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

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Pre-debate spin

Obviously while at work, I couldn't blog about some of the pre-debate spin. It's kind of funny to look at it now.

Here's Rush. You can find the link if you want to (my bold):
Something's going to happen tonight that's going to trigger him (doing Kerry impression) "Why am I here? I shouldn't have to put up with this! I'm more effective than this," or whatever. He's going to look sullen, sunken, may slouch a bit because he's embarrassed of his height, I don't know, something. He's got a much tougher row to hoe because he's got to act like somebody he isn't, because if he acts like the person he is then that really gets to the bottom line.

Time and again, when Bush found himself attacked with facts and figures, his facial expression ranged from frustration to anger; what the pundits call 'demeanor evidence' was certainly in the incumbent's disfavor.

Washington Post's Jim Hoagland:
The rules constrain Kerry more than Bush. Unless the challenger is prepared to "cheat" Thursday night -- to go up to and even across the lines of prescribed and proscribed behavior -- the devil in these details will tilt the first debate into an exchange of stump speeches.

That prospect delights the Bush camp.

"We've got the better campaign speech and the only candidate who is good at delivering one," says a Bush campaign insider.

I bet that insider is surprised by the polls on who won the debate.

Gallup: Kerry 53, Bush 37
ABC News: Kerry 45, Bush 36
CBS News: Kerry 43, Bush 28 (the so called "uncommited" voters)

Even conservative bloggers seem to agree Kerry won.

*UPDATE* Even more from CBS. It's all good:
More than half of the uncommitted voters said that their image of Kerry had changed for the better as a result. Just 14 percent said their opinion of Kerry had gotten worse, and one-third did not change their opinion.

Mr. Bush, on the other hand, saw very little improvement in his image. Twenty-two percent have improved their image of Mr. Bush as a result of the debate, but just as many said their views of the president are now worse than before.

On the issue of ability to handle Iraq, Kerry was the clear winner. He had a 38-point jump by this measure. A majority of the uncommitted viewers, 52 percent, said after the debate that Kerry had a clear plan for Iraq. Thirty-nine percent said this about Mr. Bush. Before the debate, few thought either had a clear plan for dealing with Iraq.

The panel of uncommitted debate watchers evaluated the debate in real-time, marking favorable or unfavorable opinions of what they heard moment by moment.

Kerry's evaluations rose as he assailed the Bush administration's planning for the war and for asserting that the administration allowed 90 percent of the costs of the war to fall on the U.S. Kerry did especially well with women when he said that Mr. Bush had cut police at home while sending money to Iraq.

Women responded positively in the real-time evaluation when Kerry talked about strengthening U.S. ties with allies and the policy of pre-emption. When Kerry talked about finding al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, both men and women responded positively.

Still, more women think Mr. Bush can be trusted to protect the country from a terrorist attack than Kerry, by 62-52 percent. Seventy-one percent of men said Kerry could be trusted to protect the country, while 66 percent said the same about Mr. Bush.

Kerry also significantly improved his likeability. Six in 10 members of the sample now say Kerry is someone whom they would like personally, up from 45 percent before the debate. Fifty-six percent would like Bush personally. More women said they liked Kerry than Mr. Bush – while men were equally likely to say each candidate was someone they would like.

In the horserace, Kerry now leads Mr. Bush among uncommitted debate watchers by 38-28 percent as their choice for president in November. But nearly a third remain undecided.

The Debate, Round I

Feels good. Feels real good. Kerry looked strong from the get go, hit the two minute mark perfectly from the first question and was strong and solid throughout. I knew it was going well when Republicans watching at work left the room quite angrily, and the undecided voter told me this met he would lean Kerry come election time.

Bush seemed to have about 10 minutes of material to try and stretch out over 90 minutes of debate. I think Karen Hughes and company told Bush for so long he was going to win that he believed he had to do nothing tonight. He looked agitated, annoyed that his record was being questioned, and very unprepared. I think he expected Lehrer to call Kerry a flip-flopper for half the debate and praise Bush for being decisive for the second half. Instead, Kerry looked like a President, and Bush looked like a runner up.

The spinners have been spinning for a while, and it sound good for Kerry, still. The real debate battle starts tomorrow morning with the spin. One guy on CNN called this the other bookend to 9/11, a time when people propped up Bush because we desperately needed a leader, and this is a moment when (this are his words, I believe) the collective breath left Bush and entered Kerry.

Would I go that far? No. But I think Kerry looked a lot stronger than most thought he would.

More on actual text later on, if I can stay awake.

*UPDATE* What he said.

Start the bidding

This should make you feel even safer about e-voting:
Members of the State Board of Elections were surprised to hear reports today that Diebold touchscreen voting machines similar to those used in Maryland were found abandoned recently on a street and in a bar in Baltimore.

Joseph Torre, voting systems and procurement director for the agency, confirmed that one machine was found, but assured board members it did not belong to Maryland.


David Bear, a Diebold spokesman, said he was not aware that a machine had been turned in.

Asked about the possible origin of the machine, Torre said, "You can buy one on eBay."

Please tell me he's joking. If not, what prevents someone from buying a machine, setting it up in a highly partisan precint, and denying those people a right to vote?

Ebay currently seems to have none for sale. I think I'll contact Diebold tonight when I get home and see what they say.

Guess who said it

Via The Carpetbagger Report, about invading Iraq:
Once we had rounded [Sadaam Hussien] up and gotten rid of his government, then the question is what do you put in its place? You know, you then have accepted the responsibility for governing Iraq.

Now what kind of government are you going to establish? Is it going to be a Kurdish government, or a Shi'ia government, or a Suni government, or maybe a government based on the old Ba'athist Party, or some mixture thereof? You will have, I think by that time, lost the support of the Arab coalition that was so crucial to our operations over there because none of them signed on for the United States to go occupy Iraq. I would guess if we had gone in there, I would still have forces in Baghdad today, we'd be running the country. We would not have been able to get everybody out and bring everybody home.

And the final point that I think needs to be made is this question of casualties. I don't think you could have done all of that without significant additional US casualties. And while everybody was tremendously impressed with the low cost of the conflict, for the 146 Americans who were killed in action and for their families, it wasn't a cheap war. And the question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam worth? And the answer is not very damned many. So I think we got it right, both when we decided to expel him from Kuwait, but also when the President made the decision that we'd achieved our objectives and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq.

Answer? Dick Cheney, 1992.

Hear no evil

The Center for Strategic and International Studies released a report stating Iraq forces will not be fully trained until late 2005 at the earliest. Doesn't the liberal media realize this is the kind of thing that could demoralize our troops in Iraq? Good thing the Bush administration probably won't tell them about it:
The Bush administration, battling negative perceptions of the Iraq war, is sending Iraqi Americans to deliver what the Pentagon calls "good news" about Iraq to U.S. military bases, and has curtailed distribution of reports showing increasing violence in that country.

The unusual public-relations effort by the Pentagon and the U.S. Agency for International Development comes as details have emerged showing the U.S. government and a representative of President Bush's reelection campaign had been heavily involved in drafting the speech given to Congress last week by interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. Combined, they indicate that the federal government is working assiduously to improve Americans' opinions about the Iraq conflict -- a key element of Bush's reelection message.

Nice. Bush has decided to lie to the troops that are fighting to protect American truth. Call me crazy, but I have a feeling that the soldiers already know how bad the violence is in Iraq considering they are the ones most of it is directed at.


Forgot to wait the extra day to file this report(filed from Buffalo, no less):
US presidential candidate John F Kerry finds himself between a rock and a hard place, as the American expression goes, after yesterday’s long-awaited debate on national television.

The pre-election presidential television series of one-on-one debates have become a peculiarly American tradition. Last night, an estimated 50 million people, about half the total electorate, watched the first act in an intense 90-minute verbal jousting between wannabe Kerry and incumbent president George W Bush.

And sparks flew.

The headline was "Bush, Kerry spar in TV debate." I thought that maybe while I was out Kerry had had enough of Bush's smears and fisticuffs ensued. Sadly, I was misled.

There is no word in the article on who won the debate. If you ask me, Kerry clearly succeeded in doing what he had to, and Bush's gaffe will live on in history as the moment he lost the election.

Guess we will have to wait until it actually occurs.

