Thursday, September 30

Who Liked Kerry's Performance in the Debate?

USA Today
Business Week
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
New York Times
Keith Olbermann
...and we're sure many more by daybreak. Sleep well. This was our night.

From the Pen of: Steve Benson

Outfreepin' the Freepers

It's about time we knocked these jagoffs on their collective pimply butts. RSheridan, a diarist at dKos pilfered the Freepers' list of post-debate online polls, and posted them here. Right now, Kerry is rightfully kicking Bush all over the playground (78%-18% in the CNN poll, for example).

When these results are published or broadcast - as unscientific as they are - they burn an image in voters' minds. Yes - it's crazy, but important.

Let me add another: NY Daily News

We won't tell you how to vote. Just vote. It's the American thing to do. Capisce?

Wanna Be Scared?

Listen to the callers coming in on C-SPAN. It's so glaringly apparent that people just plain don't pay attention to what was being said in the debate. Bush supporters are following the script, complaining about Kerry "flip-flopping from one question to another," that Kerry "wanted to withdraw our troops immediately," and that Kerry "didn't offer any plans."

Jesus, get the crap out of your ears, people. The good thing is that about three Bush supporters called him "President Kerry." That sounded kinda sweet...

Bush Is Almost...

...desperate? He almost seems caught off-guard. It's very, very weird. He's injecting the flip-flop meme at every chance, but isn't offering any proof. Meanwhile, Kerry slammed him by stating that his position on Iraq has been constant: There was a right way to deal with Saddam and a wrong way - and Bush chose the wrong way.

It almost seems Bush came into the hall with just three talking points. It must work on some people, but it's getting very tiresome - to me, anyway.

Bush also keeps talking about how hard all this foreign policy stuff is. Maybe - just maybe - he shouldn't be doing the job if it's so hard for him.

I tried reading response from the big guys' blogs, but they're getting hammered with traffic. Not being blessed with that curse, we offer this as an open thread, during- and post-debate. Have at it.

One Hour Away

I'm guessing everyone has that anticipatory giddiness/anxiety as the debate draws near. But in the past few days (most notably on C-SPAN), I've seen clips of Kerry's debates from the past. Bush may be good. But Kerry is masterful. And if these previous videos are any indication, I'm guessing a lot of folks will come away impressed with the guy they didn't know until tonight.

We know who the best man is. May he win.

By the way, after the debate, there's no doubt you can vote for the debate winner on the online polls at all the major news websites. Take a little time before turning in tonight to pay them a visit and let them know how you felt.
ABC News
CBS News
Yes, even Fox News Follow-Up

Salon has done a story on the RealVoices ad campaign.

We've talked about this powerful commercial here - scroll down to yesterday's posts to read about it and see the ad.

Families of Military Victims are Fighting Back

There are what I like to call faux wingnut tough-guys. These are meek and misguided emotionally-challenged men who cheer on their hero, the chief faux wingnut tough-guy who - like them - never saw the horror of war, but cheer it on like they're watching a football game on TV. These are people who live vicariously through this tough-guy image woven into the fabric of American life by these crackheads and see all this as one big fat spectator sport of Us vs Them. Freepers are classic examples of faux tough-guys. They sit on their fat bloated asses writing ugly tough-guy talk into their computers, but have never walked an inch in any other shoes except their own - if they have the strength to walk at all.

Then there are the people who have to live with the results of the faux wingnut tough-guy mentality. These are the people who need to be heard.
Marine's family has sharp reprimand for Bush administration

Relatives of a Minnesota Marine who was killed in Iraq lashed out Wednesday against the war and the Bush administration's conduct in waging it.

Across the street from the Lake Elmo restaurant where Vice President Dick Cheney had finished speaking an hour earlier, the grandmother of Levi Angell spoke of "my precious grandson I lost to this useless, needless fix we're in."

Lila Angell said the war "is crazy. It's just wrong." Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry "certainly would do better" in Iraq than President Bush. "He couldn't do any worse."

Levi Angell, a 20-year-old Marine from Cloquet, was killed April 8 when his Humvee was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.

His father, Gordon, said he never received a condolence call from any member of the administration. "Bush was giving a speech 20 miles away [from Cloquet] and he never bothered to pick up the damned telephone and say 'I'm sorry about your son,' " he said. "From now on, I'm a Democrat after the way they treated us."

Another High-Ranking Military Man Drills Bush

Retired Air Force Col. Mike Turner has a few choice words.'re on.
'Staying the Course' Isn't an Option

From a purely military standpoint, the war in Iraq is an unmitigated disaster. This administration failed to make even a cursory effort at adequately defining the political end state they sought to achieve by removing Saddam Hussein, making it impossible to precisely define long-term military success. That, in turn, makes it impossible to lay out a rational exit strategy for U.S. troops. Like Vietnam, the military is again being asked to clean up the detritus of a failed foreign policy. We are nose-deep in a protracted insurgency, an occupying Christian power in an oil-rich, Arab country. That country is not now and has never been a single nation. A single, unified, democratic Iraq comprised of Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis is a willfully ignorant illusion at best.

Two thirds of America's combat brigades are now tied down in this war which, under present conditions, is categorically unwinnable. Having alienated virtually every major ally who might help, our troops are simply targets. If Bush is re-elected, there are only two possible outcomes in Iraq:

* Four years from now, America will have 5,000 dead servicemen and women and an untold number of dead Iraqis at a cost of about $1 trillion, yet still be no closer to success than we are right now, or
* The U.S. will be gone, and we will witness the birth of a violent breeding ground for Shiite terrorists posing a far greater threat to Americans than a contained Saddam.

So what strategies should candidate Kerry propose? The first steps are patently obvious to anyone who has worked even briefly as a military policy planner. First, Americans must understand it is highly probable that Iraq is already lost. Americans must stop believing the never-ending litany of "happy thoughts" spewing forth from the Bush campaign and start thinking about our men and women dying wholesale in Iraq.

