential candidate who thinks heterosexuals deserve more rights due to their intrinsic superiority. There is also at least one state which has a ballot measure which may help turning out the vote for Kerry - the citizens of Alabama will on November 2 vote wether to repeal portions of their Constitution requiring school segregation and a poll tax.

No updates to the 10 polls I'm tracking today, but bucking the trend, a new Pew Poll shows a significant gain for Bush to leading Kerry 48 percent to 40 percent, while a new Investors Business Daily/Christian Science Monitor poll shows Kerry leading Bush by one point, 46 to 45.

GOP on display 

I hadn't seen what the "liberals will ban Bibles" flyer from the RNC looks like - a reader sends a link to a scan of the mailer. There you go - if you want to keep your Bible, vote Republican.

More Ohio Republicans hoping their damnest for low voter turnout 

The Akron Beakon ran in August a report on a Bryan Williams, the director of the Summit County Board of Elections,"Elections chief fears scheme." It described how he felt voter registrations turned in by the AFL-CIO were tricking him into allowing the same person to vote twice. Some people have signatures look the same to him. I would hope a Director of Elections would have more confidence in elections staff to make good use of Social Security Numbers. Ye of little faith.

The same article also tells the woe story of Norma Williams, running around with her hair on fire because of a registration turned in by the Soros-funded ACT. The registration used a fictional address, nonexistent SSN, and a forged signature. Which leaves me wondering if she figured out who it was intended to register. Norma is reported as explaining, "It makes a lot of work for us to have to watch them very, very closely." In other words, she might miss noticing an invalid SNN or that a voter card is returned to her address unknown.

Reader Beth points to a Plain Dealer article from Saturday pointing out more voter registration difficulties in Ohio, involving "suspicious" registrations (See today's previous post "Ohio Secretary of state doesn't want too many people voting"). A issue looks frighteningly similar to part of the FL 2000 mess - it seems several registrations spell the same street name wrong - and use the same incorrect spelling.

The article doesn't mention if OH, like FL, requires that the voter themselves fill out the form - rather it makes an insidious implication that the registrations are bogus. But also in this article, Bryan Williams seems a little more humble, saying, "We are not certified handwriting experts, but we believe that these were common looking signatures," and that it's difficult for him to tell if the forms had been turned in by a group or individual.

It's impossible to tell if these articles sensationalize conversations with election officials, if they really are freaking out, or a combination. But we know a few people have suspicions that some forms have been turned in my people dull enough to think it didn't matter if they put an incorrect address or Social Security number, and/or immeticulous enough to catch the errors or fraud in the registrations they were voucing for.

Great, make sure everyone is registered once. Congratulations to the elections staff for being on the ball and catching numbskulls acting stupidly if that's the case. Congratulations for being more diligent than the Florida elections staff who drooled that they had let 46,000 nitwits register to vote in both FL and NY.

Another claim staked out in the Plain Dealer article comes from Republican Lake County Prosecutor, Charles Coulson (seriously - that is his name), "We've seen voter fraud before, but never on this level." Coulson eagerly hopes that Lake County Republican Sheriff Daniel Dunlop's investigation into whether a someone who registered is now alive or dead is, in fact, dead.

Both Sheriff Dunlop and Prosecutor Coulson are up for reelection November 2 - running unopposed.

And it damn well better stay that way. (Kidding).

But lets be serious - these days, every purchase we make is analyzed compared and scrutinized, and our junk mail is tailored to someone exactly like our spending habits reveal. If someone is behind on a few bills in in Maine, they might be turned down for a department store charge card in New Mexico. Computers can instantly catch duplications or inconsistencies in voter registrations. These types of shenanigans are if anything, fun to watch.

Monday, September 27, 2004

News items 9/27/2004 

The New York Times writes of pre-war intelligence estimates saying much the same thing as the July estimate warning of the possibility of civil war - for which Bush has been recently criticized for not taking seriously enough. The Times claims, "The contents of the two assessments had not been previously disclosed." - does nobody at the Times remember James Fallow's essay in the Atlantic, "Blind Into Baghdad"? (A must-read article from the Jan/Feb 2004 Atlantic).

The NY Times article presents the warnings as risks that were known instead of what they were: anticipation of situations that may have been prevented if taken seriously. Nonetheless, the content bears a read and a but of repeating here - from the Times,

One of the reports also warned of a possible insurgency against the new Iraqi government or American-led forces, saying that rogue elements from Saddam Hussein's government could work with existing terrorist groups or act independently to wage guerrilla warfare, the officials said. The assessments also said a war would increase sympathy across the Islamic world for some terrorist objectives, at least in the short run, the officials said.

I don't think this will impact the debate significantly unless the actual documents are leaked, as encouraged by Daniel Ellsberg, the source of the "Pentagon Papers". Hearing and seeing are different things. These documents allegedly predicted many preventable things - among them, the widespread looting and formation of the insurgency if the Iraqi army was disbanded and left with idle hands.

Jordan's King Abdullah has voiced skepticism that elections can be carried out in Iraq as scheduled. Being that Abdullah is one if the US's best allies in Bush's "war on terror" comes as a blow. Abdullah's general support is put in perspective by realizing that about three quarters of Jordanians oppose the US war on terrorism and significantly more opposed the US led invasion of Iraq.

Operating on a $100K budget, another new 527, Scientists and Engineers for Change will be giving lectures in swing states in an attempt to raise awareness of the Bush administration's hostility towards science. The group included 10 Nobel Prize winners and "The Father of the Internet", Vincent Cerf.

The 527's efforts may resonate more with the audience of Comedy Central's John Stewart than those who tune in to FOX comedian Bill O'Reilly - the network refuted O'Reiley's recent taunt that Stewart's audience consists of "stoned slackers" by pointing to a survey that found the Daily Show's audience to be better informed, more educated, and more sucessful wage earners than those who watched cable news alone.

Writing in the Washington Post, Dana Milibank offers us erie similarities between Allawi and Bush's recent fantasies about what it's like in Iraq. "Emerging finally from dark ages of violence/Iraq will never return to the dark ages of tyranny", "I have seen some of the images that are being shown here on television. They are disturbing./The American people have seen horrible scenes on our TV screens - " etc.

Others have drawn parallels between Bush's fanciful pronouncements about Iraq and Iraq's former Minister of Information, "Baghdad Bob". Following are a few of Baghdad Bob's statements, boxed in red in honor of our Minister of Misinformation,

"The American press is all about lies! All they tell is lies, lies and more lies!"

"They are becoming hysterical. This is the result of frustration."

"They think that by killing civilians and trying to distort the feelings of the people they will win."

"Our estimates are that none of them will come out alive unless they surrender to us quickly."

From the It Depends on How You Look at It Department, The Washington Post reports on their new poll showing a 3 point Kerry gain to within 6 points of Bush under the headline "Poll Shows Bush With Solid Lead", while USA Today presents their new results - showing Bush 8 points ahead - as "Bush's lead gets smaller in poll

Both new plot points have been added to my graph of trends in 10 polls, always accessible through the polls link on this page's side bar.

If the trend of the last three weeks continues at the same rate, most polls will be back in Kerry territory in two weeks. That's not a prediction, but an observation - events and perceptions obviously may reverse or accelerate the trend. The significant things are, a) the wild fluctuation between and disparity among pollsters' numbers is abating and the polls are beginning to agree with each other within the margins of error - as they did before the DNC convention, and b) the trend is clearly towards Kerry.

Ohio Secretary of state doesn't want too many people voting 

Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell has decided to start enforcing an old law requiring voter registration forms to be printed on 80-pound paper. 80-pound paper is postcard stock. The law dates from a time where the cards were physically kept on file for decades, but it is still on the books (today, the registration is entered into a computer).

The Cleveland Plain Dealer printed a voter registration form (on newsprint) - and Blackwell has given the Cuyahoga board special permission to accept those, but other counties are apparently - get this - mailing the person who tried to register on too light paper. Yes, instead of entering the information into a computer, they're using the information to mail the the attempted register, informing them their registration was unacceptable.

Federal law requires all states accept the National Mail Voter Registration form which is to be downloaded and printed out on a computer printer. Nasty feds messin' with Blackwell's low voter turnout project.

Voters in Ohio have been registering like crazy, most of them in heavily Democratic precincts. Those that "got it wrong" the first time have until October 4 to get it right.

Oh yeah. Blackwell is a Republican.

(Via Thistime's diary at Daily Kos.)

The environment: an issue on which Kerry can't lose - and might win 

For about a week, I've been intending to make a post on environmental issues in relation to our nation's upcoming presidential choice. Environmental issues have taken a back seat to terrorism, wars, tax cuts, torture and murder at the hands of US troops, service medals, missing service records, Laci Peterson, Kobi Bryant, and how to eat a philly cheese steak. Even though the threat of global warming is far more dangerous than the threat of terrorism.

This administration entered into office with an admittedly genius strategy: say they thought it was important to exploit the miniscule amount of oil under the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - a controversial topic that even in the minds of some environmentalists could be done responsibly. The media only devotes a certain amount of time and space to environmental issues, so this White House's uncontroversial anti-environmental policies went mostly unnoticed until America became more worried about anthrax rain than acid rain. At that point, the coast was clear for polluting.

I had thought that is would have a complaining tone - but in this past week, more and more environmental issues have started to get the spotlight in places more visible than activist's websites and personal blogs.

From the lead editorial in today's Washington Post,

Certainly there is no doubt about President Bush's belief in the need to reduce environmental regulation in order to ease the constraints on industries most affected by it. Although the administration has made few dramatic changes, it has rewritten an extraordinary number of rules, for example, to allow older utilities to upgrade their facilities without adding pollution control equipment; to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon dioxide emissions, the most important source of "greenhouse gases"; to loosen the regulation of mercury emissions; to limit the amount of land that can be formally declared "wilderness"; to make logging easier in old-growth forests. The president himself has flip-flopped, as his campaign would put it, on the question of the urgency of climate change, first expressing interest in the issue, then walking away from it, then delaying discussion by proposing "further studies."

The official line of the Bush administration has been that environmental regulation of the past has been extreme and we need to be more moderate. Their environmental regulatory philosophy was encapsulated by their Director of Regulatory Affairs, John D. Graham,

There are two major perils associated with an extreme approach to precaution. One is that technological innovation will be stifled, and we all recognize that innovation has played a major role in economic progress throughout the world. A second peril, more subtle, is that public health and the environment would be harmed as the energies of regulators and the regulated community would be diverted from known or plausible hazards to speculative and ill-founded ones. For these reasons, please do not be surprised if the US government continues to take a precautionary approach to calls for adoption of a universal precautionary principle in regulatory policy.

That is, pollution brings about economic progress and regulating polluters is sometimes detrimental to health. If that seems an unfair synopsis, check this:

Graham is the guy who says how and what environmental laws are enforced by the Bush administration. That's really all you need to know about Bush and the environment. (I imagine pro-lifers are overjoyed that the Bush doen't just protect unborn babies, but goes the extra mile by ensuring they are protected after birth by sufficient amounts of smog and dioxin.)

Of all the candidates in the Democratic primary, John Kerry had the highest lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters. That might be all you need to know about Kerry and the environment. If not, the Sierra Club has a few things to say about Kerry and environmental issues. The League of Conservation Voters' Environmental Victory Project has already knocked on half a million doors in five swing states and offers a comparision of Bush and Kerry on the environment.

It seems to me that if swing voters are unsure of their vote - wondering if they're being impatient for the tax cuts to work, confused about Iraq, befuddled about national security, perplexed about healthcare, not too concerned about the abortion issue either way - it may come down to latching on to an issue on which they see a clear distinction. The natural environment is quite rightly and easily linked to other issues: healthcare, national security and the long-term economy.

The Bush campaign knows they're vulnerable on this issue and has used the only weapon available to them: toxic sludge.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

News items 9/26/2004 

Election officials in Denver are working Saturdays and hiring temporary workers to keep up with the deluge of new voter registrations.

A week ago, we appointed a Gen. Talib al-Lahibi to a senior position in the Iraqi National Guard. Thursday, we arrested him for alleged links to insurgents. Interesting how we are making appointments in the military of a "sovereign" nation.