Sugar the pill

Who would've thought that Iraq Prime Minister Ayad Allawi wouldsugarcoat Iraq for America:
In a visit to Washington last week, Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said Iraq as a nation that's safer and stronger with Saddam gone. He said the violence is happening mostly in certain pockets and is not widespread. His words echoed those of President Bush.

But some people who live and work here - including U.S. civilian contractors, security firms and charity groups - see a deteriorating security situation. Hashami, 41, said she switched off a broadcast of one of Allawi's Washington appearances because "he was not real." Just this evening, she said, she and the children came across a car with two dead men inside, apparently ambushed and shot.


Last week, Allawi cited several cities that are safe compared to hostile areas. Among them were Ramadi, a city about 60 miles west of Baghdad; the northern oil city of Kirkuk, and Basra, the major city and province in Southern Iraq overseen by the British.

But Ramadi has seen hostilities recently. On Sunday a U.S. soldier was killed there by a mortar round. Kirkuk is also tense with struggles between ethnic groups, and one of its main highways is known as a "sniper alley." Basra, Centurion said, has been "fraught with attacks on a daily basis." Two British soldiers were killed there Tuesday.

I like Ike's son

John Eisenhower, son of Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower and lifelong Republican says no to George Bush:
Today many people are rightly concerned about our precious individual freedoms, our privacy, the basis of our democracy. Of course we must fight terrorism, but have we irresponsibly gone overboard in doing so? I wonder. In 1960, President Eisenhower told the Republican convention, “If ever we put any other value above (our) liberty, and above principle, we shall lose both.” I would appreciate hearing such warnings from the Republican Party of today.

The Republican Party I used to know placed heavy emphasis on fiscal responsibility, which included balancing the budget whenever the state of the economy allowed it to do so. The Eisenhower administration accomplished that difficult task three times during its eight years in office. It did not attain that remarkable achievement by cutting taxes for the rich. Republicans disliked taxes, of course, but the party accepted them as a necessary means of keep the nation’s financial structure sound.

The Republicans used to be deeply concerned for the middle class and small business. Today’s Republican leadership, while not solely accountable for the loss of American jobs, encourages it with its tax code and heads us in the direction of a society of very rich and very poor.

Sen. Kerry, in whom I am willing to place my trust, has demonstrated that he is courageous, sober, competent, and concerned with fighting the dangers associated with the widening socio-economic gap in this country. I will vote for him enthusiastically.

A look at other blogs

Some stories other blogs have covered better than I ever could.

Obsidan Wings tells us that Congress is trying to legalize torture. It's a very serious issue and one you should all read. Write your Representative today and ask them, plead with them to vote no on this one.

Kos links to a poll that shows Bush supporters have no idea what it is they claim to support.

My DD has another survey that proves "America is not a country of wonks."

Finally, Digby links to a Salon article about Powerful stuff.

"...Someone who fought in the war and was wounded in the war, and now I'm not allowed to hear my government speak"

Sad but true:
Terry Kirsch, a Vietnam veteran from Canby, Ore., said he later tried to use a ticket to get into the event, but was told the fire marshal had closed the site.


He also dismissed complaints by Kirsch and other Kerry backers about access to the rally.

"This was a rally for Bush-Cheney supporters," [Kevin Mannix, chairman of the Oregon Republican Party] said. "If people have already made up their minds to support John Kerry, then they are welcome to attend John Kerry's rallies."

Remember as an American, you now have no right to see the President speak unless you actually support him. Makes you proud, huh?

Supressing the vote

Who cares more about Democracy, the side that tries and keep votes from being cast, or the side that attempts to make sure your vote counts? Here's two stories to help you decide.

First, Michigan:
Michigan Democrats sued Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land on Tuesday, arguing that voters who show up at the wrong polling place Nov. 2 but are in the right city, village or township should be allowed to cast a provisional ballot.

The state party and the Bay City Democratic Party filed a federal lawsuit in Bay City against Land, a Republican and the state's highest-ranking election official. They say she has illegally refused to count provisional ballots of voters who accidentally go to the wrong place.

Second, New Mexico:
Legions of new voters who registered in voter drives this super-heated election season will not have to show IDs when they cast their ballots, the state Supreme Court ruled.

Siding with Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron, the court in a 4-1 decision said only new voters who registered by mail will have to produce identification.

Voting for the Nov. 2 election begins next Tuesday, when New Mexicans can cast absentee ballots by mail or in county clerks' offices.

The court without comment rejected the arguments of Republicans who backed a far broader interpretation of a 2003 state voter-ID law.

You be the judge.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


Iraq succumbs to the bigotry of low expectations.

National security agencies say Iraq is much worse, and the path to success much more tenuous than Bush lets on.

Things aren't getting better in Iraq. Over 2300 attacks in the past 30 days have occured. At least we haven't lost a battle yet, right?

Even worse, Bush was warned about how bad things would most likely get, was ignored by Bush and co.
Intelligence reports compiled in January 2003 predicted that an American invasion would result in a divided Iraq prone to internal violence, and increased sympathy in the Islamic world for some terrorist objectives, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

The assessments were compiled from the views of various intelligence agencies by the National Intelligence Council which reports to the CIA director.

There was a "big stack" of prewar intelligence reports that said there was a high degree of possibility of insurgency and unrest, and that "winning the peace will be harder than winning the war," one source familiar with the reports said on condition of anonymity.

Another government source dismissed the significance of prewar predictions of unrest in a postwar Iraq. "Anybody who studied Iraq for a semester could say that was possible," the source said.

Which makes the fact that Bush and friends failed to prepare for it even more damning, doesn't it?

And oh yeah, Bush is a flip-flopper on Iraq.

Way to go, Ohio

After a busy couple of days (part of which I'll talk of later), I have a lot of catch up to do. So I thought I'd update the situation in Ohio first.

USA Today has an article about political ads in Ohio and undecided voters reactions to them. While reactions in general were pretty underwhelming in general, a Kerry ad received the highest vote, and another Kerry ad discussing Cheney and his Halliburton ties was the most persuasive.

All that may explain why Kerry is gaining in Ohio. A new Gallup poll has him actually ahead among registered voters, and down a couple percentage points with likely voters. And remember these polls probably do not include all the new Democratic voters that have been registered since the last election.

Finally, earlier we talked about Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell refusing voter registration cards that were on the wrong paper stock. Looks like he's changed his mind. Flip flopper.

Missile command

I have a feeling we will hear from the President soon about how he has protected American shores by deploying a missile defense system. Truth is, he's sold us a security blanket full of holes.
But what the administration had hoped would be a triumphant achievement is clouded by doubts, even within the Pentagon, about whether a system that is on its way to costing more than $100 billion will work. Several key components have fallen years behind schedule and will not be available until later. Flight tests, plagued by delays, have yet to advance beyond elementary, highly scripted events.

The paucity of realistic test data has caused the Pentagon's chief weapons evaluator to conclude that he cannot offer a confident judgment about the system's viability. He estimated its likely effectiveness to be as low as 20 percent.

"A system is being deployed that doesn't have any credible capability," said retired Gen. Eugene Habiger, who headed the U.S. Strategic Command in the mid-1990s. "I cannot recall any military system being deployed in such a manner."

In Bushworld, 20% is probably great achievement. Of course, that number is probably a little high considering the system has failed every single one of its tests. It's like appointing the guy with the lowest GPA to run the school academic team.

And God forbid that 100 billion dollars was spent on proper body armor or armored vehicles for our troop in Iraq. Maybe even hiring more translators for the FBI would have helped protect the country better. But I guess we don't need these things because we are winning the war on terror, and things are going great in Iraq. Right, Mr. Bush?

Bush breaks the law

And I'm not talking about his DUI, either:
The Bush administration violated the law by allowing private insurers to limit choices of some patients in a small trial program of managed health care under Medicare, congressional investigators said.

Preferred provider organizations, which offer members a network of discounted health care providers, have enrolled 105,000 Medicare beneficiaries in 19 states.

In some cases, insurers refused to pay claims for home health visits, nursing care, dental work, routine physicals and other services obtained from providers who were not part of the PPO network, the Government Accountability Office said.

"By law, these plans should have been required to cover all services in their benefit packages even if those services were obtained from providers outside the plans' provider networks," GAO said.

The administration was wrong to waive the requirement, GAO said.


Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Crawford paper disowns Bush, endorses Kerry

The AP is reporting that Bush's hometown newspaper, the Lone Star Iconoclast is endorsing John Kerry for President. Rather than take their word for it, I went to the source. It's true:
The publishers of The Iconoclast endorsed Bush four years ago, based on the things he promised, not on this smoke-screened agenda.

Today, we are endorsing his opponent, John Kerry, based not only on the things that Bush has delivered, but also on the vision of a return to normality that Kerry says our country needs.

Four items trouble us the most about the Bush administration: his initiatives to disable the Social Security system, the deteriorating state of the American economy, a dangerous shift away from the basic freedoms established by our founding fathers, and his continuous mistakes regarding terrorism and Iraq.

The paper pulls no punches, either:
What has evolved from the virtual go-it-alone conquest of Iraq is more gruesome than a stain on a White House intern’s dress. America’s reputation and influence in the world has diminished, leaving us with brute force as our most persuasive voice.

Iraq is now a quagmire: no WMDs, no substantive link between Saddam and Osama, and no workable plan for the withdrawal of our troops. We are asked to go along on faith. But remember, blind patriotism can be a dangerous thing and “spin” will not bring back to life a dead soldier; certainly not a thousand of them.

You should read the whole thing. It is not only a well written endorsement of John Kerry, but a scathing condemnation of the entire Bush agenda. And it sums up by telling most of us what we already know:
The re-election of George W. Bush would be a mandate to continue on our present course of chaos. We cannot afford to double the debt that we already have. We need to be moving in the opposite direction.

John Kerry has 30 years of experience looking out for the American people and can navigate our country back to prosperity and re-instill in America the dignity she so craves and deserves. He has served us well as a highly decorated Vietnam veteran and has had a successful career as a district attorney, lieutenant governor, and senator.

Kerry has a positive vision for America, plus the proven intelligence, good sense, and guts to make it happen.

That’s why The Iconoclast urges Texans not to rate the candidate by his hometown or even his political party, but instead by where he intends to take the country.

The Iconoclast wholeheartedly endorses John Kerry.

A trifecta of links

Apparently, terrorist are like a boy with a baseball bat. They don't care about the politics of the frog, they just want to hit one:
Senior counterterrorism officials say Al-Qaida's threat to attack the U-S prior to November second is not geared at affecting the election's outcome.

Instead, one expert says an attack would be an attempt to make a violent statement to Islamic extremists worldwide.

The official says no evidence has been found that terrorists hope a successful attack might boost the candidacy of Democrat John Kerry. Anti-Bush sentiments are said to be part of a broader hatred of the United States and Western democracies as a whole.

And who had any idea that Europe disliked Bush? We all did. So why do I link to it?
[Bernhard May, a senior analyst at the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin] points out that Kerry has already made clear his belief that Europe should participate more in Iraq's reconstruction. The Democratic candidate has called for sending European troops to help with January's elections in Iraq. The county's first democratic elections will probably require thousands of peacekeeping troops to secure election monitors and polling sites amid escalating violence.

Europeans might find it hard to provide such help, because tens of thousands of their soldiers are already deployed in Afghanistan and the Balkans. Yet it would be harder for the continent's leaders to refuse the man they greatly prefer for president over Bush, says May.
"If Kerry is elected, he'll present us with this challenge perhaps in his very first week in office," May said. "Bush won't put the same kind of pressures on Europeans to help out. He's been rebuffed before."

Which proves both that world leaders prefer John Kerry to George Bush, and that John Kerry ability to get more troops and money for Iraq is not as farfetched as it sounds.

Finally, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we all saw this one coming.

Monday, September 27, 2004

"Stoned slackers" smarter than conservative TV watchers

Viewers of Jon Stewart's show are more likely to have completed four years of college than people who watch "The O'Reilly Factor," according to Nielsen Media Research.

O'Reilly's teasing came when Stewart appeared on his show earlier this month.

"You know what's really frightening?" O'Reilly said. "You actually have an influence on this presidential election. That is scary, but it's true. You've got stoned slackers watching your dopey show every night and they can vote."


Comedy Central also touted a recent study by the University of Pennsylvania's National Annenberg Election Survey, which said young viewers of "The Daily Show" were more likely to answer questions about politics correctly than those who don't.

Comedy Central had no statistics on how many people watch "The Daily Show" stoned.

Afghan elections

Earlier today I mentioned the state of affairs in the Iraqi elections. It's only fair to discuss the other pillar of Bush's era, the upcoming elections in Afghanistan:
The power of Afghan armed factions means elections there will go ahead in an environment of fear and repression, US-based Human Rights Watch says.
A 51-page report released on Tuesday says local warlords are involved in widespread intimidation aimed at affecting the 9 October poll results.

Most are former Mujahideen leaders and are resisting efforts to disarm them.

The study says warlords are using threats of violence to ensure people vote for their preferred candidate.

While the continuing Taliban insurgency often gets more headlines, it is the grip these commanders retain that worries more people here.

Sound like things are going swimmingly. I imagine things would be a lot better if we had taken the time in Afghanistan to get things right. Maybe even as a test run for this whole Middle East democracy idea.

Ohio's Sec. of State outlaws voting Democratic

Things are going to be ugly this fall in Ohio. First, there are reports that Ohio already can't handle new voter registration at its current rate.
In Ohio's largest counties, election boards are getting nearly double the number of registration cards submitted in 2000. The scramble is only expected to intensify this week, as the Oct. 4 registration deadline nears.

"We think this will be the sleeper issue in this election," said Kay Maxwell, national president of the League of Women Voters. "Plenty of people can fall through the cracks."

Now, a majority of these new voters appear to be registered as Democrats. Hiring more workers should help the cause and make sure everyone is registered in thier proper place. But it gets worse. MyDD and Daily Kos both have the story (and who to write in disgust) of Ken Blackwell, Ohio Secretary of State and his Katherine Harris like attempt to supress these new Democratic voters:
In the final days before the registration deadline Ken Blackwell, Ohio Secretary of State, has ordered the local election boards to send out new applications to applicants who have submitted registrations on the wrong paper. The ostensible reason for this order is to insure that the applications can make it through the postal system without being damaged. The Secretary didn't point to any examples of voters who were stupid enough to mail regular weight paper as a postcard, nor did he cite examples of complaints from the Postal Service that this has been a problem. Never mind also that the applications he wants thrown out have already been delivered to the election boards safely.

Not bad enough? Okay:
Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell recently issued a directive to county election officials saying they are allowed to count provisional ballots only from voters who go to the correct polling location for their home address.

Blackwell has ordered that if residents go to the wrong precinct, poll workers must find their correct precinct and tell them where to go, Blackwell's spokesman Carlo LoParo said. They also may cast provisional ballots at their county election board.

Provisional voting allows properly registered voters to cast ballots even when their names don't appear on registration rolls because they moved or they were left off.

"It has a potential of being a very big issue, and how we train and how we prepare for it will dictate how we handle the situation," said Michael Sciortino, president of the Ohio Association of Election Officials and director of the Mahoning County elections board.

The key will be educating poll workers and voters before the election about the process, Sciortino said.

This would mean that votes cast at the wrong balloting place because of state error have the potential to be thrown away completely and not counted at all. Which would seem to be illegal in light of this:
No person acting under color of law shall deny the right of any individual to vote in any election because of an error or omission on any record or paper relating to any application, registration, or other act requisite to voting, if such error or omission is not material in determining whether such individual is qualified under State law to vote in such election.

Silly voting rights laws. Don't you see how out of date you are? Both Daily Kos and myDD at the links above have people you should contact about this mess. Do so. Now.

*UPDATE* Seems the party is already on one case:
The Ohio Democratic Party sued Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell on Monday to allow voters to be able to cast ballots - even at the wrong polling place - as long as they are in the county where they are registered.

Blackwell, a Republican, sent county boards of elections a directive on Sept. 16 ordering them to deny provisional ballots to voters who show up at the wrong polling place. Instead, poll workers must call the board and find out the correct polling place and send the voter there.

Provisional ballots are provided to registered voters who have moved but have not updated their registration with the boards. They are set aside and inspected by Democratic and Republican board employees to ensure they are valid.

Democratic leaders said at a news conference that the Help America Vote Act, which Congress passed in 2002, allows voters to cast provisional ballots at any polling place in their home county.

Owning up to a disaster

Please note that I hope a pray for all who experienced losses in the Florida hurricanes, and I am in no way against federal aid for recovery.

Tom Blackburn isn't either. But he does wonder how the new aid package to Florida jives with the "ownership society" the President's claims he wants to further.
The money they are talking about is usually called "tax dollars." It is an article of Republican faith that the federal government wastes it. On his campaign expeditions, the president often says the taxpayers can spend their money more wisely than the government. To be consistent, shouldn't the Bushes be telling people to dip into their savings or trust funds or whatever and take ownership of the damage hurricanes did to their lives and businesses?

That would be the Ownership Society the president promotes on his daily visits to Ohio, Pennsylvania and points south. If we can provide for our old age better than Social Security, why shouldn't we provide for disasters better than the Federal Emergency Management Agency? Why did the feds pass out blue tarps for damaged roofs when it would have been more entrepreneurial for homeowners to buy their own tarps?

Indeed. Why not stop collecting taxes altogether? Surely we should all own our part of national defense, homeland security, the roadways that we drive on, our police and fire systems...

Republican dirty tricks in New Mexico

So from this article I can deduce the following:

1) Republicans lie in their campaign ads.
2) The Republicans don't seem to deny that they are lying. (Note the defense is that the phone calls will "set the record straight," not that they are based in truth or are accurate.)
3) KOBTV could have done some research and told us facts rather than report the he said/she said crap here.

Iraq elections

They will happen on schedule. There's really not that much left to do:
Farid Ayar, a member of the eight-member Independent Electoral Commission, said recently that the commission has just begun recruiting the 70,000 workers needed to hold the elections. And it still hasn't sent out forms to families to determine who lives in each household and whether they can vote.

Nor has the committee determined how citizens can declare their candidacies or whether the committee will provide them with campaign funds.

Most citizens, Ayar said, don't even know how to vote.

"We are trying to tell people about the elections through the media," he said.

Several major factions have also refused to participate in the election process, citing U.S. interference, unfair alliances and poor representation of certain ethnic groups.

That's sarcasm folks. They have no idea who is eligible to vote. They don't know how to vote or what it means. Major factions don't want to participate.

Flawed elections aren't better than nothing in this case. People already have an excuse to doubt Allawi as their leader. Flawed and partial elections won't legitimize his rule. Look at Bush here in America. Flawed elections helped divide this country to the partisan sniping we engage in today. I'm just glad we don't live in the land of sporadic gun violence and IEDs that they have in Iraq.

Postponing the elections doesn't show the terrorists they won, it shows them we are serious about having elections and democracy in Iraq. It will show them how serious we are about rooting them out and destroying them, and it will show the people how serious this thing called democracy is. Anything short of that will no doubt fail.

Don't believe me? Ask the King of Jordan, ally to the U.S. in the Middle East:
Jordan's King Abdullah has said it will be impossible to hold fair elections in Iraq in the current state of chaos.
He told the French newspaper Le Figaro that only extremists would gain if the elections went ahead in January without the security situation improving.


He said he was worried that partial elections excluding troubled areas such as Fallujah could isolate Sunni Arab Iraqis and create deeper divisions within the country.

"It seems impossible to me to organise indisputable elections in the chaos we see today," the king said.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Terror fatigue?

Is it possible that people are getting tired of hearing about the war on terror? This article seems to suggest as much, showing a lot of people disappointed that Cheney failed to talk about how he and George would help create jobs and health care for the masses while protecting Social Security.

I realize his supporters just want to hear something that says "we fight for the little guy" even if it is poorly thought out and underwhelming. And I seriously doubt we will undergo terror lag in the final month before the election. But I must say I'm getting a bit sick of hearing Bush/Cheney talk the same talk that they have for the past two years about how everything is getting better and the world is safer with Saddam in jail, even if it is not safer in general.

But it did have me a little hopeful that Bush's sole issue would flame out in the month ahead. It would certainly put my mind at ease.

The Keystone

A new poll released from Temple University and the Philadephia Inquirer has Kerry up by two on Bush. More good news:
A majority of respondents in the poll released Sunday backed Kerry's positions on issues, with 81 percent viewing the rising federal budget deficit as a serious problem, 62 percent favoring the government doing more to restrict gun sales, and 53 percent opposed to making it harder for a woman to get an abortion.

The candidates also broke just about even on trust issues.

Here, I think, is part of what John Kerry has to overcome in the debates:
Voters rated Bush as the stronger of the candidates, by 53 percent to 34 percent...

I actually like the bar so low. Kerry clearly has found his game in the last week, and one can only hope he continues his strong showing throughout the next week into the debates. If so, those "strong candidate" numbers have nowhere to go but up, and Pennsylvania swings to Kerry even stronger. Then he can divert that money to Ohio, Florida, etc. If he fails to bump those number up, it is another long election night. I just hope I don't have to work the next day.

The difference

Bush, in an interview with Bill O'Reilly, says that if he had to do his Mission Accomplished speech and fly-in event all over again, he would.

Here's the appropriate response to that:
I will never be a president who just says mission accomplished. I will get the mission accomplished. That's the difference.

Nicely put, John Kerry. Nicely put.

Bush surrounded by pessimists

President Bush:
You cannot expect the Iraqi people to stand up and do the hard work of democracy if you’re pessimistic about their ability to govern themselves. You cannot expect our troops to continue to do the hard work if they hear mixed messages from Washington, D.C.

Colin Powell, pessimist:
"We are fighting an intense insurgency. Yes it's getting worse and the reason it's getting worse is that they are determined to disrupt the election."

Gen. John Abizaid, pessimist:
I don't think we'll ever achieve perfection and when we look for perfection in a combat zone we're going to be sadly disappointed.... We're going to have to fight our way all the way through elections and there'll be a lot of violence between now and then.

At least they aren't sending mixed messages to the troops. They are very up front that they should look out for more car bombs, mortar attacks, insurgent gun fire...

How we doin' in Iraq?

See for yourself.

Reuters demonstrates more of Bush's false claims in Iraq. The fantasy world will not be destroyed by terrorist facts.

U.S., Iraqi Forces Injured by Car Bombs

And this is just sad. We've killed more civilians than the insurgents.

Biden on FOX

Transcript. Wow.
Look, this guy's [Allawi] in a tough, tough, tough spot. John Kerry wasn't criticizing him. John Kerry was pointing out — why is it you guys — I mean, here the president of the United States of America stands up there and sends this signal to the entire world that our intelligence community isn't worth a damn, all it does is guess. And you guys say when he says, "Well, he really meant to say estimate," you say, "well, OK."

Kerry says something, you know what he means, and you make it sound like he's indicting Allawi. That's malarkey, pure malarkey. He wasn't indicting Allawi. He was saying, "Level with the American people, Mr. President, for god's sake.

More. Wow.

Plausable deniability

Does it seem odd to anyone else that the President, when asked if Rove had foreknowledge of the Swifites ad campaign would reply with a "I don't think so" rather than a flat out no? It is nice to know that Bush would throw Rove under the bus once the connection could be proven, isn't it?

Also during the interview Bush reiterates what we already knew, that Bush's judgement sucks. After all, he still thinks the mission has been accomplished in Iraq. Makes one wonder what his actual mission was, doesn't it?

Maybe he's refering to the smokescreen of Iraq as part of the "war on terror" to obscure his abject failure everywhere else?

Getting out the vote

Encouraging news:
A sweeping voter registration campaign in heavily Democratic areas has added tens of thousands of new voters to the rolls in the swing states of Ohio and Florida, a surge that has far exceeded the efforts of Republicans in both states, a review of registration data shows.

The analysis by The New York Times of county-by-county data shows that in Democratic areas of Ohio - primarily low-income and minority neighborhoods - new registrations since January have risen 250 percent over the same period in 2000. In comparison, new registrations have increased just 25 percent in Republican areas. A similar pattern is apparent in Florida: in the strongest Democratic areas, the pace of new registration is 60 percent higher than in 2000, while it has risen just 12 percent in the heaviest Republican areas.

Remember that newly registerd voters won't show up in any of the polls leading up to the election. Registration, however, is only the first step. If you can, volunteer in your local GOTV campaigns and help get these people to the polls.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

1 -1.1 = Bush's love of children

In his convention address in New York, President Bush announced a new $1 billion initiative to enroll "millions of poor children" in two popular government health programs. But next week, the Bush administration plans to return $1.1 billion in unspent children's health funds to the U.S. Treasury, making his convention promise a financial wash at best.

The loss of $1.1 billion in federal money means six states participating in the State Children's Health Insurance Program face budget shortfalls in 2005; it is enough money to provide health coverage for 750,000 uninsured youngsters nationwide, according to two new analyses by advocacy organizations.

"If the Bush administration really cared about covering uninsured children, one of the things it could do immediately is make sure this $1 billion is used for SCHIP," said Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families. "The irony is this president talks constantly about not leaving any child behind and how he is going to cover so many kids. In truth, that ended up being false. He's just moving money around."

Democracy at its best

BBC News:
Leaders of a south-east Afghanistan tribe have told its members they must vote for Hamid Karzai in presidential polls or their houses will be burned.
The decision, which was made by 300 elders of the Terezay tribe, was broadcast by radio in Khost province.

Militants from the Taleban, who are active in the same area, have repeatedly threatened to kill people who do vote in next month's election.

A Karzai spokesman refused to condemn the announcement.

I guess it is no worse than threating the people with more terrorist attacks if they vote "wrong" in the election, is it?

The benefit of low expectations

Liberal bloggers seem to think that low expectations for Kerry in the debates do him good. They should be ecstatic to see this, then:
Beating Bush in these debates -- the first on Thursday at the University of Miami -- will be no easy matter, judging from the extensive record Bush and Kerry have compiled in televised face-offs. The president is an unorthodox debater but an effective one, especially against candidates schooled in the traditional rules of debate, such as Kerry.

I am very nervous about the debates myself. I remember underestimating Bush in 2000 against Gore, and I will not make that mistake again.

I think next week's polls will see Kerry draw even with Bush. His tough language and fierce speeches should show up next week, and he may even move ahead in a few of them, but no doubt too late to be painted as a front runner in time for a debate. The timing could be perfect. I just hope Kerry can come through.

War is peace

I had an idea for a post while watching the Al Franken Show on Sundance tonight, but just found that Paul Waldman at the Gadflyer beat me to it:
John Kerry, Republicans tell us, is a flip-flopper because he "voted for the war" and now bizarrely maintains that said war has not worked out very well. But when they do so - and this is something his own campaign does (in its ads), his own representatives do, and even Bush himself has done, they're saying one simple thing: Bush lied to the Congress and to the American people about Iraq.

Probably more eloquent than I could have put it. He even has a suggestion for the debates.
At some point during the first debate next week, Bush will no doubt pull out his "he voted for the war, then voted against the funding" line. What if at that point Kerry turned to Bush and said, "Excuse me, Mr. President. When you asked us to give you the authorization to use force, you said you didn't want to use it - that the vote was, and I quote, "to keep the peace." You just admitted that you wanted war all along. That means you lied to me, you lied to the Congress, and you lied to the American people. My question to you is, don't you think the American people deserve an apology?

It has potential. Maybe the Kerry campaign can varnish it out in time for next Thursday.

Friday, September 24, 2004

News media continues to discover fact based reporting

I'm not sure that this is news, but the AP reports that Bush is a liar:
_[Bush] stated flatly that Kerry had said earlier in the week "he would prefer the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein to the situation in Iraq today." The line drew gasps of surprise from Bush's audience in a Racine, Wis., park. "I just strongly disagree," the president said.

But Kerry never said that. In a speech at New York University on Monday, he called Saddam "a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell." He added, "The satisfaction we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure."

_Bush attacked Kerry for calling "our alliance 'the alliance of the coerced and the bribed.'"

"You can't build alliances if you criticize the efforts of those who are working side by side with you," the president said in Janesville, Wis.

Kerry did use the phrase to describe the U.S.-led coalition of nations in Iraq, in a March 2003 speech in California. He was referring to the administration's willingness to offer aid to other nations to gain support for its Iraq policies.

But Bush mischaracterized Kerry's criticism, which has not been aimed at the countries that have contributed a relatively small number of troops and resources, but at the administration for not gaining more participation from other nations.

_Bush also suggested Kerry was undercutting an ally in a time of need, and thus unfit to be president, when he "questioned the credibility" of Iraqi interim leader Ayad Allawi.

"This great man came to our country to talk about how he's risking his life for a free Iraq, which helps America," the president said in Janesville. "And Senator Kerry held a press conference and questioned Prime Minister Allawi's credibility. You can't lead this country if your ally in Iraq feels like you question his credibility."

Bush repeated the attack later in the day and Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites) echoed the message in Lafayette, La. "I must say I was appalled at the complete lack of respect Senator Kerry showed for this man of courage," Cheney said.

Kerry's point was that the optimistic assessments of postwar Iraq from both Bush and Allawi didn't match previous statements by the Iraqi leader, nor the reality on the ground, and were designed to put the "best face" on failed policies.

"Facts can be stubborn things," said Kerry spokesman Phil Singer. "When there's a gap between the reality and the words coming out of the White House, we are going to point them out."

Mixed messages

Senator John Edwards released the following statement today:

“The administration’s credibility on Iraq collapsed today. Over the past 24 hours, the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of Defense and the Under Secretary of State have all contradicted each other on elections in Iraq.

“For a President who is fond of saying we should not send mixed messages – you need a scorecard today to keep up with all the different and contradictory statements from the White House.

“The President also talked about the need to support Prime Minister Allawi. The best lesson for any fledgling democracy is that leaders should tell the truth, to always be straight with the people. Prime Minister Allawi’s trip to the United States was filled with all the wrong lessons, lessons from an administration that just can’t seem to tell the truth when it comes to Iraq.”

You can see their mixed messages at the link above. This is a campaign on defense, and they can't seem to pull it together. Democrats on message have knocked the Republicans off. I like it. I like it alot.

Nothing's perfect in life

Those are the words that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld spoke yesterday when talking about the upcoming elections in Iraq. He suggested that elections in part of the country would be better than no elections at all, gently giving comfort to the terrorists by suggesting their actions would in fact prevent democracy from occurring in some parts of Iraq.

But since partial democracy is better than no democracy at all, I would suggest a plan to keep election on track here in America. Bush and co. continue to remind us that Al Qaeda intends to strike to disrupt our elections here in America. To help prevent that from happening, I suggest we set up a dummy election in the following states: Montana, Idaho, Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Indiana, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and Kentucky. The results won't matter in these states, but that's okay, because real elections in most of America is better than no elections. Then we would lower the EV requirement to 175. First man to 175 wins the election.

The dummy elections, however, must be kept a secret. That way the terrorists won't know which state to hit to disrupt real elections, and would not bother us come Nov 2. It may not be the best plan, but hey, nothing's perfect in life, right Rummy?

But how's the economy?

Apparently the Conference Board of economists are all "girly-men":
The leading index, a harbinger of activity in the coming months, had dropped 0.3 percent in July and 0.1 percent in June. On Wall Street, economist had expected on average a decline of 0.2 percent in August.

Analysts said the drop was troubling and could signal further economic turbulence.

"Today's report suggests economic growth may be less robust than previously thought, contrary to the Fed's belief that the economy is gaining traction," said Sung Won Sohn, chief economist at Wells Fargo.

And this won't help:
Responding to an election-season request by Democrats, the Congressional Budget Office estimated Thursday that some of President Bush's budget policies plus other costs would add $1.3 trillion to federal deficits over the next decade.

Now back to the debate over Iraq.

Nicely put

Sidney Blumenthal:
In July, the CIA delivered to the president a new national intelligence estimate that detailed three gloomy scenarios for Iraq's future, ranging up to civil war. Perhaps it was his reading of the estimate that prompted Bush to remark in August that the war on terrorism could not be won, a judgment he swiftly reversed. And at the UN, Bush held a press conference where he rebuffed the latest intelligence.

Bush explained that, for him, intelligence is not to inform decision-making, but to be used or rejected to advance an ideological and political agenda. His dismissal is an affirmation of the politicisation and corruption of intelligence that rationalised the war.

The two branches of government

Republicans in the House yesterday decided that three branches of government was simply one to many as they passed a law to prohibit a federal court to rule on the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

This is one of the first things the House has decided to do in its fall session. Not work out health care coverage or a job recovery package, but a partisan bill designed to create a campaign issue in the fall. If you vote against the bill feeling it is unconstitutional, then your opponent will paint you as one who hates God, or this country, or both.

Any hint of sanity was voted down:
Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., offered an amendment that would have returned the legislation to its original form, under which lower federal courts were barred from ruling on the pledge but the Supreme Court retained its authority. It was defeated, 217-202.

There is no direct precedent for making exceptions to the Supreme Court's appellate jurisdiction, said Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Ill., who backed the original bill and the Watt amendment but voted against the final version.

"The issue today may be the pledge, but what if the issue tomorrow is Second Amendment (gun) rights, civil rights, environmental protection, or a host of other issues that members may hold dear?" she asked.

Who checks the Republican Congress and President? Apparently they want no one to do it.


Why African Americans support Democrats

Perhaps because they actually show up?
It was lost on no one at the Urban League's candidate forum last Saturday that the debate among congressional hopefuls was one-sided. Although all candidates for the 8th, 10th and 11th congressional districts were invited to the Saturday morning event at TC Williams High School in Alexandria, none of the Republicans showed up, leaving the three Democrats and one independent to debate issues among themselves.

The only Republican voice on the stage was that of Bill Cleveland, the former vice-mayor of Alexandria who was speaking on behalf of President Bush's reelection campaign. The lack of Republicans saddened Jackie Madry-Taylor, a member of the Reston Links, who helped organize the event.

"They want to know why African-Americans continue to support in large numbers the Democratic Party, well, you see who was on the stage," she said, calling the Republican no-shows "unacceptable."

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Full court press

I watched as much of the press conference before I had to leave for work where I was forced to watch The View by my coworker. I missed bits and pieces, but luckily atrios has gathered the best parts:
The first part of the question was how come we haven't found Zarqawi? We're looking for him. He hides.

I saw a poll that said the right track/wrong track in Iraq was better than here in America. It was pretty darn strong. I mean, the people see a better future.

Talk to the leader. I agree, I'm not the expert on how the Iraqi people think, because I live in America where it's nice and safe and secure.

The Afghan national army is a part of the army.

By the way, it's the Afghan national army that went into Najaf and did the work there.

I've seen firsthand the tactics of these killers.

Here, however was my shock and awe moment (my bold):
Yes, NBC man, there -- your name?

Q Gregory, sir.


Q Mr. President, you say today that the work in Iraq is tough and will remain tough. And, yet, you travel this country and a central theme of your campaign is that America is safer because of the invasion of Iraq. Can you understand why Americans may not believe you?

PRESIDENT BUSH: No. Anybody who says that we are safer with Saddam Hussein in power is wrong. We went into Iraq because Saddam Hussein defied the demands of the free world. We went into Iraq after diplomacy had failed. And we went into Iraq because I understand after September the 11th we must take threats seriously, before they come to hurt us.

And I think it's a preposterous claim to say that America would be better off with Saddam Hussein in power. I certainly know that that's the case for America and I certainly know it's the case for the Iraqi people. These are people who were tortured. This good man was abed in a London flat, and he wakes up with two Saddam henchmen there with axes, trying to cut him to pieces with an axe. And, fortunately, he's alive today; fortunately, we call him friend and ally. But he knows what it means to have lived under a society in which a thug like Saddam Hussein would send people with axes to try to kill him in bed in a London flat.

No, this world is better off with Saddam Hussein in prison.

Q Sir, may I just follow, because I don't think you're really answering the question. I mean, I think you're responding to Senator Kerry, but there are beheadings regularly, the insurgent violence continues, and there are no weapons of mass destruction. My question is, can you understand that Americans may not believe you when you say that America is actually safer today?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Imagine a world in which Saddam Hussein were still in power. This is a man who harbored terrorists -- Abu Abbas, Abu Nidal, Zarqawi. This is a man who was a sworn enemy of the United States of America. This is a man who used weapons of mass destruction. Going from tyranny to democracy is hard work, but I think the argument that says that Saddam Hussein -- if Saddam Hussein were still in power, we'd be better off is wrong

Note that the President still fails to answer the question and shows how thin his arguments are on the war in Iraq. Reality has nothing to do with Bush and Iraq right now.

The whole press conference was like watching a horrific accident unfold in slow motion. The NBC moment showed everyone watching how Bush couldn't address the questions he was being asked, and frequent missteps show how poorly this guy is when the hand leaves his back and he is forced to speak on his own. The "Iraq right track is better than ours" statement seemed to have him beam with pride.

According to a Kos diary, there was even more of the press actually doing its job.

Hopefully the media will stick to it. Only forty days left to find out.

*UPDATE* Pandagon:
"If we stop fighting the terrorists in Iraq, they would be free to plot and plan attacks elsewhere, in America and other free nations," Bush said.

I want Bush to go say this at a train station in Madrid, or a schoolhouse in Russia. Go stand in front of them and tell them that you've stopped terrorist attacks in their countries by invading and occupying Iraq.

Bush keeps knocking Kerry for saying that coalition where one country bears 90% of the cost and 29 countries bear 10% of it isn't a real coalition, that it's "insulting to our allies". How insulting is it to our allies to hear that the sole point of the war is to prevent attacks on American soil, and, you know, maybe other countries, but if anything happens there, better Madrid than Manhattan, Beslan than Birmingham. When it's terrorism on your soil, it's progress. When it's here, it's a tragedy.

Tax cuts indeed

For some reason, the company I work for has started to receive the Wall Street Journal, and since I am already overloaded on news and issues, I figured I'd give it a read. Page A2 provided this nugget (no link yet, but it is in the print edition for Thursday, September 23, 2004):
Eighty-two percent of the country's largest profitable corporations paid no federal income tax for at least one year of the Bush administration's first three years, a study found.

That's quite impressive. These are profitable Fortune 500 companies that paid not one cent on tax returns for a year of the Bush rule, and many received money back according to the article. Yet we've still lost close to a million jobs since Bush took office. Does this mean we can put to rest the idea of the trickle-down economy altogether? Please?

The sequel is always worse

Thank goodness:
House Republicans plan to revive portions of the Justice Department's ``Patriot Act II'' draft in legislation to address the Sept. 11 commission's recommendations to strengthen U.S. intelligence, according to draft legislation obtained by the Associated Press.

Many of the provisions were similar to the draft copy of the ``Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003'' that a non-profit group said had leaked from the Justice Department in January 2003. The Justice Department said then that it had made no final decision on the legislation, and never submitted it to Congress.

New Republican dirty tricks

I found it odd that I would find these two articles succesively, but there they were. Not one, but two reports from two different states of Republican Governors witholding funding from Democratic districts where the incumbent is under attack while giving money to Republican districts.

It's sad when the drive to stay in power and gather more of it trumps the needs of the people. Sadder still is the lack of surprise when things like this are reported.

Media finally does it's job

It's all but too late to dispel this lie by now, but the San Fransisco Chronicle informs us that Kerry has actually maintained a consistant stance on Iraq. Meanwhile the Washington Post shows us that Bush is quite the flip-flopper himself. What will these articles do to dispel the myths? Absolutely nothing, but it is nice to be vindicated once in a while.

Time to get over it and move on.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

US scientifically proven to still rule Iraq

If you still have doubt as to who's in charge in Iraq, the answer is contained in this New Zealand Times article (my emphasis):
The US has detained for far too long Iraqi scientists arrested last year in the belief that they would provide information about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, according to an Iraqi government source.

Even when US investigators concluded that no such weapons existed the scientists were not freed because the US Administration feared that their release would be seen as a tacit admission that Iraq had no WMD. Earlier this year some 70 Iraqi scientists were under arrest.

This may explain why the US embassy in Iraq is determined to detain Dr Rihab Rashid Taha, who once worked on biological weapons, while the Iraqi Ministry of Justice says it sees no good reason for her continued detention.

It seems that rather than eat crow and give some backing to the ruling body in Iraq, the US would continue to stonewall in attempts to shore up an argument the world knows is false.

Skewed priorities and the inability to admit to the truth. Sounds about right.

*UPDATE* Apparently, we still wield a strong hand in Afghanistan, too, and it guides them aeay from democracy (thanks, No More Mister Nice Blog):
Mohammed Mohaqiq says he was getting ready to make his run for the Afghan presidency when U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad dropped by his campaign office and proposed a deal.

"He told me to drop out of the elections, but not in a way to put pressure," Mohaqiq said. "It was like a request."

More E-voting flaws discovered

Wired News:
Harris said it's possible to alter the vote summaries while leaving the raw data alone. In doing so, the election results that go to state officials would be manipulated, while the canvas spot check performed on the raw data would show that the GEMS results were accurate. Officials would only know that the summary votes didn't match precinct results if they went back and manually counted results from each individual polling place and compared them to the vote summaries in GEMS.

Diebold defends itself saying that the law punishes voter fraud, and the high level of punishment is enough to deter things like this. Of course, this would assume the tamperer would actually get caught, and would be caught in time to make a difference before a President is sworn in. What happens if tampering is discovered too late?

Change of heart

Cheney yesterday:
The reports of the beheading of an American hostage yesterday are another reminder of the evil we face. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jack Armstrong's family. His death is one more reminder that this is not an enemy we can reason with, or negotiate with, or appease. This is, to put it simply, an enemy that we must destroy.

One of two Iraqi female scientists in U.S. detention could be released on Wednesday, a senior Justice Ministry official said, in a move that may raise hopes for the release of a British hostage.

I expect that line will read "this is not an enemy we can reason with, or negotiate with, or appease, except in a few instances" starting tomorrow.

*UPDATE* Time to backtrack:
Two Iraqi female prisoners being held by U.S. authorities in Iraq will not be released imminently, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad said on Wednesday.

"The two women are in legal and physical custody of the multinational forces in Iraq and neither will be released imminently," a spokesman for the U.S. embassy said.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Solidify the base

Bush's Social Security plan appeals to those that matter most to him:
President Bush's push to create individual investment accounts in the Social Security system would hand financial services firms a windfall totaling $940 billion over 75 years, according to a University of Chicago study to be released today.

Babbling Brooks

David Brooks has an op-ed piece in the New York Times that seemingly takes John Kerry to task for offering a plan in Iraq that the media has been on him to announce. It's a throwaway piece, full of deceptions, as Pandagon has already demonstrated.

Here's my favorite part from Brooks:
Substantively, of course, Kerry's speech is completely irresponsible. In the first place, there is a 99 percent chance that other nations will not contribute enough troops to significantly decrease the U.S. burden in Iraq. In that case, John Kerry has no Iraq policy. The promise to bring some troops home by summer will be exposed as a Disneyesque fantasy.

More to the point, Kerry is trying to use multilateralism as a gloss for retreat. If "the world" is going to be responsible for defeating Moktada al-Sadr and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, then no one will be responsible for defeating them. The consequences for the people of Iraq and the region will be horrific.

There is also an equal chance that Bush's "stay the course" policy will continue to be the failure it has been. It is clear that Bush still has no Iraqi policy to speak of. He continues to claim things are getting better when it appears everyone else know they are not. More disturbing about Bush's lack of plan should be that he is the guy who is actually in charge, the guy who gets these briefings from our intelligence that warns of civil war. I would think Mr. Brooks would be more distraught over that.

Secondly, Brooks suggests using "the world" to be responsible in the war on terror means that no one is responsible. Kerry doesn't fell that Iraq and terror is just our problem, but that it is the world's problem. And he feels the world should shoulder more responsibility in this battle. We've heard the numbers, that we bear 90% of fiscal and casualty costs for this battle. It's astounding.

Kerry doesn't want to cut and run from Iraq at the first chance. But he's not blind to the abject failure the Bush Administration has created over there. If he wanted to pull our troops out, he'd just say he'd do it. No plan. No care. He'd just state "our boys are coming home." Instead, Kerry does present a plan. He's looking for solutions, not excuses.

What is the big difference between the Kerry plan and the Bush plan on Iraq? Simple. Kerry has one. And that is the most important step. Then it can be tweaked and tuned to the times. I thought I heard Kerry say today there is no way of knowing what kind of mess he will inherit next January if he takes office. At least he is thinking forward on how to deal with it.

Lowering the bar

The AP tells us that Bush is an idiot, and Frank Lynch says it is all on purpose.

Kerry talks!

In case you missed them, a link to stories on Kerry's Letterman appearance (including his "Top 10 Bush Tax Proposals") and his appearance on Regis and Kelly. Nicely done.

Republicans begin to abandon ship

Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee said Monday he plans to support his party in November but may write in a candidate instead of voting for President Bush.

Nashville City Paper:
Much to the distress of many of my fellow Republicans, I must make the following observation - George W. Bush does not deserve reelection. Being that I am the Republican candidate for the 5th congressional district this statement carries an extremely high political price for me.


I honestly don't know what I'm going to do on election day. The one thing I can tell you with absolute certainty is that I will not vote for Bush.
Scott Knapp


I would expect this at a football game amongst guys, but not at a county fair to an elderly woman: elderly woman was walking away from the Democrats' booth wearing Kerry paraphernalia, when a bunch of "burly guys" started shouting obscenities at her.

Haag said the woman went to notify the security office, but when a security guard saw her Kerry accessories, he told her, "Welcome to Bush country."

The guard is a perfect example of Bush policy, though, right? There to protect, but only if he it serves his purpose. If not, we don't seem to care.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Kerry on the offensive

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


By one count, the President offered 23 different rationales for this war. If his purpose was to confuse and mislead the American people, he succeeded.

His two main rationales – weapons of mass destruction and the Al Qaeda/September 11 connection – have been proved false… by the President’s own weapons inspectors… and by the 9/11 Commission. Just last week, Secretary of State Powell acknowledged the facts. Only Vice President Cheney still insists that the earth is flat.

First, it stops the stupid Bush defense of "If you were against the war in Iraq, then you still want Saddam in power." We all knew it was crap. Kerry finally called him on it.

Second, I like the "23 different rationales" line. While I doubt it will get the thrust from the news media, it does help to show the "single minded leadership" of President Bush has many off ramps, and most of them turned out to be the wrong ones.

Third, it helps to paint Cheney as out of touch with reality. I think we've known that for a while now.

Electablog points out from a Washington Post article an outline of Kerry's four point plan in Iraq, which has about four more points than Bush's does.

Kos points out something even more important. Later today Bush will give a speech in response to the Kerry one linked above (go read the whole thing, I'll wait). That means Bush in on the defensive for a change. Kerry has taken over the lead in the debate.

*UPDATE* Curious as to the "23 different rationales?" You can find them here. The administration is actually up to 27.

Your challenge for today

The Associated Press has a story with the headline "Candidates Play on Fears of Attacks, War." Your challenge is to find the statement the Kerry campaign makes that fits this headline.

Good luck.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Kerry keeps swinging

Good point(my bold):
Kerry told his Boston Convention Center audience, gathered for a $2.5 million fund-raiser for the Democratic National Committee, that Bush had made "a mess" out of a range of issues, including health care, school management, and "America's ability to lead the world, as we ought to be in a place like Darfur, in Sudan -- where genocide is taking place, but we're not able to move because we're bogged down as we are in Iraq and we've lost our moral authority."

Bush's war games continue

Newsweek reports that the Bush Administration has been war gaming scenarios involving pre-emptive strikes in Iran.

Not surprised? Neither are most Americans. Also of note:
“In some extreme neo-conservative circles,” there have also been calls for “coercive measures against Saudi Arabia,” [Ted Galen Carpenter of the libertarian Cato Institute] noted.

Something to look forward to under four more years.

Republicans criticize Bush?

It is nice to see Republicans finally realizing that Bush has mismanaged the war in Iraq. The fact that they all came out marching on the Sunday morning news programs does have me worried a little bit, though. I mean, Hagel is part of Bush's re-election committee, after all.

Of course, a more logical reason would be a fear in the Republican party that Iraq will be Bush's election downfall. Since Kerry has started to focus on Bush's failures there, he has closed the Bush bounce and has now drawn even in most head to head polls. I would think this puts Bush in a more awkward position, however, because any change in policy puts an end to his claims as unwavering in the war on terror. A call for more troops or any policy change would be the biggest flip-flop of this election.

Overall I'm pleased that sensible heads have prevailed and there seems to be bipartisan unity on a better and saner policy in Iraq. But it still eats at me a little that Rove is behind this somehow. We shall see in the weeks to come.

They eat their own

Illinois GOP Senator Peter Fitzgerald is not running for re-election, so he feels he can be more honest about his party in general:
The Republican Party cannot survive if we are not perceived as the more ethical party," because Democrats have a strong numerical advantage in the state, Fitzgerald said. "We have to throw the money changers out of our party, and its leadership must come from the ranks of those who are in politics for principled reasons."

Interesting for two reasons. One is that some Republicans actually have concerns about ethics (that's a joke, people). The other is it presents a line of attack for the Democratic party.

Remember the love that the GOP gave to Zell Miller, saying how much stronger his message was because he claimed to be a Democrat?

While it is fairly clear that the Democrats will take Illinois this fall, this kind of opening can be used almost anywhere.

Just a suggestion. I know there's no one here anyway.

*UPDATE* I know it is a little late, but maybe this one of the reasons for his ethical concerns:
Campaign mail with a return address of the Republican National Committee warns West Virginia voters that the Bible will be prohibited and men will marry men if liberals win in November.

Highly ethical, lying.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Voting in the Big Easy not so easy

In New Orleans, where support is weakest for the Louisana ban on gay marriage, they may have a hard time voting. Seems delivery of the voting machines was delayed this morning, but only in the big city:
Many New Orleans voters were unable to cast ballots Saturday on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage because voting machines had not been delivered to polling places, a state official said.

At least 35 precincts did not have voting machines because drivers hired to deliver the machines had apparently not shown up for work, said Scott Madere, a spokesman for Secretary of State Fox McKeithen.

Workers in McKeithen's office, including McKeithen, were driving trucks Saturday morning to deliver the machines from a warehouse in east New Orleans, Madere said. He said New Orleans was the only city to experience the problem.

Yeah, that seems fair, doesn't it?

Faulty logic

Just read another awful article (that I won't link to, but it's by Debbie Daniel if you want to look for it) proclaiming that both Democrats are akin to terrorists because they both want Bush gone. He is leading the fight on terrorism, after all.

If Democrats were in power, would Republicans not field a candidate because John Kerry was leading the war on terror? Aren't the Republicans weakening John Kerry if he does become President by already painting him as supposedly weak on terror? Doesn't that play right into the terrorists hands? We can't have a party smearing a candidate as weak on terror because they will view us as weak, and then the terrorists win. I'm outraged!

I'm sure, however a Kerry victory will get all these Republicans behind him because we must support the President in a time of war, right?

The article even suggests that those people who don't support Bush should get out of the country and let those who love and worship Bush do their God appointed tasks because Kerry supporters make America weak. I wonder if that means Mrs. Daniel will catch the next slowboat come election day if Kerry is the winner.

Rove speaks the truth

Karl Rove, on a quagmire:
Far from being a conscientious objector, Gustavson recalls, Rove's opposition to the war was political. He considered the conflict a "political skirmish that was not being properly administered."

Too bad he's too close to see the truth on this one.

Links, quickly

Four more stories you might want to read and discuss:

-Kerry earned his medals in the Navy.

-ABC News objects to the Swift Boat Veterans highly edited use of a Kerry interview from Good Morning America in the Swifties latest call for attention.

-The GOP, in essence, stoops even lower and accuses Tom Daschle of treason.

-And the man who cries foul and tries to get pity for getting his sign torn up at a Kerry rally has a history of doing it. They even credit some "internet chatter" for pointing it out. I wonder if he means this.

And another Bush administration scandal.

*BONUS LINK* More Republican dirty tricks, this time in the Montana Governor's race. Apparently the Democrat's double digit poll lead worries them enough to push poll.

Washington looks safe

I think it is time to take Washington out of the swing state collumn. According to this article, neither side is spending all that much money there, the demographics continue to grow Democratic, and Electoral-vote's Wahington graph shows a pretty steady lead for Kerry since mid-July. I think it is safe to say that Kerry has these 11 votes tied up.

The media bias

No More Mister Nice Blog provides a link to the Slant-o-meter. See if you can figure out why Bush would have gotten his bounce out of the convention.


Earlier there was the report that military reservists in Colorado were given a serve-or-Iraq ultimatum. The New York times has an article telling us why.
As military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq continue with no end in sight, General Helmly said he was increasingly concerned that a growing number of soldiers with critical specialties that are contained mainly in the reservist ranks will exhaust their two-year stints, making it increasingly difficult to fill the yearlong tours of duty that have become standard. The skills include civil affairs and truck driving.

"The manning-the-force issue for me is the single most pressing function I worry about," General Helmly told reporters at a breakfast meeting.

Asked after the breakfast how concerned he was about the risk to the Army Reserve of running out of certain specialists who could be called up involuntarily, General Helmly said, "Sure, I'm concerned. There's a risk."

Of the 205,000 members of the Army Reserve, about 43,500 are mobilized now; 22,600 of those are deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan or the Persian Gulf.

General Helmly did not say when the Army might begin to run out of some reservists to call to active duty, but the average mobilization for members of the Reserves throughout the military has increased to 342 days this year from 156 days in the 1991 Persian Gulf war.

General Helmly's cautionary comments echoed a major finding of a report issued this week by the Government Accountability Office, formerly the General Accounting Office. That report concluded that if the Department of Defense's mobilization policy restricted the time that reservists could be called to active duty, "it is possible that D.O.D. will run out of forces." General Helmly said he had not yet seen the report.

Also of note yesterday was a Kerry speech in which he stated that Bush would be calling up even more reservists, but was waiting until after the election to do so he does not hurt his chances. Calling up more troops now would show people that Bush not only made mistakes, but also that he admits to it. By waiting until after the election it shows he is purely motivated by politics and not the actual safety of our troops. Either way, Bush has to deny the report at this point. Oddly enough, the Pentagon, one of the sources for the claim declines comment.

It becomes clearer and clearer how badly Bush has mismanaged this war, and moves like this only echo that sentiment.

Wrong on all counts

So when I was at work yesterday I saw a couple of news items about the Iraq Survey Group's report on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Most of the cable news focused on the report as proof there are still no WMD's in Iraq, and there won't be any found. One news outlet, however, spun it as a report that claimed Iraq was trying to restart it's weapons production. Guess which one.

The actual nuts and bolts?
The comprehensive 15-month search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has concluded that the only chemical or biological agents that Saddam Hussein's regime was working on before last year's invasion were small quantities of poisons, most likely for use in assassinations.

A draft of the Iraq Survey Group's final report circulating in Washington found no sign of the alleged illegal stockpiles that the US and Britain presented as the justification for going to war, nor did it find any evidence of efforts to reconstitute Iraq's nuclear weapons programme.

It also appears to play down an interim report which suggested there was evidence that Iraq was developing "test amounts" of ricin for use in weapons. Instead, the ISG report says in its conclusion that there was evidence to suggest the Iraqi regime planned to restart its illegal weapons programmes if UN sanctions were lifted.

So the odds are pretty slim that the UN would lift sanctions against Iraq, which means the odds are even slimmer that Iraq would have been able to try and start production once again. So it seems a safe conclusion to draw is that the sanctions were working to stop Iraq from producing WMDs, one of the main justifications of the war.

Thank goodness we went to war then, eh?


He's on, and not just in Florida:
President Bush received a potential boost on Friday in his bid for re-election when a court ruled that independent candidate Ralph Nader, who experts believe helped Bush win four years ago, be placed on Florida's presidential ballot.

As the Republican and Democrat campaigns both claimed momentum amid a mix of polls offering a confused picture of the U.S. presidential race, Florida's Supreme Court ordered Reform Party candidate Nader be allowed to compete in the state that decided the 2000 election.

A judge also ordered that Nader be included on the ballot in Colorado, another state that voted for Bush in 2000 but where polls indicate a close race in the Nov. 2 election.

There's not much left to do but let out a sigh, and then vow to fight twice as hard to help get out the vote election day, either by pounding the pavement to register Democrats, helping people get to the polls, or even donating a couple of bucks to John Kerry or the DNC. Do what you can to help.