If the Bush administration remains in power, failure in Iraq is a virtual certainty. "Staying the course" during a crisis spiraling rapidly downward will cost thousands of American and Iraqi lives, will continue to sap the operational readiness of this nation's armed forces, and will continue to strengthen Al Qaeda's hand. To paraphrase FDR, it's time to change horses. The one we're on is about to drown.

Tonight, Tonight

Judd Legum from the Center for American Progress writes:
Only losers wait until the debate occurs to start the rebuttal.
The CAP has posted a stream of what Bush will say with the facts which dismantle his assertations.

That's nice - but I really need to know if CAP is just sending this stuff to the choir in the blogosphere, or are they going the extra mile (as the GOP has done so effectively)? Here's my note to Judd.

Has CAP sent this high-priority to the newsrooms (network AND local) across the country? And I'm not talking e-mails with links - I mean a hard copy of the article itself on the desks of every news editor - broadcast and print.

I honestly want to know. I appreciate (and use) these emailings, but the actual printed articles should be waved in the faces of those who need to see it - the so-called down-the-middle press who simply don't have time to sift through emails, or for that matter, click through to every link they get.

Thanks! Keep fighting the good fight.
You can watch night after night, and one fact stands out. Wonk is the last thing you see on the news. They like the surfing cats. They like the world's record for the biggest pastrami sandwich. They like the flying squirrels. They never - NEVER report the disputing facts of an important political story - just the accusations. They need to move things along for that surfing cat story.

So what good would it do to put the article in front of news editors? To plant the seed of truth in there. Repeatedly. Constantly. It may not be quoted immediately or verbatim, but you've at least put something in their noggin, so that when they get the same old crap from the GOP, they'll look at it with some newfound skepticism. And if it stems the spread of at least SOME of the GOP lies - like flip-flopping, voting for higher taxes 370 times, voting against the troops, etc. - we'll have put a big fat ol' dent in Karl Rove's bullcrap machine.

Sending this information to us is fine. It gives us more ammo. But we're firing it largely at people who agree with us. We need to get this info to the inactives, the lazy, the "why bother" voter. We MUST get the truth to the Democrats who think voting is a waste of time. We MUST hammer the people who believe the system doesn't work - and show them that we'll accelerate in the wrong direction if they let Bush win his lame-duck four more years. This is what the ground war must focus on.

Nights like tonight are made for the interested undecideds. Kerry MUST sell himself and his plans to those people, while convincing them that re-electing Bush is another four years of fear, war and economic meltdown. And follow it up by making damn well sure he's on every newscast with something fascinating every night through November 2nd.

Fact: I have plenty of Democratic friends who are throwing their hands up in the air over how Bush is gonna walk away with this one again. I give people like that hard copies of dead-heat polls, which seem to surprise them. And DAMMIT, I make sure they look at the registered voters' numbers instead of the likely voters'. Why? Simple. People who claim to be likely voters are just echoing junk they hear from pundits to show off to the pollsters. But it doesn't mean jack of those people aren't registered to vote.* If you're not a registered voter, you have no business speaking for ANYONE in this election year. Registered voters are keeping this thing even, and those people are the ones who friggin' matter.

* Note: This is but one of MANY definitions of "likely voters." As Edison Media Research points out, the definition is different for each pollster. More reason to take numbers of "likely voters" with a grain of potassium chloride.

While we're on the subject, if you're not registered, get off your ass right now and do it. That window is closing.

So grab your indifferent and undecided friends, pull 'em into your home, order a pizza and watch the debate tonight (9pm ET, 6PM PT). Take comfort that even though Bush has his attack team which got him a razor-thin electoral win in 2000, Kerry now has the team which destroyed his old man in 1992 against incredible odds, and destroyed Bob Dole in 1996 against an onslaught of lies and empty investigations.

John Kerry and John Edwards are good men. Effective men. Smart men. They have a team watching their back now. And they're running against an incumbent who is still popping sub-50% poll numbers.

The debates will finally end the "Who is this guy?" mindset among undecideds. They already know Bush. If they're still queasy about voting him in again, this thing is Kerry's to lose.

And he doesn't like losing. Ask anyone in New England. Enjoy the show.

UPDATE - Judd Legum replies:
We sent emails to our media lists (print and broadcast) yesterday. When we send to media we send the full text. Hard copies are a good idea but haven't yet developed the capacity to execute it. Would definitely be worth exploring in the future.
All the more reason we need to support these folks to put this infrastructure in place. Thanks, Judd.

Wednesday, September 29

Hey, They Never Lied To Us About Anything Before, Right?

So why, oh why would I even entertain the notion that the bullshit meter is pounding into the red when I read this? Swear to God, these people are throwing lies out there so fast and furiously, it's impossible for any mortal to even begin to respond. On the eve of the debate on Foreign Policy and Security, the White House launches THIS steaming sack...
White House: Guard Never Disciplined Bush
Updated: Wednesday, Sep. 29, 2004 - 10:37 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush never was disciplined while serving in the Texas Air National Guard, never failed a physical and never asked his father or family friends for help to get him into the Guard during the Vietnam War, the White House said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the White House on Wednesday night produced a newly unearthed document on Bush's Guard service, seven months after it said all materials on the subject had been publicly released.

The new document was a copy of Bush's resignation in 1974 declaring he was leaving the Guard because of "inadequate time to fulfill possible future commitments." White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the resignation was found in connection with a lawsuit brought by The Associated Press.

The White House answers earlier in the day came in response to a dozen questions submitted by the AP in light of new records detailing Bush's Guard service and allegations that have surfaced this election season.

The Texas Air National Guard stripped Bush of his pilot status in August 1972 for failing to take the annual medical exam required of all pilots. Former Air National Guard officials say it was rare for a pilot to skip his physical exam.

THIS Is The TV Ad We MUST Get On The Air

I've already contributed bucks to these people. An organization called has what has to be the most effective (and HONEST) TV commercial of the entire political season.