Paul Beat, a former counter-terrorist specialist in the British army, says Iraq is the world's "most hostile environment,"

"Terrorists are operating in larger and larger groups and becoming more and more daring ... They're launching bigger, multiple attacks. Now they use one vehicle at the entrance (to compounds) to knock out guards and then drive a second bomb through to get inside ... The Sunni extremists have moved out of their traditional strongholds of Falluja and Ramadi and are operating all over west and central Iraq with increasing boldness ... The Mehdi militia are operating all over south Iraq and there's increasing evidence of them operating in the center and north of Iraq ... There are large areas of Baghdad which are no-go for the coalition, and a lot of parts of Basra which are now no-go too."

Colin Powell diverges from the administration's message by recognizing the situation in Iraq is deteriorating, "We have seen an increase in anti-Americanism in the Muslim world. We'll not deny this." I wonder if he can get his boss to acknowledge it. Powell voiced optimism about the Afghani election, but voiced a tempered optimism about Iraq by adding, "if we can defeat the insurgency."

Bush says he has no regrets over declaring victory 16 months ago, and Kerry responds with bravado, "I will never be a president who just says, 'Mission Accomplished.'"

Saturday, September 25, 2004

News items and editorials 9/25/2004 

President Bush and Prime Minister Allawi's claims that Iraq is doing great is further debunked in a front page article in the Washington Post:

Reports covering seven days in a recent 10-day period depict a nation racked by all manner of insurgent violence, from complex ambushes involving 30 guerrillas north of Baghdad on Monday to children tossing molotov cocktails at a U.S. Army patrol in the capital's Sadr City slum on Wednesday. On maps included in the reports, red circles denoting attacks surround nearly every major city in central, western and northern Iraq, except for Kurdish-controlled areas in the far north. Cities in the Shiite Muslim-dominated south, including several that had undergone a period of relative calm in recent months, also have been hit with near-daily attacks.

In number and scope, the attacks compiled in the Kroll reports suggest a broad and intensifying campaign of insurgent violence that contrasts sharply with assessments by Bush administration officials and Iraq's interim prime minister that the instability is contained to small pockets of the country.

I admit I don't understand Bush's strategy going into the first debate with Kerry on Thursday, the puzzle pieces I'm trying to fit together in my mind are,

If the object is to confuse everyone by promoting mutually contradicting thoughts, it might be succeeding.

An essay in the Washington Post on the upcoming debates is fertile soil for speculation on what we might see, although reading it unskeptically leaves the impression whoever "wins" the debates has the election wrapped up.

From the Department of Ironic Irony, US Vietnam vets are appealing to our Vietnam draft dodging President to discourage a monument to Vietnam draft dodgers from being built in Canada.

60 Minutes cancelled an "inappropriate" story on Iraq - "Inappropriate" because it would have been so close to the presidential election. Strange rational for not airing it being that it was slated for the same show they ran the original story on Bush's Guard service. It must have been really bad!

Something I found interesting in the internals of a CBS poll (PDF) is that despite the "Swift Boat Vets" efforts, more people considered Bush to be untruthful about his military service than Kerry,

TELLING TRUTH ABOUT THEIR MILITARY SERVICE? (Registered Voters)

Telling the entire truth
Kerry 29%
Bush 20%

Hiding something
Kerry 49%
Bush 51%

Lying
Kerry 13%
Bush 20%

Refering to Dick Cheney's incendiary comments that America is welcoming a terror attack by voting for Kerry, a new Kerry/Edwards campaign ad points out that the Republicans are"using the appalling and divisive strategy of playing politics with the war on terror, a strategy that undermines the efforts to combat terrorists in America and puts George Bush's own ambition ahead of the national good."

Tom Brokaw conducted a short but interesting interview with Pakistan's Perves Musharaf. He cites the problem of the Iraq invasion not being good for the "Muslim sentiment" about the US, that the US is fighting terror is too centered on "the immediate", and he doesn't know where bin Laden is. The most interesting part,

Brokaw: Do you think the American war against Iraq was a mistake?

Musharraf: Well, I wouldn't comment on that. But I will certainly say that it has complicated the issue.

Brokaw: In your part of the world.

Musharraf: In the Islamic world. In the Iraqi region. In the Middle East.

Brokaw: Made it worse for America?

Musharraf: Yes.

Iraq's "Vice President" Barham Saleh mused that wether all of Iraq should vote is "a bridge that we will have to cross when we come to it."

Editorials

Jessica Mathews, President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace offers some sound ideas for facing the political realities in Iraq.

George Will writes a rather good essay about Iran, although he either is not aware or doesn't care that 13 year olds can get married in in NH, 14 year olds in New York, and with the consent of parents and a judge at any age in a number of states. Will writes,"Since 2002 - this is Iranian moderation - a court's permission has been required to marry younger than 13. Maybe he just holds Iran to a higher standard than the US. I find Will to write occasional brilliant commentary - he's able to sometimes hone down complex topics into the sense or nonsense of their cores, but at other times he's just a wack job. Both sides of him are reflected in this piece.

Democratic voter registration up in FL, OH 

The NY Times reports on new voter registration efforts in FL and OH,

Voters do not give a party affiliation when they register in Ohio, but The Times looked at the voting history of ZIP codes to gauge the political inclinations of the new voters.

In rock-ribbed Republican areas - 103 ZIP codes, many of them rural and suburban areas, that voted by two to one or better for George W. Bush in 2000 - 35,000 new voters have registered, a substantial increase over the 28,000 that registered in those areas in the first seven months of 2000. The Ohio Republican party said it was pleased with the results.

But in heavily Democratic areas - 60 ZIP codes mostly in the core of big cities like Cleveland, Dayton, Columbus and Youngstown that voted two to one or better against Mr. Bush - new registrations have more than tripled over 2000, to 63,000 from 17,000.

In Florida, where The Times was able to analyze data from 60 of the state's 67 counties, new registrations this year also are running far ahead of the 2000 pace, with Republican areas trailing Democratic ones. In the 150 ZIP codes that voted most heavily for Mr. Bush, 96,000 new voters have registered this year, up from 86,000 in 2000, an increase of about 12 percent.

But in the heaviest of Democratic areas, 110 ZIP codes that gave two-thirds or more of their votes to Al Gore, new registrations have increased to 125,000 from 77,000, a jump of more than 60 percent.

Condensed, that is:

Although the article is mainly about voter registration efforts, I was disappointed a numbers for new voter registration by party affiliation was not given for Florida - a state that does register voters as members of a party. But the news from Ohio was really good. At the Democratic Convention, Ohio's nomination was called first, which was taken to mean by many that Kerry intends to win Ohio.

The NY Times has a nifty interactive graphic showing information about all national races as well as campaign money.

Bush up close 

Being a Flash developer myself, I decided to try my hand at a synopsis of W's term in a little over 2 two minutes. Click to watch the movie:

Friday, September 24, 2004

News items 9/24/2004 

New charges in the prisoner torture and murder scandal continue to pile up. Yesterday, three more Navy Seals were charged. The Army will soon court-martial poster girl Lynndie England. In my opinion, that most American media refer to torture and murder as "abuse" when done at the hands of Americans is almost as shameful as the events they refer to. I've been meaning to compare the events of the last few years to bin Laden's famous 1998 fatwa for a while ... it's creepy - in a way it seems like OBL and the Pentagon Hawks are on the same side.

That Kerry and Bush are trying to be different sides of the same coin is overt. The advantage is a reversal from the period of the Bushite's claims that Kerry shot himself - but not while in Cambodia: charges that Bush has his "eye off the ball" make it into the news earlier in the day and closer to the front page than Bush's responses that Kerry is not able to "lead this country".

As I like to note in every other post these days, events seem to be confirming my confidence that Kerry has been intentionally tiring the Swashbushler by constantly staying just outside his misura larga, waiting for the opportune moment to advance his contratempo. He turned the melee of the primaries to his advantage and ... OK, OK, I'll stop and just note that despite the candidates' Skull and Bones brotherhood, Kerry seems much more the type to have an interest in Rapier and Cloak than Bush. Bush could probably smear Kerry at Wack-a-Mole though.

Not surprisingly, House Republicans likely derailed implementing the 9/11 Commission's recommendations this session by bludgeoning the bill with secret spending and beefcake border control measures. Not that that's all bad - I don't think having a Director of Intelligence (read: bloating government more) is our rosetta stone.

The first two paragraphs of of an article outlining errors made which account for the miniscule participation of Iraqis in policing themselves are worth reproducing here:

The police outpost here is supposed to house 90 armed members of Iraq's National Guard. Their job is to keep watch over a stretch of six-lane highway, deterring insurgents from laying roadside bombs and trying to blow up a bridge over the nearby Tharthar Canal.

But when the U.S. Marine commander responsible for the area visited the outpost this month, he found six bedraggled guardsmen on duty. None of them was patrolling. The Iraqi officer in charge was missing. And their weapons had been locked up by the Marines after a guardsman detonated a grenade inside the compound.

I see the root of the problem as more fundamental, however. A handful of neoconservative dispensationationalists figured at least a few pages in God's book described how after they extricated themselves from the smother of flowers tossed by children, they could let out a long fruit basket flavored burp and figure out how to provide sufficient laundering services for Iraqi Guard and police uniforms. The Iraqis would want to look distinguished while serving up the dead-enders who would be humming that Emerson, Lake and Palmer song about Jerusalem after a few meals eaten out of the toilet and a couple naked pyramid drills.

Speaking of Jerusalem, the photos accompanying this post are illustrative of the progress of the construction of the so-called Israeli security fence being built in Palestine. I believe it's long past time to abandon that euphemism for something more descriptive. I might have a post on the wall soon, but it might not be longer than, Duh, Israel can do whatever the see necessary to protect themselves, but there's a sharp distinction between Israel's right to build whatever they see fit in Israel and building a wall in Palestine.

A new Time poll is out, showing Kerry halving to 6 Bush's lead in the last two weeks. It's added to my chart of the 10 polls I'm tracking.

Other News

Allawi, Bush jive turkey on Iraq 

This year, the Muslim holiday month of Ramadan begins October 16th. We recall the drastic increase in attacks during the Muslim holiday months of Ramadan, nicknamed "Bombadon" last year by troops in Iraq. The holiday is one in which Muslims are to lay down arms, but radical Islamists see it as the best time to blow themselves up and attack "infidels". It's not surprising that the Bush campaign and their supporters are trying to frame an increase in attacks in the future as signs of desperation to derail all the wonderful things going on in Iraq.

Yesterday, Bush clarified what he meant (transcript) when he claimed only "a handful of people" are willing to kill to disrupt US lead efforts in Iraq,

Look, what we're seeing on our TV screens are the acts of suicide bombers. They're the people who - that are affecting the daily - the nightly news. And they know its effect. I said that the enemy cannot defeat us militarily. What they can do is take acts of violence that try to discourage us, and try to discourage the Prime Minister and the people of Iraq. Look, I'm fully aware we're fighting former Baathists and Zarqawi network people. But, by far, the vast majority of people, John, and of 25 million people, want to live in freedom. My point is, is that a few people, relative to the whole, are trying to stop the march of freedom.

Is he saying he is only taking note of the people who make the nightly news after they attack or kill people? A Gallup poll of 3,500 Iraqis in April found that 39% could not at all justify the US led invasion of Iraq and 52% could at least sometimes justify insurgent attacks against US troops. Even if those findings are significantly off or have significantly changed since April, Bush is not facing the reality that many many Iraqis support the actions that "a handful" of people are taking.

Allawi followed up Bush's answer by claiming most of Iraq was safe,

Let me explain something, which is very important. I have noticed - and the media have been neglected and omitted several times - in the Western media - Iraq is made out of 18 provinces, 18, 1-8. Out of these 18 provinces, 14 to 15 are completely safe, there are no problems. And I can count them for you, starting from Basra moving into Iraq Kurdistan. There are three areas, three provinces where there are pockets of insurgents, pockets of terrorists who are acting there and are moving from there to inflict damage elsewhere in the country. So, really, if you care to look at Iraq properly, and go from Basra to Nasiriyah to Kut to Diyala to Najaf to Karbala to Diwaniya to Samaraa to Kirkuk to Sulaymaniyah to Dahuk to Arbil, there are no problems.

