Fear of Clowns

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

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Rare Republican humor 

This is funny.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Bush is a drag 

Last weekend, I listened to a Bush stump speech. It was horrible. It turned me off so much, I haven't been paying as close attention to news lately - I mean, what is the use?

Among the things that grossed me out was a particularly virulent formulation of how he says he's going to "stay on the offensive" while his opponent would surrender. It was met with thunderous applause. Do any of those muffin brains think about what meaning is behind his empty phrases? What is Bush saying when he says he's going to "stay on the offensive"? Is he going to attack more countries that really aren't a threat, and if so, where is he going to get the manpower?

Winning with 23% of the popular vote 

All votes are not equal. Due to the arcane way we select a president, a vote in Wyoming holds about four times the weight of a vote in Florida.

Below is an illustration of how a candidate can win the presidency with 22.97% of the popular vote. It's a far-fetched scenario, but only to illustrate the bizarre way we vote for a president. The calculation assumes several things,

I used the US Census' 2003 estimates of state populations. The 18+ estimated population total was 217,766,271. The rest of the pertinent numbers are in the table - the states are listed in descending order of how much a single vote "weighs" in each state.

Winner:
282 Electoral votes, 22.97% of the popular vote

State Voting age population Electoral Votes Voters per electoral vote Votes needed to win
Wyoming 380169 3 126723 190085
District of Columbia 454981 3 151660.333 227491
Alaska 459529 3 153176.333 229765
Vermont 481661 3 160553.667 240831
North Dakota 487010 3 162336.667 243505
South Dakota 568883 3 189627.667 284442
Delaware 618649 3 206216.333 309325
Rhode Island 832115 4 208028.75 416058
Montana 701847 3 233949 350924
Hawaii 960466 4 240116.5 480233
New Hampshire 981456 4 245364 490728
Idaho 994305 4 248576.25 497153
Maine 1018982 4 254745.5 509491
Nebraska 1298451 5 259690.2 649226
New Mexico 1372580 5 274516 686290
West Virginia 1419453 5 283890.6 709727
Iowa 2250634 7 321519.143 1125317
Utah 1608540 5 321708 804270
Nevada 1659757 5 331951.4 829879
Kansas 2028426 6 338071 1014213
Arkansas 2043701 6 340616.833 1021851
Mississippi 2120013 6 353335.5 1060007
Louisiana 3318779 9 368753.222 1659390
Oklahoma 2633289 7 376184.143 1316645
Alabama 3392779 9 376975.444 1696390
Colorado 3397937 9 377548.556 1698969
Connecticut 2647997 7 378285.286 1323999
Minnesota 3810605 10 381060.5 1905303
Oregon 2710424 7 387203.429 1355212
Kentucky 3123645 8 390455.625 1561823
South Carolina 3123648 8 390456 1561824
Missouri 4297142 11 390649.273 2148571
Tennessee 4447269 11 404297.182 2223635
Arizona 4061499 10 406149.9 2030750
Massachusetts 4946304 12 412192 2473152
Maryland 4130817 10 413081.7 2065409
Wisconsin 4139405 10 413940.5 2069703
Indiana 4591742 11 417431.091 2295871
North Carolina 6319805 15 421320.333 3159903
Total   282   50028574

Loser:
256 Electoral votes, 77.03% of the popular vote

State Voting age population Electoral Votes Voters per electoral vote Votes needed to win
Washington 4634864 11 421351.273 2317432
Georgia 6387956 15 425863.733 3193978
Virginia 5587563 13 429812.538 2793782
Ohio 8620509 20 431025.45 4310255
New Jersey 6506779 15 433785.267 3253390
Michigan 7541065 17 443592.059 3770533
Illinois 9422938 21 448711.333 4711469
Pennsylvania 9534761 21 454036.238 4767381
Texas 15878347 34 467010.206 7939174
New York 14657367 31 472818.29 7328684
California 26064483 55 473899.691 13032242
Florida 13094945 27 484997.963 6547473
Total 117709150 256    

Monday, October 25, 2004

Homestretch ads 

The DNC's new ad, "Eagle" employs the same symbolism as Kerry's "Protect": a bald eagle.

Much talk about animal in political ads (if you haven't seen the Poor Mans's take on Bush's "Wolves" ad, it's worth a gander), but I am mostly glad that Kerry's ads are progressively positive,

Recognizable shift towards Kerry in the Rasmussen and Washington Post polls have coincided The recent shift to a positive message, beginning Wednesday October 20 with "Middle Class Families". Bush tends to be shown as doing better in those two polls as well as Gallup/CNN, which also showed a gain for Kerry over the last week.

Interestingly, over the same period, Kerry support has gone down in the Zogby poll which tends to show Kerry doing better (than in other polls). There's no way to show a causality, but interesting in light of the charges being leveled that certain pollsters over-sample people who are looking for reasons to vote for Bush and that others over-sample people looking to vote against Bush.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Funny because it's true 

On Republican charges of festooning in morbid news,

BAD NEWS FROM IRAQ IS GOOD NEWS FOR DEMOCRATS!

Sadly, that's true.

Friday, October 22, 2004

"Protect" ad 

John Kerry's new ad, "Protect" is brilliant. Historic.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

News catch-up 10/21/2004 

It's official - the government broke another deficit record in FY 2004, and the White House is having to shift numbers around to avoid exceeding the debt ceiling.

Iran has rejected any deal that would forbid it from enriching it's own uranium and Iran's head of national security haas voiced endorsement of a Bush win on November 2.

Days before the invasion of Iraq the Pentagon had no post-invasion plan - other than as described by a slide in a Pentagon presentation which read "To Be Provided.". Pat Robertson says the President shortly before the invasion told him an invasion of Iraq wouldn't result in any casualties, the White House calls Robertson a liar and Kevin Drum comes up with a plausible explanation: Bush was speaking of casualties by WMD and knew that wasn't anything to worry about.

The CIA is withholding a report on the lead up to 9/11. The report is thought to cast administration officials as more culpable than similar reports from other bodies.

An Army unit in Iraq refused a mission because they did not have adequate equipment. The unit's commander has been relieved of duty.

Everybody reading this should have by now read Ron Suskind's excellent essay on Bush's insanely reckless religious fervor with which he conducts national policy.

Dick Cheney plays the nuclear card by trying to terrify America by warning us that he feels his administration is incapable of preventing terrorists from nuking US cities. I'm left puzzled as to why he offers this as a reason to vote from him and Junior.

Both the Bush and Kerry campaigns are anticipating winning or losing the election in the courtroom rather than in ballot boxes. Nonetheless, the Bush campaign is sending Condi to battleground states to give stump speeches, despite criticizing former non-political administration officials for even commenting on politics.

Kerry's momentum in the polls seems to be having trouble breaking the 50/50 barrier (graph, graph) but at the same time he is gaining momentum in key battleground states.

Confounded Conservatives 

The current issue of American Conservative magazine contains 7 endorsements for president: two for Michael Peroutka, one for Michael Badnarik, one for Ralph Nader, one for John Kerry, one for no one and one caveat filled Bush endorsement from Pat Buchanan.

Happy birthday, carbon filament 

125 years ago today, Edison "invented the lightbulb" by testing a certain type of carbon filament which burned for 40 hours. As far as who actually first invented what Edison was working with, it was either Henry Woodward and Mathew Evans - Canadians from which Edison purchased a particular patent, or Joseph Wilson Swan - a dude in England Edison sued. Heinrich Gobel, a German gentleman, invented the first practical vacuum light bulb in 1854 - it burned 400 hours - 25 years before Edison "invented" the lightbulb.

It just feels good for some to think an American invented the light bulb.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

God is sending mixed messages 

God told Pat Robertson to warn Bush of casualties when we invaded Iraq, "I mean, the Lord told me it was going to be A, a disaster, and B, messy," but He told Bush there would be no casualties.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Too worried 

"I think the public is worrying too much about terrorism. Now everybody is running around saying they're going to be bombing all of the shopping centers."
- Colin Powell,
The Atlantic, 9/2004

Different standards of truth 

In the Washington Post today, Howard Kurtz writes,

In articles, columns and one internal ABC News memo, some journalists have argued that the president has engaged in far more serious distortions than John Kerry has, and that media outlets should blow the whistle on these falsehoods.

"Your instinct is that if we say bad things about one side you have to say bad things about the other side," says Adam Nagourney, the New York Times's chief political reporter. "You want to give equal scrutiny to both sides, but I don't think you should impose a false equivalence that doesn't exist."

All you have to do to confirm that the media goes easy on the sitting president and tries to match falsehood to falsehood is to read analysis of the debates. In the Washington Post's analysis of the VP debate, this Edwards misstatement was deemed worthy of mention:

Edwards also asserted that "the president is proposing a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage that is completely unnecessary." But Bush simply endorsed such an amendment that had already been introduced on Capitol Hill.

In the 3rd Presidential Debate, Bush Jr asserted the same thing,

I proposed a constitutional amendment.

Did the WP call him on that? No, and no.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

October 27, 2000 

On October 27, 2000, Gallup/CNN/USA Today had Bush at 52% and Gore at 39%

A week and a half later, the actual vote was 48% each. The spread was off by 13 percentage points. Two days before the election, Gore looked 5 points down.

Been working a lot lately, and won't be able to update very much for a few more days. I'll continue to update the daily tracking graph and the graph of 10 major polls.

James Dobson lives in a fantasy world 

Right-wing uber-Christian James Dobson has been barnstorming the nation campaigning for Bush and endorsing him left and right. Somehow it's still his impression that he gives few and seldom political endorsements. Ironically, I discovered this by reading the scads of warm and urgent endirsementsw he's given, some of which seem to be a form letter with the candidates' names swappedd out ...