THIS IS THE VOICE AND THE MESSAGE WE'VE BEEN DESPERATELY LOOKING FOR, FOLKS. The voices of people who lost loved ones to this reckless war.

YOU MUST see this. You MUST kick in and get this thing on the air.

After seeing this, everything uttered by the Swift Boat Bitter Lying Pigs gets blown out of the water. Everything Dick Cheney crows and growls about is rendered meaningless. When real people shed real tears saying what they want to say to President Bush because he doesn't have the gonads to face these folks in person, you have something that transcends all the hype and bullcrap that's been thrown in this campaign. You have something amazing.

Truth. It's our weapon which cannot be secret anymore.

If you had a minute to say anything you wanted to George W. Bush in front of thousands of American voters, what would you say? Chastise him for his foolish military adventure in Iraq? Scold him for domestic policies that hurt average Americans while enriching the few? Or just urge him to be honest with the American people for a change?

At Real Voices we think about that question a lot, because that's our mission: to give ordinary Americans a voice in the political process. In powerful 60-second radio and TV spots, our real citizens address the president in front of an audience of thousands of potential voters. Whether it's a parent who lost a son or daughter in Iraq, a sick child who might be cured by cutting edge stem cell research, or a scientist who knows the truth about global warming and toxic pollution, our "real voices" confront the President directly and honestly about his abysmal record. Filmed by two-time Academy Award nominee Eric Thiermann, our TV spots are powerful, moving and utterly honest, unlike any political ad you have ever seen. With your help, we will have them playing in every battleground state come this fall.

We regard the war in Iraq to be George Bush's greatest betrayal of the American people. It has greatly increased the risk of terrorism, damaged our international prestige, and caused the greatest losses to individual families. Working closely with families who lost loved ones in the fighting we are determined to make sure their voices and stories are told in the upcoming election. The radio and TV spots you see here feature many of their stories, we have others in production that are even more moving. By sponsoring a radio or TV message you are directly giving our "real voices" an opportunity to speak to thousands of voters in key battleground states.

This is a great experiment in American democracy: a chance to give the real citizens of America... the ones George Bush prays you won't hear... a platform to talk back to the President, in front of thousands of American voters. Democracy doesn't get any simpler or more direct than that. And all we need to make it work is you.

Say Hi to John and George for Us, "Scottso"

There's no possible way to have grown up in New York without tripping over Scott Muni on your radio. Even years past his heyday, Imus immortalized him as a character on his show.

His shining moment was nabbing a live interview with the Beatles (with fellow WABC legend Bruce Morrow) in the Delmonico Hotel - complete with about 7,000 screaming fans on the street voicing their approval. The reason for the event was a fan who snatched Ringo's St. Christopher medal at the hotel wanted to return it - and WABC arranged for her to do so. To this day, legend has it that it was all a co-ploy by WABC management and the group as a huge promotional stunt. It worked. Despite two other stations beating WABC to the punch in playing the fab four when they were hitting it big, WABC ended up owning the franchise.

Muni also made his indelible mark by starting rock and roll on FM in Gotham, first on WOR-FM in July, 1966 - then creating NYC's first "progressive" (album) rock station on WNEW-FM.

"Scottso" passed away Tuesday night. A lot of folks in rock and roll heaven are welcoming him with open arms today.

The "Liberal Media" Are Officially Declared Dead

L.A. Weekly reports that the "big three" networks - aka "The Mainstream Media" aka "The Liberal Media" aka "Where Viewers Are Leaving in Droves" - don't want Fahrenheit 9/11 advertised during their fair, honest, right-down-the-middle news shows. They don't want to interrupt the flow between the "Kerry's a Flip-Flopper" and "Bush is Strong and Resolute" stories they get from the White House fax machine 'cuz they wanna be like Fox News. Cripes.

We'll note that NBC had no problem taking Sony's money when it came to the exclusive sponsorship of NBC's 24/7 HDTV Olympics coverage. Nor did we see CBS have a problem with pro-Bush pre-game during their Super Bowl coverage (while they banned MoveOn from the festivities). With viewership leaving by the busload, they can hardly afford to say no to ANY business...
When Might Turns Right
Golly GE, why Big Media is pro-Bush

L.A. Weekly has learned that CBS, NBC and ABC all refused Fahrenheit 9/11 DVD advertising during any of the networks' news programming. Executives at Sony Pictures, the distributor of the movie for the home-entertainment market, were stunned. And even more shocked when the three networks explained why.

"They said explicitly they were reluctant because of the closeness of the release to the election. All three networks said no," one Sony insider explains. "It was certainly a judgment that Sony disagrees with and is in the process of protesting."

And protest Sony did. (Michael Lynton, the onetime Pearson publishing executive who is now chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, has privately told people he hasn’t seen anything like this since his Penguin Group published Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses.) What especially galled the Sony suits was this: The networks had no problem having the DVD ads appear on their entertainment shows so long as the guidelines for R-rated content like Fahrenheit 9/11 were followed. However, Sony executives told L.A. Weekly they wanted only to market the movie's DVD on CBS's, NBC's and ABC's news shows. "But all three networks said no to straight news," one Sony exec explained. "Then, suddenly, the networks were extending the definition of news programming to include the news magazines and the morning news shows and restricting access to those as well. That becomes very problematic to any advertiser trying to reach an adult audience."

Finally, this week, Sony's protests started having an effect. "We're now getting movement," a Sony suit told L.A. Weekly Monday night. Sony corporate senior vice president Susan Tick claimed Tuesday that the initial ban on the morning news shows was lifted, and time on an NBC Dateline had been made available. But she also confirmed that the early-evening news shows are still verboten, and ABC still remains adamant that the DVD can't be advertised on its PrimeTime Live.

Harris Poll: The Whole Election's a Flip-Flop!