The LA Times writes that few agree with Allawi's assessment as anxiety grips the nation amid a surge in attacks, concentrating on Allawi's comments to congress. You can go to news.google.com and read about any number of bombings and attacks in the provinces he calls "completely safe". One of the new hotspots, Baquba is the capitol of the Diyala provence. Is Basra safe? British troops clash with al-Sadr miltia in Basra, September 18, 2004. Blast Near U.S. Office in Basra Kills 1, September 12, 2004 (most reports say 2 were killed), Oil pipeline near Basra attacked. Samara? Fighting errupts in Samarra, September 22, 2004. Kirkuk? Suicide Car Bomb Kills 10 Near Kirkuk, September 18, 2004. Divorced from reality or lying his ass off? Dunno.

Bush also said the insurgency in Iraq could spread to the US if we stop attacking them in Iraq,

The path to our safety and to Iraq's future as a democratic nation lies in the resolute defense of freedom. If we stop fighting the terrorists in Iraq, they would be free to plot and plan attacks elsewhere, in America and other free nations.

It would be great if we could quell the violence in Iraq. But that's not what he's saying. Rather, Bush claims that if we stop attacking the people he says are trying to derail elections in Iraq, they'll get pissed and take the fight to America.

He needs to make up his mind - does he want the violence to continue in Iraq so it doesn't happen here, as he claims it would - or does he want to stop the violence in advanced of the Iraqi election slated for January?

Peace and hepatitis E are breaking out all over! 

Hepatitis E is most often transmitted through water tainted by sewage - a common occurrence during war. Hepatitis is an ongoing problem in refugee camps in Chad, cases recently tripled in a month in Darur, Sudan, and now a recent outbreak in Mahmoudiyah and Baghdad, Iraq.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Spirit of America Party, Inc 

From a wingnut's preliminary party platform, taken from a letter apparently sent to President Bush,

$10.00 a bbl. oil world wide

I would like to suggest that our country which has paid the highest cost along with the U.K. and the others who truly bore a cost in this liberation be compensated for it's expenses and losses by the free independent liberated country of Iraq. Not to their financial detriment but to our mutual benefit. This could be accomplished with the presentation of a bill of particulars and repayment in the form of an oil purchase discount.

To avoid any political charges of being in bed with big oil, I offer the services of my small business. We would serve as a bill through company purchasing from the Iraqi National Oil Company for the discounted price to be passed on entirely at the same price to all big oil company purchasers. They in turn must pass on the greatest part of those savings along to the American people.

The rest is only mildly amusing (THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIENCE HAS TO BEGIN WITH "IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER", use Indian tribes to patrol the borders, FULL tax deduction for religious education ...) , but if you want to load a couple MB of people jumping out of the WTC and bald eagles crying, here you go.

On a related note, Sinfonian transcribes a C-SPAN caller's reasons for voting for Bush (via atrios),

Good morning. I'm going to vote for President Bush because, after all, you know, God made us there, you know, in His image, free from any black color and all. The only church that Kerry can go to is where they say the Black Mass, and that is in the Merriam-Webster Pocket Book dictionary, where it says that that is the devil worshippers ... So, definitely, I would never vote for, you know, Senator Kerry.

And that isn't the only reason. Also, in the Bible, God said ... God ... that, uh, also, like (unintelligible) and faggots, that he says, anybody that lays down with another man and has sex with his own sex, and any woman that lays down with another woman and has sex should be put to death and their (unintelligible) upon them. It also says that about interracial marriages and everything. So that's the reason why I'm voting for my president, Bush.

There is more ...

News items 9/23/2004 

NATO says Iraq will get about 250 NATO instructors to train Iraqi security personnel. Meanwhile, New Zealand withdraws it's troops from Iraq. I have an idea. The US is a NATO member. Why don't we we offer about twenty-thousand troops for NATO to use in Iraq. Then Bush can point to a real increase in international involvement.

The GOP sent out campaign material to residents of Arkansas and West Virginia warning that liberals want to ban the Bible. I liked Josh Marshall's take on the mailing when the news first broke that the RNC may have been behind it,

I keep hearing from the direction of the Bush campaign that one of their big fears is that some Democratic 527 will put together an ad based on Kitty Kelley's Bush abortion claims and run it in West Virginia. Given the voters Bush-Cheney '04 is banking on in the state, they know that could be very damaging. When you see stuff like this, from the RNC no less, it's hard to see why they shouldn't.

No Bush abortion ad yet, but there is a new 527 ad pointing out the cozy relationship between Bush and the Saudi Royal Religious Dictatorship.

Bob Herbert writes a piercing essay in the NY Times asking how Bush could have opposed the war effort in Vietnam, as explained by Bush himself,

"My inclination was to support the government and the war until proven wrong, and that only came later, as I realized we could not explain the mission, had no exit strategy, and did not seem to be fighting to win."

... and still not see that his description of the Vietnam quagmire can describe his own war in Iraq.

The Washington Post presents a fascinating Flash movie of the connections between and among Bush's top fundraisers.

I added the results from new FOX and CBS polls to the graph of the electoral advantage in the presidential election. Neither poll shows a change, Bush remains 8 points ahead in CBS's poll of registered voters and 2 points ahead among FOX's registered voters.

Other News

Bush is a liar 

Major media speaking plainly. From ABC News,

Peter Jennings: We were struck today by a very pointed attack by President Bush on John Kerry. First of all this is what Mr. Bush said,

Mr. Bush: We agree that the world is better off with Saddam Hussein sitting in a prison cell. And that stands in sharp contrast to the statement my opponent made yesterday when he said that, uh, "The world was better off with Saddam in power." I strongly disagree.

Peter Jennings: And this is what Mr. Kerry actually said,

Mr. Kerry: Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell. But that was not, in itself, a reason to go to war. The satisfaction we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure.

Watch the video for the full impact.

Here are 7 more lies Bush has told about what John Kerry said Monday.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Electoral vote update 

The American Research Group has published the results of a national poll which found Kerry leading Bush in electoral votes 270 (the minimum needed to win) to 253, with Wisconsin and West Virginia tied. The polls were taken at different times, but they include the first poll of Delaware, the only "bellwether" state other than Missouri with a popular vote coinciding with the national popular vote from 1960 onward (although it's agreement with Gore's winning of the popular vote in 2000 was just a curiosity as he lost the electoral vote). Kerry is up by 9 in Delaware according to the results of this poll.

The poll shows Bush up by 6 in the other long standing bellwether of Missouri, and up by 2 in Ohio, a bellwether since 1964.

As it's agreed that this election is extremely unusual, bellwether states are things that are just interesting to think about, and in my opinion all polls this election are mainly beneficial only to reveal trends and give an extremely wide estimation of what the actual vote will be. There's lots of states with heterosexual superiority ballot initiatives on them which may turn out more people that will check off Bush by default, lots of anger at Bush which will bring out "unlikely voters" to vote against Bush, and in the case of Alabama, there's a ballot initiative to remove the poll tax and repeal school segregation.

Besides, the polls have never been conclusively accurate within their margins of error. and things can shift rapidly, even up to Election day.

A few days ago started work on enumerating aspects of November 2 ballots which aren't taken into consideration in polls - senate and gubernatorial races, heterosexual superiority amendments - but got called away by Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Hopefully, I'll get that together soon.

In national poll news, the Bush and Kerry are approximately at the same place they were a month ago according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. I'm not keeping track of that poll on my chart, but have updated the chart of electoral advantage trend with the new data from the (partisan) Democracy Corps poll, which shows Bush and Kerry approximately where they were a week ago.

News items 9/22/2004 

The Washington Post reports on Bush and Kerry's preparations for the debates. Much more information is offered about Bush than Kerry. Kerry will prepare in Wisconsin - a swing state, Bush will prepare on his fake ranch in Crawford, TX. Bush has been preparing since July, concentrating on Kerry's website, record and past statements. More proof Bush doesn't know what the hell he's doing himself. Also interesting is the fact they're having NH Senator Judd Gregg play Kerry in the mock debates - same dude they had play Gore in 2000. Odd, as Kerry is an agile speaker; Gore is more targeted towards what he knows he wants to say, "stiff", some call it. Maybe the guy playing Kerry is an agile actor, which would beg the question, "Why are the Republicans running Bush instead of that guy?" After all Gregg is up for re-election this year, he might as well be running for President.

In a new ad, the Bush campaign continues to assert that Kerry frequently changes positions. A pen-pal who would vote for Stalin if he said he was pro-life mentioned to me that Kerry was a flip-flopper. It surprised me as I think she's quite bright, but when I pressed her for an example of something important that Kerry had actually changed positions on, the best she could come up with was that he owns an SUV despite pushing for higher CAFE standards. Which of course isn't a real issue because higher CAFE standards apply to SUVs as well as cars. The strategy of painting Kerry as a flip-flopper certainly makes people who would vote for Bush anyway like Kerry less, but it seems to me that Kerry should be able to turn the Bush campaign's mischaracterizations into a liability for Bush.

John McCain and Russ Feingold are busy trying to close the 527 loophole their campaign finance reform bill left open. Good for them. Bush is one step ahead of them by already claiming the existence of another loophole which they say is allowing them to spend GOP money on Bush election ads simply by inserting the words "our leaders in Congress". Strange how the same people who speak of flipping and flopping and black robed tyrants think of the law as a piece of clay available to mold to their liking.

The Senate confirmed Porter Goss as the new Director of the CIA. I haven't been following it closely, but it seems to me that they could have found someone more qualified than Goss, who has not been in the CIA since the Cold War. And has been a Republican in the House of Reps since. Kerry can fire him if he really isn't a good guy for the job, and if Bush wins in November, he's not going to care what the CIA say or wants to do anyway, so it's not overly concerning me.

I would like to thank my would-vote-for-Stalin pen pal Beth for pointing out that by posting links to news articles with little or no commentary is lazy. It is - I rather egotistically thought people would be overjoyed to see links to items I didn't have commentary on, rather than seeing nothing ... in other words, I opted for an easy post that's not worth a lot. I'll tack on those items at the end of the "news items "xx/xx/xxx" posts from now on.

Other news

It depends on what you mean by "sovereign" 

A Washington Post article describes how officials in the Iraqi interim government say they're mostly in control of what they and the occupation forces are doing in Iraq. It contains a lot of good information - especially if you keep in mind that claims that Iraq has a soverign government are a load of crap. The "Prime Minister" of Iraq, Dr. Iyad Allawi is a British neurologist appointed by the occupation forces.

Flashback: When asked what he meant by "soverign" when referring to soverign Native American lands, Bush explained (video),

Tribal sovereignty means that, it's sovereign. You're a - you've been given sovereignty, and you're viewed as a sovereign entity. And, therefore, the relationship between the federal government and tribes is one between sovereign entities.

As I noted that Matt Yglasias noted, "but when he gets to speak mano a mano with average Americans, George W. Bush's rhetorical skills are unmatched. Like regular people he eschews details in favor of broad principles and compelling moral language."

WaPo reports some Democrats getting a little bit too excited 

Reactions to Kerry's speech at NY University selected from a Washington Post article,

Mario Cuomo was glowing after John Kerry's Iraq speech Monday at New York University: "Great! Excellent! Masterful!" raved the former New York governor, who sat near the front. "He's never been clearer. He's turning this thing around."

And then, just as his handlers hustled him away, Cuomo turned to yell a few words of advice over his shoulder: "Now what he needs to do is be specific, hard, truthful, do more of the same."

Timothy Paulson, political director of the New Democratic Majority, rushed up to Kerry as he walked in to tape the Letterman show and gave him his hand. "You're on the right track now, man," he told Kerry. "And he gave me the eye, like 'Are you saying I wasn't before?'"
Afterward Prema Dordeodhar was "walking on air," she says, sounding as unambivalent as a Bush fan. "He was amazing, like a leader from the olden days. He projects such power, such strength.

"I feel like he could take over the whole world," she says. "Couldn't he?"

I mean, like, yeah. The greatest danger at this point seems to be coming from Kerry supporters who almost seem to be expressing that Kerry has in the past been something other than consistent and spot-on.

