The Sideshow

Archive for October 2004

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Sunday, 31 October 2004

~ Happy Hallowe'en! ~

At TalkLeft

Lot's of stuff about the bin Laden tape at TalkLeft, with this round-up post of others blogging on the subject, and also asking the question: Has anyone asked whether Osama could have made this tape in captivity? And this later post rounding-up others who have played with theories that the tape is not what it purports to be. (Personally, I thought it was weird that he referred to Bush as "the commander in chief" - has he been watching a lot of American television news, or what?)

Jeralyn has also posted a comment from a reader who was a bit suspicious about something Osama said, and reports that Walter Cronkite Suspects Karl Rove is Behind Bin Laden Tape.

Meanwhile, Tom Harkin and Gary Hart are both warning about a possible draft.
23:28 GMT

Just a lot of grumpy crap

I know it's silly, not to mention garish, but I just really feel like celebrating Hallowe'en with silly black & orange junk, even though orange is my least favorite color and it clashes horribly and really I hate it. But I love autumn and Hallowe'en and I got a little carried away and I'm glad it will be over at midnight and I can go back to magenta.

I just got e-mail from my cousin in New Jersey telling me his father, my favorite uncle, has died. He was 93 and it's been years since I last saw him but he was really the only uncle I ever actually liked, and also he and his wife Vicky (my mother's sister) gave me my two favorite Xmas presents when I was a child (and which I still have). Ash was also my best-looking uncle, and the last uncle I had. I tried to call my cousin but the number I have for him is dead and I can't reach my mother to get the new one.

I'm watching Rory Bremner and it's all RNC talking points and he's usually better than that so I'm really irritated.
21:24 GMT

Read this

Vaara has provided a great public service with a Transcript of the first episode of The Power of Nightmares at Silt. If you were unable to watch this on the BBC, it's very much worth your time to read it all. Part I, "Baby It's Cold Outside", provides an overview of the twisted thinking of Strauss, Kristol, and others in parallel with the likes of Qutb and Zawahiri to bring us to the dreadful state of affairs we now have.

Update: For some reason that link doesn't appear to work, but Vaara tells me this one will get you to the main entry which now includes the transcript of the second part, which is also fascinating.
20:17 GMT

Scary management

Dominic has a good post up at Epicycle about costly, stupid, aggravating management that gets in the way of getting things done efficiently and drives everyone crazy in the bargain. He's mainly focused on "the British government's appalling track record of failed IT projects" - but you can apply it more broadly to a whole raft of areas in both public and commercial institutions where too many people who don't understand a specialty will gum-up a process that could have been done a whole lot better, faster, and less expensively.

You don't have to look far to find examples of projects where crucial decisions about who should really be in charge of that project are put into the hands of people who have so little experience in the area that they completely underestimate the importance of sharp-end professionals. Whether you're a secretary, a systems administrator, or a career diplomat, you know that if they don't value your expertise it's going to lead to screw-ups not too far up the road - and that you're probably going to end up carrying the can for it.

Sometimes there's just nothing you can do but grin and bear it - but this time, you know what to do.
15:52 GMT

In the blogosphere

Steve Soto at The Left Coaster has an interesting analysis of trends, including an interesting little poll showing that Osama's tape made more people think about how Bush took his eye off the ball than thought it underscored the importance of having Bush around to protect us.

Not that the Bush people see it that way, according to Kos, who says they are celebrating their incompetence and have called Osama's tape "a little gift": "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."

Kos also reports that the day before the 2000 election, the polls had Gore trailing - and then he went on to win the popular vote. Kerry is in a much stronger position right now. Meanwhile, back in 2004, Tucker Carlson predicts that Kerry will win the EC and the popular vote.

Lambert at Corrente reports on more suppressed material from the 9/11 Report. Maybe there's something fishy going on....

What do you know, Elton Beard finds that Max Boot is still an idiot.

Michael takes a hard look at Slate's sniffy endorsements of John Kerry and predicts that once Kerry gets into the White House, we can expect for more years of sniffy press for the Dem.

Digby highlights a lovely example of chutzpah - Republicans complaining that a radio show advocated the defeat of a Republican candidate.

A nice little billboard, via Hypothetically Speaking, where I also learned that even Republicans couldn't swallow some RNC voter challenges in Summit County in Ohio.
05:12 GMT

Saturday, 30 October 2004

The prediction game

Ciro Scotti in Business Week:

Who's the Cool Guy This Year?

Hint: It's not the candidate squandering American lives, letting underlings do his thinking, and threatening civil liberties

Four years ago in this space, a simple political rule-of-thumb was put forth in an attempt to slash through all the confusing polls and hot-air punditry surrounding the Presidential race: The cool guy wins (see BW Online, 8/4/00, "Cool Guys Finish First").

And then we get a few paragraphs talking about why Bush was cool - or at least in the eyes of the kind of person who thought so. There's a bit of an insight there into a way of thinking that is, frankly, alien to me. But then he starts talking about how Bush lost his shine since then and looks at Kerry, who he blows hot and cold about but also says this:
The subtext of the vicious attacks on Kerry isn't just that he denounced the war, but that he broke ranks with his elitist brother officers to denounce the war. It's telling that the enlisted men who served directly under Kerry almost all support him. A candidate who has been in firefights and retains the loyalty of his men -- that's cool.
So Kerry is going to win, because he's cooler.

And James Wolcott says Kerry will beat Bush 55 to 45, because when 400,000 kids Nickolodeon poll, they picked Kerry over Bush 57-43. So Kerry will win because they say so.
22:13 BST

In the mix

The IRS now thinks Julian Bond and the NAACP aren't allowed to talk about anything suspiciously racist done by the RNC or by any state or governmental body that happens to be run by Republicans because that's "partisan". Geraldine Sealey at Salon's War Room says: We've all made jokes at one time or another about the taxman paying visits to people who speak out against the government. But in the Bush administration, this actually happens. The IRS is investigating the NAACP -- the group Bush has declined to personally visit as president -- because chairman Julian Bond "condemned the administration policies of George W. Bush" during a speech this summer.

Also at the War Room, David Talbot says Holbrooke wins Round 1 in bin Laden spin battle against Wolf Blitzer and "Danielle Pletka, who seemed overwrought and unable to look directly at the camera," and who continued with the RNC talking point falsely claiming that, "It's a lie we had bin Laden in our clutches and let him get away." And apparently a new talking point is: "And it's a lie that once we have him, the war on terror will be over." Funnily enough, I've never heard anyone say it would be.

Wouldn't it be cool if after all Tom Delay's scheming, the Republicans still lost those Texas seats?

Lisa Rein has been posting videos from Bill Moyers and others on things like the 9/11 Commission, the inherent weaknesses of electronic voting machines, how Rumsfeld screwed up in Iraq, the real hero of the Jessica Lynch story, and a bunch of other stuff, for those who missed them on TV or want to share them with others.
14:09 BST

News & stuff

Bra of the week

Hm, I've been asked to participate in this thing Tuesday night. Kind of an interesting idea.... (Anybody feel like driving around London at three in the morning?)

The Angry Liberal reminds us of what the polls looked like this time four years ago. Kerry in a landslide!

Fraud by voters is rare: Demos has a .pdf available of Securing the Vote: An Analysis of Election Fraud that you may want to have a good look at. The gist is this: The disenfranchisement of voters through antiquated voting systems, system error, and improper management of registration databases, as occurred in Florida in the 2000 election, is a far bigger problem than traditional forms of election fraud. (via)

Steve Clemons meets "a very tough soldier": He has had one rotation in Afghanistan, one in Iraq. He is now in Germany but will soon be transferred back to Iraq. He was at Tora Bora and has seen a lot of Iraqi, Afghan, and American dead. According to him, 75% of all soldiers want Bush defeated in the election and don't care who defeats him; anger and resentment are high.

DHinMI and DemFromCT at Daily Kos both say that tape shouldn't really help Bush much: I'm still here. You haven't caught me. And you went after the wrong guy. I just thought I'd remind you.

Bush Seeks Limit to Suits Over Voting Rights: Bush administration lawyers argued in three closely contested states last week that only the Justice Department, and not voters themselves, may sue to enforce the voting rights set out in the Help America Vote Act, which was passed in the aftermath of the disputed 2000 election. Via Kevin at Lean Left, who said: When is a right not a right? When you have to wait for the government to decide that its a right.. And Matthew Gross said: Man, what does it tell you when one candidate's only strategy to winning an election is to keep voters away from the polls?

Jeff Cooper ponders originalism and Scalia's constitutional interpretation.

Yes, John Kerry is a Catholic. (via)

Gee, did the wingers freep this contest?
04:44 BST


I watched tonight's (that is, Friday's) special Question Time in America, with Michael Moore, David Frum (RNC hack), Sidney Blumenthal, Richard Littlejohn (tabloid and TV hack), and Lida Rodrigues-Taseff (civil liberties attorney), with some discomfort as it devolved into an opportunity for Bushistas to recite their talking points, and particularly the one where the people registering new voters and then throwing out registration forms for the other party are Democrats throwing out Republicans' forms. You can watch it now; the video is linked on the page.

Watch the trailers for:
Rush to War: Between Iraq and a Hard Place (and download the free .mp3 of "George Bush Blues").

Bush Family Fortunes: The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.
01:14 BST

Friday, 29 October 2004

Meme meme meme meme meme

October surprise: I can't think of any greater proof that bin Laden wants Bush to win this election than the release of this tape calling Bush a liar right before the election.

They blew it again. Oh, right, it was much more important to listen to Chalibi rather than the CIA about what we should be looking out for in Iraq. Fox has the fake excuse, and the wingnuts reckon no one can get upset about it now because, well, gosh, lots of stuff was out there. Sure: So far, they went missing before we got there, but we destroyed them ourselves after we got there, and after all it's only 40 truckloads of explosives - so why should anybody mind?

The whole loyalty oath thing gets better and better, and someday we will be able to hear rooms full of schoolchildren reciting the new one: I care about freedom and liberty. I care about my family. I care about my country. Because I care, I promise to work hard to re-elect, re-elect George W. Bush as president of the United States. According to Chris Suellentrop in One Nation Under Bush, you get to recite it now at Bush rallies. (Via The Liquid List)
23:56 BST

"Just politics"

Yesterday I heard this read out on the radio, but now I see a picture of the thing at Oliver's site (he got it from Kos).

For the benefit of my British readers, who are continually astonished at American law, I assure you in this case that not a single thing on this flyer is true. (In many states, even a felony conviction doesn't prevent you from voting.) But it appears to be circulating in black neighborhoods in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, Atrios has a few links on what's going on in Ohio, such as this story:

Phony letters tell people they cannot vote

PAINESVILLE -- It is an outright case of election fraud in Lake County.

The phony letter says newly registered voters signed up by the Kerry or Capri Cafaro campaigns or the NAACP, their registrations are illegal and they will not be able to vote.

"That was not authorized by the Board of Elections, said Elections Director Jan Clair. "It was not mailed by the Lake County Board of Elections."

Jerome Armstrong has details of a "caging" incident in which a Republican activist challenged a voter's right to vote on the basis of the fact that a registered letter allegedly sent to the voter was not received. From the hearing transcript:
MR. PRY: And what is the basis for you making this challenge?

MS. MILLER: That was my impression that these items that I signed were for people whose mail had been undeliverable for several times, and that they did not live at the residence.

MR. PRY: Did you personally send any mail to Ms. Herrold?

MS. MILLER: No, I did not.

MR. PRY: Have you seen any mail that was returned to Ms. Herrold?

MS. MILLER: No, I have not.

MR. PRY: Do you have any personal knowledge as we stand here today that Ms. Herrold does not live at the address at 238 30th Street Northwest?

MS. MILLER: Only that which was my impression; that their mail had not been able to be delivered.

MR. PRY: And who gave you that impression?

MS. MILLER: Attorney Jim Simon.

MR. PRY: And what did --

MS. MILLER: He's an officer of the party.

MR. PRY: An officer of which party?

MS. MILLER: Republican party.

MR. PRY: Where did you complete this challenge form at?

MS. MILLER: My home.

MR. PRY: What did Mr. Simon tell you with respect to Ms. Herrold's residence?

MS. MILLER: That the mail had come back undeliverable several times from that residence.

MR. PRY: And you never saw the returned mail?

MS. MILLER: No, I did not.

Sure. They send registered letters to people, and the people aren't there to sign for them (because, you know, they might have jobs or something), so the RNC thinks they have a valid excuse for claiming these people aren't registered legitimately. In this case, the voter was in fact registered at her correct, current residence, but in some other cases the voter is currently stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan and therefore is not home to receive mail. The Republicans know this, but such is the basis of their claims of voter fraud by Democrats.

Meanwhile, you've no doubt already heard about the various dirty tricks in Florida, such as the 58,000 absentee ballots that just seem to have gone missing in the post. The Post Office says they never had them - they're pretty sure they would have noticed 58,000 pieces of mail of that type.

But it's not just voter-suppression that has shown the RNC doing absolutely everything to keep their agenda alive. Despite pretty solid evidence all over the place making clear that this administration's policies are responsible for losing all those missing explosives. How are the administration and their attack-dog minions dealing with this? By pretending it's a myth. Jesse Taylor is calling this Desperationgate, "the push to prove that, in fact, explosives are a creation of the liberal media, and combustion is simply a great historical lie of the anti-American left."

So that's the strategy: Have the right-wing hacks at the Moonie Times and The New York Post and the Wargasm Bloggers tell us the "truth" that The New York Times, CBS, NBC, ABC, and even a videotape that shows the whole business in detail are just making the whole story up because they are the "lieberal media" and bent on "saying anything" to try to "steal the election" for Kerry.

(The bright side of this is that the massive spin campaign by the administration has helped to keep the whole story alive, says Bill Scher, who notes that it's all proven to be a fairly solid disaster since they no sooner throw out another excuse than it gets debunked big time.)

Meanwhile, that same "liberal" media seems uninterested in this story that appears to prove even Sy Hersh naive in his belief that Bush really did invade Iraq because he believed he could bring peace and democracy to the Middle East by declaring war on it:

Houston: Two years before the September 11 attacks, presidential candidate George W. Bush was already talking privately about the political benefits of attacking Iraq, according to his former ghost writer, who held many conversations with then-Texas Governor Bush in preparation for a planned autobiography.

"He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999," said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. "It was on his mind. He said to me: 'One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.' And he said, 'My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.' He said, 'If I have a chance to invade..if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency."

Herskowitz said that Bush expressed frustration at a lifetime as an underachiever in the shadow of an accomplished father. In aggressive military action, he saw the opportunity to emerge from his father's shadow. [Emphasis added.]

Yes, that's right, Bush was planning to invade Iraq in order to shore up his own political standing. Was there any ideology involved, or was it simply self-serving? The only ideology we can be sure of is the one that says the lives of thousands of maimed and dead soldiers are not important enough to protect against the ambitions of this self-important madman.
14:27 BST

Bits of news

In The Washington Post, Richard Morin reports on a new wrinkle in this year's political landscape - people protesting against polls: Three dozen protesters gathered outside the Minneapolis Star Tribune building a month ago. They glowered and pounded on the windows. They carried signs calling the newspaper the "Star and Sickle." They shouted "Liberal!" at staffers leaving the building. A few days before the demonstration, Ron Eibensteiner, chairman of the state Republican Party, had demanded that the publisher fire Rob Daves, the paper's longtime pollster But it's also more people refusing to respond to polls, less money for polls, and a whole lot of things that make some people wonder how long they will be usable.

Media Matters reports on another example of "conservatives" supporting our troops - by blaming them for following the orders they received from our incompetent leadership and going to Baghdad like they were told instead of securing Al Qaqaa.

Richard Cohen finally says two things that are long overdue in Hold Bush Accountable: I do not write the headlines for my columns. Someone else does. But if I were to write the headline for this one, it would be "Impeach George Bush." [...] Congress lent its approval and so, significantly, did the media (myself included). The failure of leadership was across the board. This is the good Richard Cohen; I wonder if he'll stick around for a while, and how soon the hack will be back.

TBogg finds more evidence that right-wingers will believe anything.
02:29 BST

Thursday, 28 October 2004

Not the 'heartland'

[I woke up this morning and found zillions of typos and broken links and stuff on this page. I think I'm starting to feel the pressure, I post in a trance and don't seem to see the mess when I proofread the first time. It's getting so close. It's obvious Kerry will draw a larger number of voters, but it's not so obvious that the Republicans won't prevent our votes from being counted. Scary times.]

There's a nice little item from Michelle Goldberg at the Salon War Room, Are people who live in cities real Americans? NRO says no! looking at a defense of the Electoral College from Gary L. Gregg called - get this - Counting the Real People's Vote which, says Goldberg, "argues that without the electoral advantage given to small, rural red states, American elections would be dominated by 'a metropolitan elite who distain the cultures and values of middle America.' In other words, the urban vote needs to be diluted because it's so Democratic." She goes on:

It's perfectly fair to argue that the Electoral College is needed to protect the interests of minority voters against the tyranny of the majority. But Gregg's argument is more sinister. By separating voters into "real people," whose votes should be given extra weight, and the "secular urban base" who don't quite count as fully legitimate citizens, he reveals one of the driving forces behind the modern Republican party -- a party which professes to embody Americanism while hating a great part of America. "Al Gore demonstrated in 2000 that the national popular vote can be won by appealing to a narrow band of the electorate heavily secular, single, and concentrated in cities," Gregg writes. This is an amazing statement -- if this band is so "narrow," how can it also be a major part of a popular majority? The answer, in the right-wing imagination, is that only a certain kind of citizens constitute real Americans, and thus are implicitly deserving of power despite the fact that they're a minority.
We've covered this territory before, but it's worth driving the point home that it's not an accident, and it's not just "partisan", either - they really do mean to disenfranchise these particular groups of people, not simply because it's to the political advantage of their party, but because they really don't regard those people as entitled to vote. They're genuinely racists, and they are elitist to the core.
15:45 BST

Get your vote on

In The Rocky Mountain News, Republicans gather to bash Bush: A number of lifelong Republicans gathered at Kerry-Edwards headquarters in Denver on Monday to endorse Democrats this year. Members of the group said they had soured for various reasons on President Bush's policies and would not support his re-election.

Sadly, No! finds yet another thing that's creating right-wing outrage - school kids getting the vote out. Gasp!

Eli at Left I on the News notices something about the crowds at Bush's rallies that doesn't jibe with Ed Koch's evaluation.

Get your red hot Lie Girls! (Warning: Mark of Biomesblog passed this one on to me because he can't use it on his page.) (Unwarning: Alun, you're gonna love this.)

World's least popular Hallmark Happy Ramadan card
12:36 BST

Call and response

For a political candidate to jump to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your commander in chief. -- G.W. Bush

Right, he's a flip-flopper - he was for jumping to conclusions before he was against it. -- Atrios on Air America
02:42 BST

Loony tunes

Quick guide to tonight's eclipse (includes live webcast links)

What's wrong with Harold Meyerson's Washington Post article The GOP's Shameful Vote Strategy is that it's on page A25 of Wednesday's paper: With Election Day almost upon us, it's not clear whether President Bush is running a campaign or plotting a coup d'etat. By all accounts, Republicans are spending these last precious days devoting nearly as much energy to suppressing the Democratic vote as they are to mobilizing their own.

A little something for the paranoia files: Scientists warn of 'ethnic weapons': BIOLOGICAL weapons that target selected ethnic groups could become part of the terrorists' arsenal unless governments and scientists act now, the British Medical Association warns.

The Rude Pundit explains that Kerry is a superhero, and Bob Schrum is an idiot for not making it clear throughout the campaign. Kerry has taken on all the supervillians, and now, he's doing what he does best: In the vicious end of days in this campaign, so much gets lost in the caterwauling of the media. Here's something that's happened in the last couple of days: John Kerry has found the last piece of the puzzle, the final cause to push to the end of the battle. If you've listened to Kerry since the dual revelations of the missing 760,000 pounds of high-powered explosives from a known ammo dump and the coming request for an additional $70 billion dollars for Iraq and Afghanistan, Kerry has become the man we've all heard about - the unstoppable crusader for what's right against however powerful the forces of evil may be.

I am not authorized to view this page, although you probably are: Surfers outside the US have been unable to visit the official re-election site of President George W Bush. It appears to be deliberate blocking by the Bush campaign, as far as anyone can tell.

Who would Jesus flip off

In the Independent, US gave date of war to Britain in advance, court papers reveal : Secret plans for the war in Iraq were passed to British Army chiefs by US defence planners five months before the invasion was launched, a court martial heard yesterday. That was while we were being told that every effort to avoid war was being made. And yet, somehow, they didn't have time to plan it properly. Imagine that. (And it means Clare Short was right when she said that Blair had knowingly misled Parliament.)

Katherine Harris's Car Trouble: A Florida man has been charged with attempting to run over controversial Republican congresswoman Katherine Harris with his Cadillac.
01:01 BST

Wednesday, 27 October 2004

More liberal media

Al Franken wants you to write to MSNBC to defend Lawrence O'Donnell and thank them for having him on. He's "taking flak" for having called John O'Neill a liar - which is what everyone should have been doing all along with the Swiftvet Liars. In the usual way of things, the wingnuts are taking O'Donnell's high-volume response as some sort of counter-balance to all the Coulters and Carlsons and O'Reilly's - and then some. And they definitely seem to miss the point that, unlike the Coulters and the Carlsons and etc., O'Donnell was confronting a liar.

Drudge is at it again, pretending to have found a new Sekrit Plot in the newsmedia because ABC News turned a terrorist tape over to US intelligence rather than airing it! Atrios comments.

And Atrios also comments on a post at MyDD about the battleground polls and in particular a curious story about a CBS/NYT poll of Florida being suppressed because it shows Kerry leading Bush by four - or is it eight or nine? - points.
23:42 BST


Today's Talking Point at Unfiltered is about what you can do to help get out the vote, and includes a few other interesting suggestions besides the usual traditional ones. This includes doing things to entertain people or make them comfortable during what may be some very long waits in line. With enormous turn-outs predicted and the RNC actively conspiring to slow down the process as much as possible, this sounds like a very good idea. Suggestions include bringing snacks and water, games and a few decks of cards, spelling people in line, checking the area to find out where rest rooms or other conveniences are, and so on.

At blah3, I learn that Howard Stern phoned someone else's radio show to confront Michael Powell an on-air. There's also a little tribute to the late Greg Shaw.

Josh Marshall says: This evening, Wingerdom is all aflutter about what they now see as the New York Times-CBS-IAEA international anti-Bush conspiracy. But they might do better to focus their anxieties elsewhere. It's all Drudge's fault, naturally. Of course, CBS had a story that would look bad for Bush, and given the stir over the Killian memo, I bet they wanted to be really careful to take all the time they needed to check it out. But they didn't want to get scooped, either, which meant they held on to it, and they were beaten to the punch. As far as the wingers are concerned, this was all a plot by the liberal media to create an October surprise on the eve of the election. And anyway, NBC had a story that disproves the whole idea that we just let a whole lot of explosives get looted. Oh, wait, they didn't, according to the NYT and NBC themselves. Short form: The administration screwed up royally, the RNC is spinning like mad, and their worshippers among the right-wing warbloggers believe them and spread the pile further. No news there. [Update: More from Media Matters.]

Blunkett must be having a lot of trouble with his creepy ID card scheme, because he's been forced to change his mind about the amazingly cumbersome idea of making it a combined national ID and passport. But it's still a stinky idea, you terrible, terrible man.

David Horsey corrects the record.

Forest is something I don't get to see a lot of here in England. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever seen any forest in England. Maybe I should be in Finland.
18:43 BST

A bunch of political stuff

Lots of interesting stuff recently at Salon's War Room, such as:

  • RNC pretends newspapers lean left. This is the usual spin about how all the newspapers are liberal, and that supposedly explains why so many papers have endorsed Kerry. But the truth is that it's very rare for a majority of the big dailies to endorse Democratic presidential candidates: In fact, the complete opposite is true. Since 1940 when industry trade magazine Editor & Publisher began tracking newspapers during presidential elections, only two Democratic candidates -- Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and Bill Clinton in 1992 -- have ever won more endorsements than their Republican opponent. That's because newspaper publishers, who usually sign off on endorsements, tend to vote Republican (like lots of senior corporate executives), which means GOP candidates pick up more endorsements. A lot more.
  • First Sinclair, now Pappas: Is it just us, or are Republican media moguls becoming increasingly brazen down the campaign homestretch, as they ignore decades worth of broadcast guidelines in order to use the public airwaves in blatantly partisan ways? First, the Sinclair Broadcast Group tried to order its 62 stations nationwide to air an anti-Kerry hit piece. Now in another unprecedented move, Pappas Telecasting, one of California's largest broadcast owners, is donating $325,000 worth of airtime exclusively to Republican candidates locked in tight local races.
  • The battle for the Senate: While a big Kerry win may seem unlikely, Democrats still have a chance to take a majority in the upper house, thanks to some remarkably incompetent Republican opponents. Top honors in that category, of course, go to Illinois GOP contender Alan Keyes, of whom the National Review magazine has said "there is not a worse candidate for a major office in America this year." But he's not the only who is flailing: In Alaska, South Carolina and Oklahoma, three states that President Bush is expected to dominate by 15 to 30 points, Republican candidates are struggling to stay afloat. And that's not all.
  • Was Bush keeping quiet about Rehnquist?: At one point Bush promised loyalists that soon after his inauguration he would have the opportunity to appoint a justice to the Supreme Court; just the first of what Bush insisted would be four during his second term.
  • The enemy of Moby's enemy... - Moby and Eminem really, really don't get along, But Moby was impressed enough by Eminem's new anti-Bush video to put all that aside. "wow," he writes on his blog . "you know that eminem and i have had our differences in the past. but this video is the best thing that i've seen all year. it's an amazing song and an even more amazing video. please go watch." George Bush -- a uniter, not a divider!
  • Medical experts: Rehnquist's condition could be severe: Numerous medical studies only mention tracheotomy -- in which surgeons cut a hole into a patient's windpipe to aid breathing -- as a treatment for a rare form of thyroid cancer called anaplastic carcinoma. According to the University of Virginia Health Center, "anaplastic carcinoma is an extremely serious and aggressive thyroid cancer which often results in the death of the patient.within several months of diagnosis."
  • Ex-pat voters' homeland insecurity: People all around the world are riveted on a watershed American presidential race to close to call, and maybe none more so than U.S. citizens living abroad. Reuters reports today that a number of them, discouraged by complicated overseas voting rules and nervous about problems with absentee ballots, are spending substantial time and money to return home to vote. Of course, there is a bit of partisan sentiment in the mix, too. Oh, I wouldn't say so - on this side of the water Bush is seen as such a disaster that even Republicans want to vote against him this year.

Elsewhere, a lot of people are talking about what Rehnquist's illness could mean if we have a heavily contested election again. Digby discusses Amy Sullivan's suspicion of a rumored plan for a recess appointment.