Well, okay - the term they use is "topsy-turvy." They also found out that Bush appeals to stupid people (eeeediots) and Kerry appeals - in a BIG way - to educated people. Which of course means we reeeeeally have our work cut out for us, Kerry fans...
Latest National Harris Interactive Online Poll Shows Bush with Two-Point Lead Among Likely Voters

Some unusual things are happening

The latest Harris Poll conducted between September 20 and 26, 2004 shows President George W. Bush with a two-point lead over Senator John Kerry among likely U.S. voters (48% to 46%). This poll was conducted online with the same methods used by Harris Interactive to predict the 2000 elections with great accuracy. The previous Harris Poll conducted two weeks earlier, but conducted by telephone, also found the candidates running neck and neck, with Senator Kerry one point ahead of President Bush among likely voters (Bush 47%, Kerry 48%)..

While these polls show a virtual dead heat (and, of course, a "virtual dead heat" was the correct forecast of the popular vote in 2000), this latest survey by Harris Interactive finds some very peculiar things are going on.

One is that the traditional gender gap - with men leaning more toward Republican candidates and women toward the Democratic candidates - is only a very modest feature of this election, at the moment.

Another, even more surprising, finding emerges from an analysis by education. Normally Democratic candidates win substantial majorities among those with the least education - people who never went to college. Now President Bush does better among this group than he does among those with more education.

Indeed, President Bush leads Senator Kerry by nine points among those with no college education and by six points among those with some college education but no bachelor's degree. Kerry, on the other hand, leads by five percent among those with a college degree and by fully 21 percent among those with post-graduate education.

Strange things seem to be happening, making this something of a topsy-turvy election.

Ike's Son Crosses Over

John Eisenhower, son of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, served on the White House staff between October 1958 and the end of the Eisenhower administration. From 1961 to 1964 he assisted his father in writing "The White House Years," his Presidential memoirs. He served as American ambassador to Belgium between 1969 and 1971. He is the author of nine books, largely on military subjects.

Another View:
Why I will vote for John Kerry for President

Guest Commentary

As son of a Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, it is automatically expected by many that I am a Republican. For 50 years, through the election of 2000, I was. With the current administration's decision to invade Iraq unilaterally, however, I changed my voter registration to independent, and barring some utterly unforeseen development, I intend to vote for the Democratic Presidential candidate, Sen. John Kerry.

The fact is that today's "Republican" Party is one with which I am totally unfamiliar. To me, the word "Republican" has always been synonymous with the word "responsibility," which has meant limiting our governmental obligations to those we can afford in human and financial terms. Today's whopping budget deficit of some $440 billion does not meet that criterion.

Responsibility used to be observed in foreign affairs. That has meant respect for others. [...] Recent developments indicate that the current Republican Party leadership has confused confident leadership with hubris and arrogance.

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

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

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

I celebrate, along with other Americans, the diversity of opinion in this country. But let it be based on careful thought. I urge everyone, Republicans and Democrats alike, to avoid voting for a ticket merely because it carries the label of the party of one's parents or of our own ingrained habits.
Thanks, Jer

Shout It From the Rooftops: Seattle P-I Outs Cheney's Deadly Iraq Flip-Flop

And man, is it bad news for Mr. F---Yourself. Seems that when we had the world at our side in '92 - and we were footing only 1/10th of the cost - Dickless didn't think it would be worth the cost of lives to get Saddam. In other words, he was just licking Bush Sr.'s boots to look good to his boss. Corporate-think if you will. Calling him a weasel would be an insult to weasels worldwide.

This was above-the-fold front page news in this morning's Post-Intelligencer...
Cheney changed his view on Iraq
He said in '92 Saddam not worth U.S. casualties


WASHINGTON -- In an assessment that differs sharply with his view today, Dick Cheney more than a decade ago defended the decision to leave Saddam Hussein in power after the first Gulf War, telling a Seattle audience that capturing Saddam wouldn't be worth additional U.S. casualties or the risk of getting "bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq."

Cheney, who was secretary of defense at the time, made the observations answering audience questions after a speech to the Discovery Institute in August 1992, nearly 18 months after U.S. forces routed the Iraqi army and liberated Kuwait.

The comments Cheney made more than a decade ago in a little-publicized appearance have acquired new relevance as he and Bush run for a second term. A central theme of their campaign has been their unflinching, unchanging approach toward Iraq and the shifting positions offered by Democratic nominee John Kerry.

A transcript of the 1992 appearance was tracked down by P-I columnist Joel Connelly, as reported in today's In the Northwest column.

"And the question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam worth?" Cheney said then in response to a question.

"And the answer is not very damned many. So I think we got it right, both when we decided to expel him from Kuwait, but also when the president made the decision that we'd achieved our objectives and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq."

About 146 Americans were killed in the Gulf War. More than 1,000 U.S. soldiers have died in the invasion of Iraq and its aftermath.

Going to Baghdad, Cheney said in 1992, would require a much different approach militarily than fighting in the open desert outside the capital, a type of warfare that U.S. troops were not familiar, or comfortable fighting.

"All of a sudden you've got a battle you're fighting in a major built-up city, a lot of civilians are around, significant limitations on our ability to use our most effective technologies and techniques," Cheney said.

"Once we had rounded him up and gotten rid of his government, then the question is what do you put in its place? You know, you then have accepted the responsibility for governing Iraq."
If you're not shaking your head in disbelief, then you're beyond help. Just go to NewsMax, put on your fake wingnut tough-guy persona and don't bother coming back here.

Here's a follow-up from columnist Joel Connelly:
In the Northwest: Bush-Cheney flip-flops cost America in blood


As George W. Bush has lately shown, the tactic of successfully defining your opponent is to political conflict what occupying the high ground is to waging war.

The Bush-Cheney campaign has gleefully labeled John Kerry a flip-flopper. But what of Bush-Cheney flip-flops? They're getting a lot less ink, but America is paying a price in blood.

Little noticed, and worthy of lengthy consideration, is a speech delivered by then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney in 1992 to the Discovery Institute in Seattle.