As many have said and I've said here, Kerry likely planned to save most of the fuel for towards the end. Maybe we're seeing the beginning of the full-throttle campaign. On Monday night's Letterman show, Kerry noted people say he's a strong finisher - as if he was surprised that that was the strategy people were seeing from him.

I had anticipated he wouldn't go full steam until during the debates. But after seeing it, it makes sense to go into the debates on the upswing: within 24 hours, Kerry hit The David Letterman Show and Live with Regis and Kelly; the campaign launched a new ad and Moms with a Mission; Kerry gave a major foreign policy speech at New York University and a press conference in Florida (the first in many weeks) and VP candidate Edwards made appearances on Lou Dobbs and in Ohio.

Kerry knows what he's doing. Five victorious campaigns in a row, not including primaries. Stuff like that.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Kerry sounds like a broken record 

At least more like a broken record than someone who shifts his position as the GOP would like people to believe. If he's repetitive it's because Bush keeps doing the wrong things Kerry has warned him about.

The Republicans are trying to criticize Kerry for a speech in which he said we were safer for the capture of Hussein - a statement he's made many times and never wavered from. In that same speech, he also explained why this administration's actions in Iraq have made us less safe despite of Hussein's capture.

Moreover, Kerry also warned against some of the very missteps which on Monday he criticized Bush for making since. Namely,

On top of all that, in his Monday speech he again advised that "the President must take immediate, urgent, essential steps to guarantee the promised elections can be held next year," and outlined them 1, 2, 3, 4.

Following are excerpts from the speech from which the excerpt being "criticized" is being lifted, December 15, 2003.

Saturday evening, halfway around the world, in a dark hole beneath a mud shack on a sheep farm, Jefferson's promise was fulfilled again. Saddam Hussein was a totalitarian who waged a reign of terror against his people and repeatedly endangered the peace of the world. And no one can doubt that we are safer - and Iraq is better - because Saddam Hussein is now behind bars.

... Saddam Hussein's capture also represents a two-fold opportunity. For President Bush, it is still another chance to transform the situation in Iraq from an American occupation to a global coalition. And it is an opportunity for America to reclaim the best of our historic role overseas and to once again lead the world toward progress and freedom.

... But today, we confront a dual danger - two major detours from the true path of American leadership. On one side is President Bush who has taken America off onto the road of unilateralism and ideological preemption. On the other side are those in my own party who threaten to take us down a road of confusion and retreat.

... We need ... a President who will rally democratic countries to join in a lasting coalition to address the common ills of a new century - terrorism, loose nukes, and drug trafficking, environmental destruction and epidemic disease. And with your help, that's the kind of President I will be.

I believe it was right to hold Saddam Hussein accountable for violating UN agreements. I believed then - and I believe now - authorizing force was the only way to get inspectors in, and the only way ultimately to enforce Saddam Hussein's compliance with the mandate he had agreed to, knowing that as a last resort war could become the ultimate weapons inspections enforcement mechanism.

And I also believe that those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein, and those who believe we are not safer with his capture don't have the judgment to be President - or the credibility to be elected President.

... this Administration's go-it-alone attitude has endangered our interests and enraged those who should be our friends.

Nowhere is that clearer than in Iraq ... We cannot expect other nations to join us now if the Administration prohibits them from sharing the reconstruction because they opposed us previously. That not only defies common sense - it's childish retribution which puts our troops at greater risk. It's time we leave no doubt what we believe: Iraq belongs to the Iraqi people, not Halliburton and Bechtel.

... Saddam's capture is a victory for the Iraqi people; they no longer need to fear the return of a brutal dictator who terrorized them for so long. But Saddam's capture also represents a vital chance for the United States to build the coalition to win the peace that we should have built to win the war. To offer a real invitation to the rest of the world that says: "Join us. Share the burden of creating a peaceful and stable Iraq because your security depends on it too."

The threat of Saddam himself is gone. But the threat of terror continues to reach from the streets of Baghdad and the Middle East to the streets of Asia, Europe, and America itself. We must not waste this opportunity to rebuild alliances, both in Iraq and against global terrorism.

... With Saddam in custody, with others who did not join us in Iraq now celebrating that fact, we must reach out to the U.N. and our allies - and internationalize the reconstruction of Iraq. I hope that the President exercises that kind of leadership.

As we internationalize the work in Iraq, we need to add 40,000 troops - the equivalent of two divisions - to the American military in order to meet our responsibilities elsewhere - especially in the urgent global war on terror. In my first 100 days as President, I will move to increase the size of our Armed Forces. Some may not like that. But today, in the face of grave challenges, our armed forces are spread too thin. Our troops in Iraq are paying the price for this everyday. There's not enough troops in the ranks of our overall armed forces to bring home those troops that have been in Iraq for more than a year.

... Iraqi police forces also need adequate training and mentoring. Here at home, a police officer has four to six months of training. We may not have that luxury in Iraq, but training must be sufficient - not just speedy. And the police forces too need real support, equipment and pay.

So leadership is the issue - abroad and at home.

... I am here to say that holding Saddam accountable was important, even if not always popular. I am here to say that doing nothing would have been the most dangerous path of all. But I am also here to say that the price of unilateralism in Iraq is too high, and Americans are paying it - in resources that could be used for health care, education, and our security here at home. We are paying that price in respect lost around the world - respect we need to win the war not just in one country, but the global war on terror. And most important, the price is paid in the lives of young Americans forced to shoulder the burden of this mission alone.

We must change a course of unilateralism and pre-emptive war that is radically wrong for America. Saddam's capture offers even this Administration the chance to make change. And if we as Democrats are to change America, we cannot seek to replace the Bush unilateralism with confusion and retreat. Let's bring in our allies, take the target off our troops, and let's finally win the peace in Iraq. In a time of fear, in a uncertain world, let's affirm that America's security depends on our own strength, but also on our ideals, and on the will and wisdom to forge a new era of internationalism where this nation truly and proudly is, as Lincoln said, the "best hope of earth."

The Debates Cometh 

Yesterday, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced the Bush and Kerry campaigns formaly agreed to everything the commission proposed - locations, dates, times, moderators and lengths.

I was wrong in thinking and asserting that the candidates would be able to directly ask each other questions. I had incorrectly assumed that was the case after reading that the moderators in the 1st and 3rd debates are to "encourage some direct exchange among the candidates". Oh well. I believe asking questions of one another would have allowed the candidates opportunities to address charges that had been made against one another ("What the hell are you thinking of when you said that?")

Here are some observations from Dan Froomkin about the debates. Among them, that "The candidates may not ask each other direct questions, but may ask rhetorical questions." Kerry is fond of using rhetorical questions to express his thaoughts, perhaps it will come naturally to him to ask, "What the hell is he thinking of when he said that?"

I imagine Bush will come out of the debates with lavish praise from his fans, "See, the President is a man of principle. He knows everything is black and white and really showed that moderator by giving such a clear and short answer to a long and complicated question."

And Kerry fans will see the debates as a victory for Kerry, "Man, Kerry dominated. He gave real and detailed answers to hard questions on complex subjects."

And I'm hoping Kerry is able to convince people who are looking for an alternative to Bush that he is their man.

Yourdictionary.com has found a decrease in the grade-level appropriateness in candidates' acceptance speeches and in debates - things such as vocabulary, grammatical constructions, and length of words and sentences. So unless Kerry reigns in his habitually long and complex sentences, that trend should take a healthy bump this year.

Here is some must-read and brilliant satire on the debates from Matthew Yglesias, and now he's wrapping the irony one level deeper. Or is he?

News items 9/21/2004 

Urgent message from Earth to Lt. Geo. Bush 

The dictator agreed in 1991, as a condition of a cease-fire, to fully comply with all Security Council resolutions - then ignored more than a decade of those resolutions. Finally, the Security Council promised serious consequences for his defiance. And the commitments we make must have meaning. When we say "serious consequences," for the sake of peace, there must be serious consequences. And so a coalition of nations enforced the just demands of the world.

Earth to Lt. Bush: No WMD. Request description of defiance referenced. Over.

Earth to Lt. Bush: Repeat. No WMD. Request description of defiance referenced. Over.

Earth to Lt. Bush: Lt. Bush?

Monday, September 20, 2004

News items 9/20/2004 

Reading or watching Kerry's plan for Iraq and criticism of Bush's choices concerning Iraq should be first and foremost on everyone's agenda. It really was good. If you can't do it all, read the first article listed here which touches on a few key points.

This one also deserves a spot of it's own:

"Forty-three days before the election," Bush said, "my opponent has now suddenly settled on a proposal for what to do next, and it's exactly what we're currently doing."

... Although Bush said Kerry's Iraq proposals mirrored his own, his campaign put out a strongly worded - and contradictory - statement. "John Kerry's latest position on Iraq is to advocate retreat and defeat in the face of terror," said spokesman Steve Schmidt.

Yet another flip from the Bush campaign flops.

Kerry v Bush, the consistency v manipulation 

On October 9, 2002, Senator John Kerry took to the floor of the Senate to explain why her was voting "yes" on the Iraq resolution,

In giving the President this authority, I expect him to fulfill the commitments he has made to the American people in recent days - to work with the United Nations Security Council to adopt a new resolution setting out tough and immediate inspection requirements, and to act with our allies at our side if we have to disarm Saddam Hussein by force. If he fails to do so, I will be among the first to speak out.

Today, Kerry spoke out strongly against Bush's failures concerning Iraq,

President Bush tells us that he would do everything all over again, the same way. How can he possibly be serious? Is he really saying that if we knew there was no weapons of mass destruction, no ties to Al Qaeda, no other imminent threat, the United States should have invaded Iraq?

President Bush quickly answered him, accusing Kerry of shifting positions,

He apparently woke up this morning and has now decided, no, we should not have invaded Iraq, after just last month saying he still would have voted for force, even knowing everything we know today.

Reading through Kerry's floor comments in advance of his vote, we see that he has been entirely consistent,

Last week the Secretary of State and on Monday night the President made clear we would go to war only to disarm Iraq ... If we do wind up going to war with Iraq, it is imperative that we do so with others in the international community, unless there is a showing of a grave, imminent - and I emphasize "imminent" - threat to this country which requires the President to respond in a way that protects our immediate national security needs.

I've put together a table of three-way juxtapositions - Kerry's comments from earlier today, Bush's responses and excerpts from Kerry's 2002 speech. Decide for yourself whether Kerry is a flip-flopper or if Bush has a habit of disingenuity and love of twisting his opponents words..

Rush Limbaugh: Kerry 15 / Bush 3 

Kerry is mentioned 15 times on Rush Limbaugh's home page. Bush is mentioned thrice. Seems Rush is terrified of Kerry and doesn't have a lot to say about Bush.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Timing and venues for gaining electoral advantage 

The two lead editorials in the NY Times today question Kerry's campaign strategy. (Waiting for the Candidate to Emerge - Bob Herbert / Reading Kerry's Mind W. Saffire)

Although both draw upon accurate - if droll - observations to make their point, both seem to expect Kerry's strategy to always be as far ahead in the polls as possible. Maybe they should take a look at what the GOP and Bush campaign and army of conservative and right-wing media nut-jobs do every time Kerry says anything and how quickly public opinion can shift. Gallup showed Bush gaining 19 points of advantage in seven weeks, Time found Kerry losing 19 points of advantage in four. There are seven weeks until Election Day. In 1996, Gallup was polling Clinton at 55% in a poll taken October 19-20; Clinton ended up with 49% of the vote two weeks later on November 5.

I'm not suggesting Kerry is intentionally staying low in the polls - I'm suggesting that the reason he's only half heartedly presented his vision and half-heartedly defended himself against attacks is because he is expecting to see a healthy bump once he does, and he wants that bump to ride through the election. "Rope-a-dope".

Perhaps both columnists should stretch their memories to recall that part of the advantage the Republicans gained by holding off their nomination for as long as possible was to increase and draw out the glow Bush would get from it. Timing and venue isn't everything, but it's a lot. And the debates are a great venue for Kerry to disarm the attacks, and as close to election day as possible is a great time for a surge.

