Get Your Blog Up

“This administration is populated by people who’ve spent their careers bashing government. They’re not just small-government conservatives—they’re Grover Norquist, strangle-it-in-the-bathtub conservatives. It’s a cognitive disconnect for them to be able to do something well in an arena that they have so derided and reviled all these years.”

Senator Hillary Clinton

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Kneel before me...

Josh Marshall has the news:
But this Dick Cheney speech in New Mexico seems to be the first instance where would-be attendees were compelled to pledge personal fealty to President Bush in order to get in the front door.


The plan was to limit the tickets "to people with a record of supporting the GOP— or to others willing to sign a statement saying they support President Bush's re-election."

and his views:
For all the ridiculousness of this loyalty oath mumbo-jumbo, I think Shi's rationale is a pretty apt description of the Bush-Cheney election strategy, and one of the clearest signs of their problems.

Berger absovled from certain sins

Instapundit doesn't seem to understand.
HERE'S A REPORT that Sandy Berger has been cleared of all wrongdoing. But here's another report saying that the first report is wrong. Which is true? Beats me. Stay tuned.

Everytime I click on the first link, I get a generic news page. So maybe they realised their report was somewhat in error. I will reference this Wall Street Journal article, because I think I know why he is confused:
Officials looking into the removal of classified documents from the National Archives by former Clinton National Security Adviser Samuel Berger say no original materials are missing and nothing Mr. Berger reviewed was withheld from the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Several prominent Republicans, including House Speaker Dennis Hastert and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, have voiced suspicion that when Mr. Berger was preparing materials for the 9/11 Commission on the Clinton administration's antiterror actions, he may have removed documents that were potentially damaging to the former president's record.

So he's been cleared of wrongdoing in relation to the coverup aspect of the whole ordeal. The 9/11 comission viewed a copy of every document it needed, and the claim that Berger destroyed anything to keep it from the comission's eyes is debunked. As for the handwritten notes and such, that is another issue.

Hope that helps!

It's about time

Finally, after three and a half years:
President Bush... told supporters Saturday in an Ohio town where job losses are a major issue that he has a four-year plan for peace and prosperity.

I'm tired, let's fight

The Belgravia Dispatch tries to pick apart Kerry's speech. Here's a few quick reacts from me.
This son of a millworker is ready to lead and next January, Americans will be proud to have a fighter for the middle class to succeed Dick Cheney as vice president of the United States.

Was I the only person who catched a slightly patronizing tone in Kerry's voice when the word "millworker" rolled off his Brahmin lips?

Yes, you probably are. Maybe this is one of those instances where you hear disdain because you are the one who feels it. Way to start an inane argument, though.
And I will build a stronger military. We will add 40,000 active duty troops - not in Iraq, but to strengthen American forces that are now overstretched, overextended and under pressure. We will double our special forces to conduct antiterrorist operations. And we will provide our troops with the newest weapons and technology to save their lives and win the battle. And we will end the backdoor draft of the National Guard and reservists.
To all who serve in our armed forces today I say help is on the way.

As president I will fight a smarter, more effective war on terror. We will deploy every tool in our arsenal - our economic as well as our military might; our principles as well as our firepower.

Is it just me, or do you get a slightly uncomfortable feeling that "help", in this context (the "backdoor draft"), means a withdrawal (if gradual but at a good pace) from Iraq? That said "help" is really a reversion to a traditional post-Vietnam Democratic party outlook that distrusts the projection of American power overseas--viewing it as a somewhat nefarious influence on the world stage?

Oh, and let's be clear. That extra 40,000 troops? Not a single one, emphasis added above and, indeed, in the speech, are heading Baghdad way. Just in case anyone got some crazy idea...But what, heaven forbid, if they were needed there? Non-starter, it would seem. Another indication that faux-realism in Iraq is code for let's get out sooner rather than later.

As far as troop withdrawal, even President Bush had hopes that troops would be on the way out by now. It is one of the reasons we have spent more in Iraq than we predicted, which would seem to reinforce the whole lack of planning idea on the Bush side.

I think this is looked at in the wrong light as well. I believe Kerry means that we are not going to add 40,000 troops to our numbers in Iraq. These are troops that will be sent to Iraq to relieve those who have been a victim of the "backdoor draft." They will go to Iraq, but they will not raise the overall number of troops there.

As far as not adding troops to Iraq, well, I think it goes without saying that if more troops were needed that he would send them. To argue that he wouldn't under any circumstances is a paper tiger. Why not send a letter to him and ask him to clarify. You can ask what he would do if a hole sucked up 20,000 of our troops, or if a polar bear attacked. Make up your own list.

Then there is a quote from Andrew Sullivan. Here's the key point:
His strategy is pure defense. This sentence is his strongest threat: "Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response." So let's wait, shall we?

Now we juxtapose with Kerry's speech:
Before you go to battle, you have to be able to look a parent in the eye and truthfully say: "I tried everything possible to avoid sending your son or daughter into harm's way. But we had no choice. We had to protect the American people, fundamental American values against a threat that was real and imminent." So lesson number one, this is the only justification for going to war.

Oh, so real and imminent threats will meet with action. Doesn't seem to be a wait and see attitude to me.

Again, that's just a quick react to the whole thing.

Bush gets summer flip flops

The next time Kerry gets accused of flip flopping, I'll just call it a change in policy:
In a shift of U.S. policy, the Bush administration announced this week that it will oppose provisions for inspections and verification as part of an international treaty that would ban production of nuclear-weapons materials.

For several years the United States and other nations have been pursuing the treaty, which would ban new production by any state of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for weapons.

How will that impact the strong war on terror?
Administration officials declined to explain in detail how they believed U.S. security would be harmed by creating a plan to monitor the treaty.

Arms-control specialists reacted negatively, saying the change in U.S. position will dramatically weaken any treaty and make it harder to prevent nuclear materials from falling into the hands of terrorists.

Maybe Bush isn't so strong in that war after all. I thought this sort of thing was his first priority. That would mean, no matter what the justification for this move is, that top priority line is a lie, right?

It's a fact!

Think of this the next time the President talks of Iraq:
[Jeff] Greenberg [a professor of psychology at the University of Arizona in Tucson],[Sheldon] Solomon [of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York] and colleagues then decided to test the idea further and set up four separate studies at different universities.

"In one we asked half the people to think about the September 11 attacks, or to think about watching TV," Solomon said. "What we found was staggering."

When asked to think about television, the 100 or so volunteers did not approve of Bush or his policies in Iraq. But when asked to think about Sept. 11 first and then asked about their attitudes to Bush, another 100 volunteers had very different reactions.

"They had a very strong approval of President Bush and his policy in Iraq," Solomon said.

Solomon, a social psychologist who specializes in terrorism, said it was very rare for a person's opinions to differ so strongly depending on the situation.

or this the next time you hear about credible evidence of a threat to the US
by one of his posse:

Another study focused directly on Bush and his Democratic challenger, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry.

The volunteers were aged from 18 into their 50s and described themselves as ranging from liberal to deeply conservative. No matter what a person's political conviction, thinking about death made them tend to favor Bush, Solomon said. Otherwise, they preferred Kerry.

"I think this should concern anybody," Solomon said. "If I was speaking lightly, I would say that people in their, quote, right minds, unquote, don't care much for President Bush and his policies in Iraq."

"You could picture him in the White House, and we would be proud he was there."

The Washington Post sat with undecideds in swing states during Kerry's speech the other night. There are two quotes that made me think he did really well. The first is Kathryn Paolilli, 46, a mother of four who voted for Bush in 2000. She is from Pennsylvania.
Paolilli also said Kerry made her feel that she had a role to play as a citizen. "He seemed to be saying we all have to make this happen. Give me a shovel. I want to dig," she said. "With Bush, it's like he's going to take care of it and we're supposed to go about our business."

The second is a guy from Oregon.
"He is not supposed to be full of energy," said Greg Maurer, 37, an intellectual-property lawyer and a Catholic Republican from a military family. "He was energizing me. I felt like I need to go out and do something for the country."

I remember when the stereotype was that liberals tried to do things for people, as if they were shepherding a flock. These two (hopefully) belie a larger belief that it is Republicans who have now taken the crook. People want to feel involved in government, not feel that government doesn't need them. Kerry managed to call people to action last night, and they were inspired.

These are the signs of a great speech.