  1. "I do few political endorsements, but I must tell you that I was excited to learn that Howard Kaloogian has entered the race for the U.S. Senate in California ..." - James C. Dobson, Ph. D. January 13, 2004
  2. "I very seldom make political endorsements, but it is with a sense of great urgency that I announce my endorsement of Rep. Pat Toomey ..." April 14, 2004
  3. "It is my sincere opinion that if you care about the future of the family and about the traditional moral principles on which the nation was founded, you should consider helping to elect Dr. Tom Coburn to the U.S. Senate." - James C. Dobson, Ph. D. June 6, 2004
  4. "I seldom make political endorsements but I am pleased to offer my support to Bob Schaffer for U.S. Senate in Colorado ..." - James C. Dobson, Ph. D. June 26, 2004
  5. "I very seldom make political endorsements, but I have made an exception in order to endorse Rep. Arlene Wohlgemuth for Congress ..." - James C. Dobson, Ph. D. July 28, 2004
  6. "I very seldom make political endorsements, but I have made an exception in order to endorse Ron Greer ..." - James C. Dobson, Ph. D. August 10, 2004
  7. "...I am pleased to announce my support for Bill Parker, a candidate for the North Carolina Court of Appeals who will represent both common sense and moral truth ..." - James C. Dobson, Ph. D. September 17, 2004
  8. "I don't often issue political endorsements, but I am making an exception this year for Winsome Sears, a candidate for Congress in Virginia's Third District ..." - James C. Dobson, Ph. D. September 17, 2004
  9. "I seldom endorse candidates for political office, but I am making an exception this year for Mike Liffrig, who is running for U.S. Senate ..." - James C. Dobson, Ph. D. September 17, 2004
  10. "I believe Mr. Ballantine would make a superb governor, and I enthusiastically give him my personal endorsement ..." - James C. Dobson, Ph. D. September 21, 2004
  11. "I rarely make political endorsements, but I have made an exception in order to endorse Tim Moore in his race for re-election to the North Carolina House of Representatives." - James C. Dobson, Ph. D. September 29, 2004

Why does Bush denegrate his own coalition? 

Bush has been raving on and on about how John Kerry is a "liberal" as if that's about the worst thing one could be. He also likes to speak of how he feels Kerry has denegrated the "coalition" by disrespecting members. One wonders why Bush himself curses liberals like they were somewhere between hemorrhoids and matricide.

Australia's John Howard is leader of Liberal Party - here is his page, How to Vote Liberal.

Tony Blair of the UK might also raise an eyebrow at Bush's disparagement of liberal ideas. One of the first things Blair did when he took over leadership of the Labor Party was to add to the party constitution,

The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each one of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many not the few ...

Friday, October 15, 2004

News items 10/13/2004 - 10/14/2004 

Catching up ...

Bigoted right-wing Republicans, including some in the White House are offended Kerry mentioned that Dick Cheney proudly lesbian daughter is - gasp - a lesbian!. Rush Limbaugh thinks lesbianism is so dirty and icky that it's not "something that you or I would not talk about at a dinner party." Never mind that Mary Cheney is open and proud of her own sexuality.

Republicans seem to have been destroying Democratic voter registrations in Oregon as well as Nevada - part of a larger effort to block the Democratic voteeverywhere.

The FCC is refusing to prevent Sinclair from broadcasting an hour and a half Bush ad and the Kerry campaign has written a letter to Sinclair asking for equal time.

Bill O'Reilly has been hit with a sexual discrimination lawsuit. O'Reilly and his attorney are not denying the charges - which include unwelcome telephone messages O'Reilly left while masturbating and monologues about O'Reilly's sexual fantasies - but rather claiming the charges are being "taken out of context" or "spun for exaggeration."

Dana Milbank offers the observation that the Bush campaign may have made a mistake by trying to turn Kerry into a parody "By turning Kerry into a cartoon, the Bush campaign created such low expectations for the senator that he easily exceeded them in the debates ... viewers saw a Kerry who, if not dazzling and likable, was generally coherent and at times even forceful."

More points have been added to the daily tracking and 10 national polls graphs. Kerry's momentum exhibited in the polls over the last three weeks seems to be waning at an exact tie with Bush, including crucial battleground states of FL and OH.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

I keep thinking we've made contact 

Every time I load CNN.com - even though I've seen it a dozen times, I think for half a second the lead story is about a flying saucer.

The same thing happened a month ago the day the Genesis capsule crashed.


Compiled fact check of third presidential debate 

A compiled fact check on the third and final presidential debate from FactCheck.org, the New York Times, two Washington Post articles, the Associated Press fact check Fox News is using, and CNN's article.

Interestingly, the organizations disagree whether three claims Kerry made are true or false, so are listed separately.

Bush (14 inaccuracies and mischaracterizations)

  1. Bush said Kerry voted against the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. Kerry actually voted for it. (WP)
  2. Bush neglected to acknowledge his own flip-flop of being against the Department of Homeland Security before he was for it. (FOX)
  3. Bush claimed that most of his tax cuts "went to low- and middle-income Americans." This is far from the truth. (FC, NYT, WP)
  4. Bush said his tax cuts were needed to lift the country out of recession. Bush proposed his tax cuts during the 2000 campaign, before we were in recession, arguing that the surplus should be returned to the tax payer - Bush was "rewriting history" as the Washington Post put it. (NYT, WP)
  5. Bush denied he never said he wasn't worried about Osama bin Laden. He did indeed say he wasn't concerned and Kerry had related what Bush had actually said almost word for word, and in context. (FC, NYT, WP, FOX, CNN)
  6. Bush claimed that the US decided to block importation of contaminated flu vaccine. The administration was actually surprised when the British decided not to ship about half of the doses. (FC)
  7. Bush claimed there would be 125,000 trained Iraqi troops by the end of 2004. The 125,000 includes more than military troops, and even included police with minimal 3 week training. (FC)
  8. Bush claimed Kerry had voted to increase taxes 98 times. That number is wildly off mark. (FC, NYT, WP, FOX)
  9. Bush claimed Kerry's health plan would cost $5 trillion over 10 years. This far exceeds everybody's estimate, including AEI's $1.5 trillion estimate Bush has relied on ion the past. Others have estimated it to cost even less. (WP)
  10. Bush took credit for expanding trade adjustment assistance. The measure was passed in 2002 by congressional Democrats in the face of sharp Republican opposition. (WP)
  11. Bush claimed that limiting non-economic damages in medical malpractice awards would significantly reduce medical costs. This is based on a single 1996 study which has been almost universally discredited. (WP)
  12. Bush claimed that his administration had made an aggressive effort ... to make sure when they get out of high school there's Pell Grants available for them". Bush has actually not followed through on a 2000 campaign promise to maxing out Pell grants, setting the cap at less than the maximum three years in a row. The reason more money is being spent on Pell grants is because more people qualify as incomes have gone down.(WP, FOX)
  13. Bush claimed that 75% of al Qaeda leaders have been brought to justice. The 75% only looks at a few dozen known leaders as of 9/11/2001. (CNN)
  14. Bush claimed Kerry has proposed $2 trillion in new spending. This is an old number used by AEI, which has since lowered it's estimates. Other organization say Kerry's proposals will cost much less. (CNN)

Kerry (13 inaccuracies and mischaracterizations)

  1. Kerry claimed 1.6 million jobs had been lost under Bush - the number only speaks of private-sector jobs, the federal government has grown significantly under Bush. (FC, WP, CNN)
  2. Kerry claimed new jobs under Bush pay $9,000 less than the jobs lost under him. That number is inaccurate. (FC, WP)
  3. Kerry claimed his healthcare plan would cover all Americans. It would only cover about half of those Americans who are currently uninsured. (FC, WP)
  4. Kerry claimed Bush had never met with the Congressional Black Caucus. Bush has actually met with the Caucus twice. (FC, NYT, WP, FOX, CNN) NOTE: Washington Post says the charge is correct in substance - Bush has not met much with minority groups.
  5. Kerry said he had shown exactly how he was going to pay for the new spending he proposed. Kerry has actually only broadly described where the revenue would come from. (NYT)
  6. Kerry referred to revenue the McCain-Kerry Commission on Corporate Subsidy Reform has identified as being collectable if certain loopholes were closed. The commission has actually been languishing in congress for quite a while. (WP)
  7. Kerry asserted that the Medicare bill will result in windfall profits for drug companies. The claim is disputed. (WP)
  8. Kerry blamed the recent 17% jump in Medicare premiums on Bush. Some experts disagree, others attribute only part of the increase to Bush policies (NYT, WP)
  9. Kerry misspoke when he said transitioning to private Social Security accounts would cost $2 trillion over the $3 trillion in campaign promises the Washington Post reported Bush has made. The $2 trillion is included in, not on top of the $3 trillion figure. (WP)
  10. Kerry said the president had underfunded No Child Left Behind by $28 billion. Bush never promised to full fund No Child Left Behind. (WP)
  11. Kerry criticized Bush for allowing 95% of shipping containers to enter the US uninspected. The 5% checked is "high risk cargo", whether not checking the other 95% is irresponsible is another question. (FOX)
  12. Kerry claimed that the minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, is the lowest in 50 years. It actually was briefly lower in 1989. (WP)
  13. Kerry claimed 5 million people have "lost" health insurance under Bush. This is misleading - there are 5 million less people with health insurance since3 Bush took office, but some of them are new workers who never had health insurance to begin with (CNN)

Three claims Kerry made of disputed veracity

  1. Kerry claimed the Bush administration cut Pell grants. The Bush administration has actually increased them. (FC) NOTE: The NYT adds that "with tuition vastly outpacing inflation, the shortfall between financial aid and the cost of tuition has widened." The Washington Post also views Kerry's charge as accurate.
  2. Kerry claimed the Bush administration cut after school programs. The Bush administration proposed cutting after school programs, but Congress wouldn't let them. (FC) NOTE: The Washington posts outright says Kerry's claim was accurate.
  3. Kerry claimed Bush inherited a $5.6 trillion surplus. Bush actually inherited a $236 billion dollar surplus - the $5.6 trillion was the projected surplus over 10 years. (FC) NOTE: The NYT and WP viewed this claim as accurate ("Mr. Kerry was correct when he said the budget picture had declined from a projected $5.6 trillion surplus over 10 years when Mr. Bush took office to large deficits for the foreseeable future.")

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

When were we ever safe? 

Bob Schieffer opened the debate with a question about national security - which was supposed to have been taken care of during the first two debates. Perhaps it was an opening for Bush to redeem himself on national security,

Senator, I want to set the stage for this discussion by asking the question that I think hangs over all of our politics today and is probably on the minds of many people watching this debate tonight. And that is, will our children and grandchildren ever live in a world as safe and secure as the world in which we grew up?

I'm unsure why both candidates left the premise unchallenged.

I'm 37 or somewhere around there. As a kid, I grew up terrified of tornados because I watched the Wizard of Oz but also terrified of a nuclear holocaust because I knew there were nuclear weapons pointed at the Pentagon and Capitol Building just a few miles away from me. My brother is old enough to remember the Cuban missile crisis which placed us literally on the brink of nuclear war. I don't think either of us grew up feeling "safe" knowing we could be turned into cinders in 20 minutes.

My parents grew up in the Midwest during the dustbowl. Few were really as "safe" as we are now during the Great Depression.

My dad had sister who died from meningitis. In my birth family, a great aunt lost all five of her children to a disease - and never even found out what that disease had been.

Today, there would be at most several dozen Americans who have lost more people to terrorism than preventable or treatable diseases. I know three people who have died of AIDS, two of heroin overdoses, one who - as a mother of a newborn - committed suicide while suffering undiagnosed depression. Could I not declare an axis of evil of my own? The AIDS/Opiate Abuse/Untreated Depression axis of evil?

By contrast, the only person I know facing a palpable danger from "terrorism" is my 48 year old cousin who got called up from the Guard to go drive around Iraq in a humvee. 'Cause Geo. Bush started a war there.

Debate 

The "borders" question stood out to me as significant.

Kerry at one point said he "was told" 8,000 people cross the border "illegally" every day - later - in relation to border security - he said 4,000 people "are coming across the border". Although he could have meant different things on each occasion, it sounded like he was using different figures to make the same point. Other than that, Kerry's answer was very good - it recognized the security problem and the plight of decent hardworking people plagued by our immigration/work policies.

Bush tried to please everyone with his answer and likely pleased no one: he said people should be "able to go back and forth (over the border)" which will not sit well with right-winders who believe we should militarize our borders. He also said the workers living here, obeying our laws and contributing to our economy should not receive amnesty. That will not go over well with people who believe those who contribute to our nation should be citizens.

The border issue is one at which Bush is at odds with at least part of his base - I don't think Kerry won any support from Bush's base, but Kerry giving an answer which spoke more directly to the concerns of a portion of Bush's base didn't exactly help Bush to motivate his base to turn out and vote.

When asked how he was going to make America safer, Bush spoke of making Afghanistan and Iraq safer.

When asked about jobs, Bush spoke of tax cuts which didn't benefit people unless they already had a job.

Bush denied ever saying he wasn't worried about OBL. Had he not denied it, Kerry's comment may have gone largely unnoticed - as his denial drew attention to it.

Bush claimed there were no market forces at work in the healthcare industry - that is the very problem that needs to be solved!

I thought Kerry did well, but didn't pick up on a few of the things above as well as he should. But Kerry came across as presidential and recognized our nation's problems. Bush came across as whiny and denied the existence of many problems everybody knows the next president will have to deal with.

More on the negativity factor 

It was suggested that I include the negative/positive factor of this site. In the posts from the last two weeks, there are Bush is mentioned 207 times and Kerry is mentioned 176 times - a factor of -1.18 - a little more negative than Al Franken and a little more positive than the DNC's home page - and a dozen times more positive than Rush Limbaugh's home page.

It was also suggested that the concept be explained in greater detail. Explaining by example,

The negative or positive sign just indicates whether the person that the outlet wants to loose is mentioned more (-), or if the candidate desired to win is mentioned more (+).

Negativity factor 

Taking a look at how many times a candidate's name is made on a few websites. The "positive/negative factor" in the number of occurrences of the name of the candidate the owners of the website want to lose for each time the candidate they want to win is mentioned. Here are the results ranked from most negative to most positive for six websites:

websire occurrences of "Kerry" occurrences of "Bush" positive/negative factor
1. Rush Limbaugh Show 14 1 -14
2. Republican National Committee 31 5 -6.2
3. Democratic National Committee 5 7 -1.4
4. Al Franken Show 24 18 +1.3
5. Bush/Cheney '04 10 23 +2.3
6. John Kerry for President 17 5 +3.4

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Fighting terrorism with tax cuts 

Then, on 9/11, terrorists struck and shook our economy once again. The President responded by delivering tax cuts four times in four years.
- Dick Cheney,
October 11, 2004

News items 10/12/2004 

A partisan voter registration organization appears to have been discarding new Democratic registrations,

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

Dual use nuclear materials in Iraq have gone missing. Gen. Tommy Franks says the Iraqi army should have quickly been put to work after it was disbanded.

Sen. Mark Dayton reacted to what has been described as a vague top secret threat warning by closing his Washington office. A curious move - it could be Dayton's way of calling BS on bogus alerts, or it could be a sly way of mentioning a top secret briefing for some reason.

Dick Cheney continues to stumble along as if we've found all kinds of nuclear and biological weapons in Iraq, "The situation we faced was Saddam Hussein and Iraq presented the most likely place where there could be a nexus between the terrorists on the one hand and weapons of mass destruction. " Across the pond, Jack Straw got around to withdrawing the claim that Hussein could launch a WMD attack with 45 minute notice.

A Cornell professor's study shows that the more afraid America is, the more America likes Bush - each terror warning has resulted on averagew in a 2.75 point increase in Bush's approval rating.

News of new growth in voter registrations continues to pour in. In Virginia, registration has increased 11% over 2000 (Bush won VA in 2000 by 8%). 300,000 new voters in Tennessee (Bush won TN by 80,000 votes). A 58% increase over 2000 in CT. In New Mexico, 43 percent of new registrants are Democrats, 31 percent independent and only 26 percent Republicans.

The Bush bio pod 

Monday, October 11, 2004

Criminy, News items 10/11/2004 

So far, at 1.42 deaths/day, October 2004 is the sixth least deadly for US servicepersons since the April 2003 invasion.

Halloween is a few weeks away. Here's what happened: Around the first day of Spring 2003, George Bush flipped out and ordered an invasion of Iraq because he said he thought they were about to get us. He declared victory five or six weeks after that. Everybody said electricity would be restored better than pre-invasion levels by mid summer. Then Spring turned into Summer and it got really hot and then there was a Halloween. Then a year went by and now it's almost Halloween again and Baghdad still has for or six hour rolling blackouts.

Somebody let Condi out again two Sundays in a row.

Catching up.

Most of the Afghani candidates claiming a boycott of the presidential election have agreed to go along with whatever an independent commission finds.

Clinton and Ashcroft detractor Bob Barr wrote a glowing endorsement of nobody in the Atlanta alternative weekly paper,

The concerns for many conservative voters -- concerns that may cause them not to vote for Mr. Bush on Nov. 2 -- fall generally into three categories: fiscal, physical (as in the physical security of our nation) and freedom (as in protecting our civil liberties) ...

The largest television broadcast syndicate in the US is donating to Bush/Cheney '04 an hour and one half Bush attack ad on Kerry. The ad is directed by a Unification Church cult member. The president of the broadcast group was charged with whatever sex act is meant by Maryland when they refer perverted sex act in a company-owned Mercedes with a prostitute.

W. Safire sees genius in Bush's strategy to correctly pronounce Aleksander Kwasniewsk's name,

This not only showed that Bush knew these allies personally, but could also pronounce Kwasniewski's name, which reminded Polish-Americans that Poland's president had responded angrily to Kerry's brushoff of his country's sacrifices in the first debate.

The Bush campaign ventures further into the realm of the absurd by finding fault with the thought that in order for Americans to feel safe, terrorism has to be reduced to a nuisance. They really are counting on stupid voters.

Congress passed a bunch of pork barrel corporate tax cuts, bringing relief to left handed salmon smokehouse owners and the like. It seems an intent of the bill is to close arbitrary tax loopholes so that explicit loop[holes may be created for various favored parties.

Kerry pulls ahead of Bush by 2 points in the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll I'm tracking.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Mistakes Kerry is making 

For quite some time, I've been hoping Kerry would apologize for spreading spurious claims about Iraqi WMD. Many of us used our brains and internet connections to figure out before we invaded that Hussein had no stockpiles or militarily significant WMD capacity,

Kerry was wise not to go overboard during the second debate in his answer about government funded abortions: He already has the pro-choice vote and Bush already has the anti-choice vote. No answer would change anybody's mind - and I think it's odd that Gibson allowed that woman to ask the question - asking a pro-choice candidate about a pro-life issue is an attack from somebody who's mind is made up on abortion - not a question meaning to elicit an enlightening response for undecided voters.

Similarly, Kerry already has the vote of everybody who believes Bush mismanaged his responsibility for national security by invading a nation that posed little or no threat. He can and should say he was wrong to popularize wildly inaccurate intelligence assessments about Iraq.

A second topic I believe Kerry is not handling effectively is Bush's often repeated talking point that Kerry cannot fight a war he things was prosecuted wrongly. His line, "It's the military's job to win the war, it's the president's job to win the peace" goes in the right direction. But it would be useful for him to clearly and succinctly point out that despite the fact it was the wrote war in the wrong place at the wrong time, we can't pretend it's not a hot war that needs to be won.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

News items 10/9/2004 

The Afghani presidential election went off with only scattered and sporadic violence, the greatest number of deaths being 25 Taliban fighters killed. Yet the boycott by 15 of the candidates of the election - and presumably it's results - has placed the election's legitimacy is in peril. If Karzai doesn't win 50% of the popular vote, Afghanistan's Constitution requires a run-off election to be held. If that happens it will be interesting to see what whoever Karzi's opponent thinks of the boycott.

The front page of the Washington Post on Sunday is an extensive article featuring on-record interviews with disillusioned soldiers in Iraq,

"Every day you read the articles in the States where it's like, 'Oh, it's getting better and better,' " said Lance Cpl. Jonathan Snyder, 22, of Gettysburg, Pa. "But when you're here, you know it's worse every day."

Pfc. Kyle Maio, 19, of Bucks County, Pa., said he thought government officials were reticent to speak candidly because of the upcoming U.S. elections. "Stuff's going on here but they won't flat-out say it," he said. "They can't get into it."

...Lance Cpl. Alexander Jones, 20, of Ball Ground, Ga., agreed: "We're basically proving out that the government is wrong," he said. "We're catching them in a lie."

Public perception is that there was no clear winner, meaning that Kerry keeps his momentum on the debate front.

WMD propagandist Judith Miller reported on the description of lucrative Iraq contracts held by US companies and individuals in the Iraqi oil for food program,

The 918-page report says that four American oil companies - Chevron, Mobil, Texaco and Bay Oil - and three individuals including Oscar S. Wyatt Jr. of Houston were given vouchers and got 111 million barrels of oil between them from 1996 to 2003. The vouchers allowed them to profit by selling the oil or the right to trade it.

The other individuals, whose names appeared on a secret list maintained by the former Iraqi government, were Samir Vincent of Annandale, Va., and Shakir al-Khafaji of West Bloomfield, Mich., according to the report by the inspector, Charles A. Duelfer.