State Department: no al Qaeda in Iraq 

Al Kamen points out that a State Department web page put up shortly after 9/11 lists 45 "Countries Where al Qaeda Has Operated", including the United Kingdom, United States, Afghanistan. Sudan and Iran. But no Iraq.

"But we now are told al Qaeda had been all over Iraq then, right next to the WMD", Kamen astutely observes.

News Items 9/19/2004 

Electoral advantage graph updated (Zogby: Bush 47% / Kerry 44%)

Bring back Reagan's tax wisdom 

Sen. Kerry is suggesting rolling back the Bush tax cuts for those making over $200K and giving tax cuts to everyone else. That would make the income tax structure more similar to what it was like under Reagan. The idea would raise the contributions from the richest Americans from 35% to 39.6% as it was in 2000. In 1987, the highest tax bracket was 38.5%.

Let's do it. Roll back the Bush tax cuts for the richest Americans so taxes are more like what the Great Communicator left us.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

News items and editorials 9/18/2004 

Editorials/Opinion

Permanent Price Tag 

From a short sidebar in the Star Tribune,

A few examples of what it would take to balance the federal budget in 2014 if Congress makes the Bush tax cuts permanent:

  • A 48 percent cut in Social Security benefits.
  • A 57 percent cut in Medicare benefits.
  • A 70 percent cut in defense spending.

Likely voters, flawed methodologies and the anybody but Bush phenomenon 

A particular observation regarding Gallup polls from The Left Coaster has been rather popular among those who don't like the results. In a nut-shell, the argument is that in the 2000 general election, exit polls had 39% identifying as Democrats, 35% as Republicans and 27% as independents, but the Gallup group of "likely voters" in their most recent polling for the 2004 election, 40% identify as Republicans, 33% as Democrats and 28% independents. The conclusion inferred by many is that Gallup is intentionally oversampling Republicans.

That, however, is not necessarily what is being reflected. Which political party the subjects of the poll identify with is a question asked in the poll. There is no way of telling what party the population polled identifies with unless you ask them - many states, such as Texas, do not register voters by party. So when it's reported that 40% of likely voters identify as Republican, the result is due to the way Gallup determines the likely voting population and is subject to the poll's margin of error and confidence level.

The art in the methodology of political polling is coming up with a group of voters who are likely to vote. You have to figure out some way to eliminate a potion of the population polled because voter turnout is always less than the number of registered voters - in 2000, for instance, national turnout was 67.5% of registered voters. A theoretical pollster who perfectly determined "likely voters" would have used a methodology that found 675 out of 1000 people polled were "likely voters".

A simplified example of how a "likely voter" may be defined could be someone who,

Moving through those rules to find "likely voters" in a polled population of registered voters,

You're left with 725 registered voters that according to your formula are "likely voters". And among those 725, a certain percentage say they're Republican, a certain percentage say they're Democrat and a certain percentage say they're independent. A pollster may indeed use party identification in their determination of a "likely voter", but it would only be part of the formula.

Although the example methodology given is just an illustrative example, the types of determinations mentioned are in fact the types of things pollsters use to define the "likely voter" population. Formulas which may be accurate in "normal" elections may be flawed for this one: many people will be going to the polls with the sole intention of kicking Bush out of the White House.

I would suggest that pollsters should include everybody who would answer "yes" to "Do you despise George Bush so much that you will vote against him no matter what?" Some of those people are eliminated based on the strength of support they have for their candidate, voting history, interest in election and for any other reason not to include them as "likely voters". But they will still vote.

I've previously noted that FOX's polls have been among the few where Kerry has done better among the pollster's definition of likely voters than among registered voters. This is what you'd expect to see when the electorate is motivated to vote for a candidate in order to oust the incumbent.

Looking at the internals of the most recent ABC/Washington Post poll, we find that 55% of Kerry supporters said they're voting against Bush, whereas only 14% of Bush supporters say they're voting against Kerry.

The poll showed Kerry has whopping 41 point advantage in these areas: among people who are angry enough to vote for the first time in years, that will be voting despite paying little attention to the campaigns, and even despite not being overly excited about their candidate. To counter-balance the anger against Bush, his campaign has tried to decrease Kerry supporters' desire to vote for Kerry - so far they've only succeeded in creating a 15 point advantage for Bush in the area of strength of support: In the same poll, Bush showed 90% strong support and Kerry showed 75% strong support.

In conclusion, many of the polls we're seeing may indeed be using flawed methodologies, but it's not because they're choosing to include more Republicans than Democrats. It's because they're eliminating people from "likely voters" for reasons that do not apply when a large part of the electorate will be going to the polls for the main purpose of getting Bush out of office.

Friday, September 17, 2004

News items 9/17/2004 

As a news junky, I save a lot of items I find significant or interesting that I don't feel a need to comment on. I've decided to begin making a daily post of solely links with no or little or no commentary. Here's the first installment.

Collecting Hummels is so 20th Century 


What you need are Hieronymus Bosch figurines.

Study finds Bush desire to win election, but not capacity 

A New York Times article notes the next report on Iraq's activities will state that Iraq had "clear intent to produce nuclear, chemical and biological weapons if United Nations sanctions were lifted," It's headline is "Iraq Study Finds Desire for Arms, but Not Capacity" I can make the same type of claim on other topics, just as I did for this one.

But of course, the NYT's article presents a big "if". Still, the article is sober and accurate.

The problem with the whole discussion of Iraq and WMD is that it frames the case for war in the light of Iraq having "stockpiles" ... the actual argument was that Iraq was currently building more WMD - including nuclear - and must be stopped.

Examples of what the debate actually was can be found here.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Graphic elucidation of the confusion of polls: the data are lucidly confusing 

Wow, those polls are wacky. The Gallup poll put Bush at dozen points more ahead of Kerry than in the Democracy Corps and Harris polls taken at approximately the same time.

For perspective, I made a graph of the net differences between Bush and Kerry over time in 10 polls. Here's what the graph initially looks like:

presidential graph

The vast difference is of course due to each pollsters different definition of "likely voter." All polls agree that people favored Kerry around the DNC convention and all favored Bush around the RNC convention. The current trend however is roundly random, depending on which poll you're looking at: from pollsters who have conducted two national polls within the past two weeks, one shows no change, three show a trend towards Bush and three show a trend towards Jerry (one of the polls showing a trend towards Kerry, Pew, is not included in the graph as it did not meet my criteria for inclusion).

I will be updating the data as they come out, so you might enjoy a bookmark for the graph to be updated, or you can access it from the link in the sidebar. The graph is explained on the page with the dynamic results.

Speculation on Kerry's strategy 

Ali had boasted that Foreman couldn't keep up with his speed. To prove that point in the first round, he threw lead rights at Foreman from across his body ... Ali was openly taunting Foreman. In the second round, Ali fell into a strategy few had ever seen.

Ali fell back against the ropes, and waved Foreman to come get him. He protected his head, but Foreman pounded away at his ribs and his gut. Round after round, quite possibly the hardest hitting heavyweight in boxing history unleashed his fury ... But there was a nefarious method to Ali's madness ... In the seventh round, Ali let Foreman in on his secret. "I beat him for one, two, three, four rounds - beat him good", Foreman said. "At about the seventh round, I had him beaten, I knew I had him, he fell on my side and whispered, 'Is that all you got George?'

That's from a synopsis of the 1974 Muhammed Ali v George Foreman 1974 Heavyweight Champion titleship fight in Ziare.

Kerry supporters are complaining that he's not fighting enough, and frankly he is failing to set the record straight on several smears which could be simply any conclusively disarmed. A reasonable explanation is that Kerry is letting his opponent wear himself out while keeping himself in the fight - concentrating on protecting his head, just as Mohammad Ali did.

The first and third presidential debates are of a format where the candidates can speak directly to one another,

The moderators job in the first and third presidential debates and the vice presidential debate will be to introduce and change topics, to ensure that the participants have equal time, and to encourage some direct exchange among the candidates.

Kerry could have chosen to answer the attacks as they came - in response to the Bush's campaign's theme of he says he was for the $87 billion before he has against the $87 billion Kerry could have easily pointed out Bush was against the $87 billion before he was for the $87 billion.

This clarification, however, would be much more effective if done while directly addressing Bush on live national television.

Kerry could follow up with a hard right to another of the Bush campaign's criticisms, "And I'm to understand your campaign doesn't much like my entire legislative record either. Can you tell me where I was at fault for co-authoring the Aviation Security Act, Aids Assistance legislation, or Children's Health Bill? Or for that matter what was wrong with supporting the military spending reductions your father's administration was proud of?"

Ali sprung like a cobra in the eighth round. He exploded with a right-left combo, over Foreman's lowered arms, directly to the chin of the exhausted champ. Foreman went down, and couldn’t beat the count. ... Ali's strategy, the infamous "rope-a-dope", reversed the odds.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Top 4 reasons to vote for Bush! 

1. Getting inspectors back in Iraq
Passing a unanimous Security Council resolution and furthermore d getting Hussein to cooperate with it was a great accomplishment. But Bush blew it by not having the patience to follow through and panicked, for whatever reason you or he may choose. He abandoned his success and embraced failure.

2. Overthrowing the taliban
The Taliban allied themselves with those who attacked us. Deposing the Taliban's grasp on the region was awesome. The Taliban are turds. But Junior got impatient and completely blew it when he didn't follow through. The Taliban and al Qaeda control and roam free in large areas of Afghanistan. If the upcoming Afghani election is not delayed yet again, every newspaper in the world will be running front page articles that contain the words Afghanistan, election, explosion and violence. Bush gave up on his initial sucess.

3. Policy of granting temporary amnesty for undocumented workers from Mexico
These workers are indeed contributing to our economy and deserve to enjoy the protections and benefits they deserve as well as pay full taxes. It wass a step in the right direction - the stated policy should not be condemned. But again, Bush does not seem interested in following through.

4. Starting the Israel/Palesting peace process back up as part of the "Quartet" and voicing support for a "two state" solution.
Undeniably good things on their own. But guess what. Yup, he didn't persevere when the going got tough. He gave up.

Bush is a quitter.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The firt believers in Jesus' message were Marxsists 

Acts 4:32-35,

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

To transmogrify the teachings of Jesus into a philosophy of monetary wealth you have to do cartwheels and backflips. If you follow those links, you'll find that the authors read the word "riches" when referring to spiritual riches as monetary riches ("If after blessing you with His money, God may tell you to give a great deal of His money that is in your bank account to some one or some thing." / "'Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.' Thank you Jesus!").

Loonies. For more on this topic, see Jesus' case for socialized medicine and welfare programs.

Bush sorta speaks to minority journalists 

This is great - three minutes of excerpts from Bush's speech minority journalists on August 4, 2004.

John Kerry's unified vision for small business 

Small business are crucial to America's economy - small businesses employ about half of private workforce and create the majority of new jobs.

John Kerry's career in the Senate has shown a keen interest in small business. He is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. The legislation directly concerning small business he personally introduced to the Senate in the year 2001 alone includes,

  1. Teleworking Advancement Act
    Sponsor: Sen. Kerry, John F. (introduced 12/19/2001)
  2. Affordable Small Business Stimulus Act of 2001
    Sponsor: Sen. Kerry, John F. (introduced 11/13/2001)
  3. Small Business Venture Capital Act of 2001
    Sponsor: Sen. Kerry, John F. (introduced 11/9/2001)
  4. American Small Business Emergency Relief and Recovery Act of 2001
    Sponsor: Sen. Kerry, John F. (introduced 10/4/2001)
  5. Small Business Procurement Competition Act of 2001
    Sponsor: Sen. Kerry, John F. (introduced 9/26/2001)
  6. Small Business Technology Transfer Program Reauthorization Act of 2001
    Sponsor: Sen. Kerry, John F. (introduced 5/9/2001)
  7. Small Business Telecommuting Act
    Sponsor: Sen. Kerry, John F. (introduced 3/13/2001)
  8. Small Business and Farm Energy Emergency Relief Act of 2001
    Sponsor: Sen. Kerry, John F. (introduced 2/8/2001)
  9. Microloan Program Improvement Act of 2001
    Sponsor: Sen. Kerry, John F. (introduced 1/24/2001)

The Kerry/Edwards vision for small business includes among other things the following action items,

Increase The Share of Federal Contracts For Small Businesses. Under President Bush, the small business share of federal contracts has decreased by 14 percent despite the fact that total federal contracts have increased by 7 percent. As president, John Kerry will increase the number of federal contracts that go to small business by increasing the government-wide goal for small business's share of federal contracts to 30 percent.