The words of our future vice president -- defending the decision to end Gulf War I without occupying Iraq -- eerily foretell today's morass. Here is what Cheney said in '92:

"I would guess if we had gone in there, I would still have forces in Baghdad today. We'd be running the country. We would not have been able to get everybody out and bring everybody home.

"And the final point that I think needs to be made is this question of casualties. I don't think you could have done all of that without significant additional U.S. casualties. And while everybody was tremendously impressed with the low cost of the (1991) conflict, for the 146 Americans who were killed in action and for their families, it wasn't a cheap war.

"And the question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam (Hussein) worth? And the answer is not that damned many. So, I think we got it right, both when we decided to expel him from Kuwait, but also when the president made the decision that we'd achieved our objectives and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq."

How -- given what he said then -- does Cheney get off challenging the judgment and strength of those who argue that we are bogged down and shedding blood today?

Daschle Must Go

Beat it. Hit the road. Don't let the door etc. etc. etc. We don't need this useless opportunist anymore. Enough. This is the last straw. As Barry Champlain says - the Dems who ran away from Clinton in 2000 are paying the price today. The ones who run away from Kerry in 2004 to woo Republican and indy voters are incapable of learning from history and are of no friggin' use. And of course, the media - interpreting it as a jumping of the ship - will headline the story thusly. Here we go again:
Kerry association hurting some Democrats
By David Espo, AP Special Correspondent | September 29, 2004

WASHINGTON - Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle hugged President Bush from one end of South Dakota to the other this summer. In his own campaign commercials.

The brief embrace might seem an odd claim on re-election for the man Republicans depict as obstructionist-in-chief for the president's congressional agenda. But Daschle is one of several candidates with a common political problem as Democrats nurse fragile hopes of gaining Senate control this fall.

From the South to South Dakota and Alaska, they are running in areas where Bush is popular -- and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry not so much.

"The congressman is running his own race out here...He's not bringing any national people in," said Kristofer Eisenla, spokesman for Democratic Rep. Brad Carson in Oklahoma, where Bush won 60 percent of the vote in 2000.

The hug -- two or three seconds in length -- is a videotaped image of the embrace Daschle gave Bush when the president spoke to Congress shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

Daschle's spokesman, Dan Pfeiffer, said the ad's message is that he "will work with the president when the president is right but oppose him when he is wrong." Daschle's latest commercial criticizes the administration for failing to provide adequate drought relief, while faulting Thune for not standing up to Bush on the issue.

The Republican Party demanded unsuccessfully that Daschle stop airing the ad, arguing it left a false impression.
What I find amazing that at first glance, you'd think they were describing a GOP ad. The discourse has gotten so perverse, that Republicans like to show how Democrats agreeing with Bush are either "flip-floppers" or just plain wrong in agreeing with such a wrong-headed nutcase. But no - Daschle wants to show how he makes nice with the little crackhead.

Thanks for nothing, Tom. BEAT IT.

From the Pen of: Ben Sargent

Tuesday, September 28

MoveOn Call to Action: Make CBS Run the Story

LINK - President Bush based his famous and false claim that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger on a set of crudely forged documents. For the last two years, no one has uncovered who falsified these documents, which lie at the heart of Bush's case for war.

Now, CBS' 60 Minutes program has uncovered new and important revelations about the Bush administration's reliance on the documents. But, in an unprecedented and astonishing move, CBS bumped the report back until after the election, saying it would be "inappropriate" to air the piece when it might interfere with the political season.

It's outrageous that a major TV news outlet would censor an important piece of news for political reasons. Especially since this report has met CBS' standards for accuracy - it's true. One can only assume that CBS is buckling under pressure from the right - and that's just plain wrong.

Call CBS and its parent company, Viacom, now, at:

Sumner Redstone, Chairman, Viacom
(212) 258-6000

Les Moonves, Chairman of CBS; co-President & co-CEO, Viacom
(323) 575-2345

Andrew Heyward, President, CBS News
(212) 975-3247 or
(212) 975-4321

If you don't get through, you can write to CBS at:

You can also contact CBS' local affiliates, which are linked here:

Urge CBS to reverse its decision and air the 60 Minutes piece on Iraq before the November 2nd election. Let them know how important it is that they not censor the news.

Debate Advice from Someone Who Knows

Al Gore gives a few pointers in the New York Times...
How to Debate George Bush

My advice to John Kerry is simple: be prepared for the toughest debates of your career. While George Bush's campaign has made "lowering expectations" into a high art form, the record is clear - he's a skilled debater who uses the format to his advantage. There is no reason to expect any less this time around. And if anyone truly has "low expectations" for an incumbent president, that in itself is an issue.

But more important than his record as a debater is Mr. Bush's record as a president. And therein lies the true opportunity for John Kerry - because notwithstanding the president's political skills, his performance in office amounts to a catastrophic failure. And the debates represent a time to hold him to account. For the voters, these debates represent an opportunity to explore four relevant questions: Is America on the right course today, or are we off track? If we are headed in the wrong direction, what happened and who is responsible? How do we get back on the right path to a safer, more secure, more prosperous America? And, finally, who is best able to lead us to that path?

In the coming debates, Senator Kerry has an opportunity to show voters that today American troops and American taxpayers are shouldering a huge burden with no end in sight because Mr. Bush took us to war on false premises and with no plan to win the peace. Mr. Kerry has an opportunity to demonstrate the connection between job losses and Mr. Bush's colossal tax break for the wealthy. And he can remind voters that Mr. Bush has broken his pledge to expand access to health care.

Senator Kerry can also use these debates to speak directly to voters and lay out a hopeful vision for our future. If voters walk away from the debates with a better understanding of where our country is, how we got here and where each candidate will lead us if elected, then America will be the better for it. The debate tomorrow should not seek to discover which candidate would be more fun to have a beer with. As Jon Stewart of the "The Daily Show" nicely put in 2000, "I want my president to be the designated driver."