Suburban Guerrilla points us to Alternet's interview with Sy Hersh, in which he says: I'm one of those people who believes that Bush really did go to war to free the Middle East and turn these nations into democracies. I don't think he went to war for oil primarily or Israel. He went because he has this idee fixe that it was his mission, his crusade to change the Middle East - to turn it into a democratic stronghold of good, well-meaning people who would buy American and support Israel against the Palestinians and keep the oil flowing. It's idealistic. It's utopian. Is there anything more dangerous than an ideologue who doesn't know he's wrong? Susan reveals that even the public schools are being turned into agents of the RNC, and also that Buzzflash has an interview with Robert Parry (of Consortium News - where, by the way, he has two recent articles on Jon Stewart v. 'Perception Management' and Plan B: 'October/November Surprise', on depressing the vote.)
16:43 BST

Everybody's talkin'

If you didn't believe before that Republicans suffer from the worst case of projection you never imagined, just read this amazing David Brooks article about someone who sounds amazingly like David Brooks. Only he doesn't seem to know it. Via Busy, Busy, Busy, which is spot-on as usual.

Jeanne D'Arc finds the reason to vote for Kerry, from Riverbend, even if you're not in love with him: So is Kerry going to be much better? I don't know. I don't know if he's going to fix things or if he's going to pull out the troops, or bring more in. I have my doubts about how he will handle the current catastrophe in Iraq. I do know this: nothing can be worse than Bush. No one can be worse than Bush. It will hardly be fair to any president after Bush in any case- it's like assigning a new captain to a drowning ship. All I know is that Bush made the hole and let the water in, I want him thrown overboard.

Finally, finally, Andrew Sullivan actually gets there. I can't believe it took him so long, but yes, at long last, he has endorsed Kerry, over at TNR.

Good article by E.J. Dionne in the Post on The Intensity Gap - that is, the fact that "John Kerry's supporters are more likely than George W. Bush's to believe that this year's election is the most important of their lifetimes." And while the GOP may like to dismiss anti-Bush feeling as irrational "Bush-hating", Dionne says that the desire to de-select him is rooted in rationality, coming not just from partisan Dems but even from many who once supported him.

Nick Confessore has a good analysis of the Republican vote-fraud strategy. Guys, it's important to get that vote out. And, speaking of that, wow, does Marshall Mathers want you to vote - you gotta see the video. Join the movement to try to get MTV to play it.

Madison's Capital Times has an editorial on conservatives' Fading faith in Bush regime.

Maru finds another example of the highly-lubricated Bush-endorsement that reads like an endorsement of Kerry. After this one, I mean.

Remember after the debate when all the fact-checkers were dissing Kerry for saying the war was costing $200bn, claiming it wasn't costing that much? Well, it is. In fact, WaPo says $225 billion now that Bush is asking for more money again. (I hope their fact-checkers are embarrassed.) (via)

TBogg recommends The Daily Scribble, and he's right - get your news in entertaining and compressed fashion.
13:01 BST

Watch Newsnight

Tuesday's Newsnight had two notable items that you ought to catch at the BBC site. The first is a new report by Greg Palast:

New Florida vote scandal feared

A secret document obtained from inside Bush campaign headquarters in Florida suggests a plan - possibly in violation of US law - to disrupt voting in the state's African-American voting districts, a BBC Newsnight investigation reveals.

Election supervisor Ion Sancho believes some voters are being intimidated

Two e-mails, prepared for the executive director of the Bush campaign in Florida and the campaign's national research director in Washington DC, contain a 15-page so-called "caging list".

It lists 1,886 names and addresses of voters in predominantly black and traditionally Democrat areas of Jacksonville, Florida.

An elections supervisor in Tallahassee, when shown the list, told Newsnight: "The only possible reason why they would keep such a thing is to challenge voters on election day."

The other, of course, is a tribute to one of the most important broadcast personalities in the country:
Legendary radio DJ John Peel dies

Veteran BBC broadcaster John Peel has died at the age of 65, while on holiday in Peru. Peel, whose radio career spanned 40 years, was on a working holiday in the city of Cuzco with his wife Sheila when he suffered a heart attack.

He was BBC Radio 1's longest-serving DJ and in recent years had also presented Home Truths on Radio 4.

You can get the full Newsnight stream on the page with the Palast article. (The BBC site's obituary for Peel is here.)
01:48 BST

Tuesday, 26 October 2004

Liberal media

You know, for months I've been seeing stories and pictures about Kerry/Edwards campaign stops where even visits that are expected to be brief - in one case, a town where they were expected only to pass through and not scheduled to stop - generate these enormous, enthusiastic crowds. And then the pundidiots continue to tell us how little enthusiasm there is for Kerry, how it's all very ho-hum and nobody cares about the candidates and it's just that people don't like Bush. James Wolcott (via) touched on this the other day, but it's been bugging me for a while. Kerry opens his mouth and the cheers are deafening; then the talking heads and stenographers tell us that no one really likes Kerry.

Now, maybe they are misled by the fact that any Bush rally is full of carefully screened Bush sycophants who think they are seeing the messiah and who cheer at everything Bush says no matter how lame it sounds. These are also people who by and large don't know what's going on, of course. They are unaware that most of the people on the planet opposed the invasion of Iraq and that Bush has brought America's standing in the world down into the dirt. Bush tells them things are peachy in Iraq and they believe it. They are in love with Bush and no power in Heaven or on Earth will change that.

So, yes, it's true that Kerry supporters, by and large, are not stupefied with adoration for their candidate. Democrats tend to be, well, democrats, which means we don't believe in the divine right of presidents and we don't believe America should be run by some sort of pretend-inerrant pope, either, whether Catholic or some kind of weird sorta-Methodist. But if we dislike Bush for what he is, it stands to reason that we might very well like Kerry for being what Bush is not. And we rather do like the fact that Kerry is a sensible man who has shown plenty of personal courage, both physical and moral, and who also appears to be able to win in a fight with a pretzel.

The thing is, we're not voting for Messiah, we really are just voting for a president. And he looks like a pretty good public servant to me. After the last four years, that makes him downright spectacular.
19:02 BST

In the currents

This is supposed to be the big exposé about Kerry: He said he'd met with the UN Security Council, and some UN ambassadors say he didn't meet with them. But as Atrios points out, Kerry was referring to the permanent Security Council, which those ambassadors don't happen to be on. And anyway, nobody cares, because we did not invade a country and get thousands of people killed just because Kerry said he'd met with the UN Security Council.

It's not too late to volunteer - there are a lot of things you can do to help take the country back, and we need you.

Bush's Brain will screen on the Sundance Channel on 1 November.

Sam Rosenfeld at Tapped wants to know when the media will pay attention to this important story: However they cover the Iraqi explosives scandal, the fact remains that the average citizen likely has no idea at this late date that one of the major political parties -- and not the other -- has funded systematic efforts to disenfranchise and scam voter registrants across the country.

Jeff Cooper admits to being shrill!

Transcript: Katie Couric interview with John Kerry.

A couple of items from Truthout:
Oh, those touch-screen machines, they're causing trouble in New Mexico.

John Dean warns of The Coming Post-Election Chaos: Look at the swirling, ugly currents currently at work in this conspicuously close race. There is Republicans' history of going negative to win elections. There is Karl Rove's disposition to challenge close elections in post-election brawls. And there is Democrats' (and others) new unwillingness to roll over, as was done in 2000. Finally, look at the fact that a half-dozen lawsuits are in the works in the key states and more are being developed.
12:03 BST

Monday, 25 October 2004

All over the place

Painted Trees
From Maru via Biomes Blog

Neal Pollack is among the living and talking about the news, and about a Letter From A Faith-Based Amputee.

The Poor Man discovers that Kerry has been lying to Negroes!

The Dictionary of All-Vowel Words and fake Google Logos (via)

Are we safer if Rehnquist is hospitalized during the election?

Ezra Klein knows more about middle America than David Brooks does.

Nick Confessore and Josh Marshall look at the spin of the day on those missing explosives. (Not me, I'm just speechless at how perfectly Team Bush has screwed everything up.)

The Spirograph Nebula and Sunspot Loops in Ultraviolet
22:41 BST

It's important

The New York Times published an article yesterday about what should have been the big issue three years ago, when we were so rudely interrupted by the Mule presidency.

The Health of Nations

For years the people in Washington have offered one plan after another that they said would provide health care for all Americans and rein in costs. Each plan has failed. Today more people than ever have inadequate coverage or no insurance at all. And still costs continue to spin out of control.

Notably absent from the rhetoric has been any mention of the existing system's inherent flaw - the inability of market-based, for-profit medicine to deliver on the political promises.

Two decades ago, when Washington embraced the for-profit model to curb escalating charges, health care spending represented 10.5 percent of gross domestic product. Now it is approaching 16 percent. We spend more per capita on health care than any other developed country. Yet on the important yardsticks, like life expectancy measured in healthy years, we don't even rank among the top 20 nations. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, we come in an embarrassing 29th, sandwiched between Slovenia and Portugal.

The explanation for this abysmal record is one that politicians decline to discuss. The market functions wonderfully when we want to sell more cereals, cosmetics, cars, computers or any other consumer product. Unfortunately, it doesn't work in health care, where the goal should hardly be selling more heart bypass operations. Instead, the goal should be to prevent disease and illness. But the money is in the treatment - not prevention - so the market and good health care are at odds. Just how much at odds is seen in the current shortage of flu vaccine, as men and women in their 80's and 90's line up for hours at a time, hoping to get the shot they have been told they need, but may not receive because not nearly enough has been manufactured.

Via Tom Tomorrow.
21:07 BST

Generalissimo Bush

The candidates were back in Florida over the weekend, and El Busho was at it again:

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Oct. 23 -- President Bush turned his Marine One chopper into a campaign prop Saturday and used it to drop in on huge crowds at three stadiums around Florida, at a time of concern in his campaign about his failure to gain a decisive lead in the most crucial battlegrounds.
The commander in chief landed at the ballparks to the strains of the "Top Gun" theme, his most dramatic use of a military asset since he rode a fighter jet onto an aircraft carrier 17 months ago to declare the end of major combat operations in Iraq.
Kerry, meanwhile, was explaining that he was ready to relieve former Governor Bush of the hard work he complained about during the debates. And some Republicans are worried that Kerry will send Bush back to Texas to pretend to work on his ranch:
The Republican official said polling for Bush showed him in a weaker position than some published polls have indicated, both nationally and in battlegrounds. In many of the key states, the official said, Bush is below 50 percent, and he is ahead or behind within the margin of sampling error -- a statistical tie.

"There's just no place where they're polling outside the margin of error so they can say, 'We have this state,' " the official said. "And they know that an incumbent needs to be outside the margin of error."

So Bush's internal polling is looking gloomier for him than the news media has suggested, eh? Hey, you know, I can't feel bad about that. (Via Kos.)

And not to put too fine a point on it, there are things like this in The Chicago Tribune from Steve Chapman:

At the age of 50, I get few chances to try something entirely new. Come Nov. 2, I plan to take one of those rare opportunities. I'm going to vote for a Democrat for president. I've never done it before, and I hope I never have to do it again.
There's a lot of that going around. It's particularly interesting since Chapman is a Trib editor, and the paper has officially endorsed Bush. If the ballots are counted, Bush is toast. (Via Skippy.) The GOP is already visualizing losing (via).
16:16 BST

Media hits

Students at State College, Pennsylvania, regard The Center Daily Times as a "right-wing rag", but the paper surprised them by saying John Kerry is the best choice for president.

BBC article on The Power of Nightmares. Contact Auntie Beeb to encourage them to show the series on BBC America.

One Good Move has the link to the QuickTime clip of the Jon Stewart interview on 60 Minutes.

Get your war on.
14:38 BST

Sunday, 24 October 2004

Bloggy goodness

South Knox Bubba finds out why you should support Bush when Knox News (unlike major papers) gives him their endorsement: They say that Bush was wrong about WMD, lied about Saddam's links to al-Qaida, botched the occupation of Iraq, has a terrible record on the environment, has done nothing about the health care crisis except give a huge government handout to pharmaceutical companies, and ran up the largest deficit in U.S. history. But you should vote for him anyway because you "need to remember that the United States was attacked on 9/11." Anyone who disagrees is guilty of "mindless conformity" to their party.

Jerry Lee Friendly still can't wait to vote: This kind of lying has a curious power to it, because most people lack the moral vacuum necessary to comprehend it. They simply can't relate, so by default they are prone to believing, or ignoring, the lie. Maybe this is the reason for the old adage that the more preposterous a lie, the more people are likely to believe it. At any rate, this kind of total corruption is, I'm sorry to say, the driving force behind the Bush Technique. But JLF can't figure out why some people are voting for Bush.

Sam Rosenfeld at Tapped does not find that heartening that, "General John D. Altenburg Jr., the Pentagon official overseeing the war crimes commissions system in Guantanamo Bay, has dismissed three officers from the military tribunal who displayed obvious conflicts of interest and/or gross ignorance about pertinent issues," and explains why. Meanwhile, Nick Confessore ponders the scary prospect of a 269-269 electoral vote tie.

PNH Sidelights recommendations: Escapable Logic's thoughtful review of Going Upriver, and Needlenose's useful advice to Visualize Winning.

Drug WarRant has a whole post full of stories that mostly made me gape in horror, but I had to laugh (bitterly) at this one: D'Alliance reports that a three-year British controlled experiment in a local area to combat drugs using tougher enforcement and treatment failed miserably. Not a surprise here, but that's got to be pushing up the denial factor in prohibitionists.

At K Marx The Spot, Tim Francis-Wright learns that everything your candidate does is your fault, and only 24 athletes were willing to go on the record as supporting Bush.
23:40 BST

What the papers say

In The Washington Post:
Corey Robin says that the private sector can be just as scary as the government when it comes to suppressing free speech, in When Fear Is A Joint Venture: For all the legal constraints the Constitution puts on the government, we rarely recognize the ironic by-product of those constraints: the subcontracting of coercion to the private sector. In its search for those who might be conspiring to attack the United States, the government lacked the evidence required by the Bill of Rights to prosecute individuals with suspicious associations and beliefs. So what did the government do? It asked private employers to use their power of hiring and firing -- which is not subject to the Bill of Rights -- to punish these individuals instead.

Post ombudsman Michael Getler says one question still bothers him: How could it happen that the United States was taken to war on the basis of assertions to the public that turned out to be false? It bothers a lot of us. Getler says his colleagues in the news business fell short.

Don't Do It, Justices - Garrett Epps explains why the Supreme Court should have stayed out of the 2000 election and begs them not to make the same mistake again.

George F. Will is worried that someone will bring our election's integrity into question. Clearly, rumors from Republicans that Democrats may want to register lots of people places the entire system in jeopardy. Yeah, you read that right.

In The New York Times:
A movie by right-wingers called Celsius 41.11 is Lowering the Subtlety of Political Discourse. Even Manohla Dargis, who buys the hype that Michael Moore's film was insufficiently accurate (despite the fact that no one has actually found any falsehoods in it), can tell what this piece of crap is up to.

In the Observer:
Abu Ghraib team bids to run UK prisons: Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman Mark Oaten expressed concerns that Britain's prison culture could be undermined by the arrival of American firms. Blimey, he's right on top of things, isn't he? We've already got American firms here doing things that used to be considered too sensitive for anyone but your own government. Jeez.

In the Telegraph:
Ah, it must be obvious to absolutely everyone if even Michael Heseltine has noticed that Tony Blair lied to justify the invasion. The attack by the Tory peer was supported by Kenneth Clarke and Lord Hurd, two other former Conservative heavyweights from the Thatcher and Major eras.
21:51 BST

First past the Post

Yesterday The Washington Post discussed the question of how the outcome of this election could affect the courts, and expressed a preference for Kerry on the grounds that a second Bush term might not be as benign in that respect as one would hope. This is rather like saying you're using an umbrella when you go out into a rainstorm because there's a vague chance that the rain could get you wet. The entire editorial is a signpost of how far to the right things have swung, right from the top:

EVERY FOUR YEARS, partisans at both ends of the political spectrum wring their hands at the devastation the other side will wreak if its presidential candidate gets to nominate the next four years' worth of federal judges. Conservatives warn that the courts will impose a liberal social agenda. Liberals fret about a "rollback" of basic rights. Somehow, the stakes always prove a bit lower than threatened. The courts generally seem to find a way to avoid diving off a cliff.
A rollback of basic rights is a fairly specific sort of threat, but I find it alarming that the Post thinks "a liberal agenda" defines some scary thing we should all be concerned about. What, exactly, is a liberal agenda? Will we have to care about discrimination again? Oh, no, how awful! How can the country stand it? God forbid we should drive off of that cliff!
In assessing what a second Bush term would augur for the courts, it makes sense to look at the first. Some of President Bush's nominees have been highly objectionable, and Mr. Bush, rather than working with Democrats to de-escalate the judicial nominations wars, too often has added fuel to the fire. But the demonization of his judges has greatly overstated their radicalism. They have been, on the whole, mainstream conservatives, for better and worse.
Well, no, the ones who have been singled out as extreme are already pretty far over the top, and at no time has this been over-stated. But what they all have in common is a preference for institutions - government and corporations - over individuals. Whether you regard that as "mainstream conservatism" depends on what your idea of mainstream conservatism is, but as a whole, Bush's choices have at best leaned to the right of the mainstream, and quite a few of them have been out-and-out racist and at least borderline fascist if not overtly so. Some of those with the most blatantly sickening records have captured the headlines (and inspired filibuster), but others have been kept from the limelight only because they aren't quite as far beyond the pale as these superstars of extremism. (Or, at least, they haven't been so extreme on the record; we've already seen an interesting propensity on the part of the GOP to field stealth right-wing nuts at both the legislative and judicial level. And one nominee has been filibustered because he refuses to expose his thinking.)
Better, because such conservatism can imply a judicial restraint and a respect for the prerogatives of elected legislators; worse, because it can bring with it too cramped an understanding of rights we believe are guaranteed by the Constitution.
Another signifier of the right-ward trend at the Post is the presumption that "judicial restraint" is a trait of conservatives, and not of liberals. But modern conservatives clearly don't restrain themselves in areas where the Constitution is explicit if that goes against their overriding agenda, which is not adherence to the Constitution but something else entirely. Conservatives railed against the 9th Circuit when it decided for Nedow, even though there is absolutely no wiggle-room for religious phrasing in a pledge that children in public schools are encouraged to recite every morning.

The conservative agenda is all for the virtual elimination of the 1st Amendment - their interest in it seems to be solely for the purposes of protecting corporate speech (the right to defraud the public with false advertising) and political speech if it is in keeping with their own agenda; that is, conservatives get free speech, and the rest of us don't. Note, for example, the fact that the right wing is deeply disturbed that Democrats objected to Sinclair's plan to air an entire movie that libelled John Kerry immediately before the election, yet they have been pretty much silent about the continuous suppression of free speech by dissenters from this administration's policies, except to say that said dissenters should shut up because their speech is "treason".

Similarly, the same people who claimed to hate Bill Clinton for encroachments on Constitutional rights that occurred during his administration have been remarkably unwilling to rail with the same passion against the Patriot Act and other clear violations of due process brought in by this administration. A stunning proportion of the libertarian right still plans to vote for Bush, on the grounds that, well, whatever Bush is doing, Kerry must be worse - for reasons that are not clear at all, but apparently have something to do with the fact that Kerry is, um, not a Republican. And even among libertarians who have become disgusted with Bush and refuse to vote for him, many are saying they will cast protest votes for third-party candidates or sit out the election rather than act to remove these criminals from office. A lot of Bush's support comes from people who may not be alert to what's really going on, but the rest of it comes from people who are more openly anti-individual, anti-Bill of Rights, and they are prepared to junk the entire structure in order to establish a fascist theocracy where bigotry is the law rather than something to rise above. None of these goals can be met with adherence to judicial restraint.

Sen. John F. Kerry made clear in the third debate that he would subject potential nominees to a litmus test on abortion, which we think is the wrong way to pick judges.
A litmus test on protection of individual rights and privacy is exactly the right way to pick judges. Abortion happens to be a bellwether, and it has become clear that a judge who wants to overturn Roe v. Wade doesn't respect those most vital aspects of our Constitutional democracy. The Bill of Rights itself is about privacy, although it never uses the word. If you can't support Roe v. Wade because of the privacy argument, you can't support the Bill of Rights, and you have no business being a judge. Don't kid yourself that the arguments against Roe v. Wade are about "judicial restraint" - that's just a cover; the arguments are about reproductive freedom and about privacy, and anti-individualists want you to have neither. A considerable number of these people want to eliminate birth control altogether. These aren't people who are concerned with restraining the judiciary from extra-constitutional excursions.
Beyond that it's harder to predict the kind of judges Mr. Kerry would nominate, since he has no record. Few likely Democratic judicial nominees aspire to the aggressive judicial liberalism of the 1960s and 1970s -- even if such a nominee could win confirmation.
The "aggressive judicial liberalism of the 1960s and 1970s" is another one of those assumptions that conservatives have injected into the discourse which, of course, are purely a matter of politics. What did all that "aggression" amount to? Civil rights and reproductive control, that's what. And those things are supposed to be more "radical" in terms of Constitutional doctrine than merging church and state? Have any of these people ever read the Constitution? Say what you will about its glaring omissions, that document was written in such a way as to always move in the direction of expanding individual rights and freedoms, and in opposition to the accumulation of power by powerful bodies over the populace at large. If you read The Federalist Papers as well, you know that this is not just an inference by liberal thinkers; the whole point of the Constitution is liberal thinking.
Kerry nominees could be expected, in general, to display a greater solicitude for privacy rights, for federal power in the environmental and civil rights arenas, and for the rights of those whom the government would lock up or kill. Greater concern for these values comes at the cost of a more freewheeling jurisprudence, one less respectful of traditional state powers, less constrained by the text and history of the Constitution, and more willing to assert judicial power in areas where it has not traditionally operated.
Again, the Post seems to be unaware that "the text and history of the Constitution" is right in keeping with those liberal values of privacy, environmental protection, and even civil rights. The seeds for Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade are right there in that text and in the other writings of the Founders as well. And some of the most radical changes in the interpretation of that text have been the recent actions - over the last 25 years - by conservative courts. Acknowledging the rights of blacks to equal distribution of government largess may have been socially liberal, but it was not textually radical. But giving corporate bodies the individual right of free speech, and giving media conglomerates greater control of the public airways, on the other hand, certainly was. So is the expansion of police powers and the battering of the 4th Amendment that conservatives have pushed for over the last two decades and now achieved in such stunning triumph since 9/11 that it's a question whether the 4th survives at all.

The Bush administration has pushed the line so far - and expressed a willingness to go even farther - that the question is not whether the courts will be "liberal" or "conservative". The question is whether we will have a Bill of Rights at all.

And so, it is no surprise that The Washington Post bites the bullet this morning to tepidly endorse Kerry in similarly conservative terms. No doubt the right-wing will point to this as the "liberal media" coming out for a liberal candidate and declare that this proves things. But no liberal wrote these editorials, and all it proves is that somehow the Post has shaken loose from the cult of personality that surrounds Bush to support, instead, a more traditionally conservative candidate rather than a dangerous radical.

Not that they could bring themselves to see it in those terms....
14:27 BST

Saturday, 23 October 2004

A little piece of history in the East End

Carillons in the courtyard

Yesterday I finally got to see the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, meet the cast of characters I've heard so much about, tour the grounds, and stand where the Liberty Bell itself was made. The place seems a bit magical, and the people who work there add to the feeling.

It all put me in mind of that Christmas party the Ghost of Christmas Past recalls from the life of the young Ebanezer. Perhaps this is an effect of the firm having been owned by the same family for the last hundred years, the event they were celebrating.
23:21 BST

No news is no news

This is an odd one I found at Memeorandum - a Slate article called Political Poseur in which Richard Rushfield wanders around in political t-shirts trying to see if Republicans will react to his Kerry/Edwards t-shirt or if Democrats will react to his Bush/Cheney t-shirt.

The problem is that he seems to know where all of the rabid liberal enclaves are in his blue state, but he appears to think that only the most well-heeled represent the Bush-supporting types. There are a couple of problems with this, of course. One is that upper-end types are better schooled in avoiding a scene; he'd likely have received a noiser response from some low-rent Bush-supporters. Another is that the "red" districts he picked may be far more divided than he realizes.

But the funny thing is that right-wingers really seem to think that a few dirty looks and incidents of muttered "asshole" are evidence that the left is meaner than the right. Yet anyone who has been reading Dem-leaning blogs for a while knows that events of that sort don't even rate a mention when there is real physical violence, not to mention harassing activities by whole groups of people, not to mention firings, already on the record for those whose support for Kerry gets noticed by right-wingers. I'm not going to look for the old links right now, but I do remember that story of the guy who made the mistake of borrowing a car that had a Dean sticker on it while driving through heavy Bush country. And I'm sure you all remember the recent story of the woman who was fired because she had a Kerry sticker on her car. Then there was the recent violent assault on a woman protesting at a Bush event. (I'm quite certain it wasn't liberals who cut my fan belt in response to my pro-choice bumper-sticker, either.)

It's a pity we won't have some enterprising member of the pro-Bush blogosphere going to real Bush country wearing a Kerry/Edwards t-shirt, to see how nice those people are.
20:48 BST

Seen and heard

You probably already noticed that the Republicans are ready to challenge voters just to make life harder. The Republicans still want to pretend that lots of people are illegally voting, although there are far more instances of legitimate voters being illegally prevented from voting. But it serves their purposes to disenfranchise as many people as possible, so that's what they're doing. As TBogg observes, these are the kind of guys who'd make Rehnquist proud.

David Neiwert explains Today's Bush Skeleton-from-the-closet: Careful observers of Bush's autobiographical claims know that he has described himself as having "worked" at a project voluntarily, when instead it appears he was forced to put in community-service time as compensation for some kind of legal difficulty. Once again, it turns out that the Lyin' King has stolen the clothes of better men.

There are many reasons to love Ted Barlow, but To blog a mockingbird is definitely one of them. As one person said in the comments, it's not a sin to mock Mickey Kaus.

Every time I start to respect these people, they say things like this. (OK, some of them I never did start to respect. God, P.J. O'Rourke is a twerp!)

Outspoken man shuts up for Kerry: With nods and gestures but nary a spoken word, former Gov. Jesse Ventura indicated his support Friday for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. (via) (Also, we'd like some facts with that cheesesteak.)

A Shorter Charles Krauthammer round-up at BBB this time. I'm still so disappointed that he missed his chance to tell us how crazy Al Gore is again. But then, the media crackpots have apparently decided that the best way to deal with Al's truth-telling is to ignore him completely. Don't you do that.

Juan Cole analyzes the meaning and potential impact of Eminem's anti-Bush song "Mosh". Via LO's Blog Wire, which advises: to hear the song, go to DJ Green Lantern, click "Store" then click "Mosh".
17:41 BST

Peach & Frog

The Brownshirting of America: Bush's supporters demand lock-step consensus that Bush is right. They regard truthful reports that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction and was not involved in the September 11 attack on the US--truths now firmly established by the Bush administration's own reports--as treasonous America-bashing. Even traditional conservatives and some who are fairly far to the right are getting the treatment, now. (via)

At TalkLeft: My goodness, someone actually accepted responsibility for something! And call me sentimental, but I really do find the prospect of locking people up until they die for trivial (or no) offenses to be horrifying, heart-breaking, and just plain wrong. (And, really, it's always been bloody obvious where bin Laden is hiding!)