Tax Simplification For Small Businesses. America's small businesses are drowning in tax paperwork. The nation's employers are responsible for filing federal and state employment taxes and wage reports, as well as unemployment insurance reports. Just to keep up with these requirements, employers must maintain separate wage records for federal and state income tax withholding, FICA, FUTA, and SUI. In many cases, employers must report this information to government agencies at different times and in different forms. The burden is compounded when employers do business in more than one state, because many states have different legal or procedural requirements. The Kerry-Edwards plan will reduce this burden by simplifying tax filing for small businesses, including allowing the IRS and state agencies to combine - on one form - both State and Federal employment tax returns.

Tax Credits For Called-Up Reservists. With so many reservists serving in Iraq, John Kerry and John Edwards believe that we need to provide support to small businesses whose reservists are called up for active duty. The Kerry-Edwards plan will provide small businesses that employ called-up reservists with thousands of dollars in tax breaks.

Cut Health Care Costs By Two-Thirds. Health care costs are rising about 15 percent this year on average for small businesses - and in some cases by as mush as 25 percent. Just 62 percent of businesses employing 10 to 49 people offered a health plan in 2002, whereas about 99 percent of large firms did. For small businesses, health care costs usually rise because of administrative costs and high premiums due to even one employee's high health care costs. As president, John Kerry will propose refundable tax credits for up to 50 percent of the cost of coverage to small businesses and their employees. He will also give small businesses access to the Congressional Health Plan to save them approximately 15 percent in health care costs on top of the tax credit - so health care will be two-thirds cheaper for small business employees than it is today.

The vision for business relates to the vision for healthcare and their tax plan is connected to both. Everything recognizes the context of current realities, such as the situation in Iraq. The Kerry/Edwards vision is a cohesive, well thought out plan with specific steps that all tie together to move America into a new era of strength and prosperity. The platform is an ambitious and unified convergence of ideas. Candidate Bush has called parts of Kerry and Edward's vision a "massive, complicated blueprint". Bush is either terrified of the intelligence it exhibits or cannot comprehend it himself.

A paraphrasing of the Bush vision,

We were attacked on 9/11. Taxes bad, seniors and fetuses good. Money good. Kids gotta take my test. John Kerry is from Massachusetts and his VP was a lawyer. I'm from Texas and my VP was a ... well, he's from Wyoming. I like Ronald Reagan.

More on Kerry's plan for medical malpractice 

Much of Kerry's plan is an endorsement of legislation proposed in Title III of the Better Health Act of 2003 introduced to the Senate by Dick Durbin and for which John Edwards is a co-sponsor.

Title III would require a plaintiff to file a "certificate of merit" from a "qualified specialist" before a malpractice action can be brought. A "qualified specialist" is defined as someone familiar with the matter at hand, to have practiced or taught in the same area of health care or medicine that is at issue in the action, and when the action is being brought against a physician, to be board certified in a specialty relating to that area of medicine.

The same title prescribes mandatory sanctions against parties who fail to justify the suit they're bringing with the certificate of merit, which must show,

In other words, ensure that only valid complaints are filed and are being filed for legitimate purposes.

The key part of Kerry's plan is that "Lawyers who file frivolous cases would face tough, mandatory sanctions, including a 'three strikes and you're out' provision that forbids lawyers who file three frivolous cases from bringing another suit for the next 10 years."

The legislation which Kerry's plan endorses, describes the "three strikes", and contains sanctions that would both protect doctors and insurance companies on a case by case basis and in general bring down the amount they have to spend defending themselves against unwarranted actions,

We know that simply placing caps on malpractice jury awards doesn't work. Something else needs to be tried. The Kerry/Edwards plan both aims at drastically reducing the number of invalid suits that must be defended against as well as reducing the number of medical errors that happen in the first place by, "chang[ing] the culture and habits of health care so that errors and patient injuries are immediately known and reported - not to punish people, but to find ways to prevent their reoccurrence,"

Standing in contrast to Bush's preference for the brute force of limiting the amount one may be compensated for medical errors no matter how tragic the loss, Kerry's plan is nuanced and aims to completely prevent resources from being wasted on specious claims. I like Kerry's plan.

Monday, September 13, 2004

JFK v W on medical malpractice insurance 

Here is W's agenda to reduce malpractice insurance premiums:

Fighting for Medical Liability Reform - President Bush proposes commonsense liability reforms that will speed recovery of damages to patients, fairly compensate those who have been injured, and increase access to care. These reforms will help prevent skyrocketing medical liability premiums that force doctors to give up the practice of medicine, threaten access to needed care, and drive up health care costs for everyone.

You have to go to his speeches to figure out exactly what he means. Bush is saying his solution is to put caps on rewards in malpractice liability lawsuits. In other words, if your doctor amputates the wrong leg while he's drunk, your maximum compensation would be the same as a person's who doesn't like the fact his leg had to be amputated to save his life after an automobile accident.

Frivolous lawsuits could proceed - and the insurance company would still have to defend themselves - which of course, still means higher rates. But the worst that could happen is the award would be limited to a maximum dollar amount.

Some states, like CA and MO, already have such caps on awards in malpractice suits. Since the states have enacted those caps, malpractice insurance premiums have shot up there anyway.

Here is the Kerry plan.

Making Malpractice Insurance More Affordable

John Kerry believes that improvements can and should be made to our medical liability system - improvements that can substantially reduce meritless claims and defenses, enhance opportunities to resolve claims fairly without protracted litigation and make the system fairer for doctors and patients alike. John Kerry, however, strongly opposes capping damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. Capping damages will neither reduce premium costs for doctors, nor lower the cost of health care for Americans. Experience in states that have capped damages demonstrates that reality conclusively. Capping damages affects only the least meritless cases and denies justice to those who suffer life shattering injuries. There are steps that can be taken, however, to reduce litigation that truly is meritless. His plan would:
  • Prohibit individuals from bringing a medical malpractice liability action unless a qualified specialist determines that a reasonable claim exists.
  • Support mandatory sanctions for claims and defenses that are presented for improper purposes or that are not warranted by existing law or by an argument without merit for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law or the establishment of new law.
  • Provide additional incentives for reducing the number of lawsuits that can and should be filed. To that end, Senator Kerry would require states to make available nonbinding mediation in all cases before permitting plaintiffs to proceed to trial on any medical liability claim.
  • Finally, Senator Kerry opposes the award of punitive damages in medical liability cases except upon proof of intentional misconduct, gross negligence or reckless indifference to life.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

John Kerry v. "W": expectations and accomplishment 

George W. Bush

The "soft bigotry of low expectations" is a phrase president Bush used in both his 2000 and 2004 acceptance speeches as part of an argument for federally mandated testing. He used it to describe people who think minority students don't have the ability to succeed in school. Nobody thinks that other than racists. If there are racist teachers and school administrators, the solution is to fire them, not to give their students a test.

But our president is clearly fond of being what he may call a "soft bigot" with low expectations of himself and his policies in many areas.

Bush took advantage of the "soft bigotry of low expectations" as a blue blood member of the National Guard during Vietnam. To his defenders, the core of the issue isn't whether Bush may have been allowed to work on a political campaign instead of showing up for duty. Nor is it that he was suspended from flying for failing to take a physical. They dispute neither of those claims. Instead, the boiler plate response is, "Bush was discharged honorably" - to Bush and his vocal supporters, it doesn't matter that less may have been expected of him.

Each year, the Bush administrations' budgets presented to Congress expect less from his fiscal policies. In 2002, after the terrorist attacks and stock market plunge, they expected their economic policies to produce a $61 billion surplus in 2005. In 2003, they lowered that expectation to a $208 billion deficit. Their budget presented in 2004 lowered the expectation further to a $363 billion deficit.

Bush expected his "tax cut package" to produce 306,000 jobs each month starting in July 2003. To date, his policy of tax cuts has fallen short of accomplishing his expectation by over 2.6 million jobs. Yet he and his administration are trumpeting a 144,000 increase in employment in August as a success - less than have of what they expected to see every month. They give themselves a passing grade because they've lowered their expectations.

What the administration expected to find in Iraq doesn't have to be enumerated. But yet, they're pointing to a country experiencing frequent suicide car bombings as evidence of their success in making the world safer from terror tactics.

I want a president that achieves what he expects to do. It's time to fire this one who has a habit of not living up to his own expectations and presenting his failures as successes.

It's time to put John Kerry - a man who holds himself to his expectations - at the helm.

John F. Kerry

No matter how much money his opposition spends trying to confuse and discredit Kerry's legislative career, it remains a career of high expectations and distinguished accomplishment - one that Massachusetts voters have endorsed by electing him to the Senate four times straight.

Kerry's work has included authoring or sponsoring 57 bills and resolutions that have passed in the Senate.

In 2001, Kerry authored the Nurse Reinvestment Act, which aimed to help deal with our nation's shortage of nurses. Despite the fact it didn't pass that year, he continued to push his colleagues to act on the problem. He succeeded in enacting his legislation when his language was incorporated into the Nurse Reinvestment Act of 2002, which is now law.

During the first several dozen hours after the 9/11 attacks, John Kerry co-authored the Aviation Security Act which was approved by the Senate within the week. He also was a member of the Conference Committee that allowed the Senate and House to work out the differences between the Senate and House versions of the bill.

During his career in the Senate, Kerry has successfully taken part in the fight for campaign finance reform, expecting campaigns to run on ideas more than large contributions from special interests.

He expects better pay and benefits for the the military, veterans, and other governmental employees we depend on and his voting record shows it.

In the years after the fall of imperial communism and during the era of $600 toilet seats and $400 hammers, he stood along side the George H.W. Bush administration against the powerful military contractor lobby by supporting responsible reductions in military spending - a principled position that we have seen twisted by the lens of his opponents.

John Kerry's work has allowed Congress to improve many laws including the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and Clean Air Act. He has worked to preserve and protect the environment, provide opportunities for small business and entrepreneurs, protect Social Security, guarantee the civil rights of all, reduce the national debt through fiscal responsibility, harness the power of technology and American innovation, and keep our nation strong and safe.

While accomplishing these things, Senator Kerry has consistently voted "no" to raise his own pay.

The Kerry Future: 1,000 Points of Hope

As President, John Kerry expects to launch new alliances in the struggle against militant Islamists, improve the security protections we have at home, create the type of economic swell that lifts all boats, improve the quality of teachers and education in general, bring down the costs of prescription drugs and health care costs and put our nation on the path towards energy independence. And a lot more.

It's an ambitious and optimistic vision. John Kerry believes in America.

Few but John Kerry himself expected him to win the Democratic primary until he proved to America he could do it by succeeding in the first several primaries. And few expected any Democratic challenger to be running a tight race with the sitting president. But we're seeing it with our own eyes. I believe in John Kerry.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Who benefits from privilege and forgeries 

I'm not interested in the Bush AWOL/Guard issue, but I find the hubbub about the CBS documents fascinating. The documents could be forgeries despite the fact it's indisputable the military was at the time using typewriters capable of producing all the things that are cited as evidence of forgery.

The Bush people aren't denying any specific charges laid in the CBS report. Here are the things that nobody denies, or rather that everybody generally agrees upon:

The main point of disagreement are whether Bush fulfilled the requirements he committed to when signing up; that Bush took advantage of the "soft bigotry of low expectations" from blue blood Guard members. That has nothing to do with whether the CBS documents are forgeries or not - it's the documents that aren't there that tell that story. Yet issue of this set of documents has eclipsed all else.

I asked a Bush supporter why it matted if the documents were forgeries. He replied with a rhetorical question, "Kind of calls into question the rest of the argument doesn't it." So who has benefited from the forgeries, if they are indeed forgeries? Bush. Indeed, the White House distributed the CBS documents themselves.

We don't have to look too far back in history to recall that the Bush administration turned forgeries to their advantage - google niger uranium forgeries 16 words for a refresher.