How to poll dance

Look at what the Washington Times tries to sell today:
After three nights of nonstop testimonials to Monsieur Kerry's charisma, the Rasmussen presidential tracking poll shows him with the same three-point edge — 48 percent to 45 percent — he had when the first delegates trickled into Boston. A Washington Post-CBS News poll earlier in the week showed the president with a two-point lead.

They must have purposely ignored the warning at the Rassmussen site:
Today's results are based upon survey interviews conducted Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights. Only a small portion of the interviews were conducted following Kerry's speech. Monday's update will be the first based entirely upon interviews conducted following the speech.

Normally I just ignore the Washington Times altogether. But this one I couldn't let slip.

Friday, July 30, 2004

The timing would be incredible

It's just a report for now, but you have to admit the coincidence of the first day after the DNC and this announcement is mind boggling:
Reports in Kuwait on Friday said a man assumed to be Al Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab Zarqawi has been captured near the Syrian border.

I'm waiting for FOX News to pick it up. Of course, it could fall away like all those chemical weapons claims, but I'll probably be at work by then. Stay tuned.

Bush campaigns to comedian base

Beginning a two-day swing through four presidential battleground states, Bush plans to take a subtle slap at Democratic rival John Kerry. "When it comes to choosing a president, results matter," Bush's speech excerpts say.

Results like a $450 billion dollar deficit:
Bush's budget office planned to release its latest forecast Friday. Its magnitude, described by congressional aides speaking on condition of anonymity, will easily surpass last year's $375 billion, the largest ever in dollar terms.

Or the weaker than expected growth in the GDP:
Amid soaring energy prices and fading tax stimulus, consumers tightened their purse strings in the second quarter, leaving gross domestic product well below economists' forecasts.

And there are all the lost jobs, the stretched military, the enviromental rollbacks...

The cost of college

Tom Ridge has announced he may step down as the head of the Department of Homeland Security:
Ridge, 58, has explained to colleagues that he needs to earn money to comfortably put his two children, Tommy Jr. and Lesley, through college, officials said. Both are now teenagers. Ridge earns $175,700 a year as a Cabinet secretary.

Bet that makes Kerry's proposed $4,000 tax credit for tuition look a whole lot better, huh Tom?

You can never have too much pesticide

That's what President Bush seems to think, anyway.
The Bush administration yesterday made it easier for the government to approve pesticides used by farmers and homeowners, saying it no longer would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to first consult other federal agencies to determine whether a product could harm endangered species.

The changes were cheered by pesticide groups. I think that says a lot of where the President puts his priorities.

The presciption for low paying jobs

Reuters(via Island of Balta):
A campaign worker for President Bush (news - web sites) said on Thursday American workers unhappy with low-quality jobs should find new ones -- or pop a Prozac to make themselves feel better.

"Why don't they get new jobs if they're unhappy -- or go on Prozac?" said Susan Sheybani, an assistant to Bush campaign spokesman Terry Holt.

The comment was apparently directed to a colleague who was transferring a phone call from a reporter asking about job quality, and who overheard the remark.

World...safer...oh boy

BBC one, BBC two:
Iraq has become a "battleground" for al-Qaeda, MPs have warned in a report on the war on terrorism.
The Commons foreign affairs committee says there are too few foreign troops in Iraq and Muslim states should be encouraged to send forces.

The MPs say Iraqi forces are still a long way from being able to ensure security in their country.

The report also says Afghanistan could implode with "terrible consequences" without more foreign troops.

Donald Anderson, the committee's Labour chairman, said the Iraq war might well have increased the terror threat in the short term, although it was too early to assess its long term impact.

Because Bush or Cheney would be too obvious...

Colin Powell goes to Iraq unannounced. On the last day of the DNC.

I know, I'm a cynic.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

July Surprise

Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly is all over the announcement of a Al Qaeda capture today. I'll let him do the work while I bask in his glow.
Four weeks ago, John Judis, Spencer Ackerman, and Massoud Ansari reported in The New Republic that the administration was turning the screws on the Pakistanis to round up an al-Qaeda bigshot before the election. That seemed plausible to me, but the additional specification that they had been told the capture should be announced on "the first three days of the Democratic National Convention" seemed like a bit of a stretch.

Silly me. The Pakistanis, apparently eager to please, have done their part right on time.

He has even more here.

A long convention night post

Here's my thoughts on the convention tonight as they happened. They are unedited, except for the addition of quotes that I make reference to. I'll mark the end, which is when I left work. They are unedited, with the exception of spelling errors.

Here you go...

Well, I'm trying to live blog the convention, but will have to wait to post it until I get home. Already two problems have introduced themselves with this idea. One is an accidental closing of the window (my fault) and the other is an over exuberet supervisor with a new toy (not my fault). So I will miss names of certain speakers and what they said, but I will try and stay focused as best I can, and catch up on what I miss when I get home.

Earlier this morning I jotted down this: "After the deficit soending of the Bush years, what ground do Republicans have to complain aout Democratic spending policies?" Then I watched Virginia Mark Warner say the following(paraphrase):
Can you imagine what they would say if the Democrats were responsible for this budget?

His best line went something like this:
Moses wandered in the desert for 40 years. Democrats have wandered in Virginia for 40 years. But this Bush won't lead us to the promised line.

I haven't spent a lot of time learning about the Democratic governor of Virginia, but it is easy to see how he can appeal to a traditionally Republican state with a speech like the one he gave. He also made a lofty promise to deliver his state for Kerry, which would certainly be a coup. I just can't see it happen.

We had a couple other speakers, and then my supervisor entered and make me miss the speech by. Every time I looked up the crowd seemed to rise to applause, and I could make out those moments where the crowd spoke with him. He seemed to get the crowd excited.

Now Joe Biden ascends to the stage proclaiming himself a Democrat.

7:55 It's the second time this convention that I've heard about the French proclaiming us all Americans after 9/11. With the Republicans trying to use that as a bad word, I'm not sure I'd go there. But to say that Bush is not FDR or JFK is fairly obvious. He does not question their motives, but he strongly disagrees with their choices. I imagine without research that Biden voted for the war. If not, then it is a strong statement to make.

I like Biden. Even if he rambles on sometimes, I still seem to agree with most of what he says. He seems to subtlely hammer home the idea of us being alone in the war on terror. DeGall and JFK quote here. Not a bad speech, but the work around me distracts me from the full feel of it.

8:05 Here comes Wesley Clark. Give him credit for a fine speaking style. I think he can appeal to independants in the campaign from here on out. Even Hillary smiles when he says that "no one can take away that flag from us." And when he says we will "destroy the terrorist threat" it sounds a bit stronger than when Edwards did it last night.

(Here's the quote:)
This hall and this party are filled with veterans who have served under this flag -- our flag. We rose and stood reveille to this flag. We fought for this flag. And we've seen brave men and women buried under this flag. This flag is ours! And nobody will take it away from us.

Did he sound this good on the stump? I think I see why he won Oklahoma by the margin that he did. Then as his rally comes to a crescendo, the call goes out.

Another reason to dislike where I work. I'll have to find a copy of the speech, but he sounded good coming into the gate. Keep him on the campaign until November.

(Here's the end of his speech. Wow, if you ask me.)
They're serving to build something greater than themselves. They're serving to build something worth fighting for. They're serving to build something worth dying for. They are a company of heroes. Everyone who fights for the best in American life is also a hero. Firefighters. Police officers. Teachers, and so many others.

John Kerry's time to lead this company of heroes has arrived. Right here. Right now. In this town. Tonight, from this place, we set out together to put our country back on track to security, freedom and opportunity. America: hear this soldier.

Choose a leader whose physical courage, moral values and sound judgment will -- with the grace of God and our determined commitment -- strengthen our country, protect our liberty, renew our spirit and secure a future for our children that is worthy of our heritage.

Make John Kerry the next president of the United States.

8:17 Joe Lieberman. A shout out to Barak Obama. That would get even Bush applause in this crowd. I can see why he came in so low in the primaires. Joe Lieberman, man of adjectives. Positive, uplifiting plan... I think the cynic in me is coming out here, ut he should tell us about the plan rather than tell me how great it is. Another speech I'm glad is not on any of the networks right now. They can sound bite something out of this and move on.

Will "Shout" fire up the crowd more than Nancy Pelosi? I'm going to put my money down on the Democratic Leader of the house of Representives myself.

On a side note, I woke up this morning saying to myself "Strong at home, more respected in the world." I think its working.