Just in case anyone doubted it, Josh Marshall reinforces what I said in my debate-check of the WashPost fact-check: On the basic question of whether the US missed a key opportunity to bag bin Laden in Tora Bora, Bergen says Kerry's claim is not 'garbage' but "an accurate reflection of the historical record."

Andrew Sullivan's fans think he has gone round the bend. He - I can hardly say it - doesn't think George Bush has done a very good job in Iraq! Imagine! Gary Farber reports.

This could be interesting: Sam at LiberalDesert is in Ukraine as an international observer in the elections there on Halloween.
14:51 BST

Political breakfast

Bill Scher looks at the recent campaign ads and concludes that the Bush team is misreading the public.

Ben Bradlee recently gave an interview to Der Spiegel in which he acknowledges that Bush is a liar and says reporters should say so. I found a translation here.

Eric Alterman, of course, feels no hesitation at calling Bush a liar - and condemning the media for swallowing.

Could the Associated Press (AP) Rig the Election? Asks Journalist Lynn Landes: The Associated Press (AP) will be the sole source of raw vote totals for the major news broadcasters on Election Night. However, AP spokesmen Jack Stokes and John Jones refused to explain to this journalist how the AP will receive that information. They refused to confirm or deny that the AP will receive direct feed from voting machines and central vote tabulating computers across the country. But, circumstantial evidence suggests that is exactly what will happen. [...] But, can't the AP be trusted? Isn't it an objective non-partisan news organization? Some say no. The AP is batting for a Bush presidency.

Fred Clarke sees Jon Stewart's criticism of Crossfire echoed in David Grann's Inside Dope (in The New Yorker), but aimed at The Note's Mark Halperin. Halperin is the classic example of the annoying tendency to treat politics as celebrity gossip and to "discuss" issues without ever actually touching on the substance of vital policy matters. Like Stewart, Fred says it's bad, it's hurting America; stop stop stop.

The General writes a letter about a manly sword.
04:32 BST

I laughed, I cried

Our favorite Talking Dog says: The stakes of our adventure, which is no longer being managed for military or strategic or even geo-political advantage but entirely for domestic political reasons is that more and more of our troops are being killed each month, more contractors are being kidnapped, and at this point, just keep going up. [...] It's astounding just how badly Iraq is going, how widely it's being reported, and how little regard the American people seem to be showing for it, given that the President isn't down 40 points in the polls.

Ruy Teixeira says things are looking good in Ohio. He also recommends a WashPost article on A Fading Nader Factor that says suggests Nader's support is now a negligible factor in the race. There's also an article by Alan Abramowitz observing something suspicious in the Mason-Dixon battleground state polls.

The American Conservative has a cover story in which different writers endorse different ways to deal with their ballots. Scott McConnell, comparing Bush to Tsar Nicholas, says Kerry's the One. It's not that he loves Kerry, but: Bush has behaved like a caricature of what a right-wing president is supposed to be, and his continuation in office will discredit any sort of conservatism for generations. The launching of an invasion against a country that posed no threat to the U.S., the doling out of war profits and concessions to politically favored corporations, the financing of the war by ballooning the deficit to be passed on to the nation's children, the ceaseless drive to cut taxes for those outside the middle class and working poor: it is as if Bush sought to resurrect every false 1960s-era left-wing clichT about predatory imperialism and turn it into administration policy.

Atrios: When is the media going to start caring that there is clearly a well-organized nationwide effort to throw votes in the garbage?

Oh, look what we've done for Haiti!
02:59 BST

Friday, 22 October 2004

On the horizon

Bra of the week
Expensive but gorgeous.

Bless Carl Levin for going after Doug Feith for lying to Congress about ties between Saddam and Islamist terrorists. This one is very much worth talking up and trying to get the press to pay lots of attention to.

Kerry campaign responds to new Bush ad: Instead of giving voters even one good reason to vote for him, George W. Bush has chosen to scare the American people with images of wolves. Taegan Goddard says: Meanwhile, Political Wire has learned that the Kerry campaign is coming out with an ad comparing Bush to an ostrich.

David Corn isn't merely against Bush, he is actively for Kerry. He reminds us of some of the brave things Kerry did during his time in Congress.
22:43 BST

Some news and stuff

Stenography sighting from Cursor: Take Him Out of the Ball Game: The AP's Nedra Pickler claims that for Kerry, watching the Red Sox is "part of an effort to win over swing voters," and the Washington Post reports that the Bush campaign "carpet-bombed reporters with an e-mail that accused John Kerry of 'sports pandering.'"

Susan at An Age Like This learns that Dan Drezner has become another conservative who can't support Bush, and says Terry Jones has introduced God to Bush.

Experts on Social Security become Shrill! (via)

Paul Krugman says Kerry is ahead in the polls and could likely win the election on votes - but he's worried that the votes won't be counted.

Charles Krauthammer has fabricated his very own Kerry foreign policy: sell-out Israel. This fascinating projection is based on the idea that Kerry will need to suck up to the rest of the world by giving them something they want, and they want us to abandon Israel. Krauthammer doesn't seem to understand that the rest of the world at this point would probably be satisfied by Kerry simply not being Bush.

So "tens of thousands" turn out for a Kerry rally and cheer their little hearts out ("Kerry ignited thousands of supporters, many of whom waited outside the Metrodome in a light drizzle and steady winds for more than two hours"), and some spin-meister makes it sound like hardly anyone turned up except a clown, and nobody stuck around to hear what the candidate had to say. And both of these stories appeared in the same paper.
21:07 BST

He Just Doesn't Get It

Josh Marshall says:

I want to show you a campaign ad that is about to go into heavy rotation in swing states around the country. It's called 'He Just Doesn't Get It'. I would appreciate it a great deal if you could take just a few moments to watch it and let me know what you think.
Personally, I think it's pretty good. Without any frills, it tells you two things that a frightening number of Americans don't know: That there were no WMD, and that George Bush doesn't care about the lives he spent for his lie.
11:01 BST

Election section

Endorsements: Former Republican Governor William Milliken of Michigan ("This president has pursued policies pandering to the extreme right wing across a wide variety of issues and has exacerbated the polarization and the strident, uncivil tone of much of what passes for political discourse in this country today") and Former Republican Governor Elmer Anderson ("The present Republican president has led us into an unjustified war -- based on misguided and blatantly false misrepresentations of the threat of weapons of mass destruction") both endorse Kerry.

Atrios cites a new AP poll that has Kerry up by three, but the headline is "Bush, Kerry in Dead Heat." As Atrios also notes, it frequently seems to be the case that when Kerry is ahead, it's a tie, but when Bush is ahead, he's "leading".

The fact that Bush is even still in the race is, of course, incomprehensibly maddening, but Chris Bowers knows why:

Even after the final report of Charles Duelfer to Congress saying that Iraq did not have a significant WMD program, 72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program. Kerry supporters hold opposite beliefs on all these points. Similarly, 75% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda, and 63% believe that clear evidence of this support has been found. Sixty percent of Bush supporters assume that this is also the conclusion of most experts, and 55% assume, incorrectly, that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission. Here again, large majorities of Kerry supporters have exactly opposite perceptions.
Understand: 58% of Bush supporters believe we should not have invaded Iraq if Saddam did not have WMDs or links to Al Qaeda. But, somehow, they have managed to block out the fact that he didn't, and we still did.

But the troops, it appears, do not blame Bush for what they are going through; they, too, seem to have bought into the idea that the Iraqis have no right to resist what the mad neocons and their maniac leader have done to them, as Jeanne D'Arc has discovered. I think it's safe to assume that most of them are still planning to vote for the man who put them in harm's way for no good reason.

Update: Maybe Gallup has it right after all.
01:44 BST

Thursday, 21 October 2004

Bizarro blogger

Time to write to Tapped again and ask them why they still have that crackpot on their blogroll.

Matt Yglesias via Justin Logan, has found Glenn Reynolds' explanation for supporting Bush:

I think that electing John F. Kerry at this juncture would be like electing the ugly bastard child of Jimmy Carter and Millard Fillmore -- in 1940. (I could be wrong, of course, and if Kerry should happen to be elected, I fervently hope to be proven so. But that's how it seems to me. I mean, Jesus, just look at the guy.)
Matt wonders if people really believe that Kerry wouldn't have gone to war against the Axis powers if he'd been President during Pearl Harbor. This is a fantasy that a lot of Bush-supporters seem to live in, that Al Gore would have done nothing on 9/11, that Kerry wouldn't have noticed an act of war when the Japanese attacked us.

Think about the extraordinary mental gymnastics involved there. George Bush was the guy who was explicitly warned about the planned 9/11 attacks, and did nothing. And when told that America was under attack, he just sat there wetting his pants. And when he finally got back to the White House after running away and hiding, he spent all his time trying to find a way to avoid retaliating against Afghanistan and Al Qaeda, instead wanting to use it all as an excuse to go into Iraq and tidy up the job his right-wing base insisted his old man had wimped out on. And then when he went into Afghanistan only because he couldn't find an excuse not to, he walked out in the middle of it all and invaded Iraq anyway, having made up a bunch of excuses for doing it that couldn't pass the laugh test.

But they think that only Bush was up to the job of responding to 9/11. I don't even know of a drug that could detach you that far from material reality.
16:44 BST

Good Stuff

Kevin Hayden found the Rolling Stone interview with Kerry: Well, I should be tough on him. This is an amazing moment in American history -- where a president of the United States is finding the rationale for invading another country after the fact.

Atrios asks: Has our country gotten so stupid that we now all believe that "democracy" equals "any system of government in which an outcome is determined by a majority or plurality of voters. That does seem to be what they mean by "democracy" when they talk about Afghanistan and Iraq, but some of us still remember that what makes it work is this. When it works.

Robert Parry gives us the background on a Kerry-attacker who previously defended Sun Myung Moon, explains how the Bushes Play the 'Traitor' Card, and, in the context of Ron Suskind's NYT magazine article last weekend, discusses the movements behind this administration in Bush: Beyond Reason. Parry also has a new book out, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq.

Busy, Busy, Busy explains what Martin Peretz is afraid of and catches Wolf Blitzer's slip.
15:42 BST

For your consideration

Mark Evanier has a link to a QuickTime clip of Jon Stewart's explanation of what happened on Crossfire, with Your Moment of Zen.

Gary Farber wants to remind you that once, we set our sights higher - and we were getting there, too.

Via TalkLeft, a story in The Village Voice, Political Prisoners, details the relationship between racism and disenfranchisement of those convicted of crimes, and why we need to put a stop to it.

The Pew Center reports a new poll showing the race tied, saying this results from Kerry's improved image. Note that the tie is 45-45 - very bad news for Bush. MyDD has Kerry at 284 and Bush at 254 in the EC; The EVP has Kerry at 291 and Bush at 247.

Nathan Newman discovers that lack of support by Jews for Likud is a subject of great consternation among the Freepers.

Blah3 is recommending a song, and introduces us to Bush Relatives for Kerry.
03:42 BST

Two reasons

Garance Franke-Ruta wonders why David Brooks isn't worried about whether Condi is being distracted from her job:

DISTRACTED BY THE RIGHT? Back in the olden days when the conflict with insurgents in Falluja was new rather than ongoing and Washington was still abuzz about National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's testimony before the 9-11 Commission, conservative columnists such as David Brooks tut-tuted about how making her testify before the Commission was a terrible distraction from fighting the war on terror.
Not now, apparently.

Gary Farber, on the other hand, is worried about something else:

THEY'LL DO ANYTHING TO WIN. That's the category most people won't realize this comes under.
Rice Hitting the Road to Speak
It seems very tame. Most people won't blink an eye, and they'll think it's perfectly natural and normal. They won't realize this shredding the absolute unwritten rule that the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense and the National Security Advisor are non-partisan positions and the office-holders who more or less never speak in a political campaign while in office. They'll sometimes deliver a sole speech or two during election season that outlines the President's policies, but they don't campaign like what's described here.
It's a small matter, says Gary, compared to all of the other things they've done, but it's important all the same.

She shouldn't be doing it.
02:30 BST

The reality-based view

Thanks to Dave Weis, who found a link to a copy of Al Gore's Georgetown speech over at The Smirking Chimp. The speech weave Bush's policies together into a whole, which is something that makes it remarkable as political speeches go. As always, I recommend hearing it delivered (at C-Span), but if you do nothing else, at least read it. Here's a taste:

During this series of speeches, I have tried hard to understand what it is that gives so many Americans an uneasy feeling that something very basic has gone wrong in our democracy. There are many people in both political parties who worry that there is something deeply troubling about President Bush's relationship to reason, about his disdain for facts, his incuriosity about new information that might produce a deeper understanding of the problems and policies that he wrestles with on behalf of the country.

One group mistakenly maligns the president as not being smart enough to have a normal active curiosity about separating fact from myth. A second group seems to be convinced that his personal religious conversion experience was so profound that he relies on religious faith in place of logical analysis. But I disagree with both of those groups and reject both of those cartoon images. I know President Bush is plenty smart, and while I have no doubt that his religious belief is genuine, and it's an important motivation for many things that he does in life, as it is for me, and for most of you, I'm convinced that most of the president's frequent departures from fact based analysis have much more to do with right-wing political and economic ideology than with the Bible. And it is crucially important to be precise in describing exactly what it is he believes in so strongly, and then insulates from any logical challenge or even debate. It is ideology, and not his religious faith that is the source of this troubling inflexibility.

Most of the problems President Bush has caused for this country stemmed not from his belief in God but his belief in the infallibility of the right-wing Republican ideology that exalts the interest of the wealthy, and of large corporations over and above the interests of the American people. It is love of power for its own sake that is the original sin of this presidency.
The essential cruelty of Bush's game is that he takes an astonishingly selfish and greedy collection of economic and political proposals, and then cloaks them with a phony moral authority, thus misleading many Americans who have a deep and genuine desire to do good in the world. And in the process he convinces them to lend unquestioning support for proposals that actually hurt their families and their communities.

Truly, President Bush has stolen the symbolism and body language of religion and used it to disguise the most radical effort in American history to take what rightfully belongs to the American people, and give as much of it as possible to the already wealthy and privileged. And these wealthy and privileged look at his agenda and they say, as Dick Cheney said to former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill, "this is our due."

The central elements of President Bush's political as opposed to religious belief system are actually plain to see. First, the public interest is a dangerous myth according to Bush's ideology -- a fiction created by those hated liberals who use the notion of public interest as an excuse to take away from the wealthy and powerful what they do believe is their due. Therefore, government in this system of beliefs, government of, by, and for the people is bad -- except when government can help members of his coalition. Laws and regulations are also therefore bad, again except when they can be used to help members of his coalition. Therefore, also, whenever laws must be enforced and regulations administered, it is important in their view to assign those responsibilities to individuals who can be depended upon not to fall prey to this dangerous illusion that there is such a thing as the public interest, those who will instead reliably serve the narrow and specific interests of industries and interest groups.
In one of the speeches that I gave a year ago last August, I proposed that one reason why the normal processes of our democracy have seemed dysfunctional is that our nation acquired a large number of false impressions about the choices before us including for example that -- the false impression that Saddam Hussein was the person primarily responsible for attacking us on September 11th, 2001. According to Time magazine again, 70 percent thought that in November of 2002. Or, to take another example, an impression that there was a tight linkage and close partnership and cooperation between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, between the terrorist group al Qaeda, which did attack us, and Iraq which did not. And the impression that Saddam had a massive supply of weapons of mass destruction and that he was on the verge of obtaining nuclear weapons, and that he was about to give nuclear weapons to the al Qaeda terrorist group, which would then use them against American cities. Also the impression was widely shared that Iraq would welcome our invading army with garlands of flowers. And even though the rest of the world opposed the war when it began, they would quickly fall in line after we won, and then they'd contribute lots of money and soldiers, so there wouldn't be a risk that our taxpayers would foot the whole bill. And, in any case, there would be more than enough money from Iraqi oil supplies which would flow in abundance quickly after the invasion -- we could use that money to offset expenses, and the net cost to America would be zero. The impression also was widespread was that the size of the force required would be relatively small and would not put a strain on our military or our reserves, and would not jeopardize other commitments we have around the world. Now, of course every single one of these impressions was wrong.

And, unfortunately, the consequences have been catastrophic for our country. And the plague of false impressions seem to settle on other policy debates as well. For example, in considering President Bush's gigantic tax cut, many somehow got the impression that first the majority of that tax cut would not go disproportionately to the wealthy but would go to the middle class; second, that it would not lead to large deficits, because it would stimulate the economy so much it would pay for itself; and, third, not only would there be no job losses, but we would have big increases in employment as a result. And of course, as everyone knows, here to every one of these impressions was completely wrong.
This is not negligence. When the administration is told specifically and repeatedly that there is no linkage, and simultaneously makes bold assertions in a confident manner to the American people that leave the impression with 70 percent of the country that Saddam Hussein was primarily responsible for the attack, this is deception. This is deception.
President Bush asserts, again without any corroborating evidence, that the diversion of $2 trillion worth of payroll taxes presently paid into the Social Security Trust Fund will not result in any need to make up that $2 trillion from some other source, and will not result in cutting Social Security benefits to current retirees or raising taxes, but the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office, run by a Republican appointee, is one of many respected reality-based organizations that have concluded that the president is completely wrong in making that assertion. The president has been given facts and figures clearly demonstrating to any reasonable person that the assertion is wrong, and yet he continues to make it.
Now, the proposal for diverting money out of the Social Security Trust Fund into private accounts would generate large fees for financial organizations that have advocated the radical new policy, and have provided President Bush with the ideologically based argument in its favor, and have made massive campaign contributions to Bush and Cheney.

One of the things willfully ignored by Bush is the certainty of catastrophic consequences for the tens of millions of retirees who depend on Social Security benefits and who might well lose 25 to 40 percent of their benefits under his proposal. Their expectation for a check each month to pay their bills is reality-based. The president's reckless proposal is not.
So the pattern is very clear. It is not based in religion, it is based in ideology. Indeed, after four years of this policy, a time in which the president has had complete control of the legislative branch of government, and a majority or dominance in the judicial branch of government, the consequences speak for themselves. For the first time since the presidency of Herbert Hoover we have had a net loss of jobs. It's true that 9/11 occurred during this period, but it's also true that economists quantify its economic impact as small compared with the impact of Bush's policies. Under other presidents we have absorbed other disasters, Pearl Harbor, World War II, the Vietnam War, and others, corrections like the one in 1987, and still ended up with a net gain of jobs. Only Bush ranks with Hoover.

Confronted with this devastating indictment of a net loss of jobs, Treasury Secretary John Snow said last week in Ohio said that the job loss was a myth, and this is in keeping with the Bush team's general contempt for reality as a basis for policy. Unfortunately, that job loss is all too real for the more than 200,000 people in Ohio, where he called their job loss a myth.
My friends, there are now 15 days left before our country makes this fateful choice for us and the whole world, and it is particularly crucial for one final reason: the last feature of Bush's ideology involves ducking accountability for his mistakes. He has neutralized accountability by the Congress by intimidating the Republican leadership and transforming the Republican majority into a true rubber stamp, unlike any that has ever existed in American history. He has appointed right-wing judges who have helped to insulate him from accountability in the courts. And if he wins again, he will likely get to appoint up to four Supreme Court justices. He has ducked accountability from the press with his obsessive secrecy and refusal to conduct the public's business openly. So there is now only one center of power left in our Constitution and in our country capable of at long last holding George W. Bush accountable, and it is you, the voters. There are 15 days left. Help me and help John Kerry and John Edwards take our country back. Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. President.
01:19 BST

Wednesday, 20 October 2004


Jack K. at RuminateThis on Political Hackdom 101:'s probably a part of the natural order that those who make their living as purveyors of opinion end up living on that gleaming knife-edge between insightful commentary and seamy, intellectually dishonest hackery.
He is speaking, of course, of this Safire column charging the Kerry/Edwards campaign with fear-mongering. Yes, you read that right - it's not, for example Dick Cheney threatening us with nuclear terrorism if we vote for the Democrats, oh, no, it's the Democrats themselves who are trying to scare us. But they don't have to, because Bush and Cheney are terrifying all by themselves.

And at LiberalOasis, Bill Scher looks at another hack:

In yesterday's edition of the stream of lies known as David Brooks' column, it said:
Kerry's second wild attack is that Bush would reinstate the draft.
This is a lie because Kerry has never said Bush "would" bring back the draft, only that Bush's unilateralism means a "great potential" for a draft.

But we digress. Brooks continues:

There may be some in the bureaucracy taking precautions, but it is hard to imagine an attack with less basis in fact.
Hmm. Maybe the attack that Kerry "is not prepared and equipped to be the Commander-in-Chief" has less basis?

But we digress again.

Here's some basis.

A few pages behind Brooks in the NYT, some of those "precautions" were being revealed in the article titled: "U.S. Has Contingency Plans for a Draft of Medical Workers".

Bill says there's already evidence for a creeping draft, so it makes no sense to claim that it's just a rumor on "the internets". And whatever the administration has planned, we certainly can't take their denials as any kind of conclusive proof.
23:22 BST


Jeralyn Merritt, reporting on the suppression of yet more information on 9/11

Do you need another reason to vote against George Bush? Please pass this one on. It needs wider dissemination. Robert Scheer in the LA Times writes today of the Bush Administration's cover up of information vital to our national security for political purposes. This alone should tell people that Bush does not deserve re-election.
The Bush administration is suppressing a CIA report on 9/11 until after the election, and this one names names. Although the report by the inspector general's office of the CIA was completed in June, it has not been made available to the congressional intelligence committees that mandated the study almost two years ago.
Right, so even our Congressional intelligence oversight is being circumvented for political reasons. Great.
21:45 BST

War is not hell

It's really too bad Pat Robertson didn't tell us this cheerful little anecdote sooner:

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The founder of the U.S. Christian Coalition said Tuesday he told President George W. Bush before the invasion of Iraq that he should prepare Americans for the likelihood of casualties, but the president told him, "We're not going to have any casualties."

Pat Robertson, an ardent Bush supporter, said he had that conversation with the president in Nashville, Tennessee, before the March 2003 invasion U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. He described Bush in the meeting as "the most self-assured man I've ever met in my life."

"You remember Mark Twain said, 'He looks like a contented Christian with four aces.' I mean he was just sitting there like, 'I'm on top of the world,' " Robertson said on the CNN show, "Paula Zahn Now."

"And I warned him about this war. I had deep misgivings about this war, deep misgivings. And I was trying to say, 'Mr. President, you had better prepare the American people for casualties.'"

Robertson said the president then told him, "Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties."

Robertson seemed to think this was not an embarrassing thing to reveal about Bush. Think about that.

And remember how Bush was all chirpy when he announced he was about to invade Iraq? Many of us were shocked by Bush's cheerfulness on the eve of sending people to die? Well, no wonder!

Please, please, please nobody underestimate the importance of getting this maniac out of the White House.
20:32 BST

Me old China

I recently finished The Scar, China MiTville's follow-up to Perdido Street Station, both of which I found haunting and freaky and strangely compelling, and I was amused to find an interview with the author in yesterday's Metro. There are a few questions about his writing, but eventually they got around to politics.

How much did it make your week when you were called 'sexiest politician' at the last election?

That was funny and very nice, albeit slightly embarrassing. But the competition isn't that great. It's almost like being called the world's buffest accountant or something.

Who is the darkest force in politics today?

Choosing which politician to hate the most is one of my favourite parlour games. At the moment it is like being faced with an amazing box of chocolates. They are all so egregious. I have a real loathing for Home Secretary David Blunkett now. He is out-Righting the Rights. But next week it will be someone else.

Nah, Blunkett has been stand-out disgusting for a very long time. Jack Straw was in competition for a while when he was Home Sec but he never really overcame Blunkett for sheer lack of morality.
17:26 BST

Signs of the times

Bush Receives Endorsement From Iran (he gets all the good ones, eh?)

I'd still rather sit next to Al Gore on a plane than any of 'em.

A song for our times.
13:44 BST

The sort-of believer

In The Toronto Star, Bush plays God card: Barry Lynn of the Washington-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State says the election has become "a giant round of Bible Jeopardy."

On the same topic, Ayelish McGarvey asks the big question about Bush's faith in As God Is His Witness: This is a huge mistake, because when judged by his deeds, an entirely different picture emerges: Bush does not demonstrate a life of faith by his actions, and neither Methodists, evangelicals, nor fundamentalists can rightly call him brother. In fact, the available evidence raises serious questions about whether Bush is really a Christian at all.
01:41 BST

Stuff to check out

The immensely wonderful Michael Bérubé (who has had a recent excursion into the alternative reality landscape, apparently without reference to Shetterly's recent trip to similar territory) has a few things to say to people who still don't know why they should vote for Kerry and updates the What do you like most about Bush? quiz.

Atrios has a lot of stuff about Sinclair's share value sinking, but check out this item about CNN working hard to stay in the bag for Bush, citing old poll numbers to make him look better.

I live here. (Leadenhall Market is my favorite.)
00:23 BST

Tuesday, 19 October 2004

One-stop vote-watch page

eRiposte has set up a big page about voting in general and "Vote/Election fraud, vote suppression, voting irregularities, voter intimidation in Election 2004." It says:

The goal of this site is to be Vote Watch Central in Election 2004 - so, do bookmark and visit this site over the next few weeks. To contact me to send me tips on voting related irregularities or fraud across the U.S., please click here.
It's amazing how hard the Republicans are working to suppress voting and especially to disenfranchise Democrats. (via)
22:48 BST

Some stuff

Conason Bush Ignores the Facts With Good Reason: When George W. Bush speaks, the listener is often left guessing whether the President of the United States intends to deceive or is merely ignorant of basic facts. Either is always possible, since Mr. Bush is as capable of deception as any politician, and more indolent than many whenever "hard work" is required.

Lyons: Media complicit on political truth-shading: Most people assume that all politicians shade the truth. Most people are right. Seeking bipartisan symmetry, journalists assume that the exaggerations and misstatements split roughly down the middle, with each party in our fallen world of Democrats and Republicans vending pleasing fictions to supporters.

Bill Scher figures the Kerry campaign was better coordinated than the Bush team on the Sunday talk shows. And a battleground analysis.

Nick Confessore looks at the wisdom, or lack their of, in Sinclair's decision

You'd hardly know it, but real terrorism is still trying to raise its ugly head in the United States, and it's being defeated the same way it always is when people do their job. David Neiwert has the details.
19:27 BST

Go watch it

C-Span has Al Gore's speech archived now - you really should see it if you missed it earlier.

Watch the trailer for Finding Neverland, starring Johnny Depp as J.M. Barrie.
03:39 BST

On the blog

Via Atrios, a Christian ethicist and a journalist on Why abortion rate is up in Bush years: What does this tell us? Economic policy and abortion are not separate issues; they form one moral imperative. Rhetoric is hollow, mere tinkling brass, without health care, insurance, jobs, child care and a living wage. Pro-life in deed, not merely in word, means we need a president who will do something about jobs, health insurance and support for mothers.

"It ain't over yet," says Charles Kuffner, now that the Supremes say Texas should think again about redistricting. But he also says the damage has already been done, since this decision won't restore the old districts in time for the election, and next time could be too late for the Democrats who are losing their districts.

TBogg has found another cop who is obsessed with pornography: A sheriff's department in northern Utah is requiring deputies to begin documenting pornography found at crime scenes and during arrests. Yeah, that'll prove...something.

Mark Evanier takes note of the whispered question about George Bush that is making the rounds - seriously: Did Bush have a stroke or something? (And the Guardian seems to be on the same track.)

South Knox Bubba has compiled an amazing list of the things that, well, it's just hard to believe one guy could do that many really wrong things in a lifetime, let alone four lousy years. In summary, it would seem that President Bush's record does not match his rhetoric. We can do better. The American People deserve better.Via Shameless Agitator, a little event that should really make those few remaining libertarian supporters of Bush sit up and think - if they are libertarians at all: Three Medford school teachers were threatened with arrest and escorted from the event after they showed up wearing T-shirts with the slogan "Protect our civil liberties." All three said they applied for and received valid tickets from Republican headquarters in Medford.

A Tiny Revolution has Great Advice From Colin Powell: You may remember how, after the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, Colin Powell told the world, "Watch America. Watch how we deal with this."

Nathan Newman posts at Labor Blog about a George Will column that is "blunt about Bush's plan to hurt labor in his second term."

Needlenose, blogging on the much-remarked Suskind piece, detects similarities between the Bush administration and a certain much-discussed novel.

Elaine Normandy: Sunrise. (Also: Jack & Elaine with Lucy.)
02:04 BST

Monday, 18 October 2004

President Gore
Gore Says Bush Governs from 'Love of Power'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush governs from a "love of power" and right-wing ideology rather than religious beliefs, and he has yet to hold anyone in his administration accountable for mistakes, former Vice President Al Gore said on Monday.

As the campaign by Bush and Democrat John Kerry for president headed into the last stretch before the Nov. 2 election, Gore criticized his rival for the White House four years ago on Iraq and other issues.

"I'm convinced that most of the president's frequent departures from fact-based analysis have much more to do with right-wing political and economic ideology than with the Bible," Gore said in a speech at Georgetown University.

"It is love of power for its own sake that is the original sin of this presidency," he said.

He painted the Bush administration and its "right-wing" supporters as pursuing policies for the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the rest of the country.

"The essential cruelty of Bush's game is that he takes an astonishingly selfish and greedy collection of economic and political proposals and then cloaks them with a phony moral authority, thus misleading many Americans ... who have a deep and genuine desire to do good in the world," Gore said.
"Truly, President Bush has stolen the symbolism and body language of religion and used it to disguise the most radical effort in American history to take what rightfully belongs to the American people and give as much of it as possible to the already wealthy and privileged," he said.

Gore also criticized Bush for not holding anyone in his administration accountable for problems.

I'd like to find a copy of the actual speech, but I haven't seen it yet. He defined Bush's actions as "deception. He also used the term "reality-based".
22:07 BST

Everybody's talkin'

Putin urges voters to back Bush. Yes, I want to take my cues from ex-KGB creeps on who to vote for to run my democracy. You bet. Norbizness treats this with the gravity it deserves.

William Safire does his best to keep the Most Important Issue Facing Our Nation front and center: That bad old John Kerry shouldn't have mentioned that Mary Cheney is a dyke. (I am eager to see what Elton Beard does with this one.) Adam Nagourney is also on the case, saying Kerry made a big mistake and now it doesn't matter that he won the debates. Someone, please put a stake in this!

Josh Marshall says: While Gallup and ABC/WaPo are trending for Bush, Zogby is trending for Kerry. This morning Zogby has the two tied at 45%, from a 2 point Bush lead yesterday and four points the day before that.

And Dwight Meredith says: When I first learned about politics at my mother's knee, it was accepted that an incumbent polling at 45% two weeks out is in more than a wee bit of trouble.

TalkLeft: Early voting in Florida began today. Within one hour, problems began. Armies of lawyers are on hand and already heading to court. Jeralyn provides a recap of the 2000 theft for those who need a refresher.

Oliver at The Liquid List has five reasons why today is a bad day for Bush, like the WaPo story about how Bush was told the troops were under-equipped a long time ago.Steve Soto and Jeralyn both discuss Adam Cohen's nightmare imagining the worst in the NYT - if Bush gets to appoint new Supreme Court Justices. Jimmy Carter tells the Scotsman that he doesn't think things will turn out too well if Bush isn't kicked out, either.

Pat Buchanan, who has been pretty steadfastly castigating Bush for his many errors, now endorses Bush, which should tell you just what it means to be a "conservative" in this day and age.

Kerry warns of the dangers of Bush's plan to privatize Social Security. It's weird, the administration has made no secret of its desire to do this, but they were actually denying any plan in this direction last night. We all know they're lying, as usual, and good on you, John Kerry, for letting people know what a serious danger this is.
21:09 BST

Are we allowed to say the Republicans are racists, yet?

GOP fails in effort to move polls (registration required):

REPUBLICAN OPERATIVES working to re-elect President Bush submitted last-minute requests in Philadelphia on Friday to relocate 63 polling places.

Bush's Pennsylvania campaign staff filed the requests, using the names of two Republicans running for the U.S. Congress and seven Republican ward leaders.

Of the 63 requests for changes, 53 are in political divisions where the population of white voters is less than 10 percent.

"I think this is more evidence of Republicans working to disenfranchise low-income and minority voters," said Mark Nevins, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. John Kerry. "It's despicable."

Bob Lee, voter registration administrator for the City Commission, said the requests appear to be "discriminatory" and were filed too late to be eligible for a hearing on Wednesday.

"They're trying to suppress the vote," Lee said of Republicans.
Race played a role in at least five of the requests, according to Matt Robb, the Republican leader of the 48th ward in South Philadelphia. Robb said he allowed his name to be used because those polling places are in neighborhoods he doesn't wish to visit.

"It's predominantly, 100 percent black," said Robb, who is white. "I'm just not going in there to get a knife in my back."

The polling places are all in political divisions where Democrats hold an overwhelming advantage among registered voters.

Listervelt Ritter, the Republican leader for the 16th ward in North Philadelphia, said he participated in the effort on four requests because he is tired of polling places controlled by Democrats and the fraud that he claims results. Ritter, an African-American, denied any attempt to suppress minority votes.

"The black neighborhoods are the ones that do the funny stuff," Ritter said. "What are you supposed to do?"
Lee, who has worked for the commission for 21 years, said he became suspicious of the requests because of the last-minute timing, the unusually high number and the locations.

Lee said local Republicans would know better than to try to submit so many polling place changes so late in the game.

Any registered voter can request a location change for one of the 1,681 polling place in the city.

Requests are sent to hearings before the City Commission after public notices are posted for five days at the polling place, the proposed new polling place and three other places in the division.

Lee said the City Commission on Wednesday will hold its last hearing on polling place changes before the Nov. 2 election.

Since the requests came in on Friday afternoon, he said, there is not time for the public notices.

(Via Campaign Extra!, via Eschaton.)

News Hounds has kept an eye on Fox's presentation of RNC spin on voting issues, and notes some interesting patterns in Hannity's Race Card and FOX Harps Again on "Voter Fraud" Without Regard for Voting Rights.
20:11 BST

That time of year

There is something I love in every season, but in the autumn I ache for Washington, for the changing colors against crystal skies, for the taste of the air, for the bustle of the annual Armenian Church Bazaar and endless array of pastries and the smell of the meats and spices and the sound of the oud. I don't think I ever agree with anything Ann Althouse writes about politics, but these photos, though they are not of Washington, bring that yearning for home into sharp relief, a physical longing I can taste.
15:17 BST

In Blogtopia

Atrios has some good stuff up right now on Social Security, here and here, with a pointer to a good James K. Galbraith article in Salon explaining why the only crisis really facing Social Security is the people who want to "fix" it by privatizing it.

Gary Farber read through the transcript of the Kerry-O'Neill debate on the Cavette show and wrote a thoughtful analysis of it, getting down to the cheese.

Gary also says Bill Gibson is blogging again - because, "the United States currently has, as Jack Womack so succintly puts it, a president who makes Richard Nixon look like Abraham Lincoln." And this post possibly explains how naive hope was kept aloft well past its time.

A lot of people said they would leave the US if Bush won in 2000. Pierre Salinger actually did it, which is why he was in France when he died Saturday.

Demagogue plumbs the Meet the Press transcript to find more lovely homophobia from another Republican Congressman.

Stealing the vote: I can't prove it, but I can't help the feeling someone may have interfered with a judge in a voter-registration case.

Arthur Silber found some unfair and unbalanced academic freedom.
14:14 BST

Moving lips

How much can we believe this - Jeb Bush Rules Out 2008 White House Run - when it comes paired with this:

The governor also denied a report that he knew of problems with a list of felons to be purged from the state's voter rolls months before it was discarded.
Why, not at all.
04:57 BST

Sins of Our Times

Last week NYT "public editor" Daniel Okrent tried to explain that his paper is fair and balanced, but of course we all disagreed. This week, he presents Political Bias at The Times? Two Counterarguments, with Todd Gitlin "From the left" and Bob Kohn "From the Right". Gitlin quite rightly takes the Times to task for sins we're all familiar with:

But The Times's decorous approach to the news has often helped President Bush in three significant ways: by equating his gross deceptions with Mr. Kerry's minor lapses; by omitting or burying news of administration activities and their consequences; and by missing the deep pattern of Mr. Bush's prejudices and malfeasances.
Kohn, on the other hand, has the classic modern conservative problem with the Times:
To readers, it means that President Bush is wrong, not only because the editorial page of The Times says he's wrong, but because the president's views fly in the face of what are being presented as objective facts. No technique of bias is more powerful - more useful as a means of influence - than presenting a candidate's unadulterated views through a prism of advocacy passed off as hard news.
The trouble with this is that the hard news Kohn complains about really is hard news:
And the practice is by no means limited to the social questions. The justification for the Iraq war, now John Kerry's top campaign issue, provides a poignant backdrop for how The Times systematically uses its front page to undercut President Bush's credibility.
The fact that David Brooks and William Safire refuse to accept the data proves to Kohn that the Times is wrong and these two right-wing hacks are right. But the NYT is under no obligation to claim that reports on 9/11 and Iraq are favorable to Bush just because the RNC talking-points say they are. In fact, actually reading those reports would be far more damaging to Bush than reading the NYT's tepid, sterilized reporting on them.

So yes, the problem for conservatives is that the facts don't support George Bush. And that means the Times is "biased" when it reports the facts.

Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest calls bull on the NYT's recent whining about how their freedom of the press is being intruded on. I was pretty indignant myself after seeing this piece by Sulzberger himself and Russell T. Lewis:

An essential tool that the press must have if it is to perform its job is the ability to gather and receive information in confidence from those who would face reprisals for bringing important information about our government into the light of day for all of us to examine. Without an enforceable promise of confidentiality, sources would quickly dry up and the press would be left largely with only official government pronouncements to report.
Yes, and exactly what important information about our government were Novak and Miller bringing into the light of day for all of us to examine? Why, none! Miller never reported that members of the administration had illegally sought her help in publicly burning a CIA agent, and Novak did aid them in burning the CIA agent. But the public didn't need to know the identity of that CIA agent. This was done for purely political purposes and what the public does deserve to know is that the White House is prepared to threaten the security of the United States to punish people who might expose illegal or incompetent behavior by the administration. In other words, Novak was helping to prevent exposure of government malfeasance merely by writing the article, and both Novak and Miller are doing the same by refusing to name their sources. Or, as Dave put it:
In 1971, in what is known as the Pentagon Papers case, the NY Times went to the mat to defend the right of the press to reveal that the government was lying to us about a war. A courageous individual risked everything to bring the "Pentagon Papers" and the information they contained to the public, and the Nixon Administration was trying to stop their publication.

Revealing government lies and corruption used to be an important role of the press.

Times sure have changed. The Times sure has changed. And, as we all know so well, the press and the role they see for themselves sure has changed. Now The Times and others are going to the mat to protect government officials who conspired to make war, and who hurt efforts to stop weapons of mass destruction from reaching terrorists.

A courageous individual named Joe Wilson risked all to reveal to us that the Bush administration was lying about their reasons for starting a war. To punish him, White House officials illegally revealed to reporters the identity of his wife, Valerie Plame, a covert CIA operative. (This also intimidated others in government who might talk to the press.) To make matters even worse, Valerie Plame's job was hunting down people trafficking in weapons of mass destruction. They not only stopped her from this effort, by revealing her identity they alerted countries and organizations worldwide to look at who she has been meeting with over the years, in case they were informing on them.

I think what galls me the most about this story is that the NYT didn't consider it worth wasting any ink for the last four years while journalists all over America have been deprived of their voice in a variety of ways, but particularly in the case of Vanessa Leggett, a genuinely egregious example of the Ashcroft Justice Department's intrusions on freedom of the press. These days, The New York Times only cares about protecting journalists who want to protect the administration, apparently.
02:37 BST

Sunday, 17 October 2004

It's nice to have friends

The NYT has endorsed Kerry, and has a long list of reasons to be against Bush, although they do admit:

But over the last year we have come to know Mr. Kerry as more than just an alternative to the status quo. We like what we've seen. He has qualities that could be the basis for a great chief executive, not just a modest improvement on the incumbent.

We have been impressed with Mr. Kerry's wide knowledge and clear thinking - something that became more apparent once he was reined in by that two-minute debate light. He is blessedly willing to re-evaluate decisions when conditions change. And while Mr. Kerry's service in Vietnam was first over-promoted and then over-pilloried, his entire life has been devoted to public service, from the war to a series of elected offices. He strikes us, above all, as a man with a strong moral core.

The Chicago Tribune, on the other hand, has endorsed Bush, apparently because they believe RNC talking points instead, of, um, reading the newspapers, I guess. Their article actually makes no sense.

Editor & Publisher has a Kerry Endorsement Tally that currently appears to stand at 28:

Among his new supporters were five papers that had backed Bush in 2000: the Bradenton Herald in Florida, the Daily Camera in Boulder, Colorado, the Columbia Tribune in Missouri, Colorado and the Daily-Herald in Arlington Heights, Ill., and Muskegon (MI) Chronicle.
They also detail papers supporting Bush, with more quotes that don't make any sense.
21:49 BST


At Open Source Politics, Kenneth Quinnel looks at those liberated Iraqi women.

From Left End of the Dial, the American Taliban strikes again.

DonBoy explains What Kerry Should Have Said About Mary Cheney, to Live Up To The High Standards of George Bush's Previous Campaigns.

Jim Henley reviews the live broadcast of the final Vote for Change concert.

Steve Clemons, welcoming another conservative into the fold, quotes Clyde Prestowitz: Some say it's just politics. But that's the whole point. More is expected of people of faith than "just politics." The fact is that the Bush administration might better be called radical or romantic or adventurist than conservative. And that's why real conservatives are leaning toward Kerry.

Skimble has a link up for the two-hour Frontline episode about Bush & Kerry, which you can watch online: It became quite clear that Kerry's pervasive interest in the world is genuine and intrinsic to his personality; Bush's artificial interest in the world commenced on the day in the 1990's when he was invited to George Schulz's living room to consider being set up by the GOP machine in a marionette campaign for the White House.

TNH has another Bush joke. (And in the comments, FranW has yet another one...and there's more as you work your way down.)

Epicycle found a piano that fits in your backpack.

The Yes Men are on the road, disguised as part of the Bush/Cheney campaign (but their blog top-down, unfortunately).

Feoreg writes to announce that Pagan Prattle now has it's very own address. Also: Take back the pumpkin!
20:33 BST

Bits of news

Report: Jeb Bush Ignored Felon List Advice: The e-mail said state election officials "weren't comfortable with the felon matching program they've got," but added, "The Gov rejected their suggestion to pull the plug, so they're 'going live' with it this weekend."

Bush Lawyer Anticipates Delay in Tally. Republicans are trying to make it sound like it will all be the Democrats' fault.

Al Gore is now hiring, says GOTV.

Here's that audio stream of the Bush press conference with the gain turned up so you can hear the background prompting.
14:00 BST

Stuff to watch out for

Via Kos, check out This article on a new poll and how to interpret it based on RV and LV models. People not normally thought of as "likely voters" seem to be taking an unusual interest in the race this year, and that means they're more likely to vote - and can make all the difference.

TalkLeft may be down for a bit in the next few hours due to a site migration, but there are a number of good links and articles there: Guantanamo Employees Confirm Harsh Treatment of Detainees reports on an NYT article in which a number of employees have come forward to blow the whistle; Leaked Report: Gulf War Syndrome Is Real quoting a BBC story that contradicts the official denial of GWS; Judge Posner's Ruling on Absentee Ballots makes it easier for states to create hardships for voters (decision here); Log Cabin Republicans Unhappy With Bush/Rove Tactics, in which the LCRs say the Republicans should "stop 'feigning outrage' over Senator Kerry's reference to Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter during the last presidential debate."

Gary Farber finds a stunning example of fair-and-balanced media (in the NYT) that amazed even me. There's also a lot about chocolate and how it can be good for you. I should have some.

Mary Jacoby in Salon has "the inside story" on that platoon that refused to go on what they called a "suicide mission", Revolt in the ranks in Iraq: Most absurdly, though, the jet fuel that these members of the 343rd Quartermaster Company were risking life and limb to transport wasn't even usable. It was contaminated with diesel and had already sensibly been rejected by one base and would undoubtedly be rejected again in Taji -- if the convoy managed to make it to its destination at all.

For those who didn't know: Who Spit On Vietnam Vets? Not Anti-War Protesters! An interesting discussion of a myth that grew from nothing. (via)
04:30 BST

Saturday, 16 October 2004

Bruce Palmer 1946-2004

Richie Furay, Steve Stills, Neil Young & Bruce
"Bruce would lay down a groove and we could have done anything," said Stills, acknowledging Palmer's prowess. "He was the focus that balanced Neil and me." Atlantic Records chief Ahmet Ertegun claimed that Palmer was "a musical guru. The rest of the band all idolized him."
According to the Guardian, Bruce died of a heart attack on 1 October. He was 58.
23:53 BST

The must-read about the most mad

Atrios mentioned it yesterday, but didn't have a link: Without a Doubt by Ron Suskind in The New York Times Magazine tomorrow.

Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and a treasury official for the first President Bush, told me recently that "if Bush wins, there will be a civil war in the Republican Party starting on Nov. 3." The nature of that conflict, as Bartlett sees it? Essentially, the same as the one raging across much of the world: a battle between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true believers, reason and religion.

"Just in the past few months," Bartlett said, "I think a light has gone off for people who've spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do." Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush's governance, went on to say: "This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can't be persuaded, that they're extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he's just like them. . . .

Republicans...Republicans are starting to notice. Republicans think maybe things may be awry. They've begun to get an inkling, only a few years later than the rest of us. They've begun to see....

The terrifying fact is that, surrounded by sycophants and receiving continual helpings of affirmation from crackpots who speak apocalyptically about 9/11 and how it was God himself who gave us this man in this moment, George W. Bush is infused by the transformational light of a madman.
19:06 BST

You saw it here last

David Neiwert discusses the nature of Sinclair Broadcast Group, which is not merely a media group whose owners happen to have a political bias, but rather a media group that appears to have been a tool created for the purposes of a political agenda. He quotes Jay Rosen, for anyone who has failed to understand the dangers of media concentration: We've had media barons with political ambitions before, plenty of them. But they did not own 62 local television stations (a record) that reach a quarter of all American homes. The Sinclair situation is new. David also analyzes Bush's debate answers and explains why No Child's Behind Left is a hoax program intended to destroy not just the public school system, but America's true greatness. And don't forget Part 4 of The Rise of Pseudo Fascism, The Apocalyptic One-Party State.

At Pandagon, Ezra provides a link to a page that offers video versions of Jon Stewart's Crossfire appearance. I liked that bit at the end where Stewart begins to answer a question and is immediately interrupted by the hosts trying to put words in his mouth, so that the show ends with him sitting there looking into the distance with a "See what I mean?" look on his face. Also at Pandagon, Jesse wonders why fact-checking only matters at the debates, and whether everyone's military records are as hard to find as those of George W. Bush. (He doubts it.)

At Left I on the News, Eli discovers something I didn't know, either - that it's illegal for Americans or resident aliens in the US to buy a Cuban cigar anywhere in the world, even where they are legally sold. Weird. But the effects of the embargo against Cuba are much more far-reaching than that.

I've been meaning to post this link for a while for those who haven't yet looked at it, but I wanted to see it again myself, first (having last seen it when it originally aired). Winter Soldier has the link for the stream of the 1971 Dick Cavett show debate between former Lieutenant John Kerry of the VVAW and John O'Neill, as well as the transcript.
18:04 BST

Debates? What debates?

In this morning's Washington Post, an editorial called Reviewing the Debates begins:

IT'S FASHIONABLE to denigrate the presidential debates as dueling canned speeches, not the rough-and-tumble of "real debate." Debate-bashing, indeed, may be nearly as popular as convention-bashing. "Presidential debates are to real debates as processed cheese is to cheese," George F. Will wrote on the opposite page the day of the first debate.
I have a lot more experience with formal debates than most people ever get, and I'm here to tell ya that even debates are not debates unless the people involved are really passionate about the topic and not playing games. This is frequently not the case, since in any debating society the idea is to show off your skills as a debater and often one side of the argument has no genuine supporters, so that side will be represented by someone who believes something else altogether. I've seen such people put on a great show, but that doesn't mean you're necessarily getting any real illumination of either the issues or the real beliefs of an individual debater.

In your standard formal debate, only one question is ever posed, and it generally comes in the form: "This house believes that X." For example, I frequently find myself debating questions like, "This house believes that pornography is harmful to society," or "This house believes that prostitution should be decriminalized." Moderators do not interpose additional questions during the course of the debate. Mostly they call time and introduce the next speaker.

I don't think I've ever been at a debate that had only two speakers, either. These are not contests between two individuals, but contests between two points of view, and thus they may be represented by several people on each side. Different universities use different formats, but every debate I've been to has at least two pre-arranged speakers to a side, and after at least the first two of these on each side have spoken, other students may have an opportunity to make their own statements from the audience.

Speakers don't address other speakers directly, but may refer to them - "The proposer suggests that ..." or "An earlier speaker said ..." In this format, it's difficult for a speaker to direct a question at someone who has already spoken, so questions have to be aimed more generally - "Our opponents say X, but how do they explain Y?" That would leave the question up to the next speaker to either respond to or ignore. No one can be forced to respond to the statements of a previous speaker. Many speakers will be reading pre-written (or even memorized) speeches; some people aren't prepared for off-the-cuff responses.

Personally, I never write a speech, but I know my subject well and have a number of stock points I like to raise if I can get them in. I'm almost never the first speaker, which means I can take notes during any preceding speeches and grab points I want to respond to. I don't take a lot of notes - I'll jot down a few key phrases and may answer them later if I'm still interested in them.

But, as the Post says, that's not what presidential debates are about. They're our last chance to see the candidates and find out what they think it's important to say. They can use the questions to illuminate the issues, or explain their solutions, or talk about themselves or about each other, and in their answers we can hope to get a sense of their priorities, their understanding of things that matter, their perspectives. We can see how they respond to different questions, how they handle them, how they acquit themselves. In the case of this last series of debates, this was particularly useful given that we have a man in the White House who normally does not let himself be seen unscripted in a potentially hostile (or even non-adulating) environment.

But here's a reminder for those who did not actually watch the debates four years ago: In 2000, Al Gore directly challenged Bush to defend his policies, and Bush couldn't do it then. No one should be surprised that he couldn't do it now, either.
13:44 BST


Busy, Busy, Busy has many good things up (and I'm not just saying that because he's so nice to me), and even solves the falafel question for Bill O'Reilly.

The Salon War Room has a piece on Jon Stewart's appearance on Crossfire, in which he told the hosts their show is hurting America. "I think you're a lot more fun on your show," said Tucker Carlson to "Crossfire" guest Jon Stewart this afternoon. "And I think you're as much of a dick on your show as on any other," Stewart shot back. [Update: Comments from Digby.]

Via Atrios, Robert George of The New York Post writes in The New Republic that, as a conservative, he can't vote for George Bush.

Jonathan Chait is in The Los Angeles Times pointing out that Bush and Cheney have raised taxes more times than John Kerry. (via)

George W. Bush vs. Jesus

01:25 BST

Friday, 15 October 2004

Creep of the day

It's been a good day for Karl Rove stories. Kevin Drum alerts us to Karl Rove in a Corner by Joshua Green in The Atlantic, and Nick Confessore has a nice new dirty trick going on in Tennessee that has the smell of Rove.

Which reminds me, the DVD of Bush's Brain is available now, and well worth seeing if you haven't yet.
23:29 BST

Supporting the troops

The Clarion-Ledger says a platoon of 17 Army Reserve members from Jackson, Mississippi has defied orders in Iraq, saying they were being sent on a suicide mission. They are currently under arrest.

U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson said he plans to submit a congressional inquiry today on behalf of the Mississippi soldiers to launch an investigation into whether they are being treated improperly.

"I would not want any member of the military to be put in a dangerous situation ill-equipped," said Thompson, who was contacted by families. "I have had similar complaints from military families about vehicles that weren't armor-plated, or bullet-proof vests that are outdated. It concerns me because we made over $150 billion in funds available to equip our forces in Iraq.

"President Bush takes the position that the troops are well-armed, but if this situation is true, it calls into question how honest he has been with the country," Thompson said.

Gee, could Bush have been dishonest with the country? What could have happened to that $150 billion dollars that was meant to equip our troops?

It wasn't here, either.
18:38 BST

Ballot watch

That twisted little twerp Drudge is pretending that a Kerry/Edwards Election Day guide on inoculating against voter intimidation is advising people to make false charges. But, of course, we already know the Republicans have all these vote-depressing techniques ready, it's just a matter of finding them where they occur and doing something about it when it happens. Matt Yglesias notes that the righties are trying to make the Kerry/Edwards strategy equivalent to real scams by Republicans to illegally prevent people from exercising their franchise.

[Update: Seeing the Forest has more details.]

Paul Krugman is on the same subject today in Block the Vote, looking at a selection of these scams and noting once again that things still stink in you-know-where:

And Florida is the site of naked efforts to suppress Democratic votes, and the votes of blacks in particular.

Florida's secretary of state recently ruled that voter registrations would be deemed incomplete if those registering failed to check a box affirming their citizenship, even if they signed an oath saying the same thing elsewhere on the form. Many counties are, sensibly, ignoring this ruling, but it's apparent that some officials have both used this rule and other technicalities to reject applications as incomplete, and delayed notifying would-be voters of problems with their applications until it was too late.

Whose applications get rejected? A Washington Post examination of rejected applications in Duval County found three times as many were from Democrats, compared with Republicans. It also found a strong tilt toward rejection of blacks' registrations.

The case of Florida's felon list - used by state officials, as in 2000, to try to wrongly disenfranchise thousands of blacks - has been widely reported. Less widely reported has been overwhelming evidence that the errors were deliberate.

In an article coming next week in Harper's, Greg Palast, who originally reported the story of the 2000 felon list, reveals that few of those wrongly purged from the voting rolls in 2000 are back on the voter lists. State officials have imposed Kafkaesque hurdles for voters trying to get back on the rolls. Depending on the county, those attempting to get their votes back have been required to seek clemency for crimes committed by others, or to go through quasi-judicial proceedings to prove that they are not felons with similar names.

If this election were about nothing else, it would still be about preserving your right to vote. No matter where you live, no matter what you assume your neighbors think or how they're voting, it's still worth it to give Kerry your vote, so we can say as loudly as possible that Americans repudiate the things this administration has been doing.
16:32 BST

Eyeball items

Here's the view of the Mall from the webcam at The Washington Post Arlington offices.

I don't know if we'll even get this over here, but you can watch the trailer for FarScape: The Peacekeeper Wars, and see the gallery and a few other clips, at their page.
15:49 BST

Muff-divin' news

Jerry has a point. The proper response to Lynne Cheney's outrage at Kerry mentioning that her out-of-the-closet gay daughter is a lesbian is to say, "Look, this isn't like when you guys claim Hillary Clinton is a lesbian. This is actually true, which makes it different."

Look, Mary isn't just a lesbian, she's a professional lesbian; it's her job to be gay for Coors. And Dick Cheney has already evoked Mary's lesbianism on the campaign trail, so it's a bit too late to try to drag her back into the closet. If that hurts the ticket with the base, well, maybe that says something about the base. We don't need to pander to them.
13:10 BST

Items of interest

Jeanne D'Arc has a good piece on the debate between President Kerry and Giggles the Clown.

Tom Friedman shares the dream! (But is he shrill?) He says Bush and his administration are Addicted to 9/11, and he's right: I want a president who can one day restore Sept. 11th to its rightful place on the calendar: as the day after Sept. 10th and before Sept. 12th. I do not want it to become a day that defines us. Because ultimately Sept. 11th is about them - the bad guys - not about us. We're about the Fourth of July. We really have to stop letting ourselves be terrorized into being something less.

I was looking at The Mahablog's Morning After post and for some reason the first sentence triggered Simon & Garfunkel singing "Silent Night" in my head. I think what I want for Christmas is for S&G to get together with Walter Cronkite and produce a new version...available immediately.

Norman Solomon has a Preview of the Bush Campaign's Media Endgame, with all the elements you expect: Smearing John Kerry, Exploiting anti-gay prejudices, Inverting realities of class warfare, and Making use of Ralph Nader's 2004 campaign. (Most people are unaware of how much the GOP had to do with Nader's 2000 campaign.)
00:44 BST

Thursday, 14 October 2004

Check out MyDD

Jerome says Kerry's back in the lead.

And Chris has a round-up of examples of how One Party Wants You to Vote; One Party Does Not - and is hard at work in nine closely-contested states to depress turn-out.

Read it all.
23:01 BST

For your amusement

Will Shetterly, What if George W. Bush had been elected president?: With the election only a few weeks away, I've decided to take a break from wondering whether Gore's bigger threat is McCain or Nader and instead indulge in a little speculation, inspired by Patrick Nielsen Hayden imagining the horrors of a hypothetical Bush presidency. Naturally, via PNH, and naturally, both posts have drawn interesting comments on how plausible the Bush Won 2000 scenario really is. (Lenny Bailes' comment on Electrolite is, alas, the killing joke.)

The Onion: Cheney Vows To Attack U.S. If Kerry Elected.

Rob Reiner's anti-Bush ad, Mistake.
19:19 BST

Debate 3.2 - fact-check check

I guess at this point there are no surprises from The Washington Post fact-checkers. Here's the transcript with the pop-up referee, and the straight article is Attacks Misleading And Out of Context, which starts well after Bush has already delivered some misleading rubbish. For example, Bush tried this one out again:

I have got a comprehensive strategy to not only chase down the Al Qaida, wherever it exists -- and we're making progress; three-quarters of Al Qaida leaders have been brought to justice -- but to make sure that countries that harbor terrorists are held to account.
Since no one knows how big Al Qaeda's leadership is, no one knows how many three-quarters are. And God only knows what "brought to justice" is supposed to mean; have their been public trials of any of these people?

The referee finally kicked in when Bush claimed Kerry opposed the Homeland Security Bill, pointing out that in fact Kerry voted for it on final passage. But it's a shame no one's pointing out how hard Bush worked to prevent the bill, then messed around with it to make it hard to support.

(The Post missed the vaccine excuse altogether.)

The Post says Kerry over-stated the reach of his health-care plan, but Bush claimed Kerry's plan would cost about five times more than even the American Enterprise Institute estimates it would cost.

Kerry once again said that there have been 1.6m jobs lost on Bush's watch. Some people think he keeps bringing that up without pointing out that those are private-sector jobs because he likes having the fact-checkers point out that Bush has added nearly 900,000 government jobs, expanding government while other kinds of jobs are disappearing.

The Post called Kerry on the claim that most of the benefits of the so-called "tax cut" went to the wealthiest, supposedly balancing this by pointing out that their tax cut reflects roughly the percentage they pay in federal income tax. This might be meaningful if the money had come from federal income taxes, but it didn't - it was paid for by the famous Social Security Surplus, which came from the increase in payroll taxes that was engineered by Alan Greenspan in order to "save Social Security". That money certainly did not come from the wealthiest Americans in any great measure. (Kerry did come back and explain some of this later himself.)

Funnily enough, no one wants to talk about the difference between the so-called "tax cut" for the middle-class and the one for the wealthy - the former having been an addition that was forced in by the Democrats after the original version of the bill offered working people almost nothing. But the cut that was not aimed at wealth was also not a real cut by any definition - it was a loan, as Paul Krugman repeatedly explained at the time. That obviously fell on deaf ears in the media-ocracy, with rare exceptions like Sean Wilentz.

Bush did his usual thing of taking credit for things he'd promised but not done, things that had passed over the objection of Republicans because Democrats got together on them, and things that were actually by-products of the negative impact of his policies. There's an amusing exchange where Kerry points out that the administration has cut Pell grants, and Bush talks about how they've given out more Pell grants. Both statements are correct - Bush capped Pell grants, but since more kids are now poor enough to be eligible, more kids have qualified for them. That's not something Bush ought to be bragging about unless his base likes hearing the Sekrit Code about how successful he's been at impoverishing people.

Bush found a new made-up figure for savings on malpractice insurance if malpractice awards are capped. Once again, this is unsupported rubbish, but that's no surprise, since Bush's lips were moving.

The Post quibbles when Kerry says Bush's Medicare bill has already caused a rise in costs, but eventually has to concede that he is correct in the main.

Bush tried out the talking-points meant to diminish Kerry's record in the Senate, pretending he hadn't done anything in 20 years. Kerry came back with a strong retort. The Post quibbles with both statements but points out something Kerry did not - that some of Kerry's most impressive work has been investigative rather than legislative.

Another quibble from the Post:

Kerry misspoke when he said that the minimum wage, now $5.15 an hour, is "the lowest minimum wage value it has been in our nation in 50 years." The inflation-adjusted low since 1955 was reached in 1989, when it dipped below $5.00 in inflation-adjusted dollars. But the minimum wage generally has been higher than $5.15 in adjusted dollars, and relative to the average hourly wage, it is at its lowest level since 1948.
Er, isn't that really what he said?

The Post didn't tag Bush for this one:

People need to remember: Six months prior to my arrival, the stock market started to go down. And it was one of the largest declines in our history. And then we had a recession and we got attacked, which cost us 1 million jobs.
Anyone who was following the stock market figures during the 2000 campaign noticed that it rose and fell according to the fortunes of Al Gore in the polls - when Gore was doing well, the market went up, and when Bush was leading, it went down - so someone understood what was going on. But the Bushistas have a lot of talking points that try to suggest that Bush was coming to the rescue of a failed Clinton economy, and none of it is true. The real measure is recession, which Team Bush sometimes claims started during the Clinton administration but which in fact began in March of 2001. We were not attacked until September of that year, but the economy was already in bad shape, and the Bush tax-shift made it worse. Quibble about Kerry's figures all you want, but there has been no actual job growth, and without that, we are running a serious job deficit.

Here's the Post fact-check on the disagreement over whether Bush meets up with the Black Caucus:

Bush did meet with the Congressional Black Caucus during his first two weeks in office -- on Jan. 31, 2001 -- but Kerry's overall charge was correct: Bush has repeatedly turned down requests to meet with the group since then. Caucus members have complained that not only has Bush refused to meet with them on specific issues, including his plans to attack Iraq, but also the White House often has not even responded to their letters. Bush dropped by a meeting that national security adviser Condoleezza Rice had with the caucus earlier this year.
Over at Matt Yglesias, a commenter called Barry Freed has a look at NPR's fact-checking:
This morning piece on the debates

They did the Usama bit and did it right.

But being "journalists" they needed to add some "balance" So they did Kerry's thing on how 95% of all cargo containers entering American ports remain uninspected. NPR said Kerry told a fib.
NPRs explanation? 100% of all cargo manifests are read and any dangerous cargo mentioned is flagged and they end up physically inspecting 5% of the cargo containers.

Say wha?

Sounds to me like Kerry was right on the money there.

There's a difference between physically inspecting cargo containers and merely reading the manifests of the containers.

Of course, everyone is having fun with Bush for this one: "Gosh, I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those ... exaggerations." This is classic Bush - lie and pretend it's your opponent who is lying. But, of course, Bush certainly did say it.

Somebody let me know when the Post fixes Tom Shales' column so that it isn't credited to Broder. David Broder's column is here...and they look like two different drafts of the same column. Hmmm....

There's lots of useful analysis at Daily Kos - like here.

No questions about stem cells, no questions at all about the environment. Weird.

I think Bush looked considerably more pulled-together in the third debate - more even-tempered, more naturally-cadenced, more sane. He seemed to be going back to his 2000 methodology a bit, presenting himself as a moderate and trying to burnish his "Education President" credentials. (Of course, I wanted to smack him when he suggested that what you need when you lose your job is to go to a community college. I'm sure that sounds very convincing to the people in their 40s and 50s who had full degrees in the mid-to-late '70s, couldn't find a job, went back to retrain in electrical engineering, and are now looking for jobs again because their work has been out-sourced to another country. Yeah. Community college, that's the ticket!) He tried to evade some ideological questions where he has already established himself as a right-wing crackpot (as he did on the "strict constructionist" issue in the last debate).

I liked the way Kerry handled the "litmus test" question but wish he'd done it even more strongly. I might have said, "Yes, I have a litmus test for judges: They should be willing to defend the Constitutional rights of Americans." And I'd have said Bush's nominees to the court clearly do not feel that way.

But generally, Kerry still looked better than Bush, still had a firmer grasp of the issues, and didn't have to lie outright to defend his position. To anyone who knows about the issues and cares about the nation, Kerry was the clear winner. To the deranged 29%, no power on earth could shake their view of Bush as the Messiah and Kerry as the anti-Christ. To the people who don't pay much attention but still believe in the American values that were taken as given until four years ago, Kerry still probably looked better than Bush, although perhaps not as clearly - but if they saw anything from the first two debates, their faith in the guy who currently resides in the White House must have been shaken and I don't think the third debate did anything to restore it. And Atrios, of course, makes a very good point about what that means.
15:51 BST

Debate 3.1 - quick notes

Bush blamed an absence of vaccines on a British company, but it was an American company.

Begala: Bush just cited something called the Lewin Group to support the proposition that Kerry's health plan is a big government takeover. It's a charge he's made before. Trouble is, the Lewin Group says he's not telling the truth. John Sheils, vice president of the Lewin Group, told ABC's Jake Tapper yesterday Bush's attack "is not accurate."

Directional mikes filtered out any audience reaction, but Arianna is on the radio saying Kerry's jokes got the laugh. I gather Bush's jokes didn't go over as well.

Kos checks some lies, lies, lies.

I need sleep. More tomorrow.
04:05 BST

Hit & run

FEC May Regulate Web Political Activity. Well, we've been worrying about something like this happening for a while, haven't we, boys and girls?

In the Guardian, State that knows shape of things to come is Gary Younge driving through America and wondering if the decline of the American Dream can compete with the rise of religious mania to determine how Americans will vote.

Some items from Salon:
Mark Follman takes issue with the NYT's "public editor" for his claim that the political left is nastier than the right.

John Edwards joined Leno - and everyone else - in playing Guess the bulge.
01:04 BST

Wednesday, 13 October 2004

Stuff to read

Susan at An Age Like This has posted a letter from an angry mom who wants to know why her son in Iraq has not been equipped properly to survive the conditions where he is stationed. That's supporting our troops, all right.

Amanda at Mouse Words likes John Kerry - and thinks he's the right man to help route out the Republican corruption.

On the Electrolite sidebar, a link to The Long Tail, a Wired article about how the Internet is really changing the entertainment industry by making niche-marketing truly competitive.

On the other hand, you could get your computer hijacked by The Music Man.
23:20 BST

There's something happening here

Via of GOTV, more corruption sighted by Tsuredzuregusa:

Remember the Swarthmore, PA students who exposed e-voting company Diebold's internal memos advocating fraud?

And remember how, during the recent spate of reports on wacky FBI partisan-agenda incidents, the FBI confiscated 20 Indymedia web servers from London, England ISP Rackspace as part of their rampage to shut down indy media centers around the globe? [Yes, that's why it's been so hard to hit Indy media sites lately.]

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) thinks there's a connection. The link? Election-related intimidation.

When Diebold lost its copyright case against the ISP for Indybay, the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center, the US. District Court ordered Diebold to pay damages and fees for illegally threatening ISPs for copyright violation while knowing that the documents posted by Indymedia weren't copyrighted.

Diebold had tried to block Indymedia from posting the memos encouraging employees to commit fraud online, but Judge Jeremy Fogel ruled that IndyMedia's posting of Diebold memos and other documents was proper, saying in part

[quote snipped]

While Diebold has been busy trying to scrub their email archives, the memos were still available to the public on the IndyMedia servers.

That is, until the FBI seized them.

As much as Diebold doesn't want the public to know about their business practices or how easy Diebold voting machines are to hack, the memos are still available (for the moment) on Denis Kucinich's Voting Rights page (scroll down).

They're pulling out all the stops. They never expect to have to answer for it.
13:27 BST

No matter how cynical you think you are, it's not enough

First this from Kos:

There is no low to which the GOP will not stoop. Now, they are shredding Dem voter registrations in Nevada.
Employees of a private voter registration company allege that hundreds, perhaps thousands of voters who may think they are registered will be rudely surprised on election day. The company claims hundreds of registration forms were thrown in the trash.

[...]The out-of-state firm has been in Las Vegas for the past few months, registering voters. It employed up to 300 part-time workers and collected hundreds of registrations per day, but former employees of the company say that Voters Outreach of America only wanted Republican registrations.

Two former workers say they personally witnessed company supervisors rip up and trash registration forms signed by Democrats.

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

Eric Russell managed to retrieve a pile of shredded paperwork including signed voter registration forms, all from Democrats. We took them to the Clark County Election Department and confirmed that they had not, in fact, been filed with the county as required by law.

The firm will be prosecuted, no doubt about that. But will it help Bush take Nevada?

Btw, this firm, Voters Outreach of America, is one of the firms hired to collect petition signatures for Ralph Nader in Arizona.

I'm not going to hold my breath for that prosecution, either.

Next, via Atrios, we learn that James Baker is working for the other side:

hen President Bush appointed former Secretary of State James Baker III as his envoy on Iraq's debt on December 5, 2003, he called Baker's job "a noble mission." At the time, there was widespread concern about whether Baker's extensive business dealings in the Middle East would compromise that mission, which is to meet with heads of state and persuade them to forgive the debts owed to them by Iraq. Of particular concern was his relationship with merchant bank and defense contractor the Carlyle Group, where Baker is senior counselor and an equity partner with an estimated $180 million stake.

Until now, there has been no concrete evidence that Baker's loyalties are split, or that his power as Special Presidential Envoy--an unpaid position--has been used to benefit any of his corporate clients or employers. But according to documents obtained by The Nation, that is precisely what has happened. Carlyle has sought to secure an extraordinary $1 billion investment from the Kuwaiti government, with Baker's influence as debt envoy being used as a crucial lever.

Well, we already knew he was working for the devil, so this isn't really that big a surprise. Is it?
12:48 BST

Stops on the Info-highway

The Poor Man answers the question that has baffled our leaders: What Happened To Bipartisanship In Government? Like they needed to ask.... (Oh, yeah, he's also seen Going Up River, and recommends you see it, even download your own copy. Make as many people see it as you can.)

National Security Scholars Become Shrill!

And speaking of shrill, let's not forget that WSJ reporter who gave the game away.

Thomas Jefferson shares Kerry's view.

Josh wonders, Is Bush Trying to Kill the Press Corps? And he also has a link to the spookiest movie on the web this week, comparing the George W. Bush of 10 years ago with the Bush of today.

The way the future was - really.
01:59 BST

What's in the dark

BBC2 is trailing a new series that starts next week. From Radio Times (16-22 October):

On the surface, Adam Curtis's meticulous series The Power of Nightmares is a three-part Everything You Always Wanted to Know about 9/11 but Were Afraid to Ask. On a deeper level, though, it's an investigation into the belief held by some security and terrorist experts that the existence of a supremely powerful international threat under Osama Bin Laden is more smokescreen than hard fact.
"I'm not saying there isn't a threat from fanatical people out there," Curtis says. "But the expert view is that the simplified image, of Bin Laden in a cave somewhere and tentacles of terrorist cells stretching out, is a myth. Wherever they look for the al-Qaeda network, it isn't there.
The show is set to air Wednesdays at 9:00.
00:07 BST

Tuesday, 12 October 2004

Things to read

Atrios has a pointer to a transcription at A Tiny Revolution of a recent speech by Seymour Hersh, and if you didn't click on it there, do it now. And if you're too young to remember Vietnam, well, prepare to have your heart broken. (And then read Thank God Our Leaders Are Completely Different From Osama Bin Laden.)

Timothy Noah at Slate explains Why Bush Opposes Dred Scott - "It's code for Roe v. Wade."

Julia at Sisyphus Shrugged has a little list of reasons to be worried about another mess on election day.

Ellen Goodman has some Questions for the 'Comforter in Chief'.
23:09 BST

Fixing the vote

I'm still kind of out of it, but you know where to go for the big news, right? Josh Marshall has a whole slew of items right now on how the Republicans are poised to queer the election. Will there be more phone-jamming, for example? And Josh has been following the story of the anti-Kerry special that Sinclair is planning to broadcast in major markets (whether their local affiliates want to play them or not). Keep reading upwards for more information on what's going on, and what you might do to combat it. Atrios is also on the Sinclair case, and has more links for you.
18:51 BST

Cheney, El Salvador, and dirty wars

One of the more astonishing things Cheney said during the VP debate was this:

Twenty years ago we had a similar situation in El Salvador. We had -- guerrilla insurgency controlled roughly a third of the country, 75,000 people dead, and we held free elections. I was there as an observer on behalf of the Congress.

The human drive for freedom, the determination of these people to vote, was unbelievable. And the terrorists would come in and shoot up polling places; as soon as they left, the voters would come back and get in line and would not be denied the right to vote.

And today El Salvador is a whale of a lot better because we held free elections.

The power of that concept is enormous. And it will apply in Afghanistan, and it will apply as well in Iraq.

El Salvador is actually a very dark passage in American foreign policy, and it's a bit of a shock to see Cheney speaking so glowingly of it. But, as Robert Parry reminds us in Iraq: Quicksand & Blood, the future policies of this administration had already been telegraphed earlier:
The temptation to recycle these counterinsurgency strategies from Central America to Iraq is explained by the number of Reagan-era officials now back in prominent roles in George W. Bush's administration.

They include Elliot Abrams, who served as assistant secretary of state for Latin America in the 1980s and is a National Security Council adviser to Bush on the Middle East; John Negroponte, U.S. ambassador to Honduras in the 1980s and now Bush's U.N. Ambassador; Paul Bremer a counter-terrorism specialist in the 1980s and Iraq's civilian administrator today; Bush's Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was the senior military adviser to Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger in the 1980s; and Vice President Dick Cheney, who was a Republican foreign-policy stalwart in Congress two decades ago.
The muted press coverage that the U.S. news media has given these atrocities as they have come to light over the years also showed the residual strength of the "perception management" employed by the Reagan administration. For instance, even when the atrocities of former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt are mentioned, as they were in the context of his defeat in Guatemala's Nov. 9 presidential elections, the history of Reagan's warm support for Rios Montt is rarely, if ever, noted by the U.S. press.

While the slaughter of the Mayans was underway in the 1980s, Reagan portrayed Gen. Rios Montt and the Guatemalan army as victims of disinformation spread by human rights groups and journalists. Reagan huffily discounted reports that Rios Montt's army was eradicating hundreds of Mayan villages.

On Dec. 4, 1982, after meeting with Rios Montt, Reagan hailed the general as "totally dedicated to democracy" and declared that Rios Montt's government had been "getting a bum rap." Reagan also reversed President Jimmy Carter's policy of embargoing military equipment to Guatemala over its human rights abuses. Carter's human rights embargoes represented one of the few times during the Cold War when Washington objected to the repression that pervaded Central American society.

This is the America that was on the side of the Death Squads - and on the side of Saddam Hussein. And that is the "America" that is in the White House now.
12:42 BST


Tristero (of Tristero) writes to point out that in my fevered state I made an error in an earlier post:

I love your blog but I must respectfully disagree with you about Bai's Times Magazine article being "nuanced." It was not. He simply misunderstood what Kerry said to him, probably deliberately, and handed the GOP the topic for their latest commercial.

Furthermore, it was an atrociously written piece, which badly imitated the New Yorker profile style. Before settling into anything substantive, Bai managed to write nearly 4000 words that said almost nothing notable, other than the fact Kerry tossed him out of their first interview and an analysis of Kerry's preference for mineral water. When we finally get a chance to hear Kerry speak for himself, he is clear and precise. Bai then ignored what Kerry said to him about using military force and Bai emphasized the law enforcement angle, something Kerry goes out of his way to place in the context of "ruthless" military action.

I don't know a thing about Bai other than this article. But it is clear that Kerry's instincts not to speak to him were spot on. He either can't comprehend a simple idea when it's explained clearly, or he's a GOP tool. Or both.

Tristero is correct. Unfortunately, in my present condition, the earlier part of the piece was a bit of a fog by the time I got to Kerry's actual statement.

The Sideshow regrets the error.
01:33 BST

Monday, 11 October 2004

Death of Superman

Picture from

Christopher Reeve was perfectly cast in the role, utterly believable as the Big Blue Boyscout, and I loved him for it.

I think we all knew that he would never walk again, let alone fly, but the end of his brave fight is nevertheless a sorrow and a disappointment.
18:08 BST

How rich is that?

Weirdly, the NYT has an article called Wealth of Others Helped to Shape Kerry's Life, about - yes - how rich John Kerry and his relatives are. Buried in the article, however, are more important little nuggets like this:

Mr. Kerry's friends and advisers say the patrician label is unfair. Unlike President Bush, he did not grow up rich, and his parents relied on relatives to pay for his education at private boarding school. In college, he worked for two summers loading trucks at a Massachusetts warehouse to earn pocket money. Even as a first-term senator, he was sometimes so short of cash that he slept on friends' couches during weekends in Boston. And before marrying Teresa Heinz in 1995, he told a close friend that her enormous wealth made him uncomfortable.
The Republicans want us to talk about how rich Kerry is, but we really need to counter that by pointing out that he knows what it's like not to be rich, that he's actually had to work at crummy jobs like loading trucks and selling encyclopedias to have spending money. George Bush has no idea what that's like.

There's a more nuanced (I had to use that word at least once, I guess) piece by Matt Bai on Kerry the Senator in the NYT called Kerry's Undeclared War that takes a long look at his real positions. Bai says Kerry seems suspicious of him as a reporter, but he nevertheless gets down to the meat of the matter: That we need to go back to treating terrorism as something to watch out for rather than letting it terrorize us. This, you may remember, has been my position all along. I think Clinton did this right, and Bush has been very, very wrong to depart from that.

But, of course, the Bushistas want to stomp all over that position, and CNN reports that their new campaign ad will exploit that statement:

President Bush's campaign announced Sunday its plans to use as the basis of a new commercial a quote from an 8,000-word New York Times Magazine article about Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.

The parsing prompted the Kerry camp to retort that the soon-to-be-released Bush ad was another example of the president's campaign taking words out of context to create a misleading impression.

In the magazine article, a largely analytical cover story by Matt Bai, Kerry is asked "what it would take for Americans to feel safe again."

"We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance," the article states as the Massachusetts senator's reply.

Well, you know where the Republicans are going with this:
Bush campaign Chairman Marc Racicot, in an appearance on CNN's "Late Edition," interpreted Kerry's remarks as saying "that the war on terrorism is like a nuisance. He equated it to prostitution and gambling, a nuisance activity. You know, quite frankly, I just don't think he has the right view of the world. It's a pre-9/11 view of the world."
Yes, but whose pre-9/11 view of the world? Not that of George Bush, who thought he didn't even have to pay attention to terror warnings at all. And from all reports, Bush still doesn't seem to think we have to take the real police work of preventing terrorism seriously. Just how dim do you have to be to think that fighting a foreign war is the way to protect us from major criminal attacks at home? Well, this dim:
Party Chairman Ed Gillespie, on CBS' "Face the Nation," used similar language.

"Terrorism is not a law enforcement matter, as John Kerry repeatedly says. Terrorist activities are not like gambling. Terrorist activities are not like prostitution. And this demonstrates a disconcerting pre-September 11 mindset that will not make our country safer. And that is what we see relative to winning the war on terror and relative to Iraq."

If someone is inside the United States planning terrorist activity, you damn sure better be doing the standard detective work that's necessary to prevent that plan from coming to fruition. That's the only way to do it, and there is not a single thing you can do in Iraq that will take care of that job.

So it's what's inside Gillespie's head, rather than what Kerry said, that makes up the ad.

Update: Correction
15:18 BST

In my fever dreams

I had a pretty rough night, but at least the dreams were cool and psychedelic. I'm not in much condition for writing. Here's some stuff I found, though.

In Rolling Stone, Voices for Change - performers on why they want Bush out.

At Orcinus, David Neiwert on why we should worry when Bush says he wants "strict constructionist" judges, because they don't believe in privacy.

Cults 101 - This is the only explanation I can find for why people still support Bush despite all the evidence that he is the worst president ever, not to mention illegal, unconstitutional, mendacious, and a total rip-off. It's a cult.

Jonathan Turley: Polygamy laws expose our own hypocrisy. Legal marriage is principally a legal economic contract. Polygamy is one of the scare words in the gay marriage argument, but does it make any sense? (I marked this article down for poor English usage.)

Oliver Willis says The New Talking Points Are In! And you'll never guess what the GOPers are comparing with Kristallnacht.

Bush Administration Plans to Delay Major Assaults in Iraq - until after the elections, of course. Does anyone still doubt that Bush is playing politics with national security and the war? They do? How? Jerks.

I thought the story about Bush being wired was just a bit of fooling around until Bush's tailor fell on his sword and claimed it was just "a pucker". That'd have to be a pretty lousy tailor, and I don't buy it.

Moon Lightning
14:01 BST

Sunday, 10 October 2004

The great cheerleader

One of the more curious quotes of the campaign season goes like this:

President Bush on Thursday shrugged off polls that suggest most Iraqis see Americans as occupiers not liberators. "I saw a poll that said the 'right track-wrong track' in Iraq was better than here in America," he told reporters.

"It was pretty darn strong," Bush told a Rose Garden news conference with interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. "I mean, the people see a better future."

As Bill Maher put it, "Boy, there's a campaign slogan for you - 'America: More fucked up than Fallujah!'"

Did Bush even hear himself saying Americans aren't seeing a better future, and that our optimism compares unfavorably with a war-torn country where they can't even get the electricity going?

The other day I heard that what no one wants to talk about is the fact that if Iraq were really having a free and fair election, they'd probably put Saddam back in office. I bet Bush wishes he had his re-elect numbers.
12:29 BST

Saturday, 09 October 2004

Liberal media

Drudge got hold of a badly-worded memo from Mark Halpern telling the news staff at ABC not to pretend Bush's entire campaign of lies is "balanced" by a few minor misstatements on Kerry's part. Drudge makes it sound like what he's really saying is that news staff should slant the news for Kerry. Jesse Taylor gets it, though:

Yes, Bush lies a lot more than Kerry. Yes, Bush's lies are far more central to his campaign. Yes, therefore, Bush's lies should be covered outsize to any lie or distortion Kerry generally makes, unless Kerry starts doing what Bush does.

This, of course, is the heart of the liberal bias argument. If a conservative does something worse than a liberal, the liberal's sins must be brought up in conjunction with the conservative's, even if it's a manufactured story. It's not news, it's pandering...but it's what they want.

Of course. An accurate assessment of Bush would make their boy sound like, well, a lying jackass.
20:24 BST

Points of interest

Digby looks at America's Ex-husband.

Charles Kuffner has another round-up of recent developments for the unprintable Tom DeLay, and at The Stakeholder, Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer say DeLay is unfit and we need to do some housecleanin'.

Just My 2 takes a trip down memory lane and realizes It's OK If You Are A Republican.

At Opinions You Should Have, Kerry Tends To Speak "As Though He's Running For Office Or Something," Poll Finds.

RDF at Corrente wonders what will the Bushites do if a Kerry victory seems inevitable?

Even the knitting blog The Infinite Stitch has become shrill.

League of Pissed Off Voters

Name the October Surprise.
19:20 BST

Debate 2.2

The Washington Post "Referee" is active now on their debate page - let's see how they did.

KERRY: No Child Left Behind Act, I voted for it. I support it. I support the goals.

So I complain about that. I've argued that we should fully funded it. The president says I've changed my mind. I haven't changed my mind: I'm going to fully fund it.

This is true, although I wish no one had supported this atrocious bill. As a liberal, I consider No Child's Behind Left a terrible bill, designed to destroy public education rather than to enhance it. Fully funding it doesn't necessarily make it better. But that's not the referee's complaint:
Federal education funding has risen 58 percent under President Bush, from about $40 billion to about $66 billion. However, the Bush administration has not requested as much money for No Child Left Behind as the original 2002 bill authorized.
But that doesn't actually tell you whether Kerry is correct about how much it has been underfunded. That much of an increase in funding might have been useful if NCLB had never been passed, but it has, and it's ultimately a pretty expensive bill - any underfunding at all is still going to damage education, even if it weren't a terrible bill.
KERRY: Now, the president has presided over an economy where we've lost 1.6 million jobs. The first president in 72 years to lose jobs.
The Post says:
Kerry misspoke when he said "the president has presided over an economy where we've lost 1.6 million jobs." The net number of private sector jobs lost during the last four years is 1.6 million, but when government employment is included the net job loss is about 821,000.
I'm not checking the figures right now, but I think this is probably true. However, this underlines a few points Kerry should be making:

  • What Kerry should be emphasizing is that these are significant private sector losses and that most job gains have been from increasing the size and cost of government.
  • Any job loss is significant, because the US must add jobs in order to keep even, never mind "grow the economy".

Of course, we already know that the new jobs that have been added during this same period are not the same kinds of jobs we are losing. What we need is for someone to give us the figures for losses of jobs that have good salaries and benefits, compared with what has replaced them. As we lose good jobs, the bad jobs also get worse - an overall loss to society and the economy as a whole.

BUSH: He said he thought Saddam Hussein was a grave threat, and now he said it was a mistake to remove Saddam Hussein from power.
The referee says:
Kerry has never said it was a mistake to remove Saddam Hussein from power, as Bush asserted.

This attack is derived from a Kerry statement in a speech at New York University last month that "the satisfaction that we take in [Hussein's] downfall does not hide this fact: We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure."

Kerry prefaced that statement, however, by saying that although Hussein was "a brutal dictator who deserved his own special place in hell," that by itself was not a reason to go to war.

Well, yeah, but in some respects I'm almost willing to give that point to Bush, because the chaos in Iraq is itself worse for many Iraqis and for US security than Saddam's dictatorship was. Kerry did say that Saddam was a threat, but that was when the administration was misleading everyone into thinking they had some magic secret intelligence showing that Iraq had a whole bunch of WMD (and a willingness to use them) that, in fact, they did not have. While it's nice to think that removing a dictator is a great humanitarian act, it only counts if you replace it with something that is devoid of killing and torture. This administration not only made no attempt to secure Iraq properly, but has made things worse for them and worse for us. The real problem with Bush's formulation is that it takes for granted that the removal of Saddam somehow by definition makes things better, no matter how much death and torture and chaos is left in his place. Right now, that simply isn't true.
KERRY: General Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, told him he was going to need several hundred thousand. And guess what? They retired General Shinseki for telling him that.
The referee says Kerry was "technically incorrect", though right on how Shinseki was undercut by an early announcement of his replacement, but I think Josh Marshall should be taken very seriously about this:
I've already said that I believe President Bush gave the Democrats a big opening by telling the final questioner, in so many words, that he doesn't think he's made any mistakes. But there was another part of this answer that is equally revealing. And it came in an aside, which is often a vehicle of spontaneous or unintentional honesty.

In the course of his answer President Bush said: "Now, you asked what mistakes. I made some mistakes in appointing people, but I'm not going to name them. I don't want to hurt their feelings on national TV."

I don't think anybody familiar with this president or this White House can have much doubt about the people he was talking about there.

Paul O'Neill seems almost certain to have been one of the people, probably the person, the president had in mind. Quite likely Richard Clarke, perhaps John DiIulio, and others in the same category. The president prizes loyalty over all else. And the folks who've gotten canned are in almost every case folks who've raised concerns about the president's mistakes before he made them or before their consequences became fully evident.

Though the president didn't appoint Eric Shinseki as Army Chief of Staff, his accelerated retirement for questioning whether the president was putting enough troops on the ground in Iraq is the telling sign for how the Bush White House works.

In the president's world, accountability and punishment aren't for the folks who make the mistakes. They're for the people who recognize the mistakes or, God forbid, admit them. And when the president had a chance to come up with any mistakes he might have made in four years as president the one that instinctively popped into his mind were the times he'd appointed folks who turned out to be from the second category, rather than the first.

This is all of a piece. In the Bush world you never admit mistakes. The only mistakes the president can think of are the times he appointed people who do admitted mistakes --- who put reality above loyalty to the president.

(Orcinus has more on this. Josh's overall evaluation of the debate is here.)
BUSH: I remember sitting in the White House looking at those generals, saying, "Do you have what you need in this war? Do you have what it takes?"
The referee points out that while Tommy Franks said yes, Shinseki said no.

Overall, there were about four times as many calls against Bush for "misstatements" than there were against Kerry, which is about right - Kerry didn't screw up anywhere near as many facts. I'm still not feeling too well so I'm not going over the transcript to catch the ones that the Post missed, but I will say I was unhappy to hear, again, more reinforcement from Kerry for the idea that we need "tort reform" that left it in the Republican's (misleading) terms.

Oliver Willis has a short clip of Bush blowing up, for those who want the short version. Generally, Bush had nothin' but accusations, largely repetition of what we've seen so far. Kerry definitely comes off as more well-balanced, more dignified, more in command - of both himself and the facts - and more presidential. But people who've been willing to throw their lot in with Bush so far are unlikely to be interested in seeing those things. Many Bush-supporters in the blogosphere seem to think Bush won handily, but there are others who don't. Kos has a nice round-up of people who thought Bush looked awfully angry. Jeff Cooper notes that Keith Olbermann updated his score-keeping twice, at one point narrowing Kerry's lead only to change it again after getting a fact-check on Bush. Electablog says the media lost the debate, and the questions from ordinary citizens were better than those that have come from the pros. And Atrios points out that Bush even got Dred Scott wrong.
15:50 BST

It's obvious

I was hearing Tim Ryan's speech on the House floor yesterday on the radio and couldn't find a link to it, but while I was looking for debate coverage found Kos has a link to MyDD's QuickTime version. Ryan's site has a MediaPlayer version, now, but it has some skips in it. I had a little trouble finding a transcript but someone supplied a transcription for the comments to MyDD's post on the same subject, from the MP version, which I've amended from the superior QuickTime video:

Following is the transcript of the Ryan video:

RYAN: I thank the gentlemen. I rise in opposition of this bill. But I would like to clarify something. We're not trying to scare kids. This president's foreign policy is what's scaring the kids of this country. And if people have said today, "Why are people believing this, why are people believing this big Internet hoax?" - well, it's the same people that told us Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11. Same people that told us Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Same people that told us we were gonna be able to use the oil for reconstruction money. Same people that told us that we'd be greeted as liberators, not occupiers. Same people, same president, that told us the Taliban is gone. Same president that told us that Poland is our ally two days before they pull out. Same president that tells us Iraq is going just great.

Same president that tells us the economy is going just great. Same people that told us the tax cut was gonna create millions of jobs. Same people that told us that the Medicare program only costs $400 billion, when it really cost $540 billion.

So please forgive us for not believing what you're saying. Please forgive the students of this country for not believing what you're saying. Not one thing, not one thing about this war that has been told to the American people, or that has been told to these college students, has been true. Not one thing. Bremer says we need more troops. The Pentagon says we need more troops. And this president can't get 'em from the international community. There's only one option left. Let's be honest with the American people. I yield back the balance of my time.

That's for those of you who absolutely refuse to click the video links (and I know you're out there), but, really, it's worth watching the delivery.

And, of course, Ryan is right. We really don't have the resources to continue this war under current policies, and we certainly can't believe the assurances of the Bush administration that there will be no draft, because they've already proven that we can't believe their assurances on anything. It's certainly obvious why they don't want anyone talking about the draft before the election, but we already know how much faith we can place in their pre-election promises.

Even a Kerry landslide won't really answer the question of where the troops are going to come from. It may be that the euphoria of such a win will encourage the international community to re-enter the discussion of helping us dig our way out of the hole Bush has dug us into, but it may also be that Bush has burned too many of our bridges behind us. And then what?
14:02 BST

Quick debate reaction

Bush shouted through the whole debate and mostly sounded like he was pleading, to me. He also said a lot of things that were not true. The Washington Post has the transcript up but hasn't added the fact-check yet.

Real-time blogging:
Kit Seelye:

9:03 p.m.
Did Kerry just swipe Bush's back to see if there was a transmitter?
I was listening rather than watching, so it looks like I missed something.
9:34 p.m. Bush overrides Charlie Gibson to express outrage at Kerry. Bush is forceful tonight, much less hesitant than in the first debate and does not seem to be just filling out his time. He's feisty. Kerry seems wordy.
But this is how Paul Begala saw it:
Charlie Gibson tried to ask Bush a follow-up question, but Bush jumped him, almost yelling. He went right up to the edge of losing it. People do not like it when politicians hammer nice, pleasant moderators like Charlie Gibson.
Seelye clearly liked Bush better than Begala did, but that's no surprise. I think she cut Bush too much slack on most questions, but Begala cut Kerry too much slack on the abortion question. (Keith Olbermann didn't think he did too well on that one, either.)

Via Atrios, on small business taxes and George Bush's $84 from a timber company.

The online polls so far show Kerry the winner by miles, but I haven't seen the "real" quickpolls yet and I'm not feeling well enough to stay up and see what they say. See ya when I've had some sleep.
04:55 BST

Friday, 08 October 2004

Stuff from the NYT

Paul Bremer tries to dig himself out. This is almost a joke - he seems to be trying to say that none of it makes the administraiton look bad, but it sure looks bad to me.

Working for a Pittance by Bob Herbert: Coming next week are the results of a new study that shows - here at home - how tough a time American families are having in their never-ending struggle to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. The White House, as deep in denial about the economy as it is about Iraq, insists that things are fine - despite the embarrassing fact that President Bush is on track to become the first president since Herbert Hoover to preside over a net loss of jobs during his four years in office.

Ignorance Isn't Strength by Paul Krugman: The point is that in the real world, as opposed to the political world, ignorance isn't strength. A leader who has the political power to pretend that he's infallible, and uses that power to avoid ever admitting mistakes, eventually makes mistakes so large that they can't be covered up. And that's what's happening to Mr. Bush.

Why Did James Baker Turn Bush Into Nixon? It was Mr. Baker's job to negotiate the 32-page debate agreement with Vernon Jordan, representing the Kerry camp, and by all accounts, the Bush campaign got almost everything it wanted. Yet as we now know, every Bush stipulation backfired, from the identically sized podiums that made the 5-foot-11 president look as if he needed a booster stool, to the flashing "Time's up!" lights that emphasized Mr. Kerry's uncharacteristic brevity and Mr. Bush's need to run out the clock by repeating stock phrases ad infinitum and ad absurdum. (And: But the liberal blog Daily Kos had the big picture right: on Sept. 30, "months of meticulous image manipulation" by the Bush-Cheney forces went "down the toilet in 90 minutes.") (Here's some steamed Rice to go with that.)
23:54 BST

In the blogosphere

From I can't wait to vote some thoughts on reading Richard Clarke's Against All Enemies: One would have thought that it was equally obvious after September 11 that high on the priority list would have been improving U.S. relations with the Islamic world, in order to dry up support for the deviant variant of Islam that is al Qaeda. ... Far from addressing the popular appeal of the enemy that attacked us, Bush handed that enemy precisely what it wanted and needed, proof that America was at war with Islam, that we were the new Crusaders come to occupy Muslim land.

An interview with Christopher Hitchens: To many of Christopher Hitchens' old friends, he died on September 11th 2001. Tariq Ali considered himself a comrade of Christopher Hitchens for over thirty years. Now he speaks about him with bewilderment. "On 11th September 2001, a small group of terrorists crashed the planes they had hijacked into the Twin Towers of New York. Among the casualties, although unreported that week, was a middle-aged Nation columnist called Christopher Hitchens. He was never seen again," Ali writes. "The vile replica currently on offer is a double."

Christians for Kerry on the Shabby Morals of the Religious Right.

Like I said, shut up and get the job done.

Bush's issues, and the Bush campaign theme.
22:32 BST

Company of Cowards

TBogg discusses some hilarious paranoia on the right. For example, he provides this quote:

There is a climate of fear. Again and again, Corner readers say they've been scared off of posting bumper stickers by visions of having their cars keyed or their windows smashed. A typical comment: "Putting a Bush-Cheney sticker on my car would be like adding a bulls-eye that says, 'Please vandalize my truck.'" A reader from Arlington, Va., who lives just a few blocks from national Bush-Cheney headquarters, says he was not afraid to use bumper stickers in 1996 or 2000, but wouldn't do so this year. Bush lawn signs are feared, not only as an invitation to vandalism, but because they might permanently alienate neighbors.
I love that. Not one single incident of anyone actually doing something to them - just the fear that someone might. Boy, these Republicans are a lotta wimps, aren't they?
18:17 BST

The funhouse

David Neiwert is up to Part 3 of his current series, The Rise of Pseudo Fascism:

Its whole purpose being the acquisition of raw power through any means necessary, the discrete "conservative movement" and its dealings can at times be extremely disorienting. The proliferation of Newspeak as a political propaganda strategy by the American right, in particular, has created a milieu in which up is down, wrong is right and ignorance is strength.

At times, is seems as if factuality has no real basis. Truth has no objective value; it is instead a mutable thing, readily manipulated through repetition of propaganda talking points.

Think back, if you will, to the 2000 election fiasco in Florida, resulting in the abominable Bush v. Gore ruling (whose continuing significance was recently limned in detail by Jeffrey Rosen of the New Republic). Al Gore, you may remember, chose -- instead of calling for an extralegal statewide manual recount, which would have been the fairest solution -- to follow Florida state law to the letter and filed for recounts in only a handful of given counties.

This led, of course, to Republicans claiming that Gore tried to "steal" the election by "cherry-picking" enough votes in a handful of counties. It's a popular meme that maintains a steady life on the right today.

But if Gore had chosen the other course -- calling for a statewide manual recount in all counties -- Republicans would have just as certainly attacked him for failing to follow the letter of Florida law.

The truth -- that Gore had legitimate reasons for following either course -- had no chance in this case. What mattered was that regardless of his choices, Republicans were prepared to accuse him of trying to "steal" the election.

Then, of course, they proceeded to march forth and steal the election themselves.

Today we have a milieu in which this administration's manifest incompetence is hailed as moral clarity; in which the torture of prisoners at American hands is dismissed as a fraternity prank; in which the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II is defended as a necessary step (that may need to be repeated); in which a policy to further denude America's forests is called the Healthy Forests Initiative, and the evisceration of the nation's public education system is named No Child Left Behind. We're relentlessly sold an image of Bush himself as strong and resolute, and yet when he appears for a national debate on TV, what we see instead is a "peevish and bored" caricature of a leader, a man more likely to remind us the feckless pointy-haired boss we all once had than an actual president.

At times it seems, when dealing with the modern conservative movement, as if we've entered a gigantic and remorseless mirror funhouse. Or more to the point, a dark and labyrinthine cavern, twisting in an endless maze, whose architecture we can only vaguely discern through upheld torches.

(Note: Al Gore did try to call for a state-wide recount, but he had no legal means to do so, and without the agreement of the Bush team, I don't see how it could have been done. The law allowed him only to ask for recounts in counties where there were known problems, and that's what he did.)

There's a telling quote in this piece from Benito Mussolini: "The democrats of Il Mondo want to know our program? It is to break the bones of the democrats of Il Mondo." That sounds...remarkably like the apparent program of modern-day American "conservatives". (And I was impressed by David's close analysis of Cheney's famous remark to Leahy on the Senate floor.)
15:41 BST

It's funny what you don't remember

Marc Moran was just babbling about Richard Belzer and said something I didn't know about him, so I checked his bio page (which didn't have what I was looking for) and noticed this:

Appeared on the 25 March 1978 episode of "Saturday Night Live" (1975) with Christopher Lee as the host and musical guest, Meatloaf.
Well, gosh, that was one of my two all-time favorite episodes of SNL, and I didn't remember Belzer being on it at all. (I also didn't know he was related to Henry Winkler, but now that they mention it....)
11:27 BST

How do you tell?

An editorial in The Los Angeles Times asks, Is He a Dope?

Although neither group likes to say so, some Americans who support President Bush and many who don't support him have concluded over four years that he may not be very bright. This suspicion was not allayed by Bush's answers in the first presidential debate a week ago.

Even Bush's most engaged critics shy away from publicly challenging his intelligence for many reasons, most of them good. To raise the issue seems snooty and elitist. This is an image no American wants because seeming snooty is even worse than seeming stupid. Just ask Bush's opponent, Sen. John Kerry. Furthermore, the concept of brainpower or IQ as a single, measurable trait is generally, though not universally, rejected by scientists. And the obsession with IQ has been responsible for all sorts of political mischief.
Actually, we would not frame the question as one of abstract brainpower, a dubious concept. You don't go through America's top schools, serve as governor of a major state and occupy the presidency with even mixed results if you're not reasonably smart, no matter how thoroughly your way is eased by others.

The issue might better be described as one of mental laziness.

Does this man think through his beliefs before they harden into unwavering principles? Is he open to countervailing evidence? Does he test his beliefs against new evidence and outside argument? Does his understanding of a subject go any deeper than the minimum amount needed for public display? Is he intellectually curious? Does he try to reconcile his beliefs on one subject with his beliefs on another?

It's bad if a president is incapable of the abstract thought necessary for these mental exercises. If he is capable and isn't even trying, that's worse. It becomes a question of character. When a president sends thousands of young Americans to kill and die halfway around the world, thinking about it as hard and as honestly as possible is the least he can do.

But presidentin' is hard, and for the man of no character, "as hard and as honestly as possible" ain't much.

George Lakoff looks at a different issue - he's not saying Bush is dumb, but he is saying that his Iraq offensive was a Betrayal of Trust.

For those who for some reason still can't make up their minds, have a look at George W. Bush's resumé.
10:28 BST

Moral compass

Says The Rittenhouse Review,

As Atrios has observed, today is "Catholics Hate Kerry" day in the media, the most egregious example of which comes from the New York Times: "Kerry and Religion: Pressure Builds for Public Discussions" by Jodi Wilgoren and Bill Keller, a highly flawed piece, by the way, that quickly was eviscerated by Media Matters for America which noted that Wilgoren and Keller have, shall we say, severe limitations in their ability to interpret polling data.
We've looked at figures for Catholics before, and there's no evidence that they are especially hostile to Kerry. So the new figures don't have much impact in these quarters.

But I wouldn't mind seeing the Kerry campaign make the point that, yes, these are moral issues we're talking about, and the Bush team has the immoral position on every one of them. It is immoral to invade countries for no good reason - and then further impoverish their people by appropriating their resources and taking away their jobs. It's immoral to actively try to deprive people of their right to vote. It's immoral to promote policies that make it more difficult for women to prevent unwanted pregnancies and simultaneously harder to raise any resulting children. It's immoral to force working people to carry the economic burden of these wasteful excursions just so rich people can get a free ride. It's immoral to allow corporations to poison our air and water. It's immoral to foster hatred between peoples with divisive policies and speeches. And this, and this, and this, and this.

Add your own to the list.
01:58 BST

Thursday, 07 October 2004

Information dump

Have a look at the WSJ Battleground map based on the new Zogby poll, it'll make you feel better. Bush still has Missouri (by 2.2%), Tennessee (by less than a point), and West Virginia (by 6.1%), but Kerry currently has the rest, although in some cases (Arkansas, Florida, Nevada, Ohio) the margin is only a point or less, and Wisconsin (2.2%) is well within the margin of error. But the best part of it is that only in one of these states (WVA) gives Bush above 50%, while Kerry is above the line in nine of them. (Jam Today is testing a formula to detect how "safe" Bush's chances are in any state. If it's right, the Little Prince is in trouble.)

The Washington Post has Josh White on one aspect of how badly vets are being treated. And despite the rising number of wounded returning: At the same time, President Bush's budget for 2005 calls for cutting the Department of Veterans Affairs staff that handles benefits claims, and some veterans report long waits for benefits and confusing claims decisions.

About that tort reform thing, DED Space reports some facts: But the Biloxi Sun Herald could find no data to support claims that doctors were leaving Mississippi to practice their love elsewhere. [...] And now we have some new information: A survey of 2001 case filings in Mississippi show that businesses there were 5.8 times more likely than individuals to file lawsuits. [...] And finally, in Cook County in 2002, insurance companies filed 35 times more lawsuits than individuals, and in 2003, those companies asked to be exempted from a court reform bill that would have restricted filings.

Rather than fact-check the performance of the candidates or critique their appearance in the first presidential debate, Impudence Mismatch went right to the meat and looked at The National Security Gap and boiled it right down to a few briefly stated points. Nicely done.

Atrios has a link up to George Soros' blog, where Soros has posted about the FactCheck circus. However, the direct link doesn't appear to work, and I had to go to the front page and then click on "Blog".
23:11 BST

Some things

(I think I've caught something, 'cause I'm not feeling all that well. So I hope I manage to spell some of the words right and type some coherent sentences.)

I like some frivolity as much as the next person, but Bob Somerby is right about this. Brokaw had two bloggers on the post-debate show, and one was Glenn Reynolds, and the other was - who? Atrios? Kos? Jeralyn? Anyone who has ever shown any sign of taking the politics seriously, let alone the issues? Oh, no - it was Ana Marie Cox, aka Wonkette:

CRAMER (9/30/04): Are we back with Ana now? Will [Kerry] be able to get it across? COX: You know, I only heard a little bit of Glenn's response. It sounded like it was really smart. And I was going to talk about drinking games. So I'm not sure if-but I think it's relevant. I think that one of the things I noticed today is there are about twenty different drinking games going around the Internet about tonight's debates. And to me, what that says is that even, like, college students have really internalized already all of the talking-points that both John Kerry and George Bush have. And it's almost like the debate itself is incidental. I mean, John Kerry will probably do what he's going to do. But it just seems like unless someone, like, is able to, like, break the rules of the debate and actually confront the other person, we're just going to get two side-by-side speeches. Of course, John Kerry's going to do fine. Of course W's going to do fine. The AP's already literally written their story on tonight's debate.
She's an amusing political gossip columnist, but, sorry, I don't consider her one of the better bloggers - she's just a bit of fun on the side. I don't want to be catty about her, but I really do take it seriously that no one serious was chosen to fill that seat for the non-rightwing part of the blogosphere.

In other news, Kos recalls Joe Conason's 2000 article, Conservative whitewash, about Cheney's real record as it contrasts with his public image, and says: That's why Cheney's talk of "freedom" is so hollow. In one of the premier human rights battles of our time, Cheney was firmly on the side of the racist Apartheid regime in South Africa.

And in other other news: Lesbian activist murdered in Sierra Leone The founder and leader of the Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association (SLLAGA), Fannyann Eddy, 30, was repeatedly raped, stabbed and had her neck broken. Her murder took place on the night of 28/29 September. Assailants broke into the SLLAGA office in Freetown, while she was working alone late at night. She is survived by a 9 year old son.
19:23 BST

They can only win with lies

Dick Morris has some DEBATE TIPS FOR THE CHIEF, and since he's offering advice to a Republican, he's probably telling the truth. Yes, he's right that Bush can do better by polishing up his lies and distortions, but every one Morris offers can be countered with fact. For example:

When Kerry says that homeland security is inadequate and that only 5 percent of the shipping containers are inspected or points out that thousands of pages of wire intercepts have not been translated . . .

. . . Bush should say: "It is very easy to pick on one aspect of our security approach and say it is flawed. But remember one basic fact: If I told you on Sept, 12, 2001 that there would be no further attacks on U.S. soil for the next three years, you'd have thought I was out of my mind. But there have been no attacks. If we're inspecting 5 percent of containers, it's the right 5 percent. Judge us on our record: We have kept America safe."

There's no evidence for that. After the 1993 attack on the World Trade Towers early in Clinton's first term, there were no further attacks on the US "homeland" for the entirety of his tenure - at least not by Islamic terrorists. (The real threat to Americans at home has always been the activities of the far-right, where most terrorism in America originates.) We know of at least one more attack that was planned for the US, but the Clinton administration were on the job and prevented it.

However, Bush did not heed the warning of the first attempt on the WTC and the planned Millennium attacks, which is why the next attack on the World Trade Center succeeded on his watch. We have no evidence as yet of a further attack plan in effect in the US since 9/11, and that may be the only reason we haven't been attacked - but we do know that Bush did not prevent the next attack on us after the failed Millennium attack.

Additionally, we know that worldwide terrorism has increased dramatically since Bush invaded Iraq. He's made a mess of things. Meanwhile, harassing little old ladies at airports does nothing to protect America, nor does violating the rights of protestors, investigating peaceniks, or arresting pot-smoking cancer patients. Kerry is right.

When Kerry says we shouldn't have attacked Saddam because he wasn't involved in the 9/11 conspiracy . . .

. . . Bush's answer ought to be: "Japan attacked us at Pearl Harbor. Hitler had nothing to do with it. But FDR realized we needed to fight all fascism, not just the fascist regime that attacked us. Yes, Hitler made it easy on FDR by declaring war on us. But if he hadn't, does anyone doubt that Roosevelt would have gone to war with Germany anyway?"

Hitler had also declared war on us and was fighting alongside of Japan - remember when "axis" actually meant something? Saddam wasn't fighting with us, and he didn't have the means to do so. We were attacked by religious extremists; say what you will about Saddam, but he wasn't one of them and didn't even get along with them.
When Kerry calls the war in Iraq a mistake and a diversion from the War on Terror . . .

. . . Bush should hit him between the eyes: "Al Qeada operatives are congregating in Iraq.

Who let them in? Who refused to act against Al Qaeda operatives who were chumming around with our pals in the north? Oh, yeah, that was Bush.
And when Kerry accuses Bush of neglecting our allies . . .

. . . The president must set the record straight: "We have the single most important ally in the fight against terror: Pakistan is helping us hunt down terrorists who have escaped from Afghanistan.

You mean the ones who have skittered back to the madrasses in Peshawar?

Morris also wants Bush to harp on the $87bn again, but the retort to that is easy: Why did Bush threaten to veto the bill to appropriate that money, and why has it still not been spent to do the job it was intended for?

And by the way, Mr. Commander in Thief, why did you say there was such a rush to invade Iraq?
16:23 BST

Fannish stuff

Ted White, Terry Carr, and Lee Hoffman at Suncon in Miami, 1977

Pete Weston has a new page up of addenda to the book, including a lot of photos, and some corrections.
12:51 BST

Things I saw

Jezebel reports to The General on the hard work the Republicans are doing to fix the election, like the mysteriously misaligned absentee ballot from Michigan.

Atrios has an action alert to get DeLay investigated by an outside counsel.

Vilasrao at Blogcritics says that, "Fuel just keeps being added to this fire" - that fire being the mounting evidence that the Bush administration totally screwed it up on Iraq.

Dave Trowbridge considers Charitable Inconsistency as a prescription for making moral choices.

Kevin Hayden wonders if Cheney broke the law on 9/11. (Well, why should that day have been any different?) Also, freep this poll.

Josh Marshall hits Cheney on how he lied when he said, "I have not suggested there's a connection between Iraq and 9/11." Josh also finds the truth about Cheney's reference to Edwards' hometown newspaper.

Business school professors become shrill!

The Donkey has an excellent photo from the VP debate. Speaking of which, Cheney claimed to preside over the Senate "most Tuesdays", but check out who has really been doing that job for the last four years.
04:01 BST

Wednesday, 06 October 2004

Political round-up

Dave O'Brien writes to correct me:

In fact, it looks like the webmaster of a previously dubious domain-squatting operation just decided to redirect this domain to George Soros' domain to make a personal point.

The website registration information still points to the domain-squatter's site more than one day after the debate.

So it looks like the reports are wrong. Oh, dear.

FactCheck has posted their response to the VP debate. Of course, they disagree with Cheney on the very thing he was citing them for. (I still wish Edwards had picked a better example of how the Bush administration has been screwing the troops - there are a lot of far more serious things they really are doing.)

Bush tells you how he felt about the debate: America saw two very different visions of our country, and two different hairdos. (Laughter.) I didn't pick my Vice President for his hairdo. I picked him for his judgment, his experience -- (applause.) A great Vice President. I'm proud to be running with him. (Applause.) (Yes, that "applause" stuff really is up there on the site.) ArchPundit noticed that Bush explained his plan for Iraq in this speech. Steve Soto says Bush "continues to lose his grip." (I'm with you, Chris!) (via)

Eric Boehlert wonders, "So what debate was the crew at MSNBC watching Tuesday night?" Chris Matthews seemed to be alone among the talk hosts in thinking Cheney was the hands-down winner.

The Mahablog reports that even Don Imus wasn't impressed with Cheney's performance; he said, "Dick Cheney spent 90 minutes lying."

Liberal Oasis says Edwards By A Nose.

Will Durst explains something.

Florida Electronic Ballot (via)
23:48 BST

Fact-check fact-check

The Washington Post has added it's debate referee material to the debate transcripts, now, and once again they were a bit too "balanced" at the expense of fairness. Once again, they insisted on pretending that there was no reason to complete the operation at Tora Bora when it was widely believed (and, for the most part, still is) that Osama bin Laden was holed-up there. When both Kerry and Edwards talk about walking away from bin Laden at Tora Bora, they reflect what we understood at the time. The Post may hesitate to say that bin Laden was definitely there, but the evidence said he probably was and there's no excuse for dropping the follow-through and leaving it to the hired help.

The Post is also unwilling to accept that the Bush administration has worked on a number of fronts to reduce pay and benefits to our troops and veterans. What was wrong with Senator Edwards' statement on the subject was not that it was misleading, but that it was an understatement of the damage this administration has done to our troops. (I think both Edwards and Kerry should have spent more time in the debates pounding the issue of how the troops were sent into war without body-armor and are still not properly supplied. You got your $87 billion dollars, so why haven't you spent it on doing the job? Might also ask why some of it ended up not in Iraq but in Florida, harassing protesters.)

The Post did not call Cheney on his deliberate confusion of Iraqi deaths with coalition deaths. Iraq is not part of "the coalition", it's the country we invaded. (And, of course, no one shows less concern for Iraqi deaths than this administration - they don't even bother to count them.)

Curiously, the referee makes a call on the Senator's statement about Cheney's corrupt Halliburton ties even though nothing in their fact-check contradicts what Edwards said. And here's something very odd from their fact-check:

Edwards also misleadingly charged that the Bush administration is "for outsourcing of jobs." The Bush-Cheney ticket has not advocated sending jobs overseas, though administration officials have talked about how outsourcing can be good for the U.S. economy, a position many private economists echo.
The administration hasn't said, "We're for out-sourcing jobs to foreign countries," they've just pursued a number of policies, especially with regard to taxes, that make it easier for companies to do it and, indeed, reward them for doing so. It's hardly a criticism of Edwards that they have failed to be honest about the effects of their policies - effects they clearly have no objection to.

The Post seems unaware of how well billionaires do off of the various tax breaks they get. As George Bush himself has noted, they find the loopholes and avoid paying much of what they owe. Edwards is probably accurate when he suggests that the super-rich pay less than our soldiers do.

Even so, it's fairly clear if you read the fact-check carefully that Cheney lied more overtly and if you took out the lies you didn't have much left.

Now, what was Cheney trying to do when he said:

CHENEY: Well, the reason they keep mentioning Halliburton is because they're trying to throw up a smokescreen. They know the charges are false.

They know that if you go, for example, to [sic], an independent Web site sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania, you can get the specific details with respect to Halliburton.

Maybe he was trying to crash the servers at an organization that pretty clearly backs-up not Cheney but Edwards on this issue? Oh, the "[sic]" there is because the site he was talking about is, which is still down right now as I write (although I was able to get it intermittently last night). But, at the moment Cheney mentioned it, was not a political site at all. In the course of the evening it was apparently hacked and did various nasty things to your browser, including the usual unfriendly re-directs, homepage-grabs, etc. George Soros, fast on the draw, figured out something was going on and quickly claimed the domain name, where you will now find this:

President Bush is endangering our safety, hurting our vital interests, and undermining American values.

And so on. Meanwhile, Atrios has the photographic evidence of a more trivial, but still deeply offensive, lie by Dick Cheney. The right-wingers have already picked up the "Senator Gone" meme, but let's not forget when Cheney was just plain Congressman Crackpot.

As an aside, I was in the Bartcop chatroom during the debate, and while everyone was aware that Cheney was lying his hiney off, there was a lot of consternation about how those lies and Cheney's simulated gravitas were playing to voters, as against Edwards' failure to come in for the kill on a number of issues. One of my liberal friends Instant Messaged me moaning about how Cheney was killing our guy. But here's Andrew Sullivan (via):

Boy was I ever wrong. If last Thursday night's debate was an assisted suicide for president Bush, this debate - just concluded - was a car wreck. And Cheney was road-kill. There were times when it was so overwhelming a debate victory for Edwards that I had to look away. I have to do C-SPAN now, but stay tuned for more post-debate blogging in a little while.
The online polls all seem to put Edwards ahead - yes, even Fox News. As noted in the previous post, the ABC poll was weighted toward Republicans, but Kos has other results, too, and CBS' uncommitted voters gave it to Senator Edwards, 41% to 29%.
14:53 BST

VP debate night!

Jon Carroll: It's the moment we've all been waiting for. This evening, for the first time, we may get an answer to the vital question: Dick Cheney, double- dealing plutocrat or incarnation of evil?

Two mints in one! Here's Kos:

On substance, Cheney has had to resort to outright lies as Edwards hammers the Bush Administration on their prosecution of the Iraqi War and the War on Terror.
By my lights, Senator Edwards was weakest on a subject I expected him to do well on, which was the frivolous lawsuit/malpractice insurance stuff. While it's all very nice to favor a mechanism for keeping nuisance suits out of the courts, that has nothing to do with the issues on the table. The real issues are that insurance companies are raising their rates despite the fact that awards to people who sue for malpractice have not risen. States with caps on malpractice awards do not have lower insurance rates than states that don't. (And, of course, the real cause of most malpractice suits is malpractice, which is an issue doctors really ought to start dealing with some day.)

I'd also really like it if someone, once and for all, would explain about the $87bn and demand to know why that money still hasn't been spent on properly protecting the troops.

But, as Kos says, by telling such a barrel full of whoppers, Cheney did force Edwards to waste a lot of time correcting the record instead of being able to spend it all giving direct answers to Gwen Ifill's questions.

Real-time blogs:
Kit Seelye in the NYT
Paul Begala at CNN.

Kerrry-Edwards Rapid Response. (Wow, Cheney was even lying about whether he'd met Senator Edwards before. What a scumbag!)

A comment at MyDD parses the ABC News post-debate poll and calls it an Edwards win.

Meanwhile, in repetion of an old pattern, Bush dodges another physical.
04:42 BST

Elephant pies

Another recipient of a White House Phone Call, apparently, is Aleksander Kwasniewski, or so one must gather from this Drudge story:


Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski has slammed Dem president hopeful John Kerry for not recognizing Poland's contributions and sacrifice to the war in Iraq.

"It is sad that a senator with 20 years of experience does not recognize Polish contribution. This is immoral," Kwasniewski told FACTS in an interview commenting on the US Presidential Debate.

"It is sad that a senator with 20 years of experience underestimates Polish sacrifice, this is sad."

The Polish President added however that one should consider this was a part of the ongoing electoral campaign.

"I do not think this was out of ignorance," the president emphasized on the TVN Facts.

No, I think it was out of truthfulness, given that Poland's contribution at the time was insignificant, and, now Poland has said they're pulling out. So Kerry was right. And, anyway, we'd be better off with France.
01:38 BST

Tuesday, 05 October 2004

Things to read

Charles Dodgson on the same George Bush: A lot of Bush supporters didn't recognize the man on stage at the first debate. Here are a few points (which I'll be revising and extending as time allows) intended to help Bush supporters realize that the man they saw on stage last Thursday -- the one whose understanding of the world is limited to a few slogans, the one who tries to avoid critics of his policies because he is utterly at a loss for words for them when he can't, the one who hides from bad news and because of that is completely unable to change course in response to it -- is the real George W. Bush.

Michael Bréubé has important advice for John Edwards on how to debate Cheney tonight.

And Now, a Few Words From the Urinal - The New York Times with news to strike fear into the hearts of men who suffer from Shy Bladder.

Mystery Pollster explains The Incumbent Rule: The main point: The incumbent's level of support is more important than the margin.

Bush: Deceptive or Delusional? Robert Parry at Consortium News on the question that has baffled us all for the last four years. But I think the answer really is: Both.
22:53 BST


I've been finding this a hilarious news day so far. Yesterday, Rumsfeld said there was no good evidence of ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda. Today, in a A Statement From Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, we get a 180 and he says his previous remarks were "misunderstood".

And yesterday, we had Bremer Criticizes Troop Levels, and today Bremer is stuttering his excuses and saying his remarks were off-the-record and he hadn't expected them to be made public mumble mumble (can't find a link, yet; heard it on the radio). Sounds like Karl has been on the phone again.
17:49 BST

The real man

Digby has written an insightful essay on the difference between the George W. Bush that people saw Thursday night and the one they've been imagining since 9/11, and it's really worth reading:

He claims to be a strong leader and yet he is skillfully manipulated by his staff, who learned early that the only thing they needed to do to convince him of the rightness of their recommended course was to flatter him by saying it was the "brave" or "bold" thing to do. His self-image as a resolute leader is actually a lack of self confidence that is ripe for exploitation by competing advisors who use it to convince this him to do their bidding. This explains why he seems to believe that he is acting with resolve when he has just affected an abrupt about-face. His advisors had persuaded him to change course simply by telling him he was being resolute.
Two Faces. One Public, One Private. One Phony, One Real.
16:06 BST


Simbaud at King of Zembla alerts me to Back-room dealing a Capitol trend by Susan Milligan:

Dismayed that the technology company Accenture had located its headquarters in Bermuda, thereby avoiding paying hundreds of millions of dollars in US taxes, the House Appropriations Committee voted 35-17 this summer to strip the firm of a $10 billion Homeland Security contract.

It was a rare moment of bipartisan agreement and an important victory for those who decry corporate tax loopholes. But it didn't last long. The Rules Committee, the all-powerful gatekeeper of the Republican leadership, prevented the measure from reaching the House floor. In a further show of its power to pick and choose what the full House can vote on, the Rules Committee allowed the House to vote on a ban on future Homeland Security contracts to overseas companies -- but let the $10 billion flow to Accenture, which spent $2 million last year lobbying the government.

This is the way "representative government" is done in America today; there is no democracy, there is only what the White House wants.

My imperfect memory is that Steve Chapman at The Chicago Tribune is a conservative, so maybe Getting some insight on the president's uncomfortable relationship with reality is another sign of something: How many members of the Bush administration does it take to change a light bulb? None. "There's nothing wrong with that light bulb. It has served us honorably. When you say it's burned out, you're giving encouragement to the forces of darkness. Once we install a light bulb, we never, ever change it. Real men don't need artificial light."

Watch the Kerry campaign response to the Bush lies about the debate.

Oliver Willis: Watch for your local right-wing pundits and pundits-in-training to link to this hilarious story from the Brent Bozell-backed CNSNews. They've got less credibility than Newsmax and Limbaugh. Their "expert" is the same woman who's convinced of the nexus between Al Qaeda, Saddam, and Tim McVeigh. I kid you not. That story, believe it or not, is called Exclusive: Saddam Possessed WMD, Had Extensive Terror Ties.

America Blog has a wonderful update to that Drudge story about Kerry supposedly taking out a cheat sheet: Drudge catches Bush cheating during the debate. Hesiod found more evidence.
14:47 BST


The Washington Post has compiled their shortlist for the Best Blogs contest, so you can go there and vote. Most of the nominees are predictable but I am especially pleased to see Fafblog! among them. (By the way, Giblets knows who the most important swing-voter will be.) Not a lot of women there, though, I notice.

Heh. Tom DeLay is a coward - he changed the time of a fund-raiser to avoid protesters.

Meanwhile, I'm pleased to see that The Candidate continued his new practice of responding to administration hooey: Kerry dismisses criticism of 'global test' remark as 'pathetic' - you be right, Big John.

Astronaut Gordon Cooper dies at 77.
06:38 BST

Poll note

Zogby says the race is closing up again. I admit that these things make me twitchy, but the GOTV efforts seem to be bringing in enormous numbers of new registrations and The US Elections Assistance Commission says half a million new poll workers are needed to avoid staff shortages on election day. I'm sure that would delight Republicans, since it could create sufficient bottlenecks at the polls to prevent some people from voting. If you haven't volunteered for other election duty on the day, maybe you should volunteer for this.
05:33 BST

Video time!

A real bumper crop today:

This morning's hot trailer is for Bushisms, featuring, among others, the George W. Bush Singers! Via Skippy.

Latest New Dem Ad, and the new DCC debate video (via).

Atrios provides a link to this condensed Republican National Convention video, but read this Oliver Willis post and the comment by the video's creator, Brennan Houlihan.

The Slam Bush debate video.
04:11 BST

Intellectual property

Matt Stoller is getting serious about the way Congress is perverting the purpose of copyright, a subject we here at The Sideshow take very seriously indeed. Stoller's article When Democrats Go Bad.... makes the classic mistake of putting the focus on Dems, although:

The Republicans are better on this issue, though only slightly, because they think of these laws as a 'tax' on innovation (which is not a bad way to think of it). There is an open-source monied community, the Slashdot crowd, waiting to embrace the party that embraces these issues. And there's a lot more money there than in Hollywood.
Democrats have certainly fallen for the idea that they should help Hollywood out by sticking it to the consumer, and I agree with Matt that many of them probably don't realize how disastrous things like DMCA and Induce really are. But when you look beneath the surface, what you usually find is that Republicans are at least as likely to support such legislation, and when it comes to the crunch Republicans are usually more likely than Democrats to support it (although, admittedly, Democrats don't make a terrific showing. Remember, for example, the CDA, and how the Republicans cleverly made it seem like it was all the fault of Democrats.
I've started a PAC called IPac at to start to work the political side of this movement, pushing the party to the left. We're endorsing five incumbents, and one candidate, Brad Carson. Carson signed our principles.

I'm looking for feedback on the political strategy. Should we go through and try to change the Democratic Party, or should we work the nonpartisan angle and spend our resources working the Republicans, who currently are better on the issue and control Congress? Right now, we're absolutely bipartisan, and we're basically considering recruiting internet-generated candidates for 2006.

It's all very well to be non-partisan in the way the issues are publicly addressed, and not to issue official endorsements of one party or another, but I can't see the point of spending too much effort on the Republicans. They will exploit any such connection to appeal to libertarians and younger people, but they will never deliver.

I believe it's possible that the Democrats may be educable on this subject, but I also think some of them are too wedded to the idea that they need RIAA support. I also think that's a mistake; they should be looking to get their money and their votes from the same place, and that ain't the RIAA.
00:56 BST

Monday, 04 October 2004

Reading matter

Patrick Nielsen Hayden finds a sad example of why "our political culture is verkakte" in The Los Angeles Times. What's wrong with this statement? Our most recent violent presidential year was 1968. Two presidential aspirants were victims of assassination: Robert F. Kennedy was killed, and George C. Wallace seriously wounded.

Noam Scheiber in The New Republic argues that Bush isn't really ideological, but he's obsessed with a narrative in which, as Digby (of Hullabaloo) once put it, it's all about him.

The subject that can clear a room of all men: Bloody Hell! I don't want to spoil it for you, just read it. (Thanks to Deb for the tip.)
20:49 BST


I usually don't get too excited about articles in the mainstream press about bloggers, but this isn't really about bloggers so much as about crediting sources, and that's another matter. Steve Clemons is right that The Newspapers of Record owe people like Josh Marshall, Atrios, and Clemons himself some proper attribution:

JOSHUA MICAH MARSHALL BROKE THE STORY ON CARL CAMERON'S contrived John Kerry comments which were posted on Fox News' website.

However, Eric Lictblau of the New York Times in his report on the fabricated Kerry posting says nothing of Joshua Marshall's investigation or his reporting. Marshall is a media pro -- and has scooped or influenced the traditional media many times before. But the New York Times and other leading publications often think that they can just grab a story that someone else has developed and run it without credit or attribution.

As I've said before, most bloggers, most of the time, are operating more as commentators, filters, and referrers rather than reporters, and we couldn't really do that without reference to mainstream media sources that have actually done the original reporting, first. But Josh is actually doing more thorough original work on his site than a lot of Big Media sources bother with these days, and when he opines and speculates, he's usually far more careful (and informed) than many of the people you'll find on the Op-Ed pages of leading newspapers (and never mind the television news). Given the kind of work Josh has produced in the last few years, he should be one of the most respected political reporters and analysts anywhere by now, and they should be treating him that way. They're not.

Steve recommends writing to the organs in question and demanding that they stop dissing people whose work they are, in essence, stealing. While you're at it, you can ask them if they've ever tried to commission pieces from Josh, Steve, or Duncan - and if not, why not?

Washington Post Ombudsman Michael Getler
NYT Ombudsman Daniel Okrent

This is a media story that's full of irony on a number of levels, if you look over the landscape for the last few weeks. The right-wing blogosphere went crazy over the fact that Dan Rather let himself get snookered on the Killian memo, but if you've paid attention you realize that Rather did at least try to get some corroboration for the memo's authenticity, even though he seemed to be a little too willing to take it at face value. And it wasn't a blogger, as such, who started the ball rolling on the forgery story, it was a political operative posting to Free Republic. Which means this was more of a top-down operation in which the bloggers were used by the political machine itself, but the media said a great deal about how blogs drove the story.

But the Fox story is different, and here we have at least one reporter who has out-and-out fabricated quotes supposedly from Senator Kerry, and it was the bloggers who researched and broke the story - and didn't receive any credit for it.
18:28 BST

All the news in bits

Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest discusses the use of repetition in spreading things like the "flip-flopper" meme, and recommends a Salon article about George Lakoff.

I really hope Edwards asks why Cheney keeps claiming Iraq and Al Qaeda were connected.

Richard Reeves explains why Bush lost the debate: Bush gave away part of the game when he talked about never dreaming when he debated in 2000 that he would have to send troops into harm's way. What did he think presidents do?.

Jeanne finds more evidence that, out of compassion, we should remove Bush from office so he can go to rehab.

Drudge thinks Kerry used a cheat sheet, but it looks to me like something I've seen more times than I could count - a man taking a pen out of his breast-pocket.

The Liberal Avenger seeks your help in collecting Dick Cheney jokes.

Michael gives Hugh Hewitt September's Back End of a Horse Award.

Buy the DVD of The Hunting of the President.

New ad from the Band of sisters. (Here's more.)
02:47 BST

Word Wide What

Dwight Meredith provides a transcription from Aaron Brown's post-debate discussion on CNN, showing a rare instance of someone being brought in for the job who isn't on the center-right/right spectrum: Aaron McGruder. He mentions the elephant in the room.

Lis Riba has castigated me for failing to mention what she regards as Grover Norquist's most egregious quote.

I think this is an updated version of an earlier speech by Soros, but I like it anyway: The number of flipflops and missteps committed by the Bush administration in Iraq far exceeds anything John Kerry can be accused of. First we dissolved the Iraqi army, then we tried to reconstitute it. First we tried to eliminate the Baathists, then we turned to them for help. First we installed General Jay Garner to run the country, then we gave it to Paul Bremer and when the insurgency became intractable, we installed an Iraqi government. The man we chose was a protégé of the CIA with the reputation of a strong man - a far cry from democracy. First we attacked Falluja over the objections of the Marine commander on the ground, then pulled them out when the assault was half-way through, again over his objections. "Once you commit, you got to stay committed," he said publicly. More recently, we started bombing Falluja again.

At The Left End of the Dial, an unsanitized look at the war. (Also, the dark side of the blogosphere.)

Via Flan, Cheney 'Pushes the Envelope' on Al Qaeda-Iraq Connection in the LAT explains why Cheney keeps lying about it.

Pleasure Boat Captains for Truth has boiled Bush's debate performance down to its essence in How Bush Did, and if you ask me they've been kind.
00:55 BST

Sunday, 03 October 2004

Judicial murder

With everything that's going on, I nearly missed this item at TalkLeft

27 year-old Jonathan Magbie became a quadriplegic while still a kid after being hit by a drunk driver. He got by with constant help from his relatives and an electric wheelchair, which he controlled with his chin. Drug Policy Alliance reports (after reviewing a Washington Post article on the case.)
Magbie was arrested more than a year ago for possession of marijuana. He was in a car at the time of his arrest. Police found cocaine and a gun in the car. Though the Post does not explicitly mention that Magbie was not driving, nor that the gun was not Magbie's, the man could move nothing but his head -- making it safe to assume he was a passenger in a car in which someone else was transporting a gun. Magbie was finally tried on the marijuana charge 11 days ago. As a first-time offender in DC, according to the Post, he could expect to receive probation. What he received, though, amounted to a death sentence.

Before aptly named DC Superior Court Judge Judith E. Retchin, Magbie admitted to possessing marijuana. Though he had nothing to do with the gun, Retchin told him that "it is just unacceptable to be riding around in a car with a loaded gun in this city." Further, Retchin learned that Magbie had "told pre-sentence investigators that he would continue using [medical marijuana], which he said made him feel better."

Based on this information, Retchin sentenced Magbie to ten days in DC jail -- where able-bodied inmates are sometimes killed -- and where disabled and sick prisoners sometimes die of neglect after being subjected to brutal, absent and reckless treatment.

Read the entire Post article through to the end. Don't miss the part about how the jail was in no way equipped to handle someone with Magbie's medical needs. And about how within 7 hours of arriving at the jail, he was taken to a hospital, which refused to keep him, resulting in him being sent back to jail. And about how the same Judge who sentenced him refused to sign an order for re-hospitalization, saying she didn't have the authority.
I'd like to be able to write something smart and meaningful about this, but it all leaves me speechless. No one should be able to do this to another human being. That's it.
18:25 BST

Media Stuff

Newsday says Fellow news anchors support beleaguered Dan Rather. I've been waiting to see if this would happen.

While acknowledging that a mistake was made in a "60 Minutes" report questioning President Bush's National Guard service, fellow network news anchors Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings offered their support Saturday for beleaguered colleague Dan Rather.

"I don't think you ever judge a man by only one event in his career," Jennings said at a panel on which all three men were speaking.

Brokaw criticized what he called an attempt to "demonize" CBS and Rather on the Internet, the place where the first complaints about the report were raised and heavily debated.

"What I think is highly inappropriate is what going on across the Internet, a kind of political jihad ... that is quite outrageous," the NBC anchor said.

"It is certainly an attempt to demonize CBS News and it goes well beyond any factual information a lot of them has, the kind of demagoguery that is unleashed out there."

Of course, all that is true; the same right-wingers who have given legs time and again to faked stories about Clinton, Gore, and Kerry are by and large less interested in accuracy than they are in promoting their own viewpoint, and historically their complaint has been that news organizations refused to give credence to smears of Democrats (e.g., the "murder" of Vince Foster and the allegation that Clinton was a rapist) that could not be verified. To them, it was "liberal bias" to insist on corroboration before giving credence those stories. (Eric Alterman has more on that in his Think Again column and also at The Nation.)

Rather's error was in real terms nowhere near as egregious as the coverage of, for example, Whitewater. And if you were going to hammer Rather for his worst mistake, he wouldn't be alone:

The three news anchors, who have all helmed their programs for at least two decades, touched on a range of topics, from their biggest frustrations on the job to how the political conventions were covered to the run-up to the war in Iraq.

Rather said he didn't ask enough questions before the war, and didn't do enough follow-up.

"If the country is in dire peril, as the president of the United States says it is ... I want to be a patriotic journalist," he said.

"You know that the role of the patriotic journalist is to put your fear aside, stand up, look them in the eye, ask the rough questions. But you also know that when you do that, you're going to get hammered..." Rather continued. "So what happens is you just say ...maybe tomorrow."

A lot of people are dead because the media has gone too easy on George Bush. Rather deserves credit for trying to redress the balance and start asking the questions about Bush that weren't asked four years ago. It's still a bit late, especially for the thousands of people who have died because of that error.

Kevin Drum links to Campaign Desk's interview with Michael Kinsley. It's a short one, but it touches on the issue of how "objectivity" as it is practiced today ends up corrupting the discourse:

The biggest problem is - and I don't know what the solution is, so it's not a criticism, as much as it is a puzzle - is that the conventions of objectivity make it very difficult to say that something is a lie. And they require balance, which is often just not justified by reality. The classic thing is the Swift Boats. If you follow what all the papers say, they inch close to saying what they really think by saying, "it's controversial," or "many have challenged it," euphemisms like that. And then they always need to pair it with something else. "Candidate X murdered three people at a rally yesterday, and candidate Y sneezed without using a Kleenex. This is why many people are saying this is the roughest campaign ever."
This is true as far as it goes, but who says it's objective to treat all sources as equal? And, for that matter, where's the evidence that this is what the media is actually doing? While there are certainly many good reporters out there who practice due diligence with regard to their craft, there are also far too many who choose their sources carefully to avoid any real balance at all.

And speaking of "balance", Media Matters finds distortions in NBC's Today show's fact-checking of Kerry. Which reminds me, I meant to criticize that Washington Post fact-check article I posted about below for their claim that Kerry had it wrong on Afghanistan: No, he didn't, and it was even worse than he stated.
12:29 BST

He's not there yet

Thomas Friedman is back, and it looks like he has at least gotten over his first stage of denial and recognizes now that Iraq is a mess because Bush messed it up:

I don't know what is salvageable there anymore. I hope it is something decent and I am certain we have to try our best to bring about elections and rebuild the Iraqi Army to give every chance for decency to emerge there. But here is the cold, hard truth: This war has been hugely mismanaged by this administration, in the face of clear advice to the contrary at every stage, and as a result the range of decent outcomes in Iraq has been narrowed and the tools we have to bring even those about are more limited than ever.

What happened? The Bush team got its doctrines mixed up: it applied the Powell Doctrine to the campaign against John Kerry - "overwhelming force" without mercy, based on a strategy of shock and awe at the Republican convention, followed by a propaganda blitz that got its message across in every possible way, including through distortion. If only the Bush team had gone after the remnants of Saddam's army in the Sunni Triangle with the brutal efficiency it has gone after Senator Kerry in the Iowa-Ohio-Michigan triangle. If only the Bush team had spoken to Iraqis and Arabs with as clear a message as it did to the Republican base. No, alas, while the Bush people applied the Powell Doctrine in the Midwest, they applied the Rumsfeld Doctrine in the Middle East. And the Rumsfeld Doctrine is: "Just enough troops to lose." Donald Rumsfeld tried to prove that a small, mobile army was all that was needed to topple Saddam, without realizing that such a limited force could never stabilize Iraq. He never thought it would have to. He thought his Iraqi pals would do it. He was wrong.

But Friedman still hasn't really tumbled yet to the fact that invading Iraq was always a stupid idea. It would have been a bad idea no matter who was president, but it was obviously going to be even worse with this guy as its commander in chief. I can tell Friedman hasn't quite figured out why invasion never held out much promise, both from the foregoing and from this:
What I resent so much is that some of us actually put our personal politics aside in thinking about this war and about why it is so important to produce a different Iraq. This administration never did. Mr. Kerry's own views on Iraq have been intensely political and for a long time not well thought through. But Mr. Kerry is a politician running for office. Mr. Bush is president, charged with protecting the national interest, and yet from the beginning he has run Iraq policy as an extension of his political campaign.
Well, he's certainly right on Bush, but what's been so "intensely political" about Kerry? I guess he must mean that Kerry has acknowledged that Bush shouldn't have pulled the inspectors before they were finished lest they spoil his excuse for invading. And Friedman still hasn't got it that invading Iraq was a bad, bad idea. Shame about that.
10:55 BST

News & views

At Eschaton:

  • Fox News - Snookered Again, in which we learn that Fox interviewed an alleged group of Communists for Kerry who turn out to be a a 527 campaign from Hellgate Republican Club.
  • Liars, in case anyone needed to be reminded that Rice and Powell already knew it was bull before they said that stuff.

Via Electrolite's Sidelights:

  • Wake up and smell the fascism from Old American Century. Your ten-point program. See how your country measures up! (Are we there, yet?)
  • "Leadership Matters" - USAF Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski (ret.) finds a certain irony in this Bush campaign theme: An absence of leadership qualities in our military leaders gives rise to terms like "Seagull" Colonels and Generals, a species known to swoop in, make a lot of noise, crap all over everything, and then fly away.

Debra Saunders spins the debate - and finally calls Kerry a "know-it-all". Meanwhile, David Brooks endorses a Bush-Kerry ticket, saying the two men balance each other well: Kerry can't make a decision; Bush makes them too quickly. Kerry changes his mind by the month; Bush almost never changes his mind. Another stupid and senseless analysis - if you don't agree with stupid decisions, you "can't make decisions."

Josh Marshall says Kerry Pulls Ahead: According to the first post-debate poll, from Newsweek, John Kerry leads President Bush by a margin of 49% to 46%. Put Nader in the mix and Kerry's margin drops from 3 to 2. (Drudge has headlined this, "Bush Lead Gone.") Josh also has a few questions about that Carl Cameron story with the fabricated Kerry quotes, and also wonders whether Cameron was in on the fake Commies for Kerry story, too.

At King of Zembla, a look at The Twelve Tribes of American Politics. With a nifty graphic!

Gallery: Steve Bell's show for Apes of Wrath is showing at the Guardian Newsroom on Farringdon Road until 12 November, just so you know.
02:28 BST

Saturday, 02 October 2004

Stuff I saw

This looks like a great t-shirt bra.
Bra of the Week

Bras for a Cause - the cause, of course, being breast cancer.

Bob Herbert: Disenfranchisement comes in many guises. Two professors at the University of Miami did an extensive analysis of so-called voter errors in Miami-Dade County that has not previously been reported on, and that gives us an even more troubling picture of the derailment of democracy in Florida in the 2000 presidential race. And Suburban Guerilla has another Diebold-related scandal for us.

Susan at An Age Like This is on Norquist Watch, and my goodness he is a fruitcake. "We are trying to change the tones in the state capitals - and turn them toward bitter nastiness and partisanship."

Business Week wasn't impressed: See Bush Debate. See Him Squirm by Ciro Scotti: The poignancy of a man ill-prepared for and overwhelmed by his job was never more apparent than when Bush said, "I never wanted to commit troops. When we were debating in 2000, I never dreamed I'd have to do that." The message that Kerry hammered home was that, in fact, Bush did not have to "do that," did not have to send our soldiers -- at least not to Iraq. But Bush, the onetime black sheep of his family, wanted to wipe away the "wimp factor" stain that his old man had left on the Bush clan. And so he rebelled against the family mantra of prudence in all things. Last night, he looked for all the world like a sputtering screwup -- again.

Bill Scher explains Why Kerry Won, and some of it goes against the conventional wisdom. Bill says viewers appreciated having Kerry not dumb-down his message too much.

Ken Layne doesn't believe that confidence in the news media has really declined all that much, contrary to the CW. I'm not so sure I agree with this; I'll think about it. (via)

The NYT has more of Avedon's photos here

Scaramouche has some of the pictures from the Bush Out! Art Auction and Fundraiser. And also a link to Mark Fiore's Question.
13:49 BST

He's hard work

This came in the mail:


I've already seen quite a few bloggers and journalists point out how often W. repeated certain prearranged words and phrases during the first debate last night; one imagines he was sure these phrases were real "zingers" because they served him so well at his carefully choreographed and prescreened campaign appearances. I wish I'd been keeping count myself, but Salon reports he said "mixed signals" or "mixes messages" eleven times...complained about Kerry calling Iraq "the wrong war at the wrong time" seven times...and used the phrase "it's hard work" eleven times.

But I think that last one may be more personally revealing than W. could possibly know. Over and over again, we heard him say "it's really hard's hard work...hard's hard work..." Could it be that the poor man is unconsciously admitting just how hard it is on him to be President and have to work so hard? The other phrases sounded like prearranged talking points, but this sounded like it popped into his head too often to be quite so meaningless.

Just a thought,

Richard Bensam

I had pretty much the same thought. Clinton made it look easy, like he was having a vacation or partying, and since the Republicans think wearing blue jeans in the White House means you're some sort of slacker, they figured the job just can't be that hard if he could do it. But of course, Clinton just happened to love the work, and Bush plainly doesn't. And there he is, a guy who's never worked in his life, and he is in a job that's actually pretty tough - and he can't cut it.
03:44 BST

Bloggin' it

TBogg says that while our attention was elsewhere, the White House released more of Bush's National Guard records that they'd already released all of. Mr. Bogg has authenticated them by a foolproof method.

Jeralyn says the Supremes are set to review arguments on medical marijuana. Also, Houston Police Chief Calls for Moratorium on Executions, and Mark Warner restores felons' right to vote.

SistersTalk is unimpressed by whining from "the ex-gay community".

Kevin Drum wonders why anyone in the press even bothers to show up at Spin Alley just to hear party shills do their spinning. As he notes, you learn everything you need to know just by watching the actual event (debate, in this case) on television - why the need to hear the campaign tell you what you're supposed to think, afterwards? Interestingly, Adam Nagourney of the NYT seems to have asked himself the same thing and decided to stay home to watch the debate.

Shortly after the debate, Josh Marshall caught Fox making up Kerry quotes in one of their stories. But then he noticed they'd changed it (he has some of the original offending material quoted). So he kept up the detective work and found out that Carl Cameron was the reporter, and Fox had pulled the made-up stuff as soon as they got questions about it (probably Josh's questions). Then eventually they published a retraction of sorts. Go Ahead, tell me this isn't worse than CBS' little faux pas.

Chris Bowers has found a quote from Kroll very nearly saying that the client, George W. Bush, is lying about Iraq in order to win the US election. Also, Tom DeLay gets his hand slapped
01:36 BST

Friday, 01 October 2004

Richard Avedon


Three of his photos here (I like the second one best). Most of the big news organizations are using the same obits that don't even mention the Beatles, although this one does.

I liked some of his work. He wasn't a big deal in my life, aside from the fact that people who had heard of him sometimes asked if we were related. He looked like he could have been, and I've always suspected his family name was originally Avedikian or Avedisian and therefore there's a chance we could be related, but as far as I know, we weren't. Since I've lived in England, the only people I meet who can pronounce my name without having to be told how are photographers, so I guess I have to thank him for the fact that somebody here can. But now and then I'd see one of his pictures and it would be neat, and from time to time there'd be a story about him in the newspaper that would provide an amusing headline for me - I found one that said, "A portrait of Avedon" and stuck it over my mirror. And now he's gone.
23:00 BST

Back to business

Before I do anything else, I want friends to be aware that Anna V. is in recovery from cancer surgery. A page has been created for her here for those who want to stay updated and send good wishes. Thanks to Kate for alerting me.

It really sticks in my craw that George Bush pretends to be a cowboy and he is incapable of doing the two things that even the worst cowboy has to be able to do: work hard and ride a horse. As near as I can make out, he's afraid of horses, but he's admitted that he doesn't ride at all. Hell, even I can ride a horse - what's wrong with this man? Anyway, I'm not the only person who is annoyed by Bush's phony cowboy charade. In The Village Voice, Erik Baard says George W. Bush Ain't No Cowboy: See how the little feller measures up to the Cowboy Code, and you tell me.

Frank Rich has Now on DVD: The Passion of the Bush, about the right's attempt to respond to the recent deluge of liberal/left films with something of their own: More than any other campaign artifact, it clarifies the hard-knuckles rationale of the president's vote-for-me-or-face-Armageddon re-election message. It transforms the president that the Democrats deride as a "fortunate son" of privilege into a prodigal son with the "moral clarity of an old-fashioned biblical prophet." Its Bush is not merely a sincere man of faith but God's essential and irreplaceable warrior on Earth. If you don't accept Bush leading you into Armageddon, you'll face... Armageddon.

The DNC has captured Faces of Frustration from last night's debate. (Via Kos, who also learned that CNN's "undecided" voter is actually a Republican. Read the comments; they're good, too.) And doesn't Bush look like he's been faced-down in the second of these pictures?
18:04 BST

Debate 1.2

First and foremost: Bush was more orange than Kerry. Up yours, Matt Drudge.

The Washington Post has the debate transcript here. Like last time, they have a "debate referee" providing fact-checks, and they've added video clips of sections. They have a straight fact-checking article here.

Bush made a serious "error" that, given what we should be able to assume he would know, sounds remarkably like a lie, but with Bush you can never tell:

On North Korea, Bush charged that Kerry's proposal to have direct talks with that country would end the six-nation diplomacy that the administration has pursued over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions. Kerry has said he would continue the six-party talks as well. Bush said direct talks with North Korea would drive away China, a key player in the negotiations.

But each of the other four countries in the talks has held direct talks with North Korea during the six-party process -- and China has repeatedly asked the Bush administration to talk directly with North Korea. Moreover, the Bush administration has talked directly with North Korean diplomats on the sidelines of the six-party talks, and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell met with his North Korean counterpart over the summer.

Bush also took credit again for taking the deal with Libya that Qadaffi had been pushing for during the Clinton administration, which Bush persists in representing as a major change of heart by Qadaffi resulting directly from Bush's actions post-9/11. As usual, Bush spoke as if Saddam had an active WMD program immediately prior to the invasion, discarding everything that is known to assert that Saddam had "no intention of disarming", though he was already disarmed. He also tried to pretend that Polish troops were part of the original invasion force, though they were not. He boasted that an enormous number of voters had been registered in Afghanistan - the only problem being that the number he gave was higher than the number of adults in the country. He claimed 100,000 Iraqi troops have been trained, when they certainly have not. And so on.

A cursory look at the net so far shows that most liberal-to-moderate viewers saw pretty much the same things I saw. One of those was that Bush thought he could rely on his stump speech lines and get the same reaction that he's used to getting from his carefully-screened audiences full of avid supporters. He talked about what he believed and he attacked Kerry. But to people who aren't steeped in hatred for Kerry, those lines don't mean much and some that work as zingers for Bush's admirers are shocking to people who find the issues more important than mere personalities. Bush seemed lost when his big lines had no impact - and, worse, when they instead generated a solid come-back from Kerry that made Bush look silly.

People have been hoping that Kerry would defuse the "flip-flop" charge and deflect it back to where it belongs. He did that a few times, gently. Early in the debate, he said:

First of all, he made the misjudgment of saying to America that he was going to build a true alliance, that he would exhaust the remedies of the United Nations and go through the inspections.

In fact, he first didn't even want to do that. And it wasn't until former Secretary of State Jim Baker and General Scowcroft and others pushed publicly and said you've got to go to the U.N., that the president finally changed his mind -- his campaign has a word for that -- and went to the United Nations.

Anyone who has been listening to the spin knew what he was talking about in that aside, but he didn't use the word, which is probably a good call.

Another subtle dig by Kerry that seemed very gentle but conveyed the same confusion many people feel about how Bush could be so terribly, terribly wrong in his statements:

This president just -- I don't know if he sees what's really happened on there. But it's getting worse by the day. More soldiers killed in June than before. More in July than June. More in August than July. More in September than in August.
This will go right by a lot of people but others will certainly pick up that Kerry said the man in the White House doesn't appear to know what's going on in Iraq.

You know, I think all the spin about how long-winded Kerry is supposed to be really worked in his favor. The Bush team designed a list of debate rules that were clearly meant to hamstring someone who tends to speak in long and thoughtful paragraphs, but Kerry had no trouble staying well within the allotted time-limits and making short, effective statements.

David Neiwert picked up this point:

I especially noted one little bit of evasion from Mr. Bush in tonight's debate:
LEHRER: New question, Mr. President, two minutes.

Do you believe the election of Senator Kerry on November the 2nd would increase the chances of the U.S. being hit by another 9/11-type terrorist attack?

BUSH: No, I don't believe it's going to happen. I believe I'm going to win, because the American people know I know how to lead. I've shown the American people I know how to lead.

Bush's answer actually conceded the thesis of the question: That Kerry's election would in fact increase the likelihood of terrorist attack. He just denied that there was any chance that outcome could happen.

Which has something of an ominous ring, doesn't it?
Oliver Willis has the clip of Bush's petulant reaction to being reminded that the enemy who attack us wasn't Saddam, but bin Laden. Bush when he said:
Of course we're after Saddam Hussein -- I mean bin Laden.
I don't think Bush ever mentioned bin Laden except in response to Kerry bringing him up.

Oliver also has the ARG poll after-debate result, in which three different groups all gave the debate to Kerry. But read the whole page of Oliver's rapid-response items, they're short but sweet.

The right-wingers have not been happy and seem a bit desperate in their groping for ways to pretend that Kerry lost. Brad DeLong found an example:

Tom Maguire Frantically Raises the Bar....

But you have to raise the bar before the high jumper jumps!

JustOneMinute: You Can't Run On Third And Long: Kerry needed a big win in the debate tonight, and didn't get it.
Nobody, nobody had their opinion of whether Bush would make a good president raised by tonight.
About the debate itself, Brad said:
George W. Bush seems *much* better in the transcript than he was in the debate. His deer-in-the-headlights looks, his I-can't-think-of-anything-else-to-say silences, and his I-have-no-coherent-thoughts pauses are all left out of the transcript. Even so, he looks pretty bad here. I've put things he really should not have said in red.
(Actually, he's put his own rebuttals in red. Except when they are in green. It's actually worth reading Brad's version, though, just in case you missed these. It makes it easy to notice things like the fact that he repeated some stupid things more times than I'd noticed as I watched.)

Bibb's Revenge gets to the meat:

I have no doubt in my mind who won. The people who watched the debate, the undecideds mostly. They are the winners. Finally we found ourselves watching the candidates side by side, not on some 527 ad yelling at us through our television sets. There was no spin zone while we were watching the debate, just the two candidates and what they had to say.

I of course also think it’s pretty easy to see that Kerry won hands down. Yeah sure i am biased, but every single poll so far i’ve seen or read about had Kerry come out on top in that debate, and according to the warbloggers polls are god. That was of course when Bush is leading in the polls.

Kerry was straight forward, to the point. There was no flip-flopping to be found anywhere. He explained himself eloquently without using the big words he’s been know to use.

Could Bush have looked any angrier or more disinterested? Smirky McGrump sat there with a look on his face like he wanted to fly into a cocaine induced rage. You can use the old saying “remember the alamo” here, just replace alamo with Nixon/Kennedy. It is said Nixon’s body language and look helped do him in.

One piece of really annoying spin is that the newsmedia has continually repeated that voters have been complaining that they don't know enough about Kerry - and the media seems to blame this on Kerry for failing to "define himself" to the voters. Of course, Kerry has been all over the place campaigning and has also provided some pretty clear statements of his position. So whose fault is it that ordinary voters, who don't have time to trawl the Internet looking for this stuff, and expect the media to bring it to them - since they're paid for that - haven't heard any of this stuff? If the news dummies did their job, people wouldn't be so confused about where Kerry stands on the issues, but what makes the debates important is that the camera is finally holding still long enough for Kerry to make his own case where people will see him. Still, large swathes of voters will not have been willing to sit still for the entire production (or any of it), and will be getting their information from the post-debate spin, and that is out of control.

The Moderate Voice cuts Bush a lot of slack in his round-up, but Steve Gilliard is right:

Bush looked angry from the first question and kept repeating his talking points while Kerry seemed to actually understand the issues. And his talking points hammered on the man who must not be named. Bush simply had no answer for the charges of "outsourcing" the capture of Osama Bin Laden to Afghan warlords.
I was astonished at how poorly prepared Bush was, and Kerry held back and Jim Lehrer took pity on him. Which was the worst thing possible. Bush, allegedly, is tough. Instead of being tough, he looked weak and small compared to the Presidential-looking Kerry. And that isn't just spin, Kerry seemed to gain in stature as Bush lost his.
This is where I disagree with many commentators who seem to think that Bush started weak but finished strong. I thought he was speaking more smoothly and normally at first, and got worse as he went along. He did seem to recover briefly but he kept leaning into the camera and stressing things that didn't need to be stressed; it was the perfect image of an incompetent salesman working too hard to push a lousy product.

I think Blog of the Moderate Left had my favorite comment so far:

When a group of conservatives watches a debate and some of them think Kerry won, what does that mean? It wasn't even close. Kerry looked presidential. He looked tough. He took the fight to Bush. He did everything he had to do and should've been doing all along. And Bush was rattled, annoyed, and a few times, haughty. His responses seemed fitting, not for a president, but for a king, being questioned by some ill-tempered commoner.

When Bush spoke, Kerry took notes politely, nodded when he agreed with something. When Kerry spoke, Bush looked about, with a look on his face like he'd eaten a lemon.

But let's not forget that, on the night four years ago, Gore won the debate. The focus groups said so, and so did the pundits, who said Gore looked good and sounded good. Less than a week later, those same pundits were shedding crocodile tears over Gore's poor debate performance and all we heard about were his "misstatements" and orange face. So like Digby says, Get Ready:
Scarborough is saying that the Bush campaign is going to put up an ad showing that Kerry flip flopped in the debates tonight on building alliances (something to do with Australia) and Matthews was excited at the prospect.

Tomorrow is where the action is folks. Tonight, the consensus is that Kerry won the debate and he did. Tomorrow, the push back begins.

Get your phone numbers in hand. Get ready to write e-mails. They will not go down without a fight. We will have to fight them back with their own words.

I will post tonight's various transcripts of the immediate responses tomorrow and we should be prepared to shove the mediawhores' impressions down their own throats.

Tomorrow is the day in which we will crystalize Kerry's win in this debate. Everybody needs to help. I'll have all the contact info for you --- all you need to do is write some e-mails and make a few phone calls. The campaign could be seriously helped by this effort. Let's do it.

The Daily Howler, of course, is already on the case (and points to this Toles cartoon on the subject). And like Bob always says, You know what to do.
16:04 BST

Debate 1.1

Real-time debate blogging:

Paul Begala:

Bottom line: Kerry looked more presidential than the president did. Perhaps Bush believes his own spinners. He seemed surprised and a bit befuddled to be confronted not by the weak, waffling, French-looking wimp he attacks on the stump. Instead, he saw a strong, confident leader, in command of both the facts and the debate itself. Bush spent most of the night on defense -- and you don't win on defense.
Katharine Seelye:
Well, an actual debate seemed to emerge from what the rules had tried to make an isolation chamber. Bush was on the defensive at several turns. In the cut-aways, it was clear that Kerry had got under his skin. Kerry looked cool and collected and met his threshhold test of being able to stand on the same stage as the commander in chief and not look diminished. Kerry has kept the contest alive for the next round.
What's Bush doing with his mouth? It's weird.

The split-screen isn't flattering to Bush, with the eye-rolling, angry looks, mouth-smacking...

And Kerry is wiping the floor with Bush.

Jerome Armstrong:
Closing stages of the debate, at best, the spin will be that it was a wash, but there's little denying that Bush isn't focused, he's not well-prepared, and seems to be doing a lot of quirky facial movements... oh yea, did I mention that Kerry has been substantive?
Jerome also has snap poll results on who won:

	    	CBS    ABC
Kerry		44     45
Bush		26     36
Unsure		30     17
People in various threads say PBS did some hard-right spinning for Bush, But right-winger Joe Scarborough gave it to Kerry.
04:26 BST

Debate watch

Dan Froomkin in The Washington Post says: Let the Fact Checking Begin! He quotes a number of journalists about what kind of untrue statements we should expect, and notes that some bloggers are on fact-check-ready status.

Chris Bowers at MyDD has a little guide for how pushing back for the team, an open debate thread, a Fact-Checking Thread and an Email The Media Thread. He says Oliver Willis is doing some fact-checking threads as well.

Atrios promises to do the same.
01:52 BST

Front-page news

It's the kind of thing that I read and it makes me turn white. Front page of The Washington Post, Plan Would Let U.S. Deport Suspects to Nations That Might Torture Them. And again I think, "We don't do that." And then, "Now, we do." So much, I want to make it stop. So much.

The provision, part of the massive bill introduced Friday by House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), would apply to non-U.S. citizens who are suspected of having links to terrorist organizations but have not been tried on or convicted of any charges. Democrats tried to strike the provision in a daylong House Judiciary Committee meeting, but it survived on a party-line vote.
Of course it did. Republicans: The Torture Party. Ted Barlow says:
Please, please contact your Representatives about this bill. I'm including the email that I sent to my Rep under the fold. Feel free to use any or all of it.
Giblets is outraged!:
Giblets is outraged! Congressional Republicans are trying to sneak provisions into the 9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act of 2004 that would legalize the foul practice of "extraordinary rendition" - the transfer of suspected terrorists to other countries to be tortured for information. To pass the bill in this form would be inconceivable - for how can any red-blooded pro-torture Congressman justify outsourcing our nation's torture work when American torturers are losing their jobs every day?
Mark Kleiman:
No, this isn't a winning issue for the Democrats. Just the reverse. Forcing Democrats to vote against torturing suspected terrorists is an excellent way to paint them as soft on terrorism. That's been the Administration strategy from the get-go: pursue absolutely disgustingly outrageously illegal and unconstitutional policies and then take advantage of the fact that some of your political opponents have enough self-respect and common decency to oppose them. It worked in 2002, and it's working now.

As noted before in this space, anyone voting Republican this year is fully on notice of what that means. Maybe you intend to vote for staying the course in Iraq, tort reform, or tax cuts, or against affirmative action, teachers' unions, or political correctness. But you are, in addition, actually voting for torture.

Of course, Obsidian Wings beat the Post to the story:
I'm talking to Republicans, conservatives and libertarians as well as to Democrats and liberals. I know that you are more decent than this, and that you do not approve of torture. Please prove me right, and do something about it. Republicans are the majority in Congress, and they are much more likely to listen to you than to any Democrat. The press is much more likely to report on the story if liberal and conservative blogs both cover it.
Don't forget to pester the media about this one. Use clean language, but feel free to make it clear that this really is unacceptable. We're supposed to be the Good Guys, remember?
00:45 BST

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, October 2004

September 2004
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May 2004
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November 2003
October 2003
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December 2002
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Is the media in denial?
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And, no, it's not named after the book or the movie. It's just another sideshow.