There are also allegations that Karl Rove bugged his own office. To me, the actual hoax is the claim the documents are a hoax. Same thing, different election.

As far as matters of privilege and how to use it, John Kerry explained it well to a heckler last week.

A few minutes later, Mr. Kerry began lamenting "the tax burden of the average American family," when the same voice, full of sarcasm, shouted, "Yeah, you're average, Kerry."

This time, Mr. Kerry did break stride - but with good effect.

"Just to answer that guy, 'cause he's right - I'm privileged," he said. "My tax burden went down. And I don't think that's right. I think your tax burden ought to go down. This is about fundamental fairness. And the fact is, George W. Bush and I fit in the same category of privilege, but the fact is he has a different view about life. He thinks the wealthiest people ought to be rewarded again. I don't. I think the average American deserves a tax break in this country."

The protesters had merely caught their breath, it seemed, from the chorus of "Four more years" that started up.

"You know, they don't like to hear the truth," Mr. Kerry said in frustration. "It's kind of funny."

Friday, September 10, 2004

America speaks out 

Some letters to the editor in the Washington Post:

In his speech to the Republican National Convention, Arnold Schwarzenegger said of his boyhood in Austria, "I saw tanks in the streets. I saw communism with my own eyes."

I was an American military policeman stationed in Linz, Austria, in 1947, the year of Mr. Schwarzenegger's birth ... There was emphatically no Communist government in postwar Austria.

So for what purpose did Mr. Schwarzenegger feel it was necessary to tell lies? Perhaps he was caught up in the Bush campaign's mood of falsehood and distortion.

Why is it necessary for them to tell lies? They'd otherwise have no chance of winning the election.

In his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, President Bush attacked John F. Kerry for voting against his $87 billion funding request for Afghanistan and Iraq. Mr. Bush said: "There is nothing complicated about supporting our troops in combat."

In fact, Mr. Kerry voted for a version of the bill that contained provisions to provide the $87 billion and against a version that would pass the entire cost on to our children. Unfortunately, the version that passed the cost on to our children won.

There's nothing complicated about that.

And the two-faced nature of the attack becomes clearer when we remember that Bush threatened to veto the version Kerry surrported.

Chad Naso [letters, Sept. 1] said, "In his speech Monday night at the Republican National Convention, John McCain said that in waging war in Afghanistan, President Bush 'took the fight to our enemies . . . seriously injuring al Qaeda and destroying the regime that gave them safe haven.'" He then cited what he described as the president's "reluctance" to pursue the remnants of the Taliban and al Qaeda "with the full force of our military."

I am tired of this canard from the left. The Taliban government was destroyed, and al Qaeda fled, crossing sovereign borders to Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria and other hospitable countries.

Never mind that we're still fighting al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and al Qaeda even says they control large areas of in the East and South.

And from the LA Times,

One thousand dead can be viewed as too many, and to their families, it is understandable. But if the terrorists succeed in meeting their goals and a global conflict is the result, then we will see hundreds of thousands of dead Americans and countless hundreds of thousands more worldwide. The war on terrorism must be continued vigorously to avoid a world conflict, even if that means 2,000 dead. Which scenario do you really prefer?

Well, for one thing, this letter is not sticking to all the talking points: it's already a global conflict, according to the Bush administration. But to answer as to my preference between 2,000 dead and hundreds of thousands dead, my preference would be for such inanity to remain in the arena of John Wayne movies and the like.

CBS poll: just as many people unsure of vote 

According to the latest CBS poll, the GOP convention didn't change it's sample's mind, it just made more people say they'd vote for Bush.

From the full results in the PDF, this poll, September 6-8 (PDF),

Same question from CBS August 15-18 poll (PDF),

Quite an significant finding not to be mentioned in the summary of the results. It's not a surprising finding though - there's large groups of people that have reason to remain undecided up until election day: being pro-life, but disliking Bush on the whole; seeing Bush's failed presidency clearly, but being a life-long Republican; being more interested in the sports section than the front page.

As I've contended before, the media exposure around conventions serves mainly to make undecideds say they would vote for a particular candidate. Which candidate will actually win is determined by who they say they do vote for on Election Day - and that group is impossible to poll. Polls are very useful in identifying trends and getting a general idea of what the vote will be, but in a close election with close polls such as this, they're not anything you can get excited or discouraged about apart from the trend they show.

The internals of the Washington Post/ABC poll rereleased last night paints a more pessimistic picture at this point in time for Kerry, but the summary of the results does note that the results are a snapshot in time:

What will not be known for another few weeks is whether Bush's gains are transitory, as Kerry's were in the immediate aftermath of his convention. The setback to Kerry has generated concern among Democrats about his candidacy, but four years ago, Bush trailed Al Gore by eight points and later 10 points in tracking polls taken by the Gallup Organization in mid-September, and he came back to win the presidency.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Message from the White House Ministry of Information 

The White House yesterday decided to editorialize a reporter's question by adding a footnote to it after the fact. This is exactly how it appears on the White House's website - I swear, this stuff is so bizarre, you cant make it up:

Q This was a direct order he defied, right? I mean, he did have a direct order that he defied?*

MR. McCLELLAN: John, these issues have come up every year. This was all part of the records -- that he was seeking to transfer to a unit in Alabama because he was going there to work in a civilian capacity. And he was granted permission to do so. And he was proud of his service and he was honorably discharged in October '73, after meeting his obligations.

*The memos that were released, in fact, show the President was working with his commanders to comply with the order.

It's quite clear to most that he was suspended for not following an order. How McClellan is claiming a memo ordering Bush "to be suspended from flight status for failure to perform" shows that Bush was working to comply with an order is unclear. That the Republicans are afraid of this issue is very clear.

Yesterday, the RNC released some "research" about Ben Barnes, noting that in 1999 Barnes said George W. Bush's father never asked Barnes to get George Jr. into the Guard, as if that is the claim Barns is making now. It's not - Barnes is saying W's father's friend Sid Adger asked that he pull some strings for Jr.

Some right wingers are breathlessly claiming that some of the memos are forged, pointing to the fact some of them display proportional kerning (unlike the fixed-width letters you got from most typewriters from the early 70's). It seems like if the Air National Guard did produce memos with typography such as in the alleged memos use, it would be easy to produce other memos with the same type styling. And it would be hard to explain why the White House released some of the same documents in question on their own to claim that they "show the President was working with his commanders to comply with the order." I'm finishing this post the morning after I started it, and haven't checked the news yet, so I'm writing without knowledge of overnight developments on that front.

How Bush performed three decades ago has never mattered much to me. Although it's fun and easy to poke fun at Jr, Nobody seems to earnestly deny that he joined the TX ANG to avoid combat in Vietnam, that's really all anybody needs to know.

The important thing is that right now, he's doing the best job he can as President of the United States. And that's why America needs to fire him on November 2.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Jesus explains why right wingers hate John Kerry 

Yesterday, I received the following email, which purports that John Kerry must not be very familiar with what is perhaps the most well-known Bible verse,

The Lord has a way of revealing those of us who really know him, and those that don't! Think about it! Kerry gave a big speech last week about how his faith is so "important" to him. In this attempt to convince the American people that we should consider him for president, he announced that his favorite Bible verse is John 16:3. Of course the speech writer meant John 3:16, but nobody in the Kerry camp was familiar enough with scripture to catch the error. And do you know what John 16:3 says?

John 16:3 says; "They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me."

The Spirit works in strange ways.

Pass it on VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!!

The email is identical to one which made the rounds several months ago with the exception that "Bush" was in the place of "Kerry". Of course, it wasn't true that time either. Nor was it true the same email circulated during the 2000 election cycle with Al Gore having allegedly made the gaffe. George W. Bush's father said John 16:3 was his favorite verse in 1990.

But that's not the most astounding evidence this offers to the hypothesis that the more you like Bush, the stupider you are. In fact, GHW Bush may have indeed meant that was his favorite verse. Far from ironically, when read in context, John 16:3 is a warning Jesus is said to have given to his disciples that the wicked would think they were doing good when persecuting the righteous, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first...". The mind reels.

But fortunately, the world doesn't hate John Kerry, it loves him even without knowing him ...

WASHINGTON -- The first worldwide survey of preferences in the US presidential race found that John Kerry is a heavy favorite over George W. Bush, with only three out of 35 countries -- Nigeria, the Philippines, and Poland -- supporting Bush. The survey, sponsored by the University of Maryland, found that Kerry is favored in Mexico, Canada, Great Britain, Turkey, Spain, France, Indonesia, and China, along with 22 other countries. Two countries -- India and Thailand -- were statistically divided.

...Overall, 46 percent of respondents worldwide supported Kerry, who angered the White House this spring when he claimed many world leaders supported his candidacy, compared with 20 percent for Bush. The pro-Kerry tilt was most pronounced in Western Europe; the president polled in the single digits in many countries.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Deficit Dubya and his low self-expectations 

A surplus, after all, is an over-charge of American tax payers. And on your behalf, I am asking for a refund.

- President Bush,
March 3, 2001

Because President Bush terms a surplus is an overcharge of tax payers, he must surely understand economics enough to know that a deficit is come combination of overspending and an "undercharging" of taxpayers - more simply put, poor management of government finances. He promised his tax cuts would not drive a deficit even if we experienced a recession,

And we can proceed with tax relief without fear of budget deficits, even if the economy softens. Projections for the surplus in my budget are cautious and conservative. They already assume an economic slowdown in the year 2001.

Even if the slowdown were to turn into a recession similar to that of 1990 and '91, the Congressional Budget Office projects that the 10-year surplus would shrink by only 2 percent, from a little more than $5.6 trillion to a little less than $5.5 trillion.

Each year, Bush has lowered the level of fiscal responsibility he expects of his policies. In all four budgets he's submitted to Congress, predictions for surplus/deficit for 2003-2006 are included. Here's what he expected his policies to cumulatively produce over those four years:

But Bush can't be blamed - we have the deficit because of 9/11 and the accounting scandals, right? Wrong!

Variations on the word "terror" occur a whopping 292 times in the 2003 budget. The document goes through great pains to make explicit that the economic effect of the attacks are being considered. It also invokes the date September 11, 2001 throughout. In that budget, the White House predicted a measly $13 billion dollar deficit in 2004, and from there on out, we'd be into the black. Although still a record breaking deficit, they lauded beating the estimate of this years deficit being revised in a positive direction as evidence of success (just as they recently praised a jobs report finding less new jobs than needed to keep up with population).

What's next? Will we be told that 1,000 military deaths in Iraq is better than 10,000?

This administration cannot be trusted with our nation's finances or economy in general. They have a record of four years of fiscal failure under their belt.

How do they expect us to protect ourselves from terrorism if in a few years we won't be able to afford anything fore than spitballs?

Go, Cheney, go! 

Today, Dick Cheney warned if America makes the "wrong choice" in the upcoming election, we'll be in danger of another attack. Is that a threat?

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

In a very real way, he's blaming Kerry in advance for any attack we may experience. Unless, of course, Bush/Cheney are elected. Then no blame can fall on the White House ... prescription drug costs spiral out of control - it's the fault of people like John Edwards ... Americans torture and kill prisoners - it's a few bad eggs ... our image in the world plummets - it's not the White House's fault people hate freedom ... the WTC towers get knocked down - well, stuff happens.

The more they crank out that type of rhetoric, the more transparent they become. I encourage them to continue.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Bush stumps for free love 

Yesterday, President Bush offered us this gem while campaigning in Poplar Bluff, Missouri:

Too many good docs are getting out of business. Too many OB/GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country.

Here's a video link. He continued,

See, I don't think you can be pro-doctor and pro-patient and pro-hospital and pro-trial lawyer at the same time.

Myself, I can't think you can be pro-doctors-who-amputate-the-wrong-leg and pro-patient at the same time.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

George Will pens absurdly deluded column, life goes on, even for blacks and homosexuals 

This morning I was perusing the editorial columns in the Washington Post and came across A Goldwater Revival by George Will. Now, I don't consider Will a crazed right-winger - to the contrary, I've occasionally found his comments spot on. I think the best explanation for this column is that the byline is a mistake, and should read "Ann Coulter". Will begins by announcing the resurrection,

Barry is back.

Four decades after a Republican convention in San Francisco nominated Sen. Goldwater, sealing the ascendancy of conservatism in the party, his kind of conservatism made a comeback at the convention here. That conservatism - muscular foreign policy backing unapologetic nationalism; economic policies of low taxation and light regulation; a libertarian inclination regarding cultural questions - is not fully ascendant in the party. But the prominent display and rapturous reception of Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger demonstrated that such conservatism is not an insurmountable impediment to a person's reaching the party's highest echelons.

I didn't hear any speeches from the podium making a case for reproductive choice or homosexual rights. I did see them nominate a candidate who many believe is not actually their candidate, but literally God's candidate. I saw them nominate a candidate who wishes to amend the constitution to give heterosexuals "special rights" as Rich Santorum explained to Linda Wertheimer immediately after the floor speech in which Bill Frist plainly stated that an embryo is is a human.

The reason the Republicans have to polish off their "compassionate" appendages each election is not because they're really trying to shift towards tolerance each election, but rather because they know majorities of Americans are pro-choice, are pro gun-control support affirmative action, think current illegal drug laws are too draconian and wish same sex couples to be afforded equal rights through civil unions or marriage.

They can't run on their own platform. It's a simple as that.

The effect of the conventions on polls 

The red area, of course, represents the days of the GOP nominating convention, and the blue, the Democratic. The numbers represent the difference between the percentages of people who cited a preference for one of the two candidates. For instance, at the end of the Republican convention Newsweek found 54% stating they'd vote for Bush and 43% said they'd vote for Kerry - a difference of 11 points. And at the end of the Democratic convention, 52% preferred Kerry and 44% Bush. For foll resultas, margins of error, ect, please find them listed on PollingReport.

Newsweek and Zogby timed the dates of the polls so as to coincide with the dates of the conventions not surprisingly both found a healthy advantage for whichever candidate's convention was being heavily covered in the media.

The American Research Group kept their poll the same calendar day of the month, and TIME arbitrarily had one coincide with the Republican convention and Kerry's was a few days afterwards.

Kerry had an average of a net 5.75 point advantage in the polls during the Dem's convention, Bush an average 6.25 net from his.

Zogby also conducted polls a few weeks before each candidate's convention and we find that during the convention, Kerry had no measurable bounce, and Bush enjoyed a statistically insignificant 3 point bounce.

And that's how it was.

Friday, September 03, 2004

The $2 trillion dollar candidate 

From Bush's acceptance speech:

To create jobs, my plan will encourage investment and expansion by restraining federal spending, reducing regulation and making the tax relief permanent.

So Bush is interested in restraining federal spending - surprising being that discretionary spending under the first three years of his results-oriented presidency increased a stunning 37.5%. Later on in his speech, Bush moved on to criticize his opponant for proposing $2 trillion in federal spending over his two decade career as a Senator:

To be fair, there are some things my opponent is for. He's proposed more than $2 trillion in new federal spending so far, and that's a lot, even for a senator from Massachusetts.

For the record, much of what Kerry proposed is spending that has been enacted that nobody would care to criticize. Recently, when co-authoring the Aviation Security Act the week after 9/11, he proposed new spending to make air travel more secure and when writing the Nurse Reinvestment Act to the following year, he proposed new modest spending which would help recruit new nurses to help alleviate the nursing shortage crisis.

Bush, as the results-oriented president he is, also reminded us that "Two months from today, voters will make a choice based on the records we have built." Let's take a fair look at the new federal spending Bush proposed during the most recent full calendar year, 2003. We'll be magnanimously fair by only using the White House's own website as a source for our information. In his 2004 budget presented to Congress in February 2003, Bush called for the following new federal spending:

Now, I'm not insinuating that this proposed spending by a president from Texas is any worse or better than proposals by a "senator from Massachusetts,", rather, I'm just stating plain fact: The total proposed so far is $423.2 billion. In his 2003 State of the Union Address, Bush also called for,

This puts it up to $444.2 billion in new federal spending proposals from Bush in 2003. An additional $90.9 billion in emergency appropriations and supplementals was requested in 2003, bringing Bush's "new federal spending" proposals in the single year of 2003 to $535.1 billion.

Perhaps some will see the above as unfair, because much of it is due to military action that Bush says he didn't want to take, but had to take, as well as increases in Homeland Security expenses. Subtracting the $114.4 billion reflected in such proposals, we come up with $420.7 billion, "and that's a lot," even for a conservative president from Texas. If Bush had just one red letter year such as 2003 each four years and proposed absolutely no new federal spending in the off years, he would have proposed over $2 trillion in new federal spending over the course of a career as long as Senator John Kerry's. And Bush accomplished the vast majority of it: "He said he'd do it, and he did."

Over $3 trillion if we wish to be unfair and use the figure of how much the Medicare bill will actually cost, instead of what the White House said it would cost before Congress passed it.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

In case Bush claims he's winning his war on al Qaeda 

Following is a chronology of attacks thought to be carried out by al Qaeda.

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and Bush's war on terrorism are significant themes of the GOP convention. So far - by my count - in floor speeches bin Laden has not been by name a single time, and al Qaeda just twice - and only once in a way that suggests al Qaeda may still be a problem:


Rudy Giuliani: 'The President announced the Bush Doctrine when he said: "Our war on terror begins with Al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated. "Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists."'

John McCain said: '[Bush] ordered American forces to Afghanistan and took the fight to our enemies, and away from our shores, seriously injuring al Qaeda and destroying the regime that gave them safe haven.'

It will be interesting to hear what Bush has to say about bin Laden and al Qaeda tonight. Maybe he'll announce Osama's been captured or killed and that's why we've heard so little about him.

Al Qaeda was named seven times in floor speeches at the Democratic Convention - all but one of the times references the group as a problem that must be dealt with:

Bill Richardson said 'Al Qaeda is the heir to enemies we have defeated before - today's equivalent of Nazis and fascists who hate the values at the core of the American way of life: democracy and pluralism, diversity and tolerance, innovation and achievement, strength and freedom. And the fate of Al Qaeda will be the same as those other tyrants and thugs - we will defeat them.'

Al Gore said: 'But in order to protect our people, shouldn't we focus on the real source of this threat: the group that attacked us and is trying to attack us again-al Qaeda, headed by Osama Bin Laden? Wouldn't we be safer with a President who didn't insist on confusing al Qaeda with Iraq?'

Bob Graham said 'Today, "recruiting billboards" for al Qaeda are being erected on the main streets of the Middle East. We need to work with our allies and like-minded people of the Islamic world to tear down those billboards and drain the swamp of terror.'

Ted Kennedy said: '[The current administration] have made it harder to win the real war on terrorism, the war against Al Qaeda.'

Tom Vilsack said 'In short, we will confront al-Qaeda and its terror affiliates around the globe with every tool available.'

Dennis Kucinich said: 'Iraq had nothing to do with 911 or with al Qaeda's role in 911.'

Steve Brozak, Ret. Lt. Col., USMC said:
'It's Americans from all walks of life who believe that to keep America safe, to defeat al-Qaeda, we need both smart bombs and wise policy.'

Kerry didn't mention al Qaeda or bin Laden by name in his acceptance speech. But at this point in the GOP convention it seems like the Dems are clearly more focused on combating al Qaeda and bin Laden than the Republicans.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Zell Miller, political Dadaist 

C'est ne pas une pipe

In supreme form, Miller presented his criticism of John Kerry with a dadaist twist to further offend the sensibilities of the electorate. Miller's main point of criticism was to deride Kerry's support of the policies of Dick Cheney as Secretary of Defense under George H. W. Bush's presidency. Cheney cut what he could on his own, and encouraged Congress to vote as Kerry did on bills and amendments concerning specific weapons systems, complaining that they were still making him spend too much on unneeded weapons. From GHW Bush's 1992 State of the Union address:

 

Two years ago, I began planning cuts in military spending that reflected the changes of the new era. But now, this year, with imperial communism gone, that process can be accelerated. Tonight I can tell you of dramatic changes in our strategic nuclear force. These are actions we are taking on our own because they are the right thing to do. After completing 20 planes for which we have begun procurement, we will shut down further production of the B - 2 bombers. We will cancel the small ICBM program. We will cease production of new warheads for our sea-based ballistic missiles. We will stop all new production of the Peacekeeper missile. And we will not purchase any more advanced cruise missiles.

This weekend I will meet at Camp David with Boris Yeltsin of the Russian Federation. I've informed President Yeltsin that if the Commonwealth, the former Soviet Union, will eliminate all land-based multiple-warhead ballistic missiles, I will do the following: We will eliminate all Peacekeeper missiles. We will reduce the number of warheads on Minuteman missiles to one and reduce the number of warheads on our sea-based missiles by about one-third. And we will convert a substantial portion of our strategic bombers to primarily conventional use. President Yeltsin's early response has been very positive, and I expect our talks at Camp David to be fruitful.

I want you to know that for half a century, American Presidents have longed to make such decisions and say such words. But even in the midst of celebration, we must keep caution as a friend. For the world is still a dangerous place. Only the dead have seen the end of conflict. And though yesterday's challenges are behind us, tomorrow's are being born.

The Secretary of Defense recommended these cuts after consultation with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And I make them with confidence. But do not misunderstand me. The reductions I have approved will save us an additional $50 billion over the next 5 years. By 1997, we will have cut defense by 30 percent since I took office.

Zell Miller on John Kerry, 2001

My job tonight is an easy one: to present to you one of this nation's authentic heroes, one of this party's best-known and greatest leaders – and a good friend.

He was once a lieutenant governor - but he didn't stay in that office 16 years, like someone else I know. It just took two years before the people of Massachusetts moved him into the United States Senate in 1984.

In his 16 years in the Senate, John Kerry has fought against government waste and worked hard to bring some accountability to Washington.

Early in his Senate career in 1986, John signed on to the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Deficit Reduction Bill, and he fought for balanced budgets before it was considered politically correct for Democrats to do so.

John has worked to strengthen our military, reform public education, boost the economy and protect the environment. Business Week magazine named him one of the top pro-technology legislators and made him a member of its "Digital Dozen."

John was re-elected in 1990 and again in 1996 - when he defeated popular Republican Governor William Weld in the most closely watched Senate race in the country.

John is a graduate of Yale University and was a gunboat officer in the Navy. He received a Silver Star, Bronze Star and three awards of the Purple Heart for combat duty in Vietnam. He later co-founded the Vietnam Veterans of America.

He is married to Teresa Heinz and they have two daughters.

As many of you know, I have great affection - some might say an obsession - for my two Labrador retrievers, Gus and Woodrow. It turns out John is a fellow dog lover, too, and he better be. His German Shepherd, Kim, is about to have puppies. And I just want him to know ... Gus and Woodrow had nothing to do with that.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Senator John Kerry.

Zell Miller on John Kerry, 2004

No pair has been more wrong, more loudly, more often than the two Senators from Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry.

Together, Kennedy/Kerry have opposed the very weapons system that won the Cold War and that is now winning the War on Terror.

Listing all the weapon systems that Senator Kerry tried his best to shut down sounds like an auctioneer selling off our national security but Americans need to know the facts.

The B-1 bomber, that Senator Kerry opposed, dropped 40 percent of the bombs in the first six months of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The B-2 bomber, that Senator Kerry opposed, delivered air strikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Hussein's command post in Iraq.

The F-14A Tomcats, that Senator Kerry opposed, shot down Khadifi's Libyan MIGs over the Gulf of Sidra. The modernized F-14D, that Senator Kerry opposed, delivered missile strikes against Tora Bora.

The Apache helicopter, that Senator Kerry opposed, took out those Republican Guard tanks in Kuwait in the Gulf War (news - web sites). The F-15 Eagles, that Senator Kerry opposed, flew cover over our Nation's Capital and this very city after 9/11.

I could go on and on and on: against the Patriot Missile that shot down Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s scud missiles over Israel; against the Aegis air-defense cruiser; against the Strategic Defense Initiative; against the Trident missile; against, against, against.

This is the man who wants to be the Commander in Chief of our U.S. Armed Forces?

U.S. forces armed with what? Spitballs?

Twenty years of votes can tell you much more about a man than twenty weeks of campaign rhetoric.

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