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

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Matthew Dowd says Bush to lose

Matthew Dowd, a chief campaign strategist for the Bush/Cheney campaign, said that Bush has to get somewhere between 38-40% of the Hispanic vote in order to win in 2004. They can't be happy then that Kerry leads Bush 61-33 in the latest survey of Hispanic voters.
With a million more Hispanic voters across the country this year than in 2004, the high support for Kerry means Bush and the Republicans don't appear to be making the inroads into the Hispanic vote they hoped for after the 2000 election.

The poll, conducted for The Herald by Zogby International last week, shows that about 61 percent of Hispanic voters nationwide support Kerry, while about 33 percent support Bush. The poll of 751 Hispanic likely voters has a margin of error of 3.7 percent.

"What this means is that Kerry has done what Gore did," pollster John Zogby said. "And secondly, it's now over 60 percent of a larger group of Hispanics."

The Hispanic vote is heavily in play in several key swing states such as Florida, New Mexico, Ohio and Michigan.

I love good news before bed time.

Who gets the armored Humvee today?

We all support our troops currently fighting the war in Iraq, and we all hope to see them come home safely. While they are over there, we hope that the troops will have the best equipment possible to help them meet those goals. And under the Bush plan, they will have those things, hopefully by April, 2005.

That would be about three years and about 1122 soldiers too late, I think.
"I am really surprised that planners relied on the best-case military scenario," said Jonathon Turley, a military historian at George Washington University Law School who wrote last year about shortages of body armor. He was then deluged with e-mail messages from soldiers complaining of such shortages, 90 percent of them from the National Guard and Reserve.

Time for new leadership? I'm thinking so.

Blair hedges his bets

Is it big news that Tony Blair sent an advisor across the sea to have a secret meeting with John Kerry's suspected Chief of Staff? Well, it at least means the race for the White House is close. I'm sure George Bush would be assuring Mr. Blair if he was a lock to win, which leads me to believe that Bush is afraid.

Meanwhile, Blair's wife Cherie reportedly criticized Bush policies publicly, specifically those relating to Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

It'd be so much easier to discuss these things if I had some insiders to talk to.

Iowa Update II

Color Iowa blue:
The poll, taken Monday through Friday night, shows the Massachusetts senator has gotten a jump on the president among those Iowans who have cast absentee or early ballots - a major get-out-the-vote strategy of both parties.

Twenty-seven percent of Iowa adults surveyed said they had already voted. Kerry leads Bush, 52 percent to 41 percent, among that group of early-bird voters. Among the 73 percent who said they definitely would vote on Tuesday, Kerry and Bush are tied.

That's the latest from the Des Moines Register poll. Good news all around. I am anxiously awaiting election night.

Losing Powell

According to, Newsweek will report on Monday that Colin Powell has been telling friends that the Iraqi insurgents are winning the war:
The insurgents have succeeded in infiltrating Iraqi forces "from top to bottom," a senior Iraqi official tells Newsweek in tomorrow’s issue of the magazine, "from decision making to the lower levels."

This is a particularly troubling development for the U.S. military, as it prepares to launch an all-out assault on the insurgent strongholds of Fallujah and Ramadi, since U.S. Marines were counting on the newly trained Iraqi forces to assist in the assault.

I'm sure that's the story the Bush team wants in undecided heads as they go to the polls on Tuesday.

Kerry 28, Bush 14

For the past 17 Presidential elections, the last home game of the Washington Redskins has served as a predictor of the President. If Washington wins, then the incumbent has gone on to victory in the national election. If the visiting time wins, then it is hello challenger. Do I believe in it? Well, any good omen can't hurt, I guess...

I am happy to report it's 3-0 John Kerry at the end of the 1st quarter.

And as I type this, Kerry scored a TD. 10-0.

*UPDATE* Kerry 17, Bush 7 at the half.
*UPDATE* Kerry 20, Bush 7, end 3Q.
*UPDATE* FINAL SCORE Kerry 28, Bush 14. We are going to win, people! Get out the vote!

Osama and Wargames

Remember the scene in Wargames when everyone in Norad thinks that the first of the Russian strikes are about to hit? That woman's steely voice counts down as they military bases so they can talk to people when the strikes are supposed to hit. "Impact" occurs on their monitors, and after a slight delay you hear the voices of the men on the phone celebrating the fact that they are alive, and no one actually got hit.

For some reason, that's what I think of when I read that Osama's latest tape seems to have no impact on the election, despite the media's constant attempt to spin it that way.

In fact, some might say this tape has helped John Kerry instead:
The Democracy Corps has a new poll, conducted Friday night and Saturday morning. While the full survey will be completed on Sunday, the half-sample of 500 interviews conducted after the release of the Bin Laden tape, show the race unchanged compared to a survey completed Thursday night. The partial survey shows Kerry at 48 percent and Bush at 47 percent. Like the survey conducted before, it shows the two parties with equal numbers of party identifiers.

The Saturday respondents (250 interviews) were asked the following question: "I'm going to read you a pair of statements about the release of Bin Laden's videotape. Please tell me which one comes closer to your view.

-- It makes me think that George Bush took his eye off the ball in Afghanistan and diverted resources to Iraq.

-- It underscores the importance of George Bush's approach to the war on terrorism.

By 10 points (46 to 36 percent), voters were more likely to think that Bush took his eye off the ball. (These results will be updated when the full survey is completed on Sunday.)

Get Out the Vote!

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Bush camp: Osama is "a gift"

John Kerry is out saying this tape should unite us all behind the war on terror.

The Bush camp, however, seems to have no shame in turning this thing partisan. Sounds like they love it, doesn't it?
"We want people to think 'terrorism' for the last four days," said a Bush-Cheney campaign official. "And anything that raises the issue in people's minds is good for us."

A senior GOP strategist added, "anything that makes people nervous about their personal safety helps Bush."

He called it "a little gift," saying it helps the President but doesn't guarantee his reelection.

Which makes me wonder if Karl Rove actually planned to let Osama escape from Tora Bora...

Iowa update

Did I mention how well things appear to be going in Iowa so far?
Polk County Auditor Mike Mauro said 63,517 absentee ballots had been sent out by the county. On Friday, almost 60,000 ballots - including early voters who voted at the election office or at satellite offices around Des Moines - had been returned. That's more than the 38,571 absentee ballots counted in 2000.

Of the absentee voters, 59 percent were Democrats, 34 percent Republicans and 7 percent had no party affiliation.

Absentee ballots and those cast at satellite stations or auditors' offices are stored by each county and counted on Election Day. Absentee totals typically are among the first returns reported after the polls close.

"I haven't seen anything like this," Mauro said. "We've been very busy."

Woodbury County Auditor Pat Gill said 13,588 ballots had been distributed, and 10,943 had been returned, more than the 6,861 absentee ballots counted in 2000.

About 46 percent of the Woodbury absentee voters this year claimed to be Democrats, 31 percent Republican and 23 percent had no party affiliation.

"The political parties have become more sophisticated in getting their people to vote," Gill said.

Linn County had 36,167 ballots sent out and 30,126 returned, more than the 21,541 absentee ballots counted in 2000. Among the voters who made requests for ballots, 46 percent were registered Democrats, 28 percent had no party affiliation and 26 percent were Republicans.

Get Out the VOTE!

Al Qaqaa II

With all the reports of looting at Al Qaqaa, you had to know it was a matter of time before more stories like it would come to light. This one has the potential to be even worse:
Looters unleashed last year by the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq overran a sprawling desert complex where a bunker sealed by U.N. monitors held old chemical weapons, American arms inspectors report.

Charles Duelfer's arms teams say all U.N.-sealed structures at the Muthanna site were broken into. If the so-called Bunker 2 was breached and looted, it would be the second recent case of restricted weapons at risk of falling into militants' hands.

Officials are unsure whether this latest episode points to a threat of chemical attack, since it isn't known if usable chemical warheads were in the bunker, what may have been taken and by whom.

"Clearly, there's a potential concern, but we're unable to estimate the relative level of it because we don't know the condition of the things inside the bunker," said Ewen Buchanan, spokesman for the U.N. arms inspection agency in New York, whose specialists have been barred from Iraq since the invasion.

Chief arms hunter Duelfer told The Associated Press by e-mail Friday from Iraq that he was unaware of "anything of importance" looted from the chemical weapons complex. The report his Iraq Survey Group issued on Oct. 6 said, however, that it couldn't vouch for the fate of old munitions at Muthanna.

Now before you say this proves Saddam had WMD's, this would be a part of the stockpile that he had declared and had turned over to UN control after the 1991 invasion. So they weren't really in his possession, and he wasn't going to be handing them out to anyone. They were under "our" control.

That is until Bush decided not to guard them aftet the invasion. Now once again we have no idea what was taken by who or where it currently is.

That's what I call planning!

Lord help us.


I believe John Thune's campaign when they say they have nothing to do with this, but there is great irony and some amusement when a candidate who strongly supports the anti-gay amendment has his campaign ad appear on a gay porn site.

Suppress the vote: S. Carolina

South Carolina is probably not going to decide the Presidential election this year, but Democrat Inez Tenenbaum has run an exceptional campaign for the Democrats in her Senate race against Jim DeMint. The latest polls show a race many thought would be an easy victory for the Republicans a toss up going into the final weekend. As always, it will come down to who can get their voters to the polls. Which is precisely why Republicans will stoop to any level to keep typical Democratic voters away:
A bogus letter circulating in South Carolina, purporting to be from the NAACP, threatens the arrest of voters who have outstanding parking tickets or failed to pay child support. The NAACP said Friday the letter is a scare tactic and called for an investigation.

"I'm outraged," said Jill Miller, director of the Charleston County Board of Election and Voter Registration. "This is so bogus."

The Rev. Joe Darby, vice president of the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said he received the one-page letter -- which had a Columbia postmark with no return address -- at his Charleston home.

Is there no low they won't stoop to in order to win?

Friday, October 29, 2004

Reaction time

The kid gloves in dealing with the Osama tape came off very quicker than I thought they would. George Bush took them off first, claiming that John Kerry was trying to politicize the tape almost before Kerry had been briefed on what the tape contained (via Talkleft).

Kerry learned of the contents sometime between 5:30 and 6:00pm, and issued the following statement:
In response to this tape from Osama bin Laden, let me make it clear, crystal clear. As Americans, we are absolutely united in our determination to hunt down and destroy Osama bin Laden and the terrorists. They are barbarians. And I will stop at absolutely nothing to hunt down, capture or kill the terrorists wherever they are, whatever it takes. Period.

Strong and decisive. No attacks on Bush. Just a vow to hunt down Bin Laden and his fellow terrorists and capture or kill them no matter what.

Yet somehow, Bush thought the call for unity, for us to respond as Americans, was too partisan:
Unfortunately, my opponent tonight continued to say things he knows are not true, accusing our military of passing up a chance to get Osama Bin Laden in Tora Bora. As the commander in charge of that operation, Tommy Frank has said is simply not the case. It's the worse kind of Monday morning quarterbacking. It is especially shameful in the light of a new tape from America's enemy.

A desperate swing from a seemingly desperate campaign. And Digby points out the talking heads are out in force trying to find traction for Bush. Of course, Kerry continuing to act presidential will stop this from happening:
This is a serious issue, and it's disturbing that the White House seems intent on making it a political issue. The president was briefed on the tape before he delivered one of his most negative and divisive attacks of this campaign.

America deserves a national security debate on the merits rather, than a president who desperately resorts to distortions, falsehoods and untruths on a regular basis.

John Kerry was very clear tonight that we will stop at nothing to hunt down and kill the terrorists and that all Americans - Republicans and Democrats - are united in the war on terror. George Bush wasted no time in dividing us again.

Premature celebration

Right before the debates, I remember watching the media pull out their hammers to put the nails in John Kerry's campaign. Most of the talking heads had all but gift wrapped the finale, and Kerry was perceived to have little or no hope. You could almost hear Rove and co. popping the corks on the champagne bottles. But Big John surprised every one (except for his supporters, that is) and trounced George Bush in all three debates. But the party for Bush had already begun, and the champagne had to be gathered up and put back on ice. It has become flat ever since.

So when I had heard that the confetti cannons had fired prematurely at a Bush rally in Ohio, I couldn't help think it was a fitting metaphor for his campaign. Once they were fired, there was no hope of reloading them in time for the end of things. Come November 3rd, it won't really matter anyway. If undecideds break as they historically do, it is John Kerry's side that will party long into the night.

GOP loses big in voter roll challenge

After reading some of the exchanges that occurred, you can see easily why the federal court threw out the Republican challenges to voter rolls in Ohio. Wonder if this changed any voter's minds:
Mr. Lou Wray, you challenged my husband, and we live in the same neighborhood. Okay? But you've never met us a day in our lives, hard-working individuals. My husband is a full-time student at Kent State University, where I also possess a bachelor's degree and a master's degree. We work hard just like you do, trying to make our livings, trying to prove ourselves in this world to get to the point where we're 80 years old, like you.

But you signed your name to 200 documents of people you have never, ever met a day in your life, challenging our right to vote. And you don't even know whether we live… in Tallmadge, Ohio. You have no idea. Somebody just called you on the phone and asked you to do a favor and you said okay.

And now you look foolish standing up here saying, "I don't know. They just called me on the phone. I don't have anything." You look silly. And we have to be inconvenienced and we have to come to work.

Disgusting ads for Bush

A new campaign flier warns South Florida voters that the consequences of a John Kerry presidency "are too frightening ... to imagine" and backs up its message with an image of school kids in gas masks.

The ad is sponsered by the Florida Leadership Council, a group that claims to know what it takes to win the battle of ideas in Florida. Apparently the FLC feels that disgusting fearmonger is the best way to connect to the people of Florida.

You can smell the desperation in Florida from here.

Republicans guilty of voter fraud in S. Dakota

Earlier it was reported that Republicans engaged in some light voter fraud in South Dakota. The charges stemmed from notarizing absentee ballot applications without witnessing the voters sign the documents themselves. Today, three of the six pled guilty to the charges.
Magistrate Peter Gregory levied $200 fines against Joseph Alick, 28; Todd Schlekeway, 27; and Rachel Hoff, 22; They also were told to pay $45 in court costs and were given 30-day suspended jail sentences. All three will also voluntarily give up their notary public commissions, their lawyers said.

Republicans has already rewarded Schlekeway's law breaking with a job in the battleground state of Ohio working on the President's reelection campaign. No word on how or if this will affect his job there.

Still the one no longer the one

Yet another scandal set to rock the Bush campaign:
The songwriter who helped pen the 1970s hit, "Still the One," is demanding that President Bush stop using the tune at campaign events, arguing that he's no fan of the Republican incumbent and the campaign never got permission to use the song.

And just run found, a follow up:
The Bush campaign abruptly stopped using the 1970's hit "Still the One" at campaign rallies Friday after the songwriter, no fan of the president, claimed the Republicans never got permission.

I'm sure they will find a way to blame this one on someone else, as well. Maybe Giuliani can link it to the troops in Iraq...

*UPDATE* ABC News has a report that Bush lied and is still using the song. Here's another report with the same claim:
About the same time, Bush aides got a complaint from John Hall, from the band Orleans, who co-wrote Still the One in 1976. He supports Sen. John Kerry and was unhappy the campaign had not gotten his permission.

Nicolle Devenish, the campaign's communications director, said they would stop using the song. But Friday night, at a rally in Columbus, Ohio, Still the One was played again.

Bin Laden remix

Osama Bin Laden makes his October surprise, releasing a new video tape that may become 18 very important minutes in this long, hard fought campaign. Here's the part that seems to be getting most of the play:
"Your security is not in the hands of (Democratic candidate John) Kerry or Bush or al-Qaida. Your security is in your own hands," bin Laden said.

"To the U.S. people, my talk is to you about the best way to avoid another disaster," he said. "I tell you: security is an important element of human life and free people do not give up their security."

So the question becomes, will this harken America back to the 9/11 days and unite them behind Bush, or will it remind the people that Bush is the guy that let him get away two years ago? No one seems sure for now. And both sides (except for Dick Morris, who says this helps Bush tremendously) have to handle the thing with kid gloves for now so they don't look to be taking advantage of the guy who is responsible for the death of thousands of Americans.

The campaign responses? Bush gave a four sentence speech stating we won't be intimidated, and that we will prevail in the war on terror. The media tells me Kerry has said that we are all united in a campaign to hunt down and kill the terrorists and Osama Bin Laden. Neither side wants to turn this into an overt campaign issue.

The way I look at it now, if the President says he's not concerned with OBL, then we shouldn't be either.

Guess why it's an exclusive, Matt




The CIA and FBI have authenticated a new al Qaeda videotape which warns of retribution for Americans electing Bush and Cheney.

CTV Oct 29, 9:51 am:
A man claiming to be an American member of al Qaeda appears on a videotape obtained by ABC News, saying attacks by the group will make U.S. streets "run red with blood."

Officials still haven't been able to verify whether the tape is authentic and they haven't linked the video to a specific threat, according to an anonymous U.S. intelligence source. It aired on Thursday night.

I guess it shouldn't be a story when Drudge makes things up anymore, but it's still fun to point these things out.

Shorter Pentagon news conference

Look, we may or may not have blown this stuff up six days before KSTP's news crew tool video tape of the explosives locked behind the IEAE sealed door.

Glad I was almost late to work for that one.

Iraq the vote

How do Iraqis feel about America's choices for President? Among those who have a choice, Kerry leads by 6.5%. Even Iraqis are tired of the way things are under Bush.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Seals the deal

Watchng the news cycle unfold through reruns provides an interesting progression. On the earky shows, you see the Pentagon story take the lead, that the still image of trucks outside one of the Al Qaqaa buildings is proof enough that the explosives disappeared before we got there.

As the evening went, the truth leaked, and check out what we know now:
A 5 Eyewitness News crew in Iraq may have been just a door away from materials that could be used to detonate nuclear weapons. The evidence is in videotape shot by Reporter Dean Staley and Photographer Joe Caffrey at or near the Al Qaqaa munitions facility.

The video shows a cable locking a door shut. That cable is connected by a copper colored seal.

Pretty much seals the deal on the thing, doesn't it?

Rumsfeld gets sued

'Bout time someone held him accountable:
Four former Guantanamo detainees yesterday sued Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and 10 others in the military chain of command overseeing the American interrogation prison in Cuba, alleging that the officials are personally responsible for illegal acts of prolonged arbitrary detention and torture.

The lawsuit, believed to be the first of its kind by former detainees who have since been released from the prison, seeks $10 million for each of the men to be paid by the officials out of their own pockets as compensation for their role in the alleged abuses.

All four plaintiffs are British citizens who were taken into US military custody in December 2001 in Afghanistan, and released in March from Cuba. Although they were imprisoned and interrogated for more than two years, none has been charged with a crime.

"This case is not about the money," Eric Lewis, a lawyer for the detainees, said at a press conference yesterday. "It is about accountability. Torture is un-American. Arbitrary detention is un-American. And what these young men have suffered, and continue to suffer, is something for which we and the American justice system need to hold these people accountable."

Kidnapping in Afghanistan

One of the points I often make in arguing against the war in Iraq is that things remain a little unsettled in Afghanistan. Had we taken our time there to demonstrate how dedicated we were to the people there, the whole humanitarian image would be an easier sell to the world. Instead we defeated the Taliban and left the warlords in charge of whatever region they occupied. And odd form of governorship, I guess.

A few more months on the ground in Afghanistan also would have provided time to find the WMD claims were little more than taffy like truths that the Bush team was struggling to pull.

Reports today that the first Iraqi style kidnapping has taken place in Afghanistan are hopefully not a sign of things to come. We have a much smaller number of forces on the ground there, and if you thought Iraqi insurgents were hard to control, the situation there could easily get worse. Turn a couple of those warlords against us, and there is another front reopened in the war on terror.

Do I think this will really happen? The article seems to paint this as a one time shot, as scattered resistance trying to make a name for itself:
One analyst said: "This is completely new. It looks like a copycat from Iraq."However, the Taleban and their allies have not previously been thought capable of such a sophisticated operation, and the possibility that warlords may have masterminded the kidnapping to embarrass newly elected President Hamid Karzai was thought possible by some Afghans.

Speaking in London, the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw played down suggestions that the kidnapping might be the start of a new trend. "I have no reason to believe it will be anything other than unusual for the future. I think it will stay unusual," he said.

I hope Straw is right on this one.

Demure Arnold

Arnold Schwarzenegger is out on the campaign trail for President Bush. Well, sort of:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, asked Wednesday why President Bush's reelection would be in California's best interests, did not offer a reason, saying instead, "I'm thinking more about the country."


Invited to make the case for Bush's victory, Schwarzenegger demurred, instead offering the view that Republicans and Democrats disagree over the presidential race.

Schwarzenegger has come out and spoken harshly about Bush's stance on stem cell research. and now he expresses a reluctance when endorsing the President in public. Which makes me wonder what he knows that the rest of us don't.

Young Republicans

Friends of mine in college would joke about going door to door and campaigning for a group called "Citizens for Affordable Student Housing" (you'd make the check payable to CASH). There never went through with it because they knew it would be wrong, even if the idea was a bit amusing.

What made me recall such a tale? Young Republicans going door to door in Washington scamming seniors out of their money, that's what. Ah, the party of prinicple. How refreshing.

Bush administration under criminal investigation

Every time I read things like this, I can't help but think, 'five more days.'
The FBI has begun investigating whether the Pentagon improperly awarded no-bid contracts to Halliburton Co., seeking an interview with a top Army contracting officer and collecting documents from several government offices.

The line of inquiry expands an earlier FBI investigation into whether Halliburton overcharged taxpayers for fuel in Iraq, and it elevates to a criminal matter the election-year question of whether the Bush administration showed favoritism to Vice President Dick Cheney's former company.


Rudy Guiliani:
The president was cautious the president was prudent the president did what a commander in chief should do. No matter how you try to blame it on the president the actual responsibility for it really would be for the troops that were there. Did they search carefully enough? Didn't they search carefully enough?

I can't wait until they launch the investigation to find out why their weren't enough troops sent to Iraq and why that lack of troops couldn't adequately search a facility that they weren't ordered to search in the first place. But it sure wasn't Bush's fault.

Five more days people. Five more days.

Unemployment claims rise again

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week by 20,000, the largest jump in a month, the Labor Department reported today.

The bigger-than-expected increase pushed total new claims to 350,000 last week and provided fresh evidence that the labor market is still under pressure even though the economic recovery is about to celebrate its third anniversary.

The increase of 20,000 was sharply higher than the 6,000 gain that many private economists had been expecting and was the biggest one-week rise since a jump of 21,000 claims in the week of Sept. 25.

Quick links - explosivegate

To keep up with all the latest on "explosivegate," check out Josh Marshall's site. Here's a few quick updates from my end.

First, a local news crew from Minnesota may have filmed the explosives on April 19th, which would firmly kill the claim the Bush administration is making that they were gone prior to the war.

Claims are made from locals that they witnessed looting of the facility after US troops initial contact on April 9th.

And finally, The IEAE warned the United States that looting could take place at al Qaaqaa because looting has already occurred at other sites.

What square pegs?

From the things we knew, but should be reminding the public of until Bush loses the election department:
James E. Hansen told a University of Iowa audience that the administration wants to hear only findings that "fit predetermined, inflexible positions." Evidence that would raise concerns about the dangers of climate change is often dismissed as not being worthy of public dissemination.

"This, I believe, is a recipe for environmental disaster," he said.

Hansen is director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and has twice briefed a task force headed by Vice President Dick Cheney on global warming.

He said the scientific community generally agrees that temperatures on Earth are rising because of the greenhouse effect - emissions of carbon dioxide and other materials into the atmosphere that trap heat.

These rising temperatures, scientists believe, could damage crops and human health, cause sea levels to rise and trigger other problems. Hansen said such warnings are consistently downplayed, while studies that cast doubt on those interpretations receive favorable treatment from the administration.

"In my more than three decades in government, I have never seen anything approaching the degree to which information flow from scientists to the public has been screened and controlled as it is now," Hansen said.

We know this applies to a number of things as well, such as health care, job growth, Iraq...

Quink links on a slow day

Sorry for the lack of posts, but Blogger has been acting up and I took the opportuinty to run a number of errands and go catch Interpol at the Wiltern. Now I play catch up with some quick links.

Early voting in West Virginia seems to be going well for the Democrats. I wich they would have thought of this four years ago.

When I read President Bush had said, "a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not the person you want as your commander in chief," I thought he was endorsing John Kerry.

Bush's evangelical Christian base may not be as strong as he thinks. All that pander for nothing.

Broward County Election officials have taken a page from the Bush handbook and blamed someone else for 60,000 mail in ballots.

Don't be surprised, but the US wants to go it alone in Iraq as they search for the 380 tons of missing explosives.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Blogger is off and on and I am in and out. Back tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Home sweet home

While I am a little worried about losing Hawai'i (although myDD helped assuage those fears), I can't help but like a news story a week before the election that says the Kerry campaign is moving back into two others, Arkansas and West Virginia. And guess who's going home over the weekend?
Former president Bill Clinton, according to party strategists, has implored the Kerry campaign for weeks not to give up on Arkansas, a state Gore narrowly lost, and plans to campaign there Sunday.

The last two polls that aren't part of the seemingly Republican Survey USA group shows the state a toss up. Let's so how much power Bill has in that newly reconstructed heart of his. I'd love to see a surprise there come late November 2nd.

John Peel

I remember listening to my one of my brother's Peel Sessions tapes (maybe the band Joy Division) liking what I heard, and wondering what a Peel Session was. Later I bought one of my first tapes, a Billy Bragg Peel Session, and someone explained the significance of the man John Peel.

He was a radio pioneer in England, responsible for the "discovery" of any number of great artists, providing them with airplay and studio time to get their music to the people. So even though I've never met him, or heard his voice on the radio, I always felt a certain respect and gratitude for the man.

It is with sadness, then, they I report that John Peel passed away today. And it is clear that both the music industry and the public in general share my feeling of debt to a man whose contacts with me consisted of magnetized plastic and small, silvery discs.

It is a sad day for music. My thoughts and warm wishes go out to his family and friends, and eternal thanks go to the man that no doubt "found" some of my favorite bands.

Cheers, mate.

Swingin' in Vegas, baby!

Nevada as a swing state? Yeah, it's true. John Kerry campaigns there today, and recent polls show the state within the margin of error. Now, here's more good news. So far in early voting, more Democrats are turning out then Republicans, even in highly Republican areas of the state:
So far, more than 168,000 Nevadans have cast ballots in major counties - and Democrats remain in the lead in turnout.

In Clark, Washoe, Carson City and Douglas counties, with 91 percent of all Nevada voters, 168,703 people had voted through midday Monday. That included 73,538 Democrats and 70,637 Republicans. The rest are nonpartisans or splinter-party members.

In strongly Republican Washoe County, there were 15,582 early voters as of mid-Monday; 44 percent were Republicans and 45 percent Democrats.

Clark County, including Las Vegas, accounted for 143,014 of the early voters, with Democrats making up 45 percent and Republicans 41 percent of the balloting total.

Getting out the vote is crucial to maintain that lead, and I encourage anyone who lives nearby to sign up to help. Hopefully, I'll see you there.

Bush's civil flip flop

I don't know how a President who comes out in favor of a Gay Marriage Amendment that would have prevented civil unions can come out a week before the election and suddenly say he is for them. While one can only hope that this more sensible flip-flop is a position that he now agrees with, it's still not going to make me want to vote for him.

It is nice to see that the conservative base he was trying to get out to vote are upset about it, though.

The cost of being alone

The Bush administration has requested another 70 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, is this money is necessary and vital to victory, it must be spent. But that doesn't obscure the fact that we are spending more money than the Bush told us we would have to in order to win. All perhaps preventable by an actual post war plan.

I think Kerry takes the right attitude, not criticizing the spending, but rather the environment that has created the need for it:
Despite devastating evidence that his administration’s failure here has put our troops and our citizens are in greater danger, George Bush has not offered a single word of explanation. His silence confirms what I have been saying for months: President Bush rushed to war without a plan to win the peace. He didn’t have enough troops on the ground to get the job done. He didn’t have enough allies to get the job done. He failed to secure Iraq and keep it from becoming what it is today – a haven for terrorists.

And now this morning, we learned that the president wants an additional $70 billion early next year for Iraq and Afghanistan – bringing the total cost to nearly $225 billion. This is the incredible price of going it almost alone in Iraq.

Mr. President, what else are you being silent about? What else are you keeping from the American people? How much more will the American people have to pay?

The American people deserve a commander in chief who will tell the truth in good times and bad. This president has failed that fundamental test.

When the President is faced with the consequences of his own wrong decisions, he doesn’t confront them, he tries to hide them.

The truth is, President Bush has never leveled with the American people about why we went to war… how the war is going… or what he is doing to put Iraq on track.

Closing well, John Kerry.

Allies ignore Bush, criticize us

President Bush, September 23rd:
"You can't build alliances if you criticize the efforts of those who are working side by side with you," the president said.

Apparently, his ally in Iraq did not get the memo:
Prime Minister Ayad Allawi told the Iraqi National Council, a government oversight body, that coalition forces' negligent handling of security was responsible for Saturday's deadly ambush along a remote highway near the Iranian border.

"It was a heinous crime where a group of National Guardsmen were targeted," Allawi said. "There was great negligence on the part of some coalition forces."

Bush can't even fool the guy he put in charge in Iraq anymore. Edwards was right. Bush and Cheney are the only ones left who truly believe they are doing a good job in Iraq.

*UPDATE* On an entirely different front, the Bush administration has now uspet Taiwan as well. Way to go, Colin!

Congressional GOP candidate says his party cheats

I would think he would know:
A little-known congressional candidate filed a complaint against his own party with the Federal Election Committee yesterday, contending that the Massachusetts Republican Party has directed money from its federal campaign account to fund candidates for the state Legislature and ignored the congressional field.

Thomas P. Tierney, who is looking to unseat US Representative Martin T. Meehan, Democrat of Lowell, next week, said the state GOP has given congressional campaigns only $590 of the $3.6 million raised for the Massachusetts Republican State Congressional Committee, the party's federal account.

"It's a giant scam," the Framingham Republican said. "The state committee is gathering all this money from wealthy contributors limited by the state campaign limitations . . . and they just take the money and put it into the federal committee and they back-channel it into the state committee."

The state Republican Party denied the accusation.


I've always respected Eminem's place in the music industry, but never really cared personally for anything he's done.

Make that until now.

*UPDATE* That link seems not to work anymore. Try here.
Slow connection? Here's the lyrics:
[I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America
And to the Republic for which it stands
One nation under God
It feels so good to be back..]

Scrutinize every word, memorize every line
I spit it once, refuel, reenergize, and rewind
I give sight to the blind, mind sight through the mind
I ostracize my right to express when I feel it's time
It's just all in your mind, what you interpret it as
I say to fight you take it as I知 gonna whip someone's ass
If you don't understand don't even bother to ask
A father who has grown up with a fatherless past
Who has blown up now to rap phenomenon that has
Or at least shows no difficulty multi task
And juggling both, perhaps mastered his craft slash
Entrepreneur who has held long too few more rap acts
Who has had a few obstacles thrown his way through the last half
Of his career typical manure moving past that
Mister kiss his ass crack, he's a class act
Rubber band man, yea he just snaps back

Come along, follow me as I lead through the darkness
As I provide just enough spark, that we need to proceed
Carry on, give me hope, give me strength,
Come with me, and I won't stear you wrong
Put your faith and your trust as I guide us through the fog
Till the light, at the end, of the tunnel, we gonna fight,
We gonna charge, we gonna stomp, we gonna march through the swamp
We gonna mosh through the marsh, take us right through the doors

To the people up top, on the side and the middle,
Come together, let's all bomb and swamp just a little
Just let it gradually build, from the front to the back
All you can see is a sea of people, some white and some black
Don't matter what color, all that matters is we gathered together
To celebrate for the same cause, no matter the weather
If it rains let it rain, yea the wetter the better
They ain't gonna stop us, they can't, we're stronger now more then ever,
They tell us no we say yea, they tell us stop we say go,
Rebel with a rebel yell, raise hell we gonna let em know
Stomp, push up, mush, fuck Bush, until they bring our troops home come on just . . .

Come along, follow me as I lead through the darkness
As I provide just enough spark, that we need to proceed
Carry on, give me hope, give me strength,
Come with me, and I won't stear you wrong
Put your faith and your trust as I guide us through the fog
Till the light, at the end, of the tunnel, we gonna fight,
We gonna charge, we gonna stomp, we gonna march through the swamp
We gonna mosh through the marsh, take us right through the doors, come on

Imagine it pouring, it's raining down on us,
Mosh pits outside the oval office
Someone's trying to tell us something, maybe this is God just saying
we're responsible for this monster, this coward, that we have empowered
This is Bin Laden, look at his head nodding,
How could we allow something like this, Without pumping our fist
Now this is our, final hour
Let me be the voice, and your strength, and your choice
Let me simplify the rhyme, just to amplify the noise
Try to amplify the times it, and multiply it by six
Teen million people are equal of this high pitch
Maybe we can reach Al Quaida through my speech
Let the President answer on high anarchy
Strap him with AK-47, let him go
Fight his own war, let him impress daddy that way
No more blood for oil, we got our own battles to fight on our soil
No more psychological warfare to trick us to think that we ain't loyal
If we don't serve our own country we're patronizing a hero
Look in his eyes, it's all lies, the stars and stripes
They've been swiped, washed out and wiped,
And Replaced with his own face, mosh now or die
If I get sniped tonight you'll know why, because I told you to fight

So come along, follow me as I lead through the darkness
As I provide just enough spark, that we need to proceed
Carry on, give me hope, give me strength,
Come with me, and I won't stear you wrong
Put your faith and your trust as I guide us through the fog
Till the light, at the end, of the tunnel, we gonna fight,
We gonna charge, we gonna stomp, we gonna march through the swamp
We gonna mosh through the marsh, take us right through the doors

[Eminem speaking angrily]
And as we proceed, to mosh through this desert storm, in these closing statements, if they should argue, let us beg to differ, as we set aside our differences, and assemble our own army, to disarm this weapon of mass destruction that we call our president, for the present, and mosh for the future of our next generation, to speak and be heard, Mr. President, Mr. Senator

Facts continue to plauge Bush campaign

I should just create a running post on the Bush economy and update it as new data rolls in. Because it gets old posting Bush claiming the economy is strong and people know it, and then refuting it with actual fact:
U.S. consumers turned gloomier in October, beset by soaring energy costs, relentless violence in Iraq, sluggish hiring and an increasingly bitter presidential campaign.

The Conference Board's gauge of consumer confidence fell to 92.8 in October, the lowest in seven months, from 96.7 in September, the private business group said on Tuesday. The reading was below economists' expectations for a dip to 94.0.

The main index was dragged down mainly by the consumer expectations component, which tumbled to 92.0 from 97.7. The current conditions index slipped to 94.2 from 95.3.

Yep, people know they got that tax cut a few years ago, and they are working. The average American can see it, right?

Edwards on the stump

"Eleven hundred American soldiers have lost their lives, more than 8,000 have been wounded. Terrorists are flowing in. Americans are being kidnapped. We see beheadings on television. The costs are now $225 billion and counting. And, knowing all of this, yesterday all Dick Cheney could say was that Iraq is a remarkable success," Edwards said at the University of Minnesota.

"These [the 380 tons of high powered explosives] are exactly the kind of explosives terrorists want. They're the dangerous weapons we wanted to keep from falling in the hands of terrorists. And now these explosives are out there and we have no idea who's got them. Dick Cheney calls that a remarkable success," Edwards said.

I'd hate to see what constitutes as a failure for these guys.

Why I don't subscribe to my local paper

So my local paper has come out and endorsed President Bush. It's not all that surprising, really, and I had been expecting it for a while now. I did not, however, expect it to be such a hack job on democracy as a whole. For example:
But to turn our backs on President Bush now would send the wrong message to terrorists around the world. It would be an open invitation to come at us again because when they do, we toss out the leader who seeks revenge and retaliation.

It could say we are soft on terror. Is that really the message we want to send to Osama bin Laden? Of course not.

Indeed, not. Democracy in action would send a message to the world that America is weak on terror. Let's instead appoint Bush dictator for life.

If voters topple the Bush administration, we have allowed terrorists to tell us what to do. We Americans are stronger than that. We are independent thinkers who should make our voices heard at the polls, make it known that no one, nowhere can dictate to us.

Firing Bush also says that the United States is incapable of bringing democracy to the Middle East. We aren't.

First, if the Desert Sun really feels that "no one, nowhere can dictate to us" how to vote, then what is the purpose of having an endorsement in the first place?

Second, I fully intend to "topple the Bush administration." Perhaps this will make front page news for this paper, but I must report to the Desert Sun that not a single terrorist has "told me what to do." Of course, we Americans are stronger than choosing our President based on some two bit hack editorial on democracy as well.

We should choose a President and endorse him not fearmongering, but rather competence, something this editorial finds little of in the President. Can't say I blame them on that front.

Third, how would actually showing the world how democracy works be a sign that we are "incapable" of bring it to the Middle East? Who the heck wrote this thing, anyway, Karl Rove himself?

There's more:
Though many voters say they judge the candidates on the issues, let's not kid ourselves. Right or wrong, this campaign is as much about personalities as it is about issues. Not only has Bush won the personality contest, an essential component of any American election, he held his own in the trio of debates, the stage where Sen. John Kerry was expected to shine, possibly run away with the election.

Bush cleverly focused his attacks on Kerry's weak points, and skillfully avoided the gaffes many anticipated would be his demise. Bush isn’t as polished or as articulate as Kerry might be when it comes to spontaneous speeches or debates, but that isn't worth throwing him out of office. Bush himself has made fun of himself in this area.

Let me see if I can cut through this spin. You shouldn't judge a President on personality, but our guy has a better personality. And because a guy who is in charge of the free world didn't make any major gaffes during the debates (I never said I wasn't concerned about Osama) while managing to walk up right and not drool on himself, we think he's the best candidate for the job. He is clearly running away with this election because the polling lead he had closed after his competent performance in those debates.

Bush is smart to focus on Kerry because Bush himself hasn't done anything worth championing in the last four years. He has employed skill in not screwing up too badly, rather than the normal competence that you or I get credit for. And Bush can laugh at his inability to speak well, which should be, in our opinion, the final nail in Kerry's coffin. Heck, even if you can't string a complete sentence together, making fun of your inability makes you clearly the best choice for the highest office in the land.

More(guess which stuff is mine):
Bush is a man of character, devoted to principle(unable to admit error) and guided by a series of fundamental beliefs -- devotion to freedom (Patriot Act), faith in the American people(voter suppression), and suspicion of Big Government(larger bureaucracy than Clinton).

The whole editorial reads as if the Desert Sun is the newspaper of choice in Bush's alternate world. Ridiculous statements and absurd logical leaps abound in this thing, and they make no attempt to logical support any claims they make. For example, they call No Child Left Behind a success,then a failure because Bush has underfunded it.

Finally, my favorite line:
A divided nation opens the door to terrorists.

Now clearly, this editorial has caused me to become even more divided from the right wing partisan who spun this crap. And Bush administration policies based on strong arming Congress and driving the wedge deeper on social issue would, by logical conclusion, be not only Bush opening the door to terrorists, but inviting them over for dinner and letting them sleep in Laura's bed.

Clearly for me to waste this much energy on a small papers editorial shows how much my rancor has risen. I know in the long run this editorial will not change many minds and will have absolutely no impact on the election in general. It's just sad to think that to some people, partisan policy becomes more important than democracy itself.


On a personal note, let me say how pleased I am that Paul Daughtery's wish for the Bengals not to embarrass the city on Monday Night Football was happily granted.

Even sweeter, a couple of my friends and in-laws are fans of Denver.

Hopefully the Bengals can keep it up for the rest of the year.

Now back to political blogging. Thanks.

Iraq attack

I'm not an expert in the Iraqi explosive scandal. I would go to Josh Marshall for a definitive rebuttal of the latest claims by the Bush administration that the explosives were gone when we got there. But I wanted to share my first thoughts when I heard this claim.

First, I thought it ironic that this stuff was watched over by the IEAE, and they were forced to abandon their watch due to somebody's ill advised invasion. I'll leave you to figure that one out.

The second thing was something that struck me in the New York Times article:
The huge facility, called Al Qaqaa, was supposed to be under American military control but is now a no man's land, still picked over by looters as recently as Sunday.

It's clear then, that we still hadn't done anything to secure the place up through last Sunday, isn't it?

Overheard at a Cheney rally

Little girl: Daddy, that old man scared me. Are terrorists going to kill you?

Father: Aw sweetie, that man's just sad because he wants another donut. And there's no reason to be afraid when there's balloons and confetti, right?

Little girl: I love you, dad.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Thousands of hits for just one word

Sometimes I think about becoming a liberal version of Instapundit, because what more can I say about Pandagon, countering the arguement that the 380 tons of explosives is such a small amount overall, but "indeed?"
Terrorism: we've mostly confronted it.

Only .02% of all In 2001, there were 5,967,780 flights. The September 11th attacks constituted four of those. That constitutes a proportion so infinitessimally small that it's almost like none of the flights in 2001 were hijacked at all - it's like the attacks never happened.

Why doesn't anyone ever focus on the fact that 99.9999994% (or so) of all flights in America in 2001 were perfectly safe? Why are we so preoccupied with those oh-so-few flights that killed a few thousand people?


Depression turns to anger

Last night I posted on depressing news out of Iraq. Today, that depression turns to anger. Read on.

If Bush really does think he is the "best candidate" to protect America, then it's no wonder that he said the other day that America's complete safety is "up in the air". David Sirota points out Bush's failure and hypocrisy all at once:
The Wall Street Journal gives more details to how President Bush three times rejected military plans to kill Abu Musab al Zarqawi before the Iraq war. Notice this part of the article in which it now is clear Bush refused to go after one of the world's most deadly terrorists because he was trying to pass the same kind of "global test" he has attacked Kerry over. Also, he didn't want to damage his pre-determined efforts to invade Iraq...

Also on Bush's list of things to fear? How about terrorists with 380 tons of high powered explosives?
The Iraqi interim government has warned the United States and international nuclear inspectors that nearly 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives - used to demolish buildings, produce missile warheads and detonate nuclear weapons - are missing from one of Iraq's most sensitive former military installations.

The huge facility, called Al Qaqaa, was supposed to be under American military control but is now a no-man's land, still picked over by looters as recently as Saturday. United Nations weapons inspectors had monitored the explosives for many years, but White House and Pentagon officials acknowledge that the explosives vanished after the American invasion last year.
Still looted as of last Saturday. We've been in the country for over a year now, and we still haven't figured out a way to guard highly powered explosives.

On this issue, Kerry came out swinging:
"George W. Bush, who talks tough -- talks tough -- and brags about making Americans safe, has once again failed to deliver," Kerry said. "After being warned about the danger of major stockpiles of explosives in Iraq, this president failed to guard those stockpiles where nearly 380 tons of highly explosive weapons were kept. Today we learn that these explosives are missing, unaccounted for and potentially in the hands of terrorists. Terrorists could use this material to kill our troops, our people, blow up airplanes and level buildings."

Kerry added, "Now we know that our country and our troops are less safe because this president failed to do the basics. This is one of the great blunders of Iraq, one of the great blunders of this administration. The incredible incompetence of this president and his administration has put our troops at risk and put our country at greater risk than we ought to be."

The Bush camp response? I've seen two of them. One is that this is a sign of Kerry's weakness.
"John Kerry has no vision for fighting and winning the war on terror, so he is basing his attacks on the headlines he wakes up to each day," said Steve Schmidt, a spokesman for the Bush campaign.

So this is Bush's October surprise? To screw things up so badly, that when Kerry points them out, it keeps him off message? They claim John Kerry has no vision, when Bush failed to have the foresight himself to guard 380 tons of high powered explosives? Two monkeys and a football probably could have run this thing better.

The other is the same thing the Bush team has done for months - claim the administration has done enough, while not doing all it could:
White House spokesman Scott McClellan played down the threat posed by explosives missing from the Al Qaqaa military installation. He said there was no threat of nuclear proliferation, and preferred to concentrate on weapons destroyed, not those lost.

``We have destroyed more than 243,000 munitions,'' he said. ``We've secured another nearly 163,000 that will be destroyed.''

In Bush's reality, I guess that's enough to make sure our troops are safe. 280 tons of explosives that we failed to guard isn't that big of a deal, then. I have no idea what I was worried about.

*UPDATE* Josh Marshall points out a third response, that the Bush administration wants to find out what went wrong.
The president wants to determine what went wrong.

This reminds me of when I wanted to know why my Palm Pilot stopped working after I dropped it in the bath tub.

Doesn't this capture Bush's entire presidency?

The thing happened more than a year ago, his administration has taken active steps to cover it up and now that the truth finally comes out, he 'wants to determine what went wrong.'

The idea of accepting responsibility for anything is simply alien to the man. He doesn't even have the good grace to scam us by finding a scapegoat to pin the blame on.

Democracy on the march in Iraq?

More like a three legged sack race:
While publicly stressing the need for Iraqis to control their own destiny, the Bush administration is working behind the scenes to coax its closest Iraqi allies into a coalition that could dominate elections scheduled for January.

U.S. authorities in Washington and Iraqi politicians confirmed that top White House officials have told leaders of the six major parties that were on the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council that it would be in the groups' common interest to present a unified electoral slate.

The U.S. effort to influence the parliamentary elections is highly sensitive, coming at a time when President Bush daily expresses his desire to bring liberty and democracy to a nation that for decades has known only authoritarian rule. But the White House move stems from concerns that neighboring Iran is using its money and influence to try to sway the elections in its favor.

One U.S. official in Washington said the administration now believes Iraq needs a "negotiated resolution - a scaled-back democratic process."

Or, "democracy is not as important as getting what we want in Iraq."

When Bush loses the election in November here, maybe he could head to Iraq and run for President there. If the people love his freedom as much as he says they do, he should win by a landslide. And if they don't, then I'm sure Rove and company could fix the election in a fledgling democracy with relative ease. He can rule in his preferred style.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Newspaper flip-flops

A slew of new endorsements came out over the weekend (reported here), and a number of papers who endorsed Bush in 2000 have learned the error of their ways. There's the Orlando Sentinel (which, by the way, gives Kerry a Florida sweep of major papers):
Four years ago, the Orlando Sentinel endorsed Republican George W. Bush for president based on our trust in him to unite America. We expected him to forge bipartisan solutions to problems while keeping this nation secure and fiscally sound.

This president has utterly failed to fulfill our expectations. We turn now to his Democratic challenger, Sen. John Kerry, with the belief that he is more likely to meet the hopes we once held for Mr. Bush.

The usually Republican Chicago Sun Times:
We also like how Kerry thinks -- his thirst for information, his ability to judge situations on their merits. Yes, he sometimes changes his mind, but what the Republicans tar as waffling strikes us as flexibility. We want leaders to stay the course only when the course is a good one.

Perhaps that is the ultimate reason for endorsing John Kerry. The course America is on today feels wrong -- our attempts to defend ourselves have somehow drawn the contempt of the world, and we think much of that is due more to style than to substance -- not to what we've done, but how we've done it. Kerry is no weakling. He fought for his country in Vietnam, and no amount of fault-finding over his medals can undo that. He served for 19 years in the Senate, where he faced problems head-on -- though Vietnam was a vulnerable issue for him, because of his later opposition to the war, he took on the question of whether U.S. prisoners were still there and headed the government's effort to get at the truth.

The question that Americans need to ask themselves, going into the voting booth a week from Tuesday, is this: Do you like the direction our nation is heading? If the answer is no, then your vote should be for Sen. John Kerry.

The Morning Call (Allentown, PA):
Four years ago, The Morning Call recommended that George W. Bush be elected president of the United States. Since then, fate and history have handed him both the challenge of crisis and opportunities to put his stamp on the annals of American statesmanship.

The nation is engaged in a draining war in Iraq, but other places of danger around the world get only nervous, sidelong glances. The economy is sluggish, and the signs that it soon will rebound are faint or non-existent. Presidents don't control the economy, but policy does matter. We think that the grim prospects for the war in Iraq and the state of the domestic economy are in large measure the result of President Bush's own bad estimate of the world, America's role in it … and his own leadership abilities.

Therefore, The Morning Call cannot continue the support we offered for Mr. Bush four years ago, and we recommend that Sen. John F. Kerry be elected president.

And the Bangor Daily News:
We endorsed George W. Bush in 2000 based on his humility, optimism, a professed compassionate brand of Republicanism and, after the divisive years between the White House and Congress in the 1990s, his pledge to be a uniter, not a divider. Those traits have arisen occasionally in the last four years, but not often.


Sen. Kerry likely would begin his term as president with a solidly Republican Congress; we do not doubt that the health care, deficit-reduction and after-school programs he has outlined during the campaign would be altered considerably as they encountered Congress, and some ideas would not survive at all. Mr. Kerry would have no option but to negotiate to get anything passed, which may be for the best. However, he would also serve as a forceful block on some of the worst impulses of the House, such as the assaults on civil liberties currently in its version of Intelligence reform.

Sen. Kerry would return the White House to a mainstream, outward-looking style of governance, more inclusive by necessity and inclination, more willing to confront the complex and changing conditions in the world and more willing to address domestic issues in an enlightened way. He will face perilous times abroad and at home, but by many measures he seems the more capable of meeting them successfully.

And for a final surprise, the staunchly Republican Detroit News can't bring itself to choose Bush in 2004:
As Election Day approaches, we find ourselves, like many Americans, agonizing over the presidential election.

Four years ago, the choice was clear. We endorsed George W. Bush based on his promises of fiscal conservatism, limited government and prudence in foreign affairs.

Today, we sadly acknowledge that the president has failed to deliver on those promises.

Iraqi depression

Sometimes the news out of Iraq is so bad, it takes a while to overcome and write about it. In a matter of a couple of hours, I've read the following stories:

Ambushed Soldiers 'Heading Home on Leave ':
The bodies of about 50 Iraqi soldiers were found on a remote road in eastern Iraq, apparently the victims of an ambush as they were heading home on leave, Iraqi authorities said today.

Interior Ministry spokesman Adnan Abdul-Rahman said the victims were believed to have been killed about sundown yesterday on a road about 95 miles east of Baghdad near the Iranian border.

Senators Question U.S. Treatment of Iraqi Prisoners:
Two senators said on Sunday they were troubled by a report that U.S. intelligence officials secretly transferred as many as a dozen detainees out of Iraq in the last six months, possibly violating international treaties.
In an interview on ABC's "This Week," Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican who has campaigned for President Bush in his re-election bid, warned against violating international treaties that aim to ensure humane treatment of prisoners and civilians during a war.

"These conventions and these rules are in place for a reason, because you get on a slippery slope and you don't know where to get off," McCain, who was held prisoner by the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War, said.

"The thing that separates us from the enemy is our respect for human rights."

And this from Josh Marshall:
Some 350 tons of high explosives (RDX and HMX), which were under IAEA seal while Saddam was in power, were looted during the early days of the US occupation. Like so much else, it was just left unguarded.

Not only are these super-high-yield explosives probably being used in many, if not most, of the various suicide and car bombings in Iraq, but these particular explosives are ones used in the triggering process for nuclear weapons.

In other words, it's bad stuff.

What also emerges in the Nelson Report is that the Defense Department has been trying to keep this secret for some time. The DOD even went so far as to order the Iraqis not to inform the IAEA that the materials had gone missing. Informing the IAEA, of course, would lead to it becoming public knowledge in the United States.

This has now been reported by the New York Times as well, making it even worse:
The Iraqi interim government has warned the United States and international nuclear inspectors that nearly 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives - used to demolish buildings, produce missile warheads and detonate nuclear weapons - are missing from one of Iraq's most sensitive former military installations.

The huge facility, called Al Qaqaa, was supposed to be under American military control but is now a no-man's land, still picked over by looters as recently as Saturday. United Nations weapons inspectors had monitored the explosives for many years, but White House and Pentagon officials acknowledge that the explosives vanished after the American invasion last year.

Still looted as of last Saturday. We've been in the country for over a year now, and we still haven't figured out a way to guard highly powered explosives.

It becomes more and more depressing to read what a mess Bush and company have made in Iraq, and depressing still to think that despite all of this that 45% of the American public want to keep the guy in office.

I think I need a good stiff drink.

*UPDATE* Josh Marshall has more:
As another administration source told Nelson, "What the hell were WE doing in the year and a half from the time we knew the stuff was gone, is obviously a huge question, and you can imagine why no one [in the Administration] wants to face up to it, certainly not before the election."

Another told Nelson, "You would be correct to suspect that politics, or the fear of politics, played a major role in delaying the release of this information."

It's a story that really brings together the adminstration's two cardinal sins: dishonesty and incompetence.

Is America safe?

President Bush gives an emphatic maybe.
Whether or not we can be ever fully safe is up -- you know, is up in the air.

It seems like a fairly logical answer to me. It also goes against everything that Bush has campaigned on in the last few months. So I don't fault him for honesty in this case, but in his hypocrisy.

In Bush's defense, he may have heard this statement from James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and avid advocate of Oklahoma Republican Senate candidate Tom Coburn:
"Homosexuals are not monogamous. They want to destroy the institution of marriage," Dobson said.

"It will destroy marriage. It will destroy the Earth."

Meanwhile, back in reality, a new report on state's ability's to respond to biological weapons attacks says no:
Only three states reported that they are at the optimal level of preparedness for a biological attack, based on a three-point scale established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So if homosexuals marry and get a hold of biological weapons, head for cover immediately.

Soldiers among those challenged in Ohio

As reported earlier, Republicans in Ohio have decided to challenge the validity of 35,000 newly registered voters. The state GOP had sent letters to all of this year's newly registered voters and challenged anyone who had the letter returned. How are the challenges going so far? Glad you asked:
An initial review of 50 challenge forms filed by GOP activists shows 40 with an incorrect ward or precinct listed for the voter, said Michael Hackett, deputy director of the Franklin County Board of Elections. He said such mistakes will nullify requests to have people removed from the list of eligible voters.


In Franklin County, beyond the challenges with incorrect information, it appears Republicans included some legitimately registered voters, including members of the military.

Lisa Potts, a longtime Marine currently stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., is registered to vote from her mother’s address in Westerville. She already has received her absentee ballot.

She said she was surprised yesterday to hear her eligibility to vote had been challenged, "especially since I’m a Republican" and also because service members often keep a "house of record" in their hometowns.

"I pay taxes to the state of Ohio every year," said Potts, 42, a 1980 graduate of Westerville South High School who has been a Marine for 24 years.

Nice of Republicans to challenge the rights of those they sent overseas to fight for them, no?
*UPDATE* Even more good news for Democracy in Ohio:
State Republicans withdrew thousands of more than 35,000 challenges to new voter registrations because of errors in their filings apparently caused by a computer glitch.

Republicans filed the challenges Friday in 65 of Ohio's 88 counties, saying mail sent to the newly registered voters was returned as undeliverable.

Over the weekend, the party withdrew about 4,700 challenges in Hamilton County because the names and addresses on the GOP list didn't match voter rolls, and about two-thirds, or 2,800, of the 4,200 challenges in Franklin County, officials said.

Failing Iraqis

Frequently forgotten victims of the war in Iraqi is the civilians themselves. Through a FOIA request, however, the Dayton Daily News obtained access to the U.S. Army's tort claims database.
The records provide a previously unseen portrait of the toll the war has had on civilians in Iraq, and the kinds of incidents described in the records have fueled the growing insurgency and hatred toward the American-led coalition.

Throughout the articles are stories that make it clear our troops treat the citizens they are supposed to liberate as something less than human. Claims in Iraq are rejected at a greater rate than anywhere else in the world, and the rewards when issued are much smaller than whose given in other countries:
According to the database, the average payment for a death in Iraq was $3,421, less than 1/20th of the average payment for a claim filed anywhere else.

On May 12, 2003, an Iraqi man died when a tire fell from a U.S. Army vehicle in Tikrit, and his widow received $5,000, according to Army records. On April 24, 1999, in Bath County, Ky., a female motorist suffered neck and back injuries after a tire fell from a military vehicle, and she got $50,000, or 10 times what the Iraq widow received for losing her husband under nearly identical circumstances.

The Army paid $5,000 — the same amount given the Iraq widow — to a woman who got a staple stuck in her finger at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico.

Once again the saddest aspect of the war becomes the realization that all of this was preventable. Clearly not enough translators were available to our side, and little if any study of the culture was done:
"Our soldiers would put their hands up as a sign to stop at the (checkpoints), but we didn't do our homework on how to deal with the Iraqi people," [former assistant Army chaplain in Iraq] said. "To them, putting your hand up was a gesture or greeting, so they would just keep approaching the soldiers in their cars.

"And a lot of soldiers would just open fire, and they killed a lot of innocent people. We just didn't do enough to study the culture of Iraqis."

Medina, whose twin brother was killed in Iraq last November, said soldiers sometimes were ordered to open fire on any vehicle that didn't stop.

"In one case, there was a father, mother and three children," said Medina, whose unit arrived shortly after the shooting. "They were shot many times. The car was full of blood. There was one kid alive. He was alive for a few hours before being pronounced dead in the hospital a few hours later.... It was horrible."

It is clear that the current administration demonstrated a clear lack of foresight when planning for post war Iraq, and even now they are struggling to come to terms with events on the ground. Even poorly spun polls cannot hide the fact that Iraq is slowly slipping out of our control:
Suspicion of the United States is so great that 2/3s of Iraqis believe any civil war that breaks out would likely be instigated by America! And 22% believe that it would be instigated by Israel. More Iraqis blamed the US and its allies in Iraq for the current poor security situation than blamed foreign terrorists! And they were four times more likely to blame the US & coalition than to blame armed elements of the former regime!

About 55% say that the current interim government does not represent people like them. Only 8% enthusiastically say it represents them. Half of Iraqis blame the government for being ineffective, and only 44% think that it has been at all effective (the same 8% are enthusiastic). Allawi's effectiveness rating has fallen from 65% last July to 45% now.

Virtually none of the main points made by the IRI at its website about its own poll are valid in context, which does not exactly inspire confidence in the poll takers. The link to the poll results is given at the bottom of their page, in pdf. Go look at the slides yourself. It is not in fact a pretty picture.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Cheney the cause for all things awful

Dick Cheney's latest attack on John Kerry is to claim that had Kerry been President in the 1980's, that the Soviet Union would still exist:
Cheney told supporters that Kerry had run for the U.S. Senate in the 1980s on a promise to do away with many of the weapons that U.S. President Ronald Reagan used to end the Cold War.

"So if John Kerry had been in charge, maybe the Soviet Union would still be in business," President Bush's running mate said on a campaign trip to the swing state of New Mexico.

The logic disconnect was so swift, I must have blacked out for a few hours.

When I came to, I thought that irony is a cruel mistress, and Lynne Cheney must be jealous her husband is having an affair with her. You see, had Dick Cheney been President instead of Secretary of Defense in the late 1980's, the Soviet Union might still be in existence today:
And Richard Cheney himself, who is now Vice President but who then was Secretary of Defense, also proposed canceling the Apache helicopter program five years after Kerry did. As Cheney told the House Armed Services Committee on Aug. 13, 1989:

Cheney: The Army, as I indicated in my earlier testimony, recommended to me that we keep a robust Apache helicopter program going forward, AH-64; . . . I forced the Army to make choices. I said, "You can't have all three. We don't have the money for all three." So I recommended that we cancel the AH-64 program two years out. That would save $1.6 billion in procurement and $200 million in spares over the next five years.

Two years later Cheney's Pentagon budget also proposed elimination of further production of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle as well. It was among 81 Pentagon programs targeted for termination, including the F-14 and F-16 aircraft.

AMERICAblog points out that by his own logic, Cheney is the cause for AIDS:
After all, Cheney voted against AIDS funding in the 80s when the epidemic began to spin out of control.

Tremble in safety

I'm not sure if I should be afraid:
FBI investigators have made new arrests and developed leads that reinforce concerns that terrorists plan to strike around the presidential election, officials said Saturday...

or relieved:
Intelligence officials stress that they continue to receive reports indicating that al Qaeda and its allies would like to mount attacks in the United States close to the Nov. 2 elections, and that such reports have been streaming in since terrorists blew up commuter trains in Madrid days before Spanish elections in March. Yet after hundreds of interviews, scores of immigration arrests and other preventive measures, law enforcement officials say they have been unable to detect signs of an ongoing plot in the United States, nor have they identified specific targets, dates or methods that might be used in one.

"We've not unearthed anything that would add any credence to talk of an election-related attack," said one senior FBI counterterrorism official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because authorities have been instructed not to talk publicly about the issue before the elections. "You can never say there is not a threat, but we have not found specific evidence of one."

Friday, October 22, 2004

A challenged voter's guide

The New York Times is reporting about Republican efforts to intimidate voters in Ohio by challenging voters rights to cast their vote. Democrats have struggling to match the large number of Republicans hired to challenge voters on November 2nd.
Democrats worry that the challenges will inevitably delay the process and frustrate the voters.

"Our concern is Republicans will be challenging in large numbers for the purpose of slowing down voting, because challenging takes a long time,'' said David Sullivan, the voter protection coordinator for the national Democratic Party in Ohio. "And creating long lines causes our people to leave without voting.''

The Republican challenges in Ohio have already begun. Yesterday, party officials submitted a list of about 35,000 registered voters whose mailing addresses, the Republicans said, were questionable. After registering, they said, each of the voters was mailed a notice, and in each case the notice was returned to election officials as undeliverable.

In Cuyahoga County alone, which includes the heavily Democratic neighborhoods of Cleveland, the Republican Party submitted more than 14,000 names of voters for county election officials to scrutinize for possible irregularities. The party said it had registered more than 1,400 people to challenge voters in that county.

Republicans will stop at nothing to win this election, and moves like this smell of cheap desperation. So help get out the vote if you can in crucial states. They can't cheat if it's a landslide.

Equally important is to familiarize yourself with what will happen if you get challenged on election day. Here's a guide, taken from the Dayton Daily News:
What are challengers? Ohio law allows political parties, groups of candidates or issue nominating committees to appoint their own representatives to watch over voting in any precinct. They can challenge, "for good cause," the right of anyone to vote.

What is a witness? Witnesses are allowed to observe the counting of ballots only. They cannot be in polling places unless ballots are counted there.

Where will the challengers be? They are supposed to stand behind the table where poll workers are seated.

What will happen if my right to vote is challenged?

1. The challenger will have to state why your right to vote is being challenged. The four reasons they can challenge are that they believe you are either not 18 or older, not a U.S. citizen, not a Ohio resident for the past 30 days or not a resident of the county and precinct in which you are trying to vote.

2. One of the poll workers and you will move no less than 10 feet from the challenger.

3. You will be asked to take this oath: "Do you swear or affirm that you will fully and truly answer all of the following questions put to you, touching your place of residence and your qualifications as an elector at this election?"

3. You will be asked a series of questions about one of the four areas in which you are being challenged.

4. If you refuse to answer fully all questions or are unable to answer them fully, or your answers indicate you are too young, not a resident or a citizen, you will not be able to vote.

5. If you answer the questions to the satisfaction of the poll worker, you will be given a ballot and will be allowed to vote.

What if you want to appeal? The decisions of the poll workers are final.

What if the challenger appears to be attempting to cause delays or intimidate voters? The chief poll worker, the presiding judge, can expel them from the polling place.

Failing our schools

Bush likes to trumpet the No Child Left Behind Bill that he has horribly underfunded. Here's what it looks like in action:
Because Cedar Grove failed to meet No Child Left Behind standards for test scores two years in a row, middle school-age children at Cedar Grove can attend South Charleston if they choose. It's the next closest school in the county to meet the federal standards.

No students have opted to switch schools. But if they did, the tab for transportation and other expenses would fall to the county, squeezing the school system's budget even more.

"That would be an unfunded mandate," said Harry Reustle, Kanawha County schools treasurer. "It does not come out of any money set aside for No Child Left Behind."

Reustle said officials would have to reallocate resources from one part of the budget to cover these "unfunded mandates, because, well, they are mandates."

You can see the dangers of underfunding a program like this. Schools are already struggling to meet the standards set without the money promised them, and failure leads to even more money taken away from educational purposes, which would in turn lead to further collapse.

It is flat out amazing to me that a solution for failing schools is to take money away from them. How does this help make schools better off than they were four years ago?

*UPDATE* The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has a story today on NCLB as well (registration required):
Jody Schwab, who teaches fifth grade at Johnsville Elementary School in Blaine, said she jokes with her fellow teachers that the avalanche of tests makes them feel like they are working at "Tests 'R' Us." Schwab said she has mixed feelings about adding testing. It puts teachers on the same page, which she said will benefit students in the end. But the federal regulations sometimes strip instructors of flexibility in the classroom, and the testing eats up instruction time, she said.

Schwab said she conducts new district testing in the fall and spring that aims to get her 30 students compliant with No Child Left Behind standards. The amount of time she spends with the new tests creates a tricky balancing act between completing them and staying on track with Minnesota's curriculum standards, she said.

Schwab's main concern isn't additional testing from No Child Left Behind, it's inadequate funding, which she said creates larger class sizes and cuts programs that help struggling students.

"I don't know how you can say 'no child left behind' without adequate funding," Schwab said.