If Mr. Bush is not willing to concede that things are going from bad to worse in Iraq, can he be trusted to make the decisions necessary to change the situation? If he insists on continuing to pretend it is "mission accomplished," can he accomplish the mission? And if the Bush administration has been so thoroughly wrong on absolutely everything it predicted about Iraq, with the horrible consequences that have followed, should it be trusted with another four years?

The biggest single difference between the debates this year and four years ago is that President Bush cannot simply make promises. He has a record. And I hope that voters will recall the last time Mr. Bush stood on stage for a presidential debate. If elected, he said, he would support allowing Americans to buy prescription drugs from Canada. He promised that his tax cuts would create millions of new jobs. He vowed to end partisan bickering in Washington. Above all, he pledged that if he put American troops into combat: "The force must be strong enough so that the mission can be accomplished. And the exit strategy needs to be well defined."

Comparing these grandiose promises to his failed record, it's enough to make anyone want to, well, sigh.

Ho Hum - Another Newspaper Endorses John Ker...Hey, WAIT a Minute!

This one's from - CRAWFORD, TEXAS. The ranch hands at the Brush Clearing Center must be giggling as they're passing this around to each other...
Kerry Will Restore American Dignity
2004 Iconoclast Presidential Endorsement

Few Americans would have voted for George W. Bush four years ago if he had promised that, as President, he would:

- Empty the Social Security trust fund by $507 billion to help offset fiscal irresponsibility and at the same time slash Social Security benefits.

- Cut Medicare by 17 percent and reduce veterans' benefits and military pay.

- Eliminate overtime pay for millions of Americans and raise oil prices by 50 percent.

- Give tax cuts to businesses that sent American jobs overseas, and, in fact, by policy encourage their departure.

- Give away billions of tax dollars in government contracts without competitive bids.

- Involve this country in a deadly and highly questionable war, and

- Take a budget surplus and turn it into the worst deficit in the history of the United States, creating a debt in just four years that will take generations to repay.

These were elements of a hidden agenda that surfaced only after he took office.

The publishers of The Iconoclast endorsed Bush four years ago, based on the things he promised, not on this smoke-screened agenda.

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

Uh...Um...Uh...Hey? Uh...Hate to Break Up the Iraq Conversation...

...but North Korea has...uh...that...thing we thought Saddam had but didn't.
Minister: N. Korea Has Nuclear Deterrent

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - North Korea says it has turned the plutonium from 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods into nuclear weapons to serve as a deterrent against increasing U.S. nuclear threats and to prevent a nuclear war in northeast Asia.

Warning that the danger of war on the Korean peninsula "is snowballing," Vice Foreign Minister Choe Su Hon provided details Monday of the nuclear deterrent that he said North Korea has developed for self-defense.

He told the U.N. General Assembly's annual ministerial meeting that Pyongyang had "no other option but to possess a nuclear deterrent" because of U.S. policies that he claimed were designed to "eliminate" North Korea and make it "a target of preemptive nuclear strikes."

"Our deterrent is, in all its intents and purposes, the self-defensive means to cope with the ever increasing U.S. nuclear threats and further, prevent a nuclear war in northeast Asia," he told a news conference after his speech.

In Washington, a State Department official noted that Secretary of State Colin Powell has said repeatedly that the United States has no plans to attack the communist country.

But in his General Assembly speech and at the press conference with a small group of reporters, Choe blamed the United States for intensifying threats to attack the communist nation and destroying the basis for negotiations to resolve the dispute over Pyongyang's nuclear program.

Nonetheless, he said, North Korea is still ready to dismantle its nuclear program if Washington abandons its "hostile policy" and is prepared to coexist peacefully.

Who's Got One of the Best Rapid Response Teams?

Comedy Central, of course.
Stewart's 'stoned slackers'? Not quite
Comedy Central defends audience against O'Reilly tease

The folks at Comedy Central were annoyed when Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly kept referring to "The Daily Show" audience as "stoned slackers."

So they did a little research. And guess whose audience is more educated?

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

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

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

Comedy Central executives realized, and O'Reilly acknowledged, that he was poking fun. But they said they didn't want a misconception to persist.

"If the head of General Motors was watching O'Reilly's show, that could be very important to us," said Doug Herzog, Comedy Central president.

"If you listen to O'Reilly, you get the sense that it was crazy longhairs behind the show," he said. "And it's not. It's great, smart television that attracts a well-compensated audience, most of whom are voting age."

Relax, said Fox News Channel spokesman Rob Zimmerman.

"Comedy Central must have lost their sense of humor," Zimmerman said. "Without Jon Stewart, Comedy Central would turn into the Great American Country Channel."
Oh, and your people at Fox News and the GOP are just an uproarious bunch, Rob! That O'Reilly line about stoned slackers and calling The Daily Show "dopey"? I'm still giggling! "Dopey"! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! That's as funny as those wacky pictures of John Kerry windsurfing. Ha ha ha ha! Ha! Ha. ...ha.

Fox News! Superserving the grade-school educated TV viewer!

Paul Krugman Challenges Cable News to Do Its Job

Kruuuuuugman. Kruuuuuuugman...
Swagger vs. Substance

Let's face it: whatever happens in Thursday's debate, cable news will proclaim President Bush the winner. This will reflect the political bias so evident during the party conventions. It will also reflect the undoubted fact that Mr. Bush does a pretty good Clint Eastwood imitation.

But what will the print media do? Let's hope they don't do what they did four years ago.

Interviews with focus groups just after the first 2000 debate showed Al Gore with a slight edge. Post-debate analysis should have widened that edge. After all, during the debate, Mr. Bush told one whopper after another - about his budget plans, about his prescription drug proposal and more. The fact-checking in the next day's papers should have been devastating.