I think I lost my bet. This Democrats have it right does nothing for me, and it doesn't seem to do it for the crowd, either. We can win with the American people, not for, Nanci.

8:45. Madeline Alright speaks. That's all I have to say about that. A nice speech from an average speaker. She had a line or two that in a more skilled mouth would have been strong. I'm not sure why you put here on as the last main speaker before John himself. I think Clark has been the best so far. If the intent was to keep the bar low for John, they've done an excellent job.

I'm sure this has been aksed already, but is it on purpose that FOX News is on the far right of the media booths?

9:25 Alexandra Kerry would no doubt lose to the Bush twins in a drinking contest, but I think she can take them in speechwriting and giving. Warm funny stories are the best thing to humanize a man. Talk of a man being real, and he will become real to America. Watch his favorables after the convention bounce better than the head to head.

The video, his fellow soldiers, and now Max Cleland... wow. It honestly almost brought a tear to my eye to see him roll out on stage. These men are amazing people. It's all been great leading up to the big event. Cleleand even makes the strong at home, safe in the world line feel fresh. Give ups for this:

(insert bible story here)

And now John Kerry.(last line of Cleland speech?)

10:06 Screw FOX News and their whole the floor and Kerry don't agree lines. Four minutes of solid cheers outdoes even Dean. Bring the noise, John.

10:19 "I will appoint an Attorney General that will uphold the Constitution of the United States."

10:22 "I accept your nomination.."
So tonight, in the city where America's freedom began, only a few blocks from where the sons and daughters of liberty gave birth to our nation — here tonight, on behalf of a new birth of freedom — on behalf of the middle class who deserve a champion, and those struggling to join it who deserve a fair shot — for the brave men and women in uniform who risk their lives every day and the families who pray for their return — for all those who believe our best days are ahead of us — for all of you — with great faith in the American people, I accept your nomination for President of the United States.

10:28 "And saying Mission Accomplished doesn't make it so"
Now I know there are those who criticize me for seeing complexities — and I do — because some issues just aren't all that simple. Saying there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq doesn't make it so. Saying we can fight a war on the cheap doesn't make it so. And proclaiming mission accomplished certainly doesn't make it so.

You can tell he's in a rush to bring it in on time. He's talking over applause. Let
it come, John. Let it come.

10:37 "Values spoken without actions taken are just slogans"
For four years, we've heard a lot of talk about values. But values spoken without actions taken are just slogans. Values are not just words. They're what we live by. They're about the causes we champion and the people we fight for. And it is time for those who talk about family values to start valuing families.

You don't value families by kicking kids out of after school programs and taking cops off our streets, so that Enron can get another tax break.

We believe in the family value of caring for our children and protecting the neighborhoods where they walk and play.

And that is the choice in this election.

You don't value families by denying real prescription drug coverage to seniors, so big drug companies can get another windfall.

Around this time a Republican heckler enters the room. I hopefully put him in his place.
Everytime he rejects an idea, I tell him he's pessimistic. It's fun to be a democrat once

10:52 "God on our side"
And that's why Republicans and Democrats must make this election a contest of big ideas, not small-minded attacks. This is our time to reject the kind of politics calculated to divide race from race, group from group, region from region. Maybe some just see us divided into red states and blue states, but I see us as one America — red, white, and blue. And when I am President, the government I lead will enlist people of talent, Republicans as well as Democrats, to find the common ground — so that no one who has something to contribute will be left on the sidelines.

And let me say it plainly: in that cause, and in this campaign, we welcome people of faith. America is not us and them. I think of what Ron Reagan said of his father a few weeks ago, and I want to say this to you tonight: I don't wear my own faith on my sleeve. But faith has given me values and hope to live by, from Vietnam to this day, from Sunday to Sunday. I don't want to claim that God is on our side. As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side. And whatever our faith, one belief should bind us all: The measure of our character is our willingness to give of ourselves for others and for our country.

I think we are ready. 5-7 point bounce, Kerry favorablility up at least 10 points.
Time for me to go.

So now I'm home. The 5-7 may be a bit high, but Kerry was on. People I talked to who weren't totally into politics stopped to watch him for a while. Afterwards they said they were interested in what he had to say, and they thought it was a good speech. Those are the people who Kerry needs to get involved. And he reached them. Great speech.

The "Award Winning" Bush Administration

Privacy International's sixth annual U.K. Big Brother Awards were announced on Wednesday, and one of Bush's policies was honored with a surprise victory:
Big Brother Awards are now held as an annual event in 17 countries. Each event typically focuses on privacy violations in the host country.

But Privacy International opted to make an exception this year by including in the U.K. awards a U.S. initiative, US-Visit. This security program requires that most foreign visitors traveling to the United States on a visa have their index fingers digitally scanned and a digital photograph taken, so that immigration officers can verify their identity before the visitors are allowed entry into the United States.

"The scheme is offensive and invasive, and has been undertaken with little or no debate or scrutiny," said Simon Davies, director of Privacy International. "Nor has the requirement taken any account of the 'special relationship' between the U.K. and the U.S. The U.K. government has been silent about the program and has capitulated every step of the way."

Way to go, George!

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Edwards and co.

So I missed most of it. Being at work does not make for good convention watching. Edwards delivered a fine speech, and you can read all about it at Pandagon.
Edwards speech is, essentially, the American Dream is coming. The refrain "hope is on the way" is the subtle way of saying a better future is coming -- and that the current Administration is impeding its arrival. It's an attack wrapped in optimism; it relies on real problems, issues divorced from the beltway and separate from politician's characters. It's not an attack on Bush so much as a broadside against what's wrong with this country and a promise to change it.

He's laid out the Kerry Administration's agenda and the Bush Administration's failings in one package, and done so in an exclusively positive way. That's his genius, after all. The politics of optimism are often mistaken as benign, the politics of hope empty. Not so. Sometimes they form the most relevant and effective attack. People vote for a country more than a leader, Edwards articulated the deficiencies -- and case for change -- in both.

Read the speech yourself here. My favorite line? Early on when he said:
They are doing all they can to take this campaign for the highest office in the land down the lowest possible road.

oh, and I got a little chill at this:
And together, we will ensure that the image of America — the image all of us love — America this great shining light, this beacon of freedom, democracy, and human rights that the world looks up to — that that beacon is always lit.

The AP clearly jumped the gun with its headline "Edwards Slamming GOP in DNC Speech". I'm not sure from what I saw that Edwards was "slamming" the GOP at all. I'm not sure the AP read the whole of the speech, or maybe they just commented on what they were given. Either way, it seems the press wants this convention to feature attack messages, something by and large the Democrats have avoided.

The two that stood out (from what I could hear) were Kucinich and Sharpton. Both seemed to have a strong style, and Sharpton seemed to get the crowd going. Read about the two of them here. There was another speaker, one of the female Senators, but I can't remember which one.

I did write down that Terry McAllife told Bill O'Rielly he thought FOX news got their talking points straight from the GOP. That was a highlight for me.

Hopefully we won't be busy tomorrow night and I will have the opportunity to pay closer attention. Wish me luck.

The world is still safer...

The Iraqi health ministry says a suicide car bombing in the city of Baqubah has killed at least 68 people and wounded many more. The blast is the deadliest attack since the June handover of power to Iraq's interim government.

Cheney said weakness leads to these sorts of things. I wonder what conclusion he would draw from this.

Our closest ally

British soldiers killed a 26-year-old Iraqi civilian by repeatedly beating him on the neck, chest and genital areas, High Court judges have heard.
Baha Mousa was one of six Iraqis whose families are challenging the UK Government's decision not to hold an independent inquiry into their deaths.

Fellow hotel worker Kifah Taha al-Mutari said soldiers competed to see who could kick detainees the furthest.

The six test cases include the shootings of four Iraqi civilians.

The victims were either at home, walking in the street or driving when they were shot, allegedly by soldiers from the Kings Own Regiment.

More trouble in Florida

Yee haw:
Detailed electronic records from Miami-Dade County's first widespread use of touchscreen voting machines were lost in computer crashes last year, erasing information from the September 2002 gubernatorial primaries and deleting some records of other elections, elections officials said Tuesday.


The loss of data underscores problems with the touchscreen voting machines, the citizen's group said. "This is a disaster waiting to happen," said Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, chairwoman of the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition. "Of course it's worrisome."

The group is concerned about the machines' effectiveness, following revelations about other problems with the system. Last month, state officials said the touchscreen systems used by 11 counties had a bug that would make a manual recount impossible. Earlier this month, a newspaper study indicated touchscreen machines did not perform as well as those that scanned paper ballots.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

The world today is safer...

Doctors Without Borders, a Brussels- based aid agency, said it is withdrawing from Afghanistan because of the lack of security and attempts by the U.S.-led coalition to make aid a political issue, the Associated Press reported.

Sounds safe to me.

The Reverend David Alston

Everyone raved about his speech last night. Stakeholder provides the link.
Manning the deck guns, most of us got wounded sooner or later, including
Lieutenant Kerry. It would have been easiest, in an ambush, to simply rake the
shore with return fire and roar on down the river to safety. But Lieutenant
Kerry was known for taking the fight straight to the enemy. I can still see
him now, standing in the doorway of the pilothouse, firing his M-16, shouting
orders through the smoke and chaos.
Once, he even directed the helmsman to beach the boat, right into the
teeth of an ambush, and pursued our attackers on foot, into the jungle. In the
toughest of situations, Lieutenant Kerry showed judgment, loyalty and courage.
Even wounded, or confronting sights no man should ever have to see, he never
lost his cool.
And when the shooting stopped, he was always there too, with a caring hand
on my shoulder asking, "Gunner, are you OK?" I was only 21, running on fear
and adrenaline. Lieutenant Kerry always took the time to calm us down, to
bring us back to reality, to give us hope, to show us what we truly had within
ourselves. I came to love and respect him as a man I could trust with life

One good Reagan deserves...

Now that Ron Reagan has spoken at the Democratic National Convention (and there is no way you can consider that non-partisan), the Republicans would like to trump him with Nancy at theirs. But she's not biting.
Initial inquiries from party officials to Mrs. Reagan's advisors in California have been rebuffed, a Reagan confidant said, "but they may still be working on her."

Ed Gillepse, Republican National Committee chairman said he would understand if she did not attend, as she has been through a lot lately. Over at the National Republic, they aren't buying it:
Nancy Reagan is undoubtedly drained and in mourning. But that wasn't enough to keep her from speaking last month at the public christening of an aircraft carrier named after her husband. Sure, a national convention is a much bigger ordeal than a ceremony naming an aircraft carrier. But I have a feeling that's not what's going on here--and that Gillespie knows it.

As Puff Daddy once said, it's all about the stem cells, baby.

MSNBC loves Obama

Matthews called him "the first black president."

Fineman said Rove's heart sank when he heard this:
They know that parents have to parent, that children can't achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. No, people don't expect government to solve all their problems.

Meanwhile FOX News wants to talk about Teresa Heinz Kerry and claim it was self indulgent. And they spead a lot of time with the guy who says it won't matter anyway tomorrow. So why make such a big deal of it anyway. Ceci Connolly of the Washington Post and whoever is next to her say the speech hits with women.

Again, thankfully, the focus is off the early guys who were off the positive message to me.

The convention so far

Wow. Before Obama came out I thought I heard the bar that got raised last night had hit the floor. None of the speakers generated excitement for me. There message was off and more negative I think then it should have been. I began to feel a dread I have not felt in weeks.

Then Obama begin, and I could feel a smile tug a the corner of my lips. This is a solid double, and for a guy giving a keynote speech without even being elected yet, that's damn good. Then he hit his stride and I thought, 'Good lord, he's legging out a triple.' He ended strong, and a big smile filled my face. Hopefully Reagan and Teresa Heinz Kerry can keep it up. And hopefully the media will focus on Obama rather than Kennedy.

Dean, to keep the baseball analogy, drew a walk. Nothing great, but a nice message. Kind of like an afterschool special. Let's see what we have left.

*UPDATE* Here's a link to the speech. Here's the part I was talking about:
Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America — there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

Ron Reagan did well. I missed the children portion of the show, but I can only assume her "time out" part was about Cheney and the "F" word. Teresa Hinez Kerry is on now, doing a nice job as well. Hopefully we're back on track for tomorrow night's show.

I have to work tomorrow and Thursday, so I won;t be here like I was the last two night. I'll have to take notes and post my thoughts when I get home. I know the both of you will wait.

*UPDATE TOO* Carl Cameron of FOX just said the Obama "absolutely rocked the house." Most of the bloggers at the convention say he hit it out of the park. For me to perceive a triple all the way at home shows how strong he was. I think the big news is clearly Barak Obama, and the others get a cursory mention, which should mean day two turns out to be a slight win. Bring on Edwards.

Martinez tries to get back in the race

Since I've talked about his campaign a couple of times already, I thought I'd late anyone who comes her for the latest Martinez news know that he's launching his first TV ads featuring George Bush.
Martinez, who was Bush's Housing and Urban Development secretary, was recruited by White House political operatives to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Bob Graham, who is retiring after 18 years in the office.

Recent polls show Martinez trailing former Orlando-area Congressman Bill McCollum, who ran for the U.S. Senate four years ago and lost to Democrat Bill Nelson.

The footage of Bush in the ad comes from visits he made to Florida. During several stops, Bush went out of his way to praise Martinez. The president did not do any special filming for the campaign, according to Martinez strategists. Bush has not formally endorsed Martinez, and his brother, Gov. Jeb Bush, has remained neutral in the race, saying only that he will support the eventual nominee.

Don't forget to RSVP

Michael Moore has arraigned to host a screening of Farenhiet 9/11 in Texas, and has invited a special guest.
Texas cinemas have refused to show the documentary in the state.

But a small Texas peace group has agreed to host the film.

Director Michael Moore invited Mr Bush to attend, saying he wanted a chance to thank him personally for starring in the film.

Maybe f he held it in a swing state Bush would be more likely to show up? Now I'm not a GOP strategist, but if Moore had put out a movie like that about me, I'd take him up on it. Show I was graceful in the face of my enemies. I'm pretty sure there is no need to worry about that, though.

Truth in the media

No More Mister Nice Blog finds Jonah Goldberg lacking in truth:
According to a New York Times survey of [Democratic convention] delegates, ... 5 out of 6 say the war on terrorism and national security aren't that important....

--Jonah Goldberg, Democratic-bashing column written for USA Today (pinch-hitting for Ann Coulter)

The war, Iraq and terrorism are not seen by the delegates as the most important issues in their states, the poll shows. Only one in six cited them as most important. Half of the delegates, on the other hand, said the most important issues were the economy and jobs, and one-third of all voters agree.

--New York Times, July 25, 2004

Withholding funds

Not only are we bribing the people of Iraq to like us, but now we are using extortion as well, dropping leaflets on the town of Fallujah(link via Atrios):
"If the security situation does not improve you will lose $102-million, which is already allocated and approved. This amount of money will be transferred to peaceful and open towns," the leaflet said.

Is this any way to teach people how to run a country?

Everybody's doin it, doin it...

I'll admit the photo of Kerry wasn't that flattering, but to claim it's a Dukakis moment is a stretch. And I would love to see these photos:
...the Kerry camp, asked for a response, sent photos of Bush in a ceremonial kimono, cheerleading at Yale and picking his nose years ago at a baseball game.

"The only candidate who plays dress-up is George W. Bush. He is the one who put on a flight suit, landed on an aircraft carrier and said `mission accomplished,'" a Kerry official said.

The Democrats are fighting fire with fire this year, and it should make for a fun few months for bloggers everywhere.

California budget passes

And while it looks good to finally have a budget passed, it seems to be that Governor Schwarzenegger lost to those he called "girlie men," which makes one wonder what we should now call Arnold.
To win Democratic support, Schwarzenegger agreed to reverse many of his most contentious cuts proposed in January. The plan welcomes back some of the thousands of qualified college students to the state's most prestigious university system, after the governor proposed diverting them to community colleges. In-home assistants for the elderly and disabled will not see their salaries pared to minimum wage as the governor had first planned.


The new governor also came up short in his plans to wrest $300 million in salary concessions from the powerful prison guards' union and dropped demands that other state workers give up a scheduled 5 percent raise.


GOP legislators also backed off immediate demands to rework another law that restricted school districts from hiring private firms for services such as busing students.

One of the thorniest issues tying up budget talks, however, had been funding for cities and counties, which had agreed to give up $1.3 billion to help narrow what was once a $12 billion budget shortfall. In exchange, local governments sought safeguards for their funds in the future.

For weeks, budget writers haggled over the right balance between protecting local governments from state tax grabs and allowing legislators flexibility to tap local money in tough budget times.

Schwarzenegger worked the phones through the weekend, calling mayors and county supervisors to reach consensus.

According to the outlines of the deal, the Legislature could tap local funds again starting in 2008 with a two-thirds vote -- not the higher margin Schwarzenegger and local leaders had been seeking.

A recent poll showed a drop in Arnold's approval rating already. I can't imagine local papers portraying the budget battle this way will be good for him. Next months poll should have him right around the 50% mark I think, nowhere near what the Bushie's would want from a convention speaker.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Convention Summary

Believe it or not, Andrew Sullivan provides a good recap of the night, and asks the same question I did: How do you top tonight?
I'm still somewhat in shock at the first night of the Democratic Convention. I kept thinking i was at a Republican convention. Tightly scripted, elegantly choreographed, seamlessly on the centrist message of war, unity, maturity and judgment.


If the first night is any indicator, the Democrats have played the smartest, strongest card of the campaign so far. First off, they put 9/11 front and foremost, insisting that this is their catastrophe too, and the center of their concerns as well. A vital move.

He even liked Carter:
After 9/11, America stood proud, wounded but determined and united. A cowardly attack on innocent civilians brought us an unprecedented level of cooperation and understanding around the world.

But in just 34 months we have watched with deep concern as all this good will has been squandered by a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations.
If you're a worried undecided voter, you may nott agree with all that. But you'll be troubled by enough of it to consider Kerry. And then there was the gut-punch: the indirect use of Bush's dubious National Guard service. In fact, the way in which the Democrats used the service record of Kerry against Bush was straight out of the Republican playbook. It's a pretty low blow, and Carter delivered it with a deep thud. When you describe someone as weak on defense and a draft-dodger, you're usually a Republican. But not this time.

Go figure.

Gore speech vetted or not?

...last night, Al Gore's speech was basically torn up, according to two sources, and is now being rewritten, presumably to fit more closely with the party line.

New York Times:
Mr. Gore did not submit his speech to the Kerry campaign until mid-afternoon on Monday, and the Kerry campaign did not ask for any changes in it, said Mr. Kerry’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Cutter. A Gore advisor said the former vice president was up most of the night writing his speech.

Assign sides in your home and debate. Five minutes for each side. Start.. now.

Bill Clinton

Wow. I've always been averst to term limits. But remember when we had a man who could speak like that in the White House?

Republicans need division. Wisdom and strength are not opposing values. Jon Kerry as the man who says "send me."

And the whole tax cut idea? That it was a tax cut for him? Well that grated on me a bit. But think how it grates on Republicans who now know that their policies are helping Bill Clinton.

Just an incredible speech. I'll find a link soon.

Oh, and Joe Scarborough just said he could sleep at night with Kerry in the White House knowing he went into the fire to save a man in Vietnam. Yeah, that Joe Sacrborough.

A hell of a night to top.

*UPDATE* Here's a link to the speech, sans some extemperaneous comments. Its hard to snip and cut becuase it all flows so well together. But you could tell he was on when he hit this point home.
Democrats and Republicans have very different and honestly held ideas on that choices we should make, rooted in fundamentally different views of how we should meet our common challenges at home and how we should play our role in the world. Democrats want to build an America of shared responsibilities and shared opportunities and more global cooperation, acting alone only when we must.

We think the role of government is to give people the tools and conditions to make the most of their lives. Republicans believe in an America run by the right people, their people, in a world in which we act unilaterally when we can, and cooperate when we have to.

They think the role of government is to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of those who embrace their political, economic, and social views, leaving ordinary citizens to fend for themselves on matters like health care and retirement security. Since most Americans are not that far to the right, they have to portray us Democrats as unacceptable, lacking in strength and values. In other words, they need a divided America.

Get that man a campaign

Wow. The Rev. David Alston is off the hizzy for shizzy. That man can speak, and the crowd is back for the rest of the night.


And the 9/11 tribute was beautifully done as well. Even Rich Lowry at the Corner agrees.
9/11 LIGHTS [Rich Lowry]
This is great stagecraft. Moving...

Here comes the Clintons

Jimmy Carter

Here's the text of his speech. Certainly not as stirring as Al Gore's was. But a bit more bite to it.
In repudiating extremism we need to recommit ourselves to a few common-sense principles that should transcend partisan differences. First, we cannot enhance our own security if we place in jeopardy what is most precious to us, namely, the centrality of human rights in our daily lives and in global affairs. Second, we cannot maintain our historic self-confidence as a people if we generate public panic. Third, we cannot do our duty as citizens and patriots if we pursue an agenda that polarizes and divides our country. Next, we cannot be true to ourselves if we mistreat others. And finally, in the world at large we cannot lead if our leaders mislead.

You can't be a war president one day and claim to be a peace president the next, depending on the latest political polls. When our national security requires military action, John Kerry has already proven in Vietnam that he will not hesitate to act. And as a proven defender of our national security, John Kerry will strengthen the global alliance against terrorism while avoiding unnecessary wars.

*UPDATE* Apparently those on the Daily Kos message board feel the opposite way(It's an open thread, scroll down). I'll watch it again later on and see if I feel differently. The text is strong, but his delivery lacked something to me.

About four years too late.

This week, the first case to litigate the constitutionality of punch-card voting is scheduled to commence in federal court in Ohio.

The challenge is brought by three law professors and the American Civil Liberties Union, who claim that a disproportionate number of minorities in three Ohio counties had their votes rejected in the last presidential election because of punch-card voting. The case, Stewart v. Blackwell, No. 5:02CV-2028 (N.D. Ohio), begins today before Judge David Dowd.

The lawsuit contends that Ohio voting system inconsistencies violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The suit seeks a court order requiring the Ohio secretary of state to decertify the punch-card ballot. They want to invalidate the system to put pressure on state officials to come up with a voting method with an equal statistical error rate for all voters.

"In Ohio, people that vote in punch card counties have a statistically higher probability of having their votes thrown out because of an error," said Professor Richard Saphire of the University of Dayton School of Law, one of the lead plaintiffs' lawyers.

Even if the case has a quick outcome, there is no way this will be fixed for this election either. Too bad, since Ohio will play such a pivital role this year.

The Gore Speech

Wow. I can't help and watch that guy and wonder what would have happened if he had ran for President instead of that other guy. He seemed funny and likeable... almost able to pass the "have a beer with him" test. I hope they are all like this.

Here's the text.

*UPDATE* Even the Guys at the New Republic seemed to like it. I'm not sure why this is my bar to set, but it is, so this was surprising to read.
If Al Gore had matched his pitch to the moment as perfectly in 2000 as he did tonight, he would be running for reelection today. Everyone had wondered which Al Gore would show up: the New Democrat of his Senate career, the populist of convention 2000, the gracious statesman of the December 2000 concession speech, or the bitter left-winger of 2003. We got a little bit of all of the above, in a pretty effective combination.

FOX News silences Gore

CNN and MSNBC now have the Gore speech live. FOX News? Bill O'Rielly talking about the "shove it" incident last night. Maybe its payback for the booing.

*MORE* According to Bob Harris sitting in for Tom Tomorrow, that's not all FOX did with its first night of coverage:
Unlike the other nets giving the convention live coverage -- CNN, MSNBC, and PBS that I've been watching here -- Fox also talked through the national anthem.

Worse -- I can't believe my eyes -- unlike all of the above, plus ABC, CBS, and NBC, Fox actually talked over the Democrats' solemn remembrance of 9-11.

Because we all know that only Republicans have any right to remember 9-11.

It will be intersting to see their coverage of the Republicans next month. Maybe now that their cover is blown, they aren't worried about appearing nonpartisan anymore.

FOX News honored at the convention

Were those boos I heard when the announcers mentioned a FOX affiliate? I think they were.

*UPDATE* When in doubt, find someone who was there to back up your story. From Logical Realism, blogging from the convention.
I'm pretty sure the whole convention hall just booed at Fox News.

Road Trip!

The SF Gate has an article about Californian's who are willing to canvass in the hot desert sun of Nevada just to register voters.
Polls are giving Democratic Sen. John Kerry a comfortable lead over President Bush in California, so a growing number of the Bay Area's left-of- center types feel there's no point staying home and preaching to the converted.

Their solution: Hook up with one of a host of new organizations, like last weekend's organizer,, that are coordinating trips to places like Nevada, where their efforts are needed more; Bush beat Democrat Al Gore in Nevada by a shade under 21,000 votes in 2000.

If you want to get involved and live near a swing state, or simply want to donate to the cause of registering what could be the winning vote, head over to

Ann canned

Ann Coulter was hired to write a daily article on the Democratic National Convention for the USA Today. Not anymore.

They pulled her first submission because it was "unusable" and "not funny," the later claim one I totally concur with. Here's a couple of examples of her "humor":
Here at the Spawn of Satan convention in Boston...My pretty-girl allies stick out like a sore thumb amongst the corn-fed, no make-up, natural fiber, no-bra needing, sandal-wearing, hirsute, somewhat fragrant hippie-chick pie wagons they call "women" at the Democratic National Convention(

You can imagine how funny the rest of it is. And is she really claiming to be a pretty girl?

Remember, too, that this is the woman who derides Liberals for name calling and derides them for their open hatred.

Original link via Jesse at Pandagon, who is not as kind to Ann Coulter. I'm not fond of her either, but I hate to play her games. Even my conservative friends out here have tried to disown her, so I'm not really sure who buys her books. Maybe there is a big stack of them in her garage?

Via Drudge, Ann has been relieved of her writing duties for USA Today. Jonah Goldberg of the National Review will take her place.

Johnny Be Goode?

I understand that both Kerry and Edwards are named John, but choosing a song about a poorly educated man who makes it big by playing guitar doesn't seem like the perfect choice for a campaign song.

Just watched Terry McAuliffe introduce Bill Richardson...

...and Terry should never speak Spanish again.

Good polling news

And this is pre-convention bounce:
Democrat John Kerry has widened his lead over President Bush among Hispanic voters nationwide, a finding that suggests Republicans have failed to gain traction within that critical constituency, according to a new poll.

More than half of Hispanic voters gave the president a ''poor'' rating on his handling of the war in Iraq. An even greater majority believes the country is heading in the wrong direction.

Kerry is up in the national poll 60-32. Last election Bush surprised Gore by garnering 35% of the Hispanic vote. If Kerry can keep it here or preferably lower, I think he'll have a new house come fall.

We know already. We know

Can I go on record as saying I am tired of hearing about bloggers at the convention? Even MSNBC has a blog for chrissakes.

Maybe it's my distance from Boston or the fact that my friend Adam knows Dave Pell and I can't be there to be introduced. Maybe I'm just cynical or anxious for the whole thing to start.

Yes it is a great step forward for blogs in general, and maybe in four years I will be at the next DNC/RNC. I guess I want to see what they can do before I call it news.

*UPDATE* I guess the connect I failed to make is that these are people who have something in common with me. They are out there as an extension of myself in a way, and the giddiness they share could very well become contagious. Check on the convention bloggers here and judge for yourself.

the AP's tilted poll

I hate it when you think about replying to an article, then someone else does it before you get the chance. Oh well.

Over at, the "votemaster" takes to task an AP article that claims Bush has the edge in electoral votes. He provides data to refute claims that New Mexico, Wisconsin and West Virginia are "toss ups" and that Arizona and Missouri "lean Bush." His conclusion:
It is certainly true that about 20 states are going to be very close, but there is no basis for saying that Bush is ahead in the electoral college now. A more accurate statement would be Kerry has 222 electoral votes strongly for him or leaning in his direction and Bush has 184 strong or leaning. The rest are tossups. Thus Kerry is ahead in the electoral college right now. But don't bet on it. AP should assign a more experienced political reporter to this kind of story next time.

His current tally? Kerry 290, Bush 237.

Republicans mishandle documents, too

Republicans trying to steal the spotlight from Sandy Berger is my guess:
A Republican senator is under investigation in the leak of classified al Qaeda communications that apparently referred to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, law enforcement sources said Saturday.

The Justice Department referred the case of Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama to the Senate Ethics Committee on Thursday, the sources said, adding that the FBI's criminal investigation was not complete.

Corporate welfare bad

President Bush keeps saying that raising taxes on the wealthy will slow corporate growth and cause job creation to slow even more. Guess no one told these guys:
"Democrats have been more concerned with employment than with inflation, more interested in promoting growth. Growth is always good for stocks," said Tony Loviscek, an associate finance professor at Seton Hall University in New Jersey.

Because Democrats are less likely to propose tax breaks for corporations, "companies have to work much harder for their profits," said Walter Schubert, chair of the finance department at LaSalle University in Philadelphia. "When that happens, believe it or not, they do better."

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Capitalism in action

From the Washington Post:
Cash has become the U.S. military's first line of defense in some parts of Iraq, where U.S. soldiers are distributing money to encourage goodwill and to counter their enemies' offers of money to unemployed Iraqis willing to attack Americans, according to officers here.

And why does this work? Probably because of this:
A study by the college of economics at Baghdad University has found that the unemployment rate in Iraq is 70%.

The study says the problem of high unemployment is going from bad to worse, with the security situation deterioriating and the reconstruction process faltering.

Misplaced priorities:The anti-drug

Yeah, this makes sense:
...President George Bush, who had already promised a more aggressive campaign against substance abuse, has ordered that resources be allocated to fighting so-called 'soft' drugs instead of concentrating on harder forms, such as heroin and cocaine.

This is like saying we are going to allocate more resources to stopping muggings rather than concentrating on rape and murder.

All this makes me wonder if our President isn't smoking something. First the whole denial of lawsuits against drug companies, now this? Does he realize there is an election going on?

This in on the GOP website:
Today Ted Kennedy Said Labels Don't Have Much Meaning, But He Likes To Use 'Em


Sen. Ted Kennedy Said Kerry Believes Labels Don't Mean Anything. ABC'S GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: "Is John Kerry a liberal?" SEN. TED KENNEDY (D-MA): "You know, he'd say probably is -- I've listened to him say labels really don't have much meaning today." (ABC's "This Week," 7/25/04)

Do the headline and the story not jive? The headline says that Kennedy says labels don't have much meaning, but the story states Kennedy attributes that claim to Kerry. The rest of the piece takes quotes from Kennedy where he calls certain bills "right wing" and other nonsense. Like trying to label Kerry as liberal isn't the same thing.

How misleading can a political party get?

The fighting John Kerry

John Kerry fights back in Ohio:
"Four more years of what?" Kerry responded pointedly to a group of President Bush's supporters who greeted him noisily at his appearance in Columbus.

"Four more years of jobs being lost, four more years of the deficit growing bigger and bigger? Four more years of losing our allies around the world?"

Things like this make me giggle with glee.

Iran calls us out

In response to claims there is an Iran/Al Qaeda connection, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters
"...unlike the people who created Al Qaeda, Iran has fought them in a practical way,’’ he said, referring to past links between the United States and Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

That's a snap if ever I heard one.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Can he at least pretend to care?

From the New York Times.
The Bush administration has been going to court to block lawsuits by consumers who say they have been injured by prescription drugs and medical devices.

The administration contends that consumers cannot recover damages for such injuries if the products have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The claim the Bush Administration makes is that allowing these lawsuits would undermine the FDA and could lead to devices the government claims is safe being taken off the market or to a more cautious prescribing of potentially risky drugs that could save lives immediately.

I guess the idea is if one out of ten pacemakers by a certain company is defective, then we let nine people live while the tenth dies. And then this company doesn't need to spend more money to address the problem because the government has already approved the device.

And what happens if not enough research is done on a drug before it receives approval? Drugs like Baycol and Rezulin had FDA approval and caused not only serious health risks but sometimes resulted in death. Who is responsible to those people who suffer because of this?

Certainly poor testing practices or the "fast tracking" of a drug that cause serious harm cannot go unchecked. Drug companies must do studies before they submit drugs for approval as it is. If they have faulty test runs or attempt to minimize findings, why shouldn't they be held responsible?

And if this holds up, how long before someone figures out a way to sue the FDA?

This is probably just another political move in an effort to shore up the base.

Urban Bush League II

Someone asked me how the Urban League speech went for Bush. They pointed out the speech at the White House page had lots of applause peppered throughout, and took that as a good sign for him. The Boston Globe reports it was "tepid" at best:
One day after warmly greeting Bush's Democratic opponent in the presidential race, John F. Kerry, audience members met Bush with tepid applause and sat impassively as the applause lines in his modified stump speech fell flat. Many sat with their arms crossed, staring straight ahead or shaking their heads as the president ran through a list of African-Americans he appointed and pointed to legislation he believes will be of particular benefit to blacks.

An awkward quiet had settled over the hotel ballroom when the Republican president, who got less than 10 percent of the black vote in 2000, stirred things up by telling the audience he wanted them to support his reelection, a request that drew looks of incredulity and murmurs of surprise.

"I know, I know," Bush said. "The Republican Party's got a lot of work to do. I understand that."

That line drew the most enthusiastic applause for any of Bush's remarks, including from the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who attended the conference and sat up front for the speech.

July Surprise

We've heard reports of an July surprise, but this is not what they had in mind:
Thousands of messages have been posted on internet chat-rooms with a subject line suggesting that journalists have discovered that the leader of al-Qaida has been found hanged.

One version of the message says in the subject line: "Osama bin Laden captured".

Then follows the exciting news: "Hey, Just got this from CNN, Osama Bin Laden has been captured! A video and some pictures have been released. Go to the link below for pictures, I will update the page with the video as soon as I can."


Those who click a link are directed to a website to view pictures. But viewers curious to glimpse the corpse of the world's most wanted man will find that attempts to load the pictures get nowhere.

What they may not realise is that their computer might have been infected with a piece of malicious software, a Trojan horse, named because it uses a back-door method of infection and is programmed to steal sensitive information such as bank details. It may also spread spam.

Experts are warning users to ensure they have up-to-date anti-virus software. Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at the anti-virus software company Sophos, said: "Hackers and virus writers will try all kinds of tricks to entice people into downloading their malicious code.

Inadvertently AWOL?

The report from the Pentagon that Bush's payroll records were "inadvertently destroyed" was just an ''inadvertent oversight.'' They were released in the usual late Friday night dump style to keep it low key, and they prove only that July, August, and September of 1972 existed.
Like records released earlier by the White House, these computerized payroll records show no indication Bush drilled with the Alabama unit during July, August and September of 1972. Pay records covering all of 1972, released previously, also indicated no guard service for Bush during those three months.

The records do not give any new information about Bush's National Guard training during 1972, when he transferred to the Alabama National Guard unit so he could work on the U.S. Senate campaign of a family friend. The payroll records do not say definitively whether Bush attended training that summer because they are maintained separately from attendance records.

I'm with Marshall on this one:
I concede the point that payroll records may have been wrong, or rather simply not have recorded times when the future president showed up for duty. But no new information? These new documents seem to provide at least some added confirmation that the president never showed up for drills as he said he did, right? What am I missing?

And Atrios goes even further:
I continued flying with my unit for the next several years [after completing training in June 1970]

claimed Bush in his autobiography A Charge to Keep. That, we've known for years, is bullshit as he stopped flying 22 months later. Tell me again why the liberal media doesn't care that Bush lies about his military service? Tell me again why the military doesn't care that Bush lies about his military service?

Friday, July 23, 2004

The Urban Bush League

From the Washington Post:
"I just don't want to offend them at this point," he said.

- National Urban League President Marc H. Morial response to the question "What is the Urban League's position on the civil rights agenda of the Bush administration?"

That's the kind of support you want before a big speech, right?

Of course, while I was away, the speech actually occurred. Rather than make two separate posts, I'll blend these together.

The speech itself seemed less to do with what Bush can do for them, and more with sowing seeds of doubt with the Democratic party. He talked alot about things he has done, but they are part of his general stump, and there is little new information there.
"Does the Democrat Party take African-American voters for granted? It's a fair question," Bush told the Urban League's annual convention. "I know plenty of politicians assume they have your vote. But did they earn it, and do they deserve it?"

Bush drew applause each time he ticked off one of his questions to the group: "Is it a good thing for the African-American community to be represented mainly by one political party?"

"Have the traditional solutions of the Democrat Party truly served the African-American people?"

"There is an alternative this year," Bush said. "Take a look at my agenda."

Now remind yourself of the quote above. Or you can recall these classic Republican moments:
In January 2003, Bush asserted that a program of racial preferences for minority applicants at the University of Michigan was "divisive, unfair and impossible to square with the Constitution." He took a position against the program in a Supreme Court case and did it on the birthday of civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr.

The BET/CBS poll showed Bush's image still suffers among black voters for the 2000 election recount in Florida. More than four in five blacks believe Bush did not legitimately win the election, and two-thirds think deliberate attempts were made to prevent black voters' ballots from being counted, the survey found.

A Republican state lawmaker in Michigan stoked those resentments this month when he said the GOP would fare poorly in this year's elections if it failed to "suppress the Detroit vote."

You wonder why this party got outvoted by Gore 9-1 in the last presidential election?

All the fixin's in Sept 11 commission report

Despite wide spread speculation by the right, the September 11 commission was able to look at every document needed to finish its report. This comes despite some protests that documents that Sandy Berger removed may have changed the outcome of the report.
Thomas Kean, the commission chairman, told reporters he and vice chairman Lee Hamilton were told by Bush administration officials about six months ago that Berger was the subject of a Justice Department investigation into removal of the documents.

The commission staff concluded that no document was withheld or lost, because of Berger's actions, that was deemed essential to completion of the panel's 567-page report, which was released Thursday, Kean said.

"We don't think the integrity of the report is affected," Hamilton said.


Kean said that the Sept. 11 commission has been assured that they were able to obtain copies of each document that was apparently lost. If those lost documents had written notations on them from Clinton or others, they would have been included in those copies, Kean said.

So there you have it.

More of Mel's delicious irony

When I wrote earlier about the irony of Mel Martinez being the White House pick for Florida Senate candidate and the fact that he was a trial lawyer, I thought that would be the end. This morning I stumbled across this:
Formerly the executive director of the Christian Coalition of Florida, [John] Dowless is now a private political consultant in Orlando.

Because of Dowless' strong connections to the state's conservative religious groups, Martinez hired him several months ago to help the campaign reach out to conservative Christians.

"My role is organizing grassroots stuff for them," particularly among conservative Christians, Dowless said.

In a crowded primary field, many Republican candidates in Florida, including Martinez, are angling to get voter attention by running as far as possible to the right.

Martinez in particular has sought to distinguish himself as the candidate perhaps most vocal against gay rights, including running a statewide radio ad encouraging the Senate to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment, and attacking one of his opponents for supporting hate crimes laws that would include protections based on sexual orientation.

Ironically, at least two powerful men working for the Martinez campaign are gay.

One of them is John Dowless, the political consultant. The other is Kirk Fordham, who is employed as Martinez’s finance director.

Martinez is a guy who has likened a country with same-sex marriage to life under Fidel Castro, clearly in an attempt to win the Cuban American vote in Florida as well.
A Christian activist was similarly surprised that the former head of the Christian Coalition of Florida could be a gay man and be working for the Martinez campaign.

Bill Stephens, the current executive director of the Christian Coalition of Florida, confirmed that John Dowless had been the organization's head for about five years in the mid to late 90s.

"Wow, that's shocking and that's news to me," said Stephens when asked if he knew Dowless was gay. "I didn't know anything about that."

When asked if it might affect Dowless' work among Christian conservatives, Stephens replied, "Of course it would, of course. But I don't think I want to say anything else about that right now."

Stephens made a point to say that Dowless was no longer affiliated in any way with the Christian Coalition. "He does not do any work for us anymore, and hasn't for some time."

"Now I have to get back to reading about Judas"

Seriously, I wonder what questions were asked of Bill Stephens to illicit such a response from him. This man helps push forward whatever agenda is asked of him and he does it happily. However once word is out he may be gay, we need to hold him at arms length and disavow our connections with him. It's the kind of thing that draws my ire for the CC.

Ronstadt Redux

You know, if she hadn't publicly stated she would continue to dedicate "Desperado" to Michael Moore, then I would feel a bit more pity for these people.
Linda Ronstadt's political message sent close to a hundred concert-goers home early Thursday evening.

What had been a mellow evening at Wente Vineyards, with the crowd even serenading her with "Happy Birthday" at one point, turned into a rush for the exits by some fans angry by her encore tribute to filmmaker Michael Moore.

"She just had to do it," one fan steamed as he headed for the parking lot. "It was good until the end," another yelled to TV crews waiting outside the concert.

"She's getting out of line; it's ridiculous," said Cindy Williams of Livermore, as she left during the last song of the evening.

As for the calls to boycott the show:
About 20 people angered by Ronstadt's comments dropped plans to attend, but their traded-in tickets were snatched up and the show was sold out Wednesday.

"It was just a handful (turning in tickets) when you consider there are 1,700 folks coming," Wente said before the show.

Dow Te Ching

From The Washington Post:
The way things are going, it's possible President Bush will be the third incumbent in three decades to seek reelection with the Dow Jones Industrial Average lower than when he took office, our colleague Lucy Shackelford reports.

The average of 30 large stocks was 60 points (or 6 percent) lower in November 1976, when President Gerald R. Ford ran for a first full term than it was four years earlier when Richard M. Nixon took the oath for the second time. It was 23 points (2 percent) lower in November 1980, when Jimmy Carter ran for reelection, than it was when he took the oath four years earlier. And we know what happened to Ford and Carter.

The one exception? Daddy dearest.
On the other hand, the exception turns out to be George H.W. Bush in 1992. In that race, the market was 1,027 points (or 46 percent) higher for Bush I when he ran again, but even that didn't help.

The current President Bush saw the Dow drop from 10,588 when he took the oath to a low of 7,286 in October 2002. But it has come back smartly since then. Still, the numbers are less than one would hope.

Another drop today pushed the Dow below 10,000 for the first time since May, and continues its worst losing streak in two years.

News from Iraq

News from the fronts of Iraq. First, an odd admission:
After more than a year of fighting, U.S. troops have stopped patrolling large swaths of Iraq's restive Anbar province, according to the top American military intelligence officer in the area.

Most U.S. Army officers interviewed this week said the patrols in and around the province's capital, Ramadi - home to many Iraqi military and intelligence officers under Saddam Hussein - have stopped largely because the soldiers and commanders there were tired of being shot at by insurgents who've refused to back down under heavy American military pressure.


To show how operations in Anbar have changed, [Capt. Joe] Jasper sketched a map on a piece of paper.

Pointing to a neighborhood outside the town of Habbaniyah, between Fallujah and Ramadi, he said, "We've lost a lot of Marines there and we don't ever go in anymore. If they want it that bad, they can have it."

And then to a spot on the western edge of Fallujah: "We find that if we don't go there, they won't shoot us."

So much for securing all of Iraq for a new democracy, I guess. And speaking of Fallujah:
US forces have launched an air strike on suspected insurgents in the Iraqi city of Falluja, the US military says.
The military said it targeted militants linked to suspected al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whom it blames for a string of attacks in Iraq.

A hospital source said five people were injured in the attack early on Friday morning, including children.

I wonder if there is a connection between bombing children and getting shot at?

Sorry, I guess that's a little unfair.

I realize war is a difficult thing, and the fact that I've never served I guess limits my ability to comment on it as a whole. I hate to read about both our soldiers getting shot and Iraqi children being bombed. I'd love for us to stabilize Iraq and get the hell out of there. But reports like these continue to make me think it is not going to happen. For us to give up on a whole town because they shoot at us seems insane. I had thought that was one of the reasons we were over there now that the "war" is over, to provide security and democracy.

Someone help me understand how these reports, especially the first one can be good for us in the "war on terror." Please.

Those who ignore the past...

From the Guardian Unlimited:
There was no plotting by royalists, no arsenic and no murder. Instead, Napoleon Bonaparte was killed by incompetent doctors and too many uncomfortably large enemas, according to a new study.

One of the world's most enduring conspiracy theories may be laid to rest if research conducted by the San Francisco medical examiner's department proves accurate.

Do with this information what you will.

You do know Jack

Earlier it was reported that Jack Idema, the man who ran his own private prison in Afghanistan, was going to use the "orders from Rumsfeld's office" defense. US officials had denied any contact.

Oh yeah, except for the terror suspect they arranged to take off his hands for him.
Yesterday a US military spokesman, Major Jon Siepmann, admitted that they had received a detainee captured by Mr Idema's organisation, Counter Group, at Bagram on May 3.

Major Siepmann said that Mr Idema had appeared "questionable" when he presented the detainee, and that suspicion grew when, one month later, the man turned out not to be the top suspect that Mr Idema had described, according to Associated Press.

"That doesn't mean at the time that we knew Mr Idema's full track record or other things he was doing out there," Major Siepmann said.

I'm not sure what to make of this story as it moves forward. I would think that Rumsfeld's office authorizing and encouraging a private prison/interrogation center in Afghanistan would be a major issue. So far, things seem pretty quiet on this story. If they can produce any of the evidence they claim they have, look for it to really take off.

Delicious irony

From the Miami Herald:
As the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign rails against trial lawyers, Florida Democrats are basking in a delicious irony that's making some Republicans squirm: The very same White House pushing to limit lawsuits recruited the past head of the Florida trial-lawyer lobby, Mel Martinez, to run for the state's open Senate seat.

The issue surfaced Tuesday, when the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee seized on Vice President Dick Cheney's statements that White House challengers John Kerry and John Edwards opposed limiting medical-malpractice jury awards 'because, frankly, they are too close to the plaintiffs' attorneys.'' The committee distributed an e-mail that parenthetically inserted Martinez's name after every lawyer reference Cheney made.

Martinez is currently eight points behind Bill McCollum in the Republican Senate race, and the White House has recently backed off in its support of Martinez, Bush's former housing secretary. If he can overcome that lead, it will be next to impossible for the GOP to continue the ridiculous anti-trial lawyer diatribe and support Martinez for Senate at the same time. It would be a dream to see this come true and watch Rove and company find a way out of the mess they created. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Kucinich throws weight behind Kerry

In case you missed it:
With the Democratic National Convention set to begin next week, U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich announced his support Thursday for Sen. John Kerry as the party's presidential candidate, representatives for both Democrats said.

So now it's all Kerry. Had Kucinich had more of a following, this would be great timing for his support statement. Instead, it merits this:
"This is a very happy, a very pleasant moment for me," said Kerry, who also spoke at the news conference.


More abuse than previously thought

Looks like we misunderestimated our troops.

From the BBC:
The US military has found 94 cases of confirmed or alleged abuse of prisoners by its troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, a Senate hearing has been told.
Though some cases have been reported before the number is significantly higher than previously acknowledged.

But the report said no systemic problems contributed to the abuses.


However, the report later quoted a February report by the International Red Cross Committee alleging that methods of ill treatment were "used in a systematic way" by the US military in Iraq.

Judge not, because it probably won't stand up

House Republicans have decided that since a constitutional amendment is out of the question, they will try and pass a law taking gay marriage out of the jurisdiction of the federal courts.
After the Senate last week declined to consider a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, House Republicans began pushing a measure they say would bar federal courts, including the Supreme Court, from hearing cases concerning a 1996 law called the Defense of Marriage Act.

"The U.S. Constitution explicitly grants Congress the power to check the federal courts and prevent them from imposing homosexual marriage on every state in the union," said Rep. John Hostettler, R-Ind., chief sponsor of the legislation that would remove the marriage law from jurisdiction of the courts.

Apparently Hostettler feels that once this cat is out of the bag, it will be easy to get him back in. This seems like an awful idea not just because of my feelings on gay marriage, but also because of the potential abuse by the majority in Congress. Why, we could use it to ban abortion! Or bring back slavery! Why not make George Bush our president forever!

Think I'm overreacting?
Making this attack all the more ominous is House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's stated intention to promote similar bills to bar court challenges to the Pledge of Allegiance and, potentially, on other social issues. This is as wrong as wrong can be. The House should not strip courts of their authority in order to protect bad policy -- or even good policy -- from constitutional scrutiny.

After failing to amend the federal constitution, this claim seems a little disingenuous:
"This bill is really a reaffirmation of states' rights," said Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., chairman of the House Rules Committee.

Finally, I thought this was kind of funny:
"The great object of my fear is the federal judiciary. That body, like gravity, ever acting with noiseless foot and unalarming advance" is "gaining ground step by step and holding what it gains."

Those words may sound like something President Bush would say to justify a constitutional amendment barring gay marriage. In fact, Thomas Jefferson spoke those words in 1821.

These words sound nothing like what President Bush would say.

*UPDATE* First story I see when I get home from work? House OKs Gay Marriage Jurisdiction Bill.
The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service said it could find no precedent for Congress passing a law to limit federal courts from ruling on the constitutionality of another law, although Democrats said opponents of civil rights legislation tried to do the same thing.

This is how badly Republicans hate the idea of gay marriage. Rather than waste time with this, isn't there some sort of report they could read, maybe try and make the country safer?