News from my own tracking of presidential polls. The ABC/WP and Zogby polls have begun reporting daily rolling results where numbers are given for the sample taken October 5-8, the next day October 6-9, etc. I will be updating the graph of major polls every third day - in other words each plot point will represent a unique sample. The rolling daily results will be shown in a separate daily tracking graph, which at this time includes Rasmussen, ABC/WP and Reuters/Zogby. It appears that Kerry's rapid two week climb in the polls is leveling off.

Bush is a dolt and his audience is worse 

I'm listening to Bush's stump speech in MN now. He just said Kerry's plan to raise taxes on the rich wouldn't work because,

The rich hire lawyers to stick you with the bill.

So Bush is saying the rich will always cheat on their taxes and furthermore will hire lawyers to sue the middle class in order to get them to pay their taxes.

He also says that Kerry's plan is to raise taxes on the top two "brackets" - Kerry's plan is to raise taxes on those earning more than $200K a year. The top 2 income brackets begin at $146,750.

He's getting cheers from the crowd from this. The cheers about his reasons for going to war are surprisingly quite tepid.

20 Bush lies, inaccuracies, mischaracterizations and exaggerations and 7 Kerry inaccuracies and mischaracterizations 

Compiled factchecks on the 2nd Kerry/Bush debate from FactCheck.org, CNN.com, Washington Post, and the AP report being used by FOXNews.com.

Bush

  1. Bush forgot that he owns part of a timber company, "I own a timber company? That's news to me." Bush owns interest in LSTF, LLC, a limited-liability company organized "for the purpose of the production of trees for commercial sales." (FC, WP, FOX)
  2. Bush claimed Kerry said it was a mistake to remove Hussein from power. Kerry has never said anything like that. (WP)
  3. Bush claimed Hussein's weapons could have been given to terrorists, yet the day before he acknowledged that Hussein had no WMD. (FOX)
  4. Bush claimed his generals said they had everything they needed to invade Iraq. Some generals had concerns about troop levels. (WP)
  5. Bush said he had tripled spending for Homeland Security. This is maybe fuzzy math. (WP)
  6. Bush said he likes the idea of importing drugs from Canada. This would be a drastic policy reversal as his administration has twice blocked congressional legislation to allow it. (WP)
  7. Bush claimed the medicare discount cards were working. The number of people being helped by the cards is millions of people short of the number administration officials predicted would use them. (FC)
  8. Bush claimed that malpractice lawsuits increase government spending on healthcare by $28 billion a year. This claim is based on a single discredited study from 1996. (FC, WP)
  9. Bush made the specious claim that Kerry's healthcare plan would "lead to rationing" of healthcare and put government in charge of medical decisions instead of doctors. Kerry's plan would do no such thing. (FC, WP)
  10. Bush claimed again that Kerry voted 98 times to raise taxes. The number is not even close to accurate as it counts multiple votes on the same bills and votes on measures that do not in fact raise taxes. (FC, CNN, WP)
  11. Bush blamed the deficit on the stock market correction and war. His own administration attributes about half of the deficits to Bush's tax cuts. (WP)
  12. Bush claimed Kerry would have to raise taxes to pay for the "$2.2 trillion" in new spending Kerry is proposing. The $2.2 trillion is disputed and Bush doesn't mention how he intends to pay for the $3 trillion in new spending he's proposing, particularly while not raising taxes. (WP)
  13. Bush claimed to have a plan to increase the area of protected wetlands. Bush policies actually endanger wetlands by removing federal protections. (WP)
  14. Bush again made the fallacious claim that raising taxes on individuals making over $200K a year would harm 900,000 small businesses. (FC, WP, FOX)
  15. Bush claimed "we increased that child credit by $1,000." Bush's tax cut plan increased the tax credit to $1000, not by $1000. (FC, FOX)
  16. Bush claimed Kerry cut the intelligence budget by $7.5 billion in the 1990s. Some of the cuts were in response to the discovery that the CIA had illegally accumulated $1 billion in a secret fund. (CNN)
  17. Bush spoke of federal funding for research on 70 embryonic stem cell lines. Only 20 of the lines are usable. (WP)
  18. Bush falsely claimed that Kerry's would only deploy US troops upon UN approval. (CNN)
  19. Bush claimed that Kerry was the most liberal member of the Senate, a claim based on the rankings of one organization who only considered 20 of Kerry's 62 votes in 2003. The same organization ranks Kerry the 11th most liberal member of the Senate for a lifetime score. (CNN, WP)
  20. Bush claimed that 75% of al Qaeda had been brought to justice. This number is based on about two dozen known al Qaeda leaders known as of 9/11. Worldwide al Qaeda membership is estimated at 18,000. (CNN, FOX)

Kerry

  1. Kerry said Bush had "broken a promise" to fully fund No Child Left Behind. Bush never promised to fully fund it. (FC, WP)
  2. Kerry claimed the administration "retired" Eric K. Shinseki for advocating for a stronger troop force for Iraq. Shinseki's was not forced to retire, but his retirement and replacement were leaked early to undercut his authority in retribution for advocating for more troops. (FC, CNN, WP)
  3. Kerry claimed that 1.6 million jobs had been lost under President Bush without qualifying that he was speaking only of private-sector jobs. Due to the enormous government bloat under Bush the total net job loss is less. (FC, CNN, WP, FOX)
  4. Kerry claimed Bush's Medicare prescription drug benefit would "put $139 billion of windfall profits into the pockets of the drug companies, right out of your pockets." The $139 billion number comes from a disputed study - other studies show that the bill will increase drug company profits much less than $139 billion. (FC)
  5. Kerry said "I have a plan to provide health care to all Americans." His plan would only extend health care coverage to approximately half of those that now don't have it. (FC)
  6. Kerry said he supported the No Child Left Behind Act, but he had a problem with it being underfunded. Kerry also has said that there is too much emphasis on testing and there would be additional factors considered such as attendance and parental satisfaction. (FOX)
  7. Kerry failed to make it clear that he's speaking of costs through 2005 when saying the Iraq invasion and occupation have cost $200 billion. (CNN)

My explanation for the Bush bulge 

Here is a possible explanation of the Bush bulge.

Kerry: 2 for 2 

If Bush treats foreign leaders with as little respect as he allows Kerry, it's no wonder he can't get many nations to follow us. If it's so important not to offend foreign leaders, one wonders why Bush went raving on and on about the "L" word - Kerry's liberal - need he say more? Our Australian allies are lead by John Howard of Australia's Liberal Party - here is his page, How to Vote Liberal.

Tony Blair of the UK might raise that eyebrow at Bush's disparagement of liberal ideas. One of the first things Blair did when he took over leadership of the Labor Party was to add to the party constitution, "The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each one of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many not the few ..."

The only way for Bush to "win" one of these things is for Kerry to do horribly or make a major gaffe. Last night, Bush showed pretty well why I don't trust him with the nuclear launch codes. He angrily whined the whole time and part of it was a whiney yelling - kind of like the untanned and constipated vacationer in bermuda shorts yelling at his wife in a parking lot. For a sharp contrast between Kerry's dignified and composed emotion and Bush's uncontrollable outburst, check out this exchange in rhetoric about "coalition" vs. "unilateral". Kerry's retort is superb.

Tonight Bush tried to comfort moderate voters by promising not to appoint a judge who would deny citizenship to blacks on constitutional grounds. I mean, is Bush running on an anti-Dred Scott decision platform? Kerry's rebuttal was nice - simply pointed out that Bush had four years ago promised to appoint "conservative" judges.

It appears that Bush might not know he owns shares in some sort of timber venture. He said the Constitution "doesn't speak to the equality of America." Bush laughed when Kerry pointed out the Iraq Survey Report's finding bthat Iraq had no WMD or WMD capabilities when Bush invaded. He said he was a "good steward of the land," as if he cared about environmental issues.

Angry loonie Bush loses, Stately Kerry wins.

Friday, October 08, 2004

News items 10/8/2004 

Retired Air Force Gen. Chuck Horner who commanded the air campaign of the Gulf War says US troops will have to remain in Iraq for 10 years.

The fact that Cheney lobbied to loosen sanctions against Iran is making it into even conservative outlets .

Job growth in September was about half of what was expected, falling severely short of the number of new jobs needed to keep up with population growth and less 1/3 of the 306,000 jobs per month the Bush administration anticipated their policy of tax cuts to create. Consumer spending remained mostly stagnant.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights decided to wait until November 12, after the election to discuss a report they came up with that's critical of the Bush administration's record on civil rights.

I've started a new graph tracking daily national presidential polls and added the result of a new Time poll showing a 3 point gain for Kerry to the graph of major polls.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

News items 10/7/2004 

Multiple simultaneous terrorist attacks in Egypt and one bomb at the Indonesian Embassy in Paris, a bomb was found in the "Green Zone" (US Embassy in Iraq), a rocket attack on Sheraton hotel in Baghdad, a rocket attack on a US compound in Afghanistan. One huge car bomb attack was thwarted.

Reasonable minds agree that the CIA's final Iraqi WMD report shows an invasion of Iraq was not necessary

Dick Cheney continues to get called on issues arising from the VP debate: pressed for lifting sanctions on Iran. If you missed it, Dick Cheney tried to send viewers to factcheck.org to debunk Edwards' Halliburton charges - the website actually confirms the charges - Cheney said ".com" by mistake - factcheck.com redirects to billionaire Bush detractor George Soros.

Bush's response to all this is to mount a good defense by staying on the offense against John Kerry.

Flags lowered longer for Reagan than 9/11 

On September 12, 2001, Bush ordered flags be flown at half-staff for 4 days,

I hereby order, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States of America by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, Sunday, September 16, 2001.

On September 14, he extended the period to September 22, for a total of 11 days.

To honor the death of Ronald Reagan, Bush immediately ordered flags lowered for a period of 30 days,

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, in honor and tribute to the memory of Ronald Reagan, and as an expression of public sorrow, do hereby direct that the flag of the United States be displayed at half-staff at the White House and on all buildings, grounds, and Naval vessels of the United States for a period of 30 days from the day of his death.

David Kay joins the fray 

Apparently, former chief inspector David Kay is making the rounds on TV today saying the Bush administration are in a state of denial about the absence of an Iraqi threat. Links later.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

News items 10/6/2004 

It's officially official: Iraq had no WMD nor ability to manufacture WMD at the time of the US lead an invasion, based on WMD fears. Hussein's capacity to build them was deteriorating, not advancing, as one of the newer justifications for the invasion claimed. 564 days to reach a conclusion many made before the invasion even started.

The report also speaks of the Oil for Food scandal. The House investigation of the scandal was expanded to investigate what the occupation authorities have done with $8.8 billion in Iraqi oil revenues for which they can't account. The investigating committee will be subpoenaing White House documents about the management of Iraqi oil revenue.

A few days before Afghanistan's presidential election, an assassination attempt was made on a convoy carrying Hamad Karzi's running mates. The candidates made it through the attack, but one other was killed and five injured. I hope for a minimum of bloodshed during the election, but honestly think it's a bad move for the Bush administration to hang their hats on this election as evidence that "freedom is on the march." At the same time the message out of this administration is that "democracy is a messy thing" and that "Free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things." According to that twisted logic, a violent election is a sign of progress.

Over in Iraq, UN staff organizations are urging the withdrawal of the few workers in the country, saying it's too violent. Iraqis appear to be losing enthusiasm for voting - a new poll shows that only 67% in Iraqis intend to vote, down from 89% just a few months ago. The main reason for the loss of intention is lack of information, followed closely by loss of interest. Security concerns came in a distant third.

Also in the House, Majority Leader Tom DeLay iwa lightly admonished for unethical behavior for the second time in a week, this time for misuse of the FAA. I believe that in fairly recent history, a US president resigned partly because of similar political misuse of federal agencies.

An aide to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says the Israli withdrawl from the Gaza Strip is a ruse to kill the "road map" - a move to try to keep settlements in the West Bank with the US's blessing (the abandonment of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory is is a key part of the road map.)

A new Democracy Corps poll showing a 1 point Kerry lead was released today, and the plot point has been added to the chart of the electoral advantage trend. The new Zogby battleground poll shows Kerry ahead in 13 of 16 tossup states.

Compiling Mr. Cheney's lies and Sen. Edwards inaccuracies 

Compiled fact checks from The Washington Post, FactCheck.org, the AP article FOXNews.com is using and the NY Times.

Cheney

  1. Cheney claimed he had not suggested a connection between Iraq and 9/11. He has many times.
  2. Cheney said both Kerry and Edwards voted "for the war" with Iraq. The resolution they voted for gave Bush the authority "to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate." Bush himself characterized the resolution as the best way to avoid a war: "America's leadership and willingness to use force, confirmed by the Congress, is the best way to ensure compliance and avoid conflict."
  3. Cheney claimed $80 billion in Iraqi debt had been forgiven. The forgiveness has only been talked about. Additionally forgiving debt is not part of the cost of invasion and occupation - the cost Edwards was speaking of.
  4. Cheney said $14 billion in direct aid from other countries had been given to Iraq. $13 billion has been pledged, but only $1 billion paid out.
  5. Cheney said 50% of the casualties in Iraq have been Iraqi security personnel. Those numbers are not released, and Iraqi security forces were not part of the invading coalition of which Edwards was speaking.
  6. Cheney said he had not met Edwards before that night. It was actually their fourth meeting.
  7. Cheney said rolling back tax cuts for those making over $200K a year would harm 900,000 small businesses. Kerry is not proposing rolling back tax cuts of businesses making over $200K/year, but individuals. The 900,000 figure is how many people receive disbursements of profits as shareholders of S-corps or list at least $1 of personal income as coming from ownership of a "small business".
  8. Cheney said Kerry/Edwards oppose the No Child Left Behind Act. They don't oppose the act, but support modifications to it, but oppose short-funding it as the Bush administration has
  9. Cheney said Kerrk/Edwards oppose the Patriot Act. The support the Act, but also support making modifications to parts of it.
  10. Cheney said John Kerry has voted to raise taxes 98 times. This is down from the 350 number that the GOP earlier claimed, but still half of those 98 votes were procedural votes, and some of the rest are voting for the smaller of two tax cuts
  11. Cheney said Edwards' charges about Halliburton were untrue and pointed to a website to verify their fallaciousness. The website does note falsities about Halliburton in a Kerry/Edwards TV ad, but actually confirms the charges Edwards leveled during the debate, other than one implication mentioned below.
  12. Cheney claimed that Kerry had come down on the wrong side of military spending legislation every time. Many of the votes Cheney is referring to are for defense spending cuts Cheney supported while he was Secretary of Defense.
  13. Cheney said Edwards described the situation in Afghanistan as "chaotic, the situation was deteriorating, the warlords were about to take over." Edwards has accurately described Afghanistan as "largely unstable," with much of the country "under the control of drug lords and warlords."
  14. Cheney took Kerry's "global test" statement out of context.

Edwards

  1. Edwards said the war in Iraq cost $200 billion, only $174 has so far been appropriated, the rest is expected to come in a supplemental budget request.
  2. Edwards said the president is "proposing" an amendment to the constitution banning gay marriage. President Bush did not propose the amendment, but supports amending the Constitution to ban gay marriages.
  3. Edwards said 1.6 million private sector jobs had been lost under Bush. Although this is accurate, the total number of lost jobs is 913,000 because government employment has grown significantly under Bush.
  4. Edwards implied Cheney was CEO of Halliburton when the company was doing business with Libya. That was before Cheney came on board.
  5. Edwards said the White House lobbied to cut pay of soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. The White House actually lobbied Congress to eliminate a pay raise for all military personnel and find a way to keep paying those in Iraq and Afghanistan at the same rate.
  6. Edwards accused Cheney of sending troops into Iraq "without the body armor they needed," - actually troops did have body armor, but 40,000 had outdated body armor which was later replaced.
  7. Edwards said the Bush administration was "for outsourcing jobs," - the administration has only claimed that outsourcing is good for the ecomony.

I'll take Edward's inaccuracies over Cheney's lies any day. And I'd like to add my own observation,

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Mini-myth: Debate caused shift in Kerry's poll numbers 

Several articles mention something along the lines of how Howard Kurtz put it in the Washington Post Monday,

Kerry may have impressed much of the television audience with a strong debate performance Thursday night. But it was a September of sagging poll numbers that caused much of the downbeat coverage, and improved numbers -- starting minutes after the debate ended ...

During the week before the debate, Kerry had gained a net 8 points over Bush in Newsweek's poll, 8 points in Time's poll, 5 points in the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll. The polls coming in after the first debate show similar trends.

His performance in the debate certainly helped, but as I've said, few watch a debate and suddenly wake up in the morning knowing who they're going to vote for.

Priorities 

The Air Force is researching "pure antimatter bombs or antimatter-triggered nuclear weapons ... antimatter-powered 'electromagnetic pulse' weapons" while a high school science class builds a solar powered car.

News items 10/5/2004 

Lunatic right-wingers are suspicious of some of Kerry's supporter's faith and think the pattern in Kerry's tie is a secret message to Muslims,

Why else would the richest man in the Senate - a man whose pricey wardrobe is laid out for him daily by his personal valet - wear only one necktie during almost all of his public appearances?

The CIA after the fact determines that there was no link between Hussein and Islamic terror networks and that Iraq had no plans to develop nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, Paul Bremer reminds America that he didn't have enough troops in Iraq, and the daily car bombings continue.

The White House has denied Bremer voiced concerns about troops levels, despite the fact his request for more troops was widely reported.

France looks better all the time,

The book, "Chirac Contre Bush: L'Autre Guerre" ("Chirac vs. Bush: The Other War"), reports that a French general, Jean Patrick Gaviard, visited the Pentagon to meet with Central Command staff on Dec. 16, 2002 -- three months before the war began -- to discuss a French contribution of 10,000 to 15,000 troops and to negotiate landing and docking rights for French jets and ships.

Chirac, the book says, was prepared to join in an attack if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had not allowed inspectors into Iraq. "Up until December 2002, what everyone told us is that France thought Saddam Hussein was going to make a mistake and not allow inspections," Cantaloube said in an interview. After inspectors appeared to make progress in Iraq, Chirac's thinking changed, especially after polls in France showed vast opposition to an attack.

Thankfully, citizens are registering to vote for Kerry in droves,

A record surge of potential new voters has swamped boards of election from Pennsylvania to Oregon, as the biggest of the crucial swing states reach registration deadlines today.

Kerry and other Democrats are picking up on Bush's whiny "hard work" comments in the first presidential debate, suggesting that it's time for Bush to step aside and let someone who welcomes hard work to have a hand. 180 former Republican and Democratic ambassadors endorsed Kerry, proclaiming,

We believe it is imperative to our national security that we change the leadership of the nation we all love and elect John Kerry and John Edwards.

A top McCain aide has after resigning, endorsed Kerry as well, noting that the Bush campaign has "waged an unprecedentedly cynical and divisive campaign." It is really showing in the debates. It's much harder to lie about someone when they're in the same room.

Thje never ending flow of Bush Guard documents continues,

They include Bush's orders for his last day of active duty in 1973. The orders show that Bush was on "no fly" status for his last days of duty because he had been grounded almost a year earlier for skipping an annual medical exam.

In South Pakistan, the government has agreed to a cease-fire with al Qaeda.

George Bush's fantasy world is falling apart.

Edwards slayed the serpant 

Edwards could have done better, but he did well and got some issues on the table. Both candidates failed to address a few questions, or their segue into what they wished to speak of was lost on me.

Cheney lied his ass off. An example,

The senator has got his facts wrong. I have not suggested there's a connection between Iraq and 9/11.

Appearing September 13, 2003 on Meet the Press, Cheney said this of Iraq,

Now we will have struck a major blow right at the heart of the base, if you will, the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11.

Our VP tonight also said that AIDS was a terrible problem in Africa because it had killed so many that there is, quote,

nobody to do the basic work that runs an economy.

Does Mary Cheney have to get AIDS before Mr. Cheney sees the human side of AIDS? Or will it have to wait until it drastically starts affecting our economy? Edwards should have taken the opportunity to criticize Bush's love of abstenence-only sex education.

America also saw Dick Cheney chide John Edwards for not being overjoyed that hundreds of Iraqi security recruits had been killed by car bombs. That's more pathetic than Bush acting like he scored a point by remembering those few dozen dudes from Poland.

I'm glad Edwards brought up the "Cheney record", particularly that Cheney urged the lifting of sanctions on Iran while CEO of Halliburton, from an August 1, 2000 TIME article, The Business of Sanctions,

At a meeting of the World Petroleum Congress, Cheney called for a quick end to U.S. economic sanctions against Iran, which was in the process of negotiating $8 billion in oil and gas contracts with his firm's foreign rivals. "We're kept out of there primarily by our own government," said Cheney. "I think that's a mistake."

Edwards very confidently and convincingly laid out the basic points of Kerry's plan to fix the Iraq mess.

I think his explanation of "global test" was too long. He should have just mentioned as he did that Kerry many times has said he'd give no veto over national security to another country and explained, "A global test means that you can explain your actions to the world as legitimate. And this administration failed that test on Iraq," and then explained why they failed.

The whole notion that a president would rather let the U..S get attacked then ruffle the feathers of an ally is absurd. More absurd than the thought of an ally not caring if we were attacked. The reason many of our allies objected to the invasion of Bush could not show that Iraq was a threat to be dealt with my an invasion. He failed the test.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Big poll day 

Lots of new polls out in the last 24 hours ...

ABC/Washington post begin their daily snapshot of the campaign, with Kerry gaining 2 to trail Bush by 5 points.

The poll has some great numbers inside - Kerry's favorable number increased 8 points to 47%, the strength of Kerry support increased, and the strength of Bush support decreased - although most other responses didn't change significantly.

Zogby has the Kerry/Edwards ticket inching two points forward to one behind Bush/Cheney at 46 to 45.

CNN/USA Today/Gallup has Kerry leaping from 8 points behind to dead even at 49-49.

Kerry jumps forward to exactly tied in a new CBS poll.

The internals of the most recent Newsweek poll show drastic changes over the last month - a lot more people have figured out that Saddam Hussein wasn't somehow behind 9/11,

Do you think Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq was DIRECTLY involved in planning, financing, or carrying out the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, or not?

10/3/2004: 36 - yes / 51 no 9/3/2004: 42 - yes / 44 no

Kerry made a huge gain on national security,

Who do you trust more on Foreign policy in general?

10/3/2004: 48% - Bush / 46% - Kerry 9/3/2004: 54% - Bush / 38% - Kerry

Likely few voters stood up from watching the debate and exclaimed "I'm voting for Kerry now!", but that Kerry was able to show that he is a stronger and more agile leader than Bush will help solidify trend towards Kerry and certainly won't slow it down.

My graph of the electoral advantage trend has been updated.

Why America is afraid 

Oliver Willis has an abbreviated version of the GOP convention available in a 2:25 Quicktime Movie.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

What the Iraq? 

I saved this picture from Yahoo! news photos a few weeks ago and have been puzzling over it since. The caption gave no indication of what the blue domes may be. It's in Iraq and those are US military in the foreground. Water towers? Part of a refinery? Grain silos? Perky breasts?

Whatever they are, they look neat-o.

News items and opinion 10/3/2004 - debate edition! 

According to Neilson, a record 62.5 million people , watched the first debate between JFK and GWB - plus 3 million watched on PBS, which Neilson does not include. That's a full 1/3 more than watched the first debate in 2000, and over half the number of people who were registered to vote in the 2002 election (128 million) and 79% of those that did vote in 2002. Of course, not everybody that watched is registered or will vote, but the comparison puts the numbers in perspective.

Greg at The Talent Show boils the debate down to an mp3 just a few seconds long.

Greg at Greg's Opinion points out that Bush's own administration claims that Osama bin Laden is directly planning attacks - in sharp contrast to Bush debate claim that bin Laden is "isolated".

The Bush Campaign manager Ken Mehlman's post-debate conference call had some surprise guests.

Jesus' General points out that an "undecided voter" interviewed on CNN is actually a College Republican activist.

Richard Cohen writes in the Washington Post,

Bush lost because he stayed on message - repitition of talking point do not change the facts on the ground, "What we saw the other night was one man's pitiful attempt to defend a failed policy." Cohen also says Kerry has been inconsistent without offering examples, and is skeptical that anyone could bring other countries into fixing a mistake the US made.

Once a strong supporter of the invasion of Iraq, Jim Hoagland says Kerry won, despite the fact he didn't particularly like what either had to say,

There were holes aplenty in Kerry's crisp sketches of what he would do about Iraq, North Korea, Iran, Sudan and Russia - more, in fact, than there were in Bush's repetitive arguments that he would keep America on the offensive against global terrorism. But for this viewer, Bush was unable to turn the holes of implausibility to his advantage, while Kerry did just that on Iraq.

Nor did David Ignatius like what Bush or Kerry had to say, but limits his criticism of Kerry to the observation that Bush is already trying to do some of the things Kerry says he will do and that bringing more nations into the morass would be difficult. Ignatius used the rest of his column to critique Bush,

The president sounded occasionally as if he were caught in a pre-invasion time warp, repeating the idealistic rhetoric that led the United States to war in Iraq without thinking through a pragmatic postwar strategy. "A free Iraq will set a powerful example in the part of the world that is desperate for freedom," he proclaimed. But that kind of talk just doesn't match a real-world situation in which the secretary of state says the Iraqi insurgency is becoming worse and the CIA warns that the country could be slipping toward civil war.

Bob Herbert agrees with Richard Cohen and David Ignatius that at the core of Bush failure was his fantasy world,

There undoubtedly were many reasons for Mr. Bush's lackluster effort. But I think there was one factor, above all, that undermined the president in last week's debate, and will continue to plague him throughout the campaign. And that was his problematic relationship with reality.

Mr. Bush is a man who will frequently tell you - and may even believe - that up is down, or square is round, when logic and all the available evidence say otherwise. During the debate, this was most clearly displayed when, in response to a question about the war in Iraq, Mr. Bush told the moderator, Jim Lehrer, "The enemy attacked us, Jim, and I have a solemn duty to protect the American people, to do everything I can to protect us."

Wm. Saffire does not acknowledge Bush's flustered hem hawing, but does note that Kerry had "edge in debating technique." Saffire thinks he catches Kerry making stuff up,

But in embracing his right to pre-empt - always derided in horror by the two-minutes-to-midnight crowd as impermissible "preventive war" - Kerry felt the need to interject: "That was a great doctrine throughout the cold war. And it was one of the things we argued about with respect to arms control."

Hold on; nuclear pre-emption was never America's "great doctrine" during confrontation with the Soviets. Our strategic doctrine, which some of us remember, was at first "massive retaliation," later "mutual assured destruction.'' Maybe arms control negotiators listed pre-emption or preventive war as a dangerous notion of extremists, but only kooks portrayed by the likes of Peter Sellers called for a nuclear final solution to the Communist problem.

Saffire, you big ninnie, Kerry wasn't talking about a debate whether to nuke the USSR or not. The Cold War was full of preemptive ideological proxy wars - "Domino Theory" and stuff. Vietnam, Reagan's preemptive invasion of of Grenada. The Ayad Allawi of the late 1980's, Manuel Noriega, was preemptively overthrown by Reagan in Panama. There were arms control issues surrounding the proxy wars - we did not fight in most, but provided weaponry, training and support to "freedom fighter" rebels ... remember the Contras? The Mujahideen?

I was particularly struck when Bush said he sees on TV what hard work fighting a war is,

It's-and it's hard work. I understand how hard it is. I get the casualty reports every day. I see on the TV screens how hard it is.

Bush gave all the evidence anyone would need who has denied that Bush links Iraq to the 9/11 attacks,

Mr. Lehrer: Mr. President, new question, two minutes. Does the Iraq experience make it more likely or less likely that you would take the United States into another pre-emptive military action?

Mr. Bush: I would hope I never have to. Understand how hard it is to commit troops. I never wanted to commit troops. I never - when I was running - when we had the debate in 2000, never dreamt I'd be doing that, but the enemy attacked us, Jim, and I have a solemn duty to protect the American people, to do everything I can to protect us.

I had anticipated Kerry would ask Bush why he was against the $87 billion before he war for it. Bush brought up his campaign's signature line about "the $87" as if he was on top of the debate. It was rather sad as it was wallowing and spiteful at the same time - I know I'm getting my ass whooped, but look at the guy - he flip-flopped! Isn't that strange?

Well, you know, when I talked about the $87 billion, I made a mistake in how I talk about the war. But the president made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse?

I believe that when you know something's going wrong, you make it right. That's what I learned in Vietnam. When I came back from that war I saw that it was wrong. Some people don't like the fact that I stood up to say no, but I did. And that's what I did with that vote. And I'm going to lead those troops to victory.

Inexplicably, Republicans are claiming Kerry said he'd only do what the UNSC tells him to in a speech in which he said,

I'll never give a veto to any country over our security. But I also know how to lead those alliances.

They are counting on figuring out what a global test is. That the Bush campaign is not calling this a "flip-flop", they're just trying to make dim filks think Kerry has a radical position on foreign policy: let France take care of us.

Bush was unhinged throughout - he spoke as if we'd invaded Iraq just in the nick of time - one more week and it would have been a nuclear holocaust,

As a matter of fact, my opponent talks about inspectors. The facts are that he was systematically deceiving the inspectors. That wasn't going to work.

Monitoring and inspecting worked great, George. The US doesn't have to deal with costly disposal fees for hundreds of thousands of tons of terrible weapons.

Bush came off as a dork when he chided Kerry for not mentioning Poland in the list of the other three allies that invaded Iraq with us,

Well, actually, he forgot Poland.

"He forgot" ... this wouldn't stand in Jr High debate - "Oooooh, oooh, Mr. Moderator - he forgot Poland." Poland provided 200 out of the over 350,000 troops in the beginning.

Osama bin Laden doesn't get to decide. The American people decide. I decided the right action was in Iraq.

I wish to parse that. Osama doesn't get to decide, the American people get to decide. George Bush decided to invade Iraq. Gotcha.

The most pointed question of the night was whether the war in Iraq has been worth the 1,052 lives the US had sacrificed. The question stung the air when I first heard it - there it was - Bush had to explain why his decision to invade Iraq was worth it. Bush gave a heartfelt, though obviously rehearsed anecdote about a visit with a war widow. He then concluded that he was not on a mission to protect the US and our allies, but on a mission to change the world, "It will help change the world; that we can look back and say we did our duty."

Kerry's rebuttal was one of his stronger statements -

I understand what the president is talking about, because I know what it means to lose people in combat. And the question, is it worth the cost, reminds me of my own thinking when I came back from fighting in that war.

And it reminds me that it is vital for us not to confuse the war, ever, with the warriors. That happened before.

And that's one of the reasons why I believe I can get this job done, because I am determined for those soldiers and for those families, for those kids who put their lives on the line.

That is noble. That's the most noble thing that anybody can do. And I want to make sure the outcome honors that nobility.

Now, we have a choice here. I've laid out a plan by which I think we can be successful in Iraq: with a summit, by doing better training, faster, by cutting -- by doing what we need to do with respect to the U.N. and the elections.

There's only 25 percent of the people in there. They can't have an election right now.

The president's not getting the job done.

So the choice for America is, you can have a plan that I've laid out in four points, each of which I can tell you more about or you can go to johnkerry.com and see more of it; or you have the president's plan, which is four words: more of the same.

I think my plan is better.

... And I think a critical component of success in Iraq is being able to convince the Iraqis and the Arab world that the United States doesn't have long-term designs on it.

Amen.

FOX News' Chris Wallace living in fantasy land 

The governors of Michigan and Colorado appeared on FOX News Sunday today. The first question host Chris Wallace posed was to Gov. Granholm of Michigan,

Now, Michigan has lost almost a quarter of a million jobs under President Bush. Why is he doing so well in Michigan?

Uh, Bush hasn't been leading in Michigan since June. My hope is that Bush does as well everywhere as he is doing in Michigan.

Map of 2,368 September insurgent attacks in Iraq 

The Guardian presents an interactive map of the the 2,368 attacks by insurgents in September. The Guardian provides a background of Sunni-dominated areas; I've taken the dots indicating locations of attacks and overlaid it on a 2003 population density map - the attacks are happening where ever there are a lot of people - the deep red of the most densely populated areas is completely obscured by clusters of red dots indicating locations of attacks.

Kroll Security International is contracted to put together a report of daily attacks in Iraq. The US administration decided last week to restrict the distribution of that list - now members of Congress can't find out where and when attacks are occurring nor will newspapers be able to obtain the reports to file stories like this one.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

New direction in Bush campaign: forget about mischaracherizing Kerry, just lie 

President Bush is lying about Kerry's position on tax cuts, saying Kerry wants to roll back middle class tax cuts, which Kerry wants to keep - the tax cuts Kerry/Edwards will roll back are for those making over 200K a year.

Bush is also squeezing another lie into his stump speech, claiming that in the first debate Kerry indicated that he will allow foreign vetoes of US security. In the debate, Kerry actually said,

I'll never give a veto to any country over our security.

The Bush campaign is abandoning their campaign's effort to mischaracterize Senator Kerry's statements in favor of just making up statements they wish Kerry made. It's trite to say a campaign is showing desperation, but the Bush campaign really is.

I've before been hesitant to the "L" word about Bush as most of the errors of fact he's made could arguably be chalked up to incompetence or exaggeration due to Bush's radical stance on many issues. But when one hears George W. Bush claiming Kerry said something he didn't and when we all saw that Bush heard Kerry say no such thing, there is no more accurate word to describe Bush's claim than "a lie".

News items 10/2/2004 

The New York Times writes of the battle between factions in the CIA and White House over the use of CIA intelligence on Iraq. Bush has characterized CIA intelligence estimates as "guesses", while an increasing number in the CIA are speaking to the press of warnings given the White House which have not been taken seriously or been completely ignored. In the article recently retired CIA Deputy Director of Operations James L. Pavitt goes on record as saying the CIA had no intelligence which would have been a "causus belli" for an Iraq, and correctly predicted a post-invasion mess - and further denies that anyone is out to get the President. give the WH assessments predicting The article also draws heavily from a Wall Street Journal editorial which characterized those in the CIA speaking out against Bush's recklessness as an "insurgency". The opinion piece continued,

But rather than keep this dispute in-house, the dissenters have taken their objections to the public, albeit usually through calculated and anonymous leaks that are always spun to make the agency look good and the Bush Administration look bad.

Maybe it's just me, but ignoring intelligence assessments from your own CIA doesn't just look bad, it is bad.

The Washington Post reports that despite a backlog of 300,000 benefits claims in the Vetran's Administration - including claims soldiers disabled in Iraq and Afghanistan trying to get by on their regular pay - the Bush administration' 2005 budget calls for cutting the staff Department of Veterans Affairs that handles these claims.

Unhappy with a scientific findings of biologists in their own National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, administration officials ordered that a conclusion be rewritten to remove the conclusion that river fishes would be harmed by a plan to re-route water favored by the administration. This administration is not interested in reality. They actively try to remain out of touch with it.

Some Democrats are still fearing an "October surprise". I'll be surprised if there isn't some sort of October surprise, but the thing to do is to be prepared for it. A tall task being that this administration has enjoyed partially turning the two worst intelligence failures in US history into assets instead of liabilities. Three thousand lives lost and a war launched under faulty primacies. It's astounding that no one has yet been impeached.

A new Newsweek poll shows Kerry/Edwards three points ahead of Bush - the new plot point has been added to the graph of the electoral advantage trend.

The return of the tubes 

The New York Times revived the initial Senate Intelligence Report on pre-war intelligence by offering a long essay reviewing the discredited evidence of Iraq's "aluminum tubes", titled "How the White House Embraced Disputed Arms Intelligence." Although I don't see anything new in the report, the article synthesizes the published findings of fact with the way ther administration used intelligence - something the Senate Intelligence Committee agreed not to publish until after the election - a requirement demanded by Republicans on the committee for it to be examined at all.

The shorts of the longs presented in the article are that,

The article also points out that John Kerry, like John Edwards and most of the rest of the Senate didn't read the body of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, which did describe dissenting views about the tubes. I have hoped for a long time that Kerry would offer a mea culpa for popularizing unfounded claims about Iraq - I believe that America and the world would appreciate someone brave enough to take accountability for they part in the faulty run up to the invasion, and more importantly, it would be the right thing to do.

Following are some key excerpts from the Time's review.

In 2002, at a crucial juncture on the path to war, senior members of the Bush administration gave a series of speeches and interviews in which they asserted that Saddam Hussein was rebuilding his nuclear weapons program. Speaking to a group of Wyoming Republicans in September, Vice President Dick Cheney said the United States now had "irrefutable evidence" - thousands of tubes made of high-strength aluminum, tubes that the Bush administration said were destined for clandestine Iraqi uranium centrifuges, before some were seized at the behest of the United States.

...But almost a year before, Ms. Rice's staff had been told that the government's foremost nuclear experts seriously doubted that the tubes were for nuclear weapons, according to four officials at the Central Intelligence Agency and two senior administration officials, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity. The experts, at the Energy Department, believed the tubes were likely intended for small artillery rockets.

This was a potentially thorny obstacle for those writing the nuclear section: What do you do when the nation's nuclear experts strongly doubt the linchpin evidence behind the C.I.A.'s claims that Iraq was rebuilding its nuclear weapons program?

The Energy Department helped solve the problem. In meetings on the estimate, senior department intelligence officials said that while they still did not believe the tubes were for centrifuges, they nonetheless could agree that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons capability.

Several senior scientists inside the department said they were stunned by this stance; they saw no compelling evidence of a revived nuclear program.

...The estimate cited Iraq's alleged willingness to pay top dollar for the tubes, up to $17.50 each, as evidence they were for secret centrifuges. But Defense Department rocket engineers told Senate investigators that 7075-T6 aluminum is "the material of choice for low-cost rocket systems."

... Why order tubes with such tight tolerances? An Iraqi engineer said they wanted to improve the rocket's accuracy without making major design changes. Design documents and procurement records confirmed his account.

The inspectors solved another mystery. The tubes intercepted in Jordan had been anodized, given a protective coating. The Iraqis had a simple explanation: they wanted the new tubes protected from the elements. Sure enough, the inspectors found that many thousands of the older tubes, which had no special coating, were corroded and useless because they had been stored outside.

... The C.I.A. theory was in trouble, and senior members of the Bush administration seemed to know it.

Also that January, White House officials who were drafting what would become Secretary Powell's speech to the Security Council sent word to the intelligence community that they believed "the nuclear case was weak," the Senate report said. In an interview, a senior administration official said it was widely understood all along at the White House that the evidence of a nuclear threat was piecemeal and weaker than that for other unconventional arms.

But rather than withdraw the nuclear card - a step that could have undermined United States credibility just as tens of thousands of troops were being airlifted to the region - the White House cast about for new arguments and evidence to support it.

Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asked the intelligence agencies for more evidence beyond the tubes to bolster the nuclear case. Winpac analysts redoubled efforts to prove that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium from Africa.

... On Jan. 27, the international agency [IAEA] rendered its judgment: it told the Security Council that it had found no evidence of a revived nuclear weapons program in Iraq. "From our analysis to date," the agency reported, "it appears that the aluminum tubes would be consistent with the purpose stated by Iraq and, unless modified, would not be suitable for manufacturing centrifuges."

The next night, during his State of the Union address, President Bush cited I.A.E.A. findings from years past that confirmed that Mr. Hussein had had an "advanced" nuclear weapons program in the 1990's. He did not mention the agency's finding from the day before.

The article makes clearer an aspect of the administration's "rush to war", as Kerry puts it - and indeed, the Kerry campaign has referenced the article in a new TV advertisement, "He's lost, He's desperate"

Bad day for FOX News 

Josh Marshall is keeping tabs on how it's going for a FOX News staff traumatized by a humiliating Bush defeat in Coral Gables.

FOX's reporter traveling with the Kerry campaign - Carl Cameron - filed a report using completely fabricated Kerry quotes. Once called on it, FOX placed the following notice on their website,

Earlier Friday, FOXNews.com posted an item purporting to contain quotations from Kerry. The item was based on a reporter's partial script that had been written in jest and should not have been posted or broadcast. We regret the error, which occurred because of fatigue and bad judgment, not malice.

A reporter falsified quotes by a presidential candidate and it gets published and broadcast and it was just one of those things that happens when you get fatigued and use bad judgment. That is the standard FOX is holding themselves to: accurate reporting when we're not fatigued and use good judgment.

FOX News today also soberly reported quotes from a Republican 527's satire project, "Communists for Kerry",

"Even though he, too, is a capitalist, he supports my socialist values more than President Bush," Rob said, before assuring FOXNews.com that his organization was not a parody group. When asked his thoughts on Washington's policy toward Communist holdout North Korea, Rob said: "The North Koreans are my comrades to a point, and I'm sure they support Comrade Kerry, too."

It is unclear whether the Kerry campaign has welcomed the Communists' endorsement.

The article even provides a link to Communists for Kerry, where you can print out posters "STOP! The economic boom started by President Bush", "We cure weak liberalism with strong communism" - or buy Communists for Kerry t-shirts modeled by a Gibson-SG wielding Josef Stalin.

Not even the copyright cued FOX into the joke, Communists For Kerry, Ltd., ... Society for Advancement of Secondary Sexual Characteristics, and other groups and collectives of our great Socialist Amerikan Motherland. It's a funny site, a fresh breath from all the putrid Republican anger.

(UPDATE 10/3/2004 3 pm - FOX has removed the text about "Communists for Kerry" and added the following note at the bottom: In a version of this article that was published earlier, the Communists for Kerry group was portrayed as an organization that was supporting John Kerry for president. FOXNews.com's reporter asked the group's representative several times whether the group was legitimate and supporting the Democratic candidate, and the spokesman insisted that it was. The Communists for Kerry group is, in fact, a parody organization.)

FOX not interested in what the Commander in Chief has to say to the American people 

The second presidential debate is scheduled for Oct. 8. Fox will not televise that debate because of baseball playoffs.

USA Today

Snips from a few Iraqi blogs 

Earlier in September, Kurdo wrote of the Iraqi president's taking of a third wife,

This news was some kind of started as a rumour in Kurdistan a while ago, but one of the news websites have actually confirmed the Iraqi presidential marriage.

Now the Kurdish newspaper ASO has confirmed the marriage. Ayad Allawi, the Iraqi PM, was the witness of honour. Now a few backgrounds on the groom & bride. The groom (Ghazi Al-Yawar, Iraqi president) has 2 wives and and has 4 children and is 46.

Nesrine Barwari, is graduated from Harvard University and is 34 (according to IslamOnline and 38 according to ASO) , she is a women activist.

Now here is the debate, how can a women activist accept to be the third wife ? This sounds like a communist going to mosque, or a Jihadist listening to Rock & Roll.

Responding to the appearances of Bush and Allawi last week, River writes,

The elections are already a standard joke. There's talk of holding elections only in certain places where it will be 'safe' to hold them. One wonders what exactly comprises 'safe' in Iraq today. Does 'safe' mean the provinces that are seeing fewer attacks on American troops? Or does 'safe' mean the areas where the abduction of foreigners isn't occurring? Or could 'safe' mean the areas that *won't* vote for an Islamic republic and *will* vote for Allawi? Who will be allowed to choose these places? Right now, Baghdad is quite unsafe. We see daily abductions, killings, bombings and Al-Sadr City, slums of Baghdad, see air strikes... will they hold elections in Baghdad? Imagine, Bush being allowed to hold elections in 'safe' areas- like Texas and Florida.

(CORRECTION: previously, I had identified Mrs S as AYS's wife) AYS's mother writes of the "resistance" in a post,

Yesterday I went to my school to get the salary, it's 25th of the month, and we usually get it on this date. We were very anxious, sitting in our chamber waiting nervously because we were afraid of the sudden bangs and bombs, since the security situation is not fine those days.

We were about 15 teachers, we talked about the ongoing events and our confused days because of those who call themselves 'resistance', those who everyday explode oil pipelines, power stations and kill the Iraqis, we deny all those hostile acts which harm the Iraqi people.

We are afraid of getting out of our house because of them, we are afraid about our sons and daughters from those criminals who kill in cold blood.

As we were discussing in this topic, three teachers took share of the discussion and encouraged those hostile acts, we were very astonished with their words, and we kept looking at each other as they started their strange speech, they believe that: those acts make people resist the "occupation" and force them to leave the country, because people will put their hands in cold water if there is electric power, oil, petrol and security, no one of the ordinary people will be annoyed or be anxious of anything, they will live in ordinary life and the Americans and other forces will stay in Iraq fearing nothing!

What strange brains they carry in their heads!

They don't think that all these acts drive Iraq to a deep hollow, to a complete destruction. However, we ignored them and remembered what their husbands were.

Hammorabi is glad we abandoned our search for bin Laden so we could get Saddam, and tries on some RNC talking points,

The Americans including JK should ask us the Iraqis about Saddam and what kind of criminal he is. We can answer this in one word only which is; UBL considered as a little baby compared to Saddam as a mastermind of terror.

What GWB done to get rid of Saddam is like playing a chess and laying siege to two major pawns in one move or like the experienced farmer who trim all the infected parts of the tree starting with the main ones? JK on the other hand would like to trim the obvious outside part and leave the hidden and more serious part intact and we know the consequences of this approach.

Iraqi Spirit endorses John Kerry, although he confuses plan with promise,

I have been following the US election race for some time now, and to be quite honest with you, my main concern is what each candidate will be trying to achieve in regards to Iraq in the next 4 years. The way I see it, Bush is not actually offering anything new, it will be 4 more years of the same failed policies that has turned Iraq into a terrorist haven.

Kerry on the other hand is saying that he will seek a greater involvement of the traditional allies (I presume, France, Germany etc. ...), and the UN to help sort out the mess. The significant difference between Kerry's message and that of Bush is the fact that Kerry has promised to pull out of Iraq within 4 years and bring the army back home.

Let us assume that Kerry is genuine with his promise, as an Iraqi I wholeheartedly support him on this issue. I think it is about time for Iraqis to take responsibility for their own affairs.

Friday, October 01, 2004

News items 10/1/2004 

Today, thousands of years into the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and decades into the occupation of the Gaza Strip - an area about 28 miles long and 4 miles wide, Israel launched a major offensive in Gaza. Eighteen months into the occupation of Iraq, an area the size of California, the US launched a major offensive in Samarra. Last week, Prime Minister Ayad Samarra said this of Samarra,

In Samarra, the Iraqi government has tackled the insurgents who once controlled the city.

kerry tossing a football behind his back

Reports of Secretaries of State being overwhelmed with new voter registrations keep rolling in, this article describes 30% more voter registrations in 2004 than in 2000 in Virginia and in Maryland, an 80% greater increase in August 2004 registrations over the new registrations in August 2000. Officials in New Mexico expect 10 percent of the vote to come from new voters. If it's true that most new voter registrations are Kerry votes, a Kerry electoral upset may be in the works.

Some may be calling John Kerry the "comeback kid" because of his habitual late surges in campaigns, but Al Kamen applies the label to Saddam Hussein's bid for a seat in the Iraqi Parliament. Kamen points to a article in a Turkish newspaper that reports on a report in a Danish newspaper: Hussein's attorney Giovanni di Stefano called attention to Gallup having Hussein at 42% in a recent national poll.

That Hussein recently polled at 42% nationally appears to be made up by Hussein's lawyer or somewhere down the line. There hasn't been a Gallup poll in Iraq for many months; in April 2004, Hussein had a 9% favorable/80% unfavorable rating. I noticed something interesting in the results of the poll (full results in PDF linked to in sidebar),

While extremists continue to use the Internet as their primary tool for communication, Amit Yoran, the US's top Cyber-Security chief resigned unexpectedly the week after a row over whether the Department of Homeland security was giving enough attention to cyber-security. Yoran is the third official in his position to resign in two years, his exodus being prefaced by Howard Schmidt and Richard Clarke.

One of the world leaders in executions is feeling pressure to place a moritorium on the death penalty. Due to shabby crime labs evidence in the state of Texas and volume of convictions that have been overturned, an increasing number of people want to be sure they want to kill someone.

A House Ethics panel "rebuked" Majority Leader Tom DeLay for attempting to bribe or extort a "yes" vote from Rep. Nick Smith fpor the piece of crap Medicare bill.

Vladimir Putin continues to gather power in Russia, this week by gaining control over the body that appoints federal judges. Putin says his quest for more control comes in the name of fighting terror. Sounds familiar. On the brighter side of things, Russia moved toward signing the Kyoto protocol. The faux-environmentalist justification for the US not signing it - "Kyoto won't work unless Russia signs it" - begins to evaporate into cleaner air.

Rules that fish must be labeled wether farm-raised or caught and also include country of origin have been delayed six months. As someone who likes to cook fish, I'm looking forward to knowing where the fish is coming from. For ecological reasons, I prefer farm-raised species over wild, but most enjoy steaky fish like tuna, swordfish and marlin. Although some companies grow tuna they've caught, I'm unaware of any large or deep-water fish that's farm-raised from the egg.

Right-wingers heads are exploding 

I turned in to a bit of Right wing talk radio today.

The first caller I heard on Rush Limbaughg, a woman, was on a loud and angry tirade which speculated Bush's poor performance may have been because he was just as sick of Kerry's lies as she was. That he was offended he had to take the stage with a "pathological liar". Limbaugh had to cut her off, saying what happened happened and it was what it was.

Kerry visiting hurricane victims

The next caller literally screamed that Bush was a man of compassion - that's why he did poorly. Bush had spent the day touring the devastation of the hurricane; the fact Kerry blew him out of the water was testament to what a good soul W has. This was all shouted into the phone Limbaugh cut that caller off as well and before going to a commercial break, told America that, "The thing to know folks, is that John Kerry got a manicure," instead of visiting hurricane victims before the debate as George W. Bush did.

To the right is a photo of Kerry in an unscheduled campaign stop where he spoke to employees of the hurricane ravaged Echo Art. Limbaugh didn't find it sufficient enough to mischaracterize Kerry's statements in the debate - but also lie that Bush beat Kerry at photo-ops the same day.

Garage Logic, a local radio production for wingnuts interested in sports and engines, comes on after Limbaugh. Joe Soucheray opened up by saying he just had a few things to say about the debate. The first was praise for Bush's correct pronunciation of "vociferously". The second was a complaint that he heard some guy "from India or something" (he didn't remember who he was but he may have been "a Muslim" for all he knew) say that Kerry was speaking to a domestic audience - as if a Presidential debate should have been aimed overseas. The last item was a complaint that Kerry said the words, global test.

After a commercial break, Soucheray came on to say he had found out the dark-skinned-possible-Muslim "from India or something" was, indeed, Fareed Zakaria from Newsweek, the Washington Post and ABC's "This Week".

Miami Herald focus group is fairly unbalanced 

The Miami Herald/WFOR's panel of alleged undecided voters,

Global test 

John Kerry said,

No President, through all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America. But if and when you do it, Jim, you've got to do in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test, where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons.

Bush admitted he was confused,

Let me - I'm not exactly sure what you mean, passes the global test. You take preemptive action if you pass a global test? My attitude is you take preemptive action in order to protect the American people, that you act in order to make this country secure.

Broken out so President Bush can understand it, "global test":

As Kerry explained, the US - and all nations for that matter - have reserved the right to preempt an attack that they know is imminent. Making hysterical claims about nuclear weapons while nuclear weapons inspectors are at work is an entirely different level of "preemption". One such as would reasonably require a world consensus - although that's not what Kerry meant.

What was meant is clear: if you're going to preempt, you have to be able to show taking the action was justifiable - to the nation and to the World. And on that measure, Bush failed.

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