But as Adam Clymer pointed out yesterday on the Op-Ed page of The Times, front-page coverage of the 2000 debates emphasized not what the candidates said but their "body language." After the debate, the lead stories said a lot about Mr. Gore's sighs, but nothing about Mr. Bush's lies. And even the fact-checking pieces "buried inside the newspaper" were, as Mr. Clymer delicately puts it, "constrained by an effort to balance one candidate's big mistakes" - that is, Mr. Bush's lies - "against the other's minor errors."

The result of this emphasis on the candidates' acting skills rather than their substance was that after a few days, Mr. Bush's defeat in the debate had been spun into a victory.

During the debate, Mr. Bush will try to cover for this dismal record with swagger, and with attacks on his opponent. Will the press play Karl Rove's game by, as Mr. Clymer puts it, confusing political coverage with drama criticism, or will it do its job and check the candidates' facts?

There have been some encouraging signs lately. There was a disturbing interlude in which many news organizations seemed to accept false claims that Iraq had calmed down after the transfer of sovereignty. But now, as the violence escalates, they seem willing to ask hard questions about Mr. Bush's fantasy version of the situation in Iraq. For example, a recent Reuters analysis pointed out that independent sources contradict his assertions about everything "from police training and reconstruction to preparations for January elections."

Mr. Bush is also getting less of a free ride than he used to when he smears his opponent. Last week, after Mr. Bush declared that Mr. Kerry "would prefer the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein to the situation in Iraq today," The Associated Press pointed out that this "twisted his rival's words" - and then quoted what John Kerry actually said.

Nonetheless, on Thursday night there will be a temptation to revert to drama criticism - to emphasize how the candidates looked and acted, and push analysis of what they said, and whether it was true, to the inside pages. With so much at stake, the public deserves better.
Well, at least half of the public, Paul...

LA Times: "Bush Is A Coward"

Well, SOMEONE has noticed...
How Dare Kerry Speak Up

Why would any president even wish to plunge this country into war and keep it there without a level of support from the citizenry that is strong enough to survive the obvious counterarguments?

Bush's own campaign strategy has put the events of 9/11 and their aftermath at the center of this election. The president asks to be reelected based on the claim that his response to that event has been a success. It would be convenient for him if any challenge to this notion were considered beyond the pale. Increasingly convenient, in fact, as the word "success" seems less and less applicable. But Bush's convenience is not what this election is about.

This attempt to delegitimize criticism rather than rebut it comes as part three of a three-part Republican strategy. (At least we hope there are only three parts.) Part one was the first wave of Swift boat ads (and the ridiculous hoo-ha around them), raising questions about Kerry's Vietnam service. From there it was an easy leap to part two, the second Swift boat wave and the accompanying fuss about Kerry's leadership of the Vietnam antiwar movement. Part three drives it all home: As during Vietnam, so during Iraq. The guy is still at it, disloyally attacking his own country in wartime and giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

As this page noted during the second Swift boat attack, the Vietnam antiwar movement (or at least the part of it Kerry was associated with) was the essence of patriotism, trying to rescue our country from a terrible mistake and to prevent the waste of any more young lives. Those who attack Kerry today for opposing the war back then overlook the fact that the country came to agree with him. If Kerry and others had refrained from criticism out of a crude notion of patriotism and a misguided "respect" for American troops, many more of those troops would be long dead today.

Compared with Kerry, George W. Bush is a coward. This is not a reference to their respective activities during Vietnam. It refers to the current election campaign. Bush happily benefits from the slime his supporters are spreading but refuses to take responsibility for it or to call point-blank for it to stop. He got away with this when the prime mover was the shadowy Swift boats group. Will he get away with it when the accusers are his own vice president, high officials of his own administration (Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage) and members of Congress from his own party (House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert or Sen. Orrin Hatch)? The answer is yes: Based on recent experience, he probably will get away with it.

Blogging and Late Night Poker Don't Mix

We'll play catch-up today after I had the audacity to play last night.

Hey, speaking of late-night, Leno's retiring in 2009 and Conan's his successor. If anyone tinks that's a weird choice, it'll never be weirder than Leno hiring Stuttering John Melendez as his announcer. LINK

Bravo, Conan. To think that 11 years ago, this guy was being trashed for having no experience (right - other than The Simpsons, SNL, Not Necessarily the News, etc. etc. etc.) is an inspiration to all frustrated folks who are truly talented sumbitches.

Monday, September 27

An Administration in Complete Disarray

Now they're just skidding out of control. Bush says everything's peachy in Iraq. The rest of the world disagrees - including his own cabinet.
Powell contradicts Bush, says Iraq 'getting worse'

WASHINGTON (AP) - Secretary of State Colin Powell sees the situation in Iraq "getting worse" as planned elections approach, and the top U.S. military commander for Iraq says he expects more violence ahead.

Their comments yesterday came after a week in which President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi optimistically spoke about the situation despite the beheadings of two more Americans and the deaths of dozens of people in car bombings.

In its latest report, the military said four Marines died Friday in separate incidents, adding to a toll that has topped 1,000 since the U.S.-led invasion.

Powell said the insurgency is only becoming more violent as planned January elections near.

"It's getting worse," he said on ABC's "This Week." "They are determined to disrupt the election. They do not want the Iraqi people to vote for their own leaders in a free, democratic election."

Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. troops in the Middle East, warned that voting might not be possible in parts of Iraq where the violence is too intense.

"I don’t think we'll ever achieve perfection, and when we look for perfection in a combat zone, we're going to be sadly disappointed," he said on NBC’s "Meet the Press."
Whoa. "Combat Zone"? (DING!) Another contradiction of Bush's flightsuit "Mission Accomplished" speech. The wheels are just falling off.

It Just Keeps Getting Weirder

In the race for California's 26th district (better known as the Inbred Inland Empire), Rep. David Dreier is still in the closet, but his opponent? Well, here's a wacky development...
Dreier's challenger acknowledges she is a lesbian, rebukes his positions on gay issues

In a surprising twist to an already unusual California congressional race, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican Congressman David Dreier has told RAW STORY that she is a lesbian, and has made a series of conditional statements rebuking Dreier's position on gay issues while concurrently questioning the payment arrangements with his chief of staff Brad Smith.

Her statement makes this the first known time in history an openly gay candidate has run against another candidate also believed to be gay. The L.A. Times, presented with this information, has said they are not planning a story.

Democrat Cynthia Matthews, who has not kept her sexuality secret from the press, said Saturday that she was proud of her relationship with her same-sex partner.

Excuses, Excuses

Well. Seems there's a huge Democratic turnout of voter registration in the two biggest battleground states. And of course, the GOP has every excuse in the book as to why that is - including their old favorite: ACCUSATIONS OF ILLEGAL ACTIVITY. Babies.
New voters coming out in droves

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

The analysis of county-by-county data shows that in Democratic areas of Ohio - primarily low-income and minority neighborhoods - new registrations since January have increased 250 percent over the same period in 2000. In comparison, new registrations have increased 25 percent in Republican areas.

A similar pattern is apparent in Florida: In the strongest Democratic areas, the pace of new registration is 60 percent higher than in 2000, while it has risen 12 percent in the heaviest Republican areas.

Republican officials say they think the paid workers who are registering low-income voters are sloppy. Matt Damschroder, director of Ohio's Board of Elections, said he had to throw out many of the cards he received because the voters already were registered. "One woman had signed a card three different times," with three groups, he said.

Prosecutors in Columbus have filed criminal charges against an Acorn registrar, saying he filed a false registration form and forged a signature. Officials for the group say they fired the worker and instituted a quality checking system before prosecutors acted.

Nevertheless, an examination of county registration records shows that the groups have added thousands of new Democrats to the rolls and have far outnumbered new registrations in Republican areas.

In rock-ribbed Republican areas - 103 ZIP codes, many of them rural and suburban areas, that voted by 2 to 1 or better for President Bush in 2000 - 35,000 new voters have registered, a substantial increase over the 28,000 that registered in those areas in the first seven months of 2000.

"It's not easy work, but we go door-to-door in strong Republican precincts, making sure everyone is registered," said Chris McNulty, the state party chairman.

But in heavily Democratic areas - 60 ZIP codes mostly in the core of big cities such as Cleveland, Dayton, Columbus and Youngstown that voted 2 to 1 or better against Bush - new registrations have more than tripled.

"If every Democrat showed up at the polls, you'd win, no question," said James Koehler, a precinct organizer in Columbus working for, another soft-money group. Koehler said MoveOn hoped to have a volunteer in every precinct to call neighbors Nov. 2.

Republicans in Ohio, as well as nationwide, have accused the independent groups of essentially flouting campaign-finance law. But they clearly are concerned about their impact. "I would say we are in the unfortunate position of having to fight a two-front war," said McNulty, the Ohio party chairman. "I'd be a lot less concerned if it was just us against the Democrats and the Kerry campaign, but unfortunately it's not."
No, Chris McNulty. And it's not just MoveOn, pal. It's Republicans and Independents who are also fed up with Bush and his path of destruction. Deal with it.

So - accusations of multiple registrations and those big bad old 527s. The GOP is pulling out its book of alibis. Why don't you pull out the Swift Boat liars again, if you're screaming "foul"? We're not buying it.

Thanks, yk...

Sunday, September 26

Jeanne Damage: $8 Billion

Damn, these things are ugly. Florida's got to be fed up. I never understood the attraction of the place - sweaty, humid, hot, muggy, lots of old drivers, LONG traffic lights, rotten vote counting and of course, the occasional badass wind and rain.

I found a picture from the post-Ivan gallery, and found a pic which looked awfully familiar. Sure enough, I had taken virtually the same shot from my motorbike a year ago. This is my pic of West End Road in front of Hotel Samsara last November:

...and the same stretch of road shortly after Ivan hit.

Note that toppled trees aside, most of the overhead foliage is just plain gone. We're a month away from returning. We're hearing that the cleanup and recovery are uncharacteristically rapid - we have friends who built homes's generally a l-o-n-g process. Ought to be an interesting trip, but one we're still eagerly looking forward to.

We're Hoffmania, and We Also Approve This Message

The Kerry camp's new TV spot is based on the Sunday NYT editorial. We like it.

The OTHER Thing Bush Keeps Putting a Happy Face On

What's their names...attacked us...9/11...(snap) al Qaeda. Yeah. Them. Bush says he's got 'em on the run. Smokin' 'em out. Not even thinkin' of 'em anymore.

Better start thinking, pal. The hydra's growing more heads than you can even count.
Al Qaeda Seen as Wider Threat
The network has evolved into a looser, ideological movement that may no longer report to Bin Laden. Critics say the White House focus is misdirected.

Authorities have made little progress worldwide in defeating Islamic extremists affiliated with Al Qaeda despite thwarting attacks and arresting high-profile figures, according to interviews with intelligence and law enforcement officials and outside experts.

On the contrary, officials warn that the Bush administration's upbeat assessment of its successes is overly optimistic and masks its strategic failure to understand and combat Al Qaeda's evolution.

Even before the Sept. 11 attacks, Al Qaeda was a loosely organized network, but core leaders exercised considerable control over its operations. Since the loss of its base in Afghanistan and many of those leaders, the organization has dispersed its operatives and reemerged as a lethal ideological movement.

Osama bin Laden may now serve more as an inspirational figure than a CEO, and the war in Iraq is helping focus militants' anger, according to dozens of interviews in recent weeks on several continents. European and moderate Islamic countries have become targets. And instead of undergoing lengthy training at camps in Afghanistan, recruits have been quickly indoctrinated at home and deployed on attacks.

The United States remains a target, but counter-terrorism officials and experts are alarmed by Al Qaeda's switch from spectacular attacks that require years of planning to smaller, more numerous strikes on softer targets that can be carried out swiftly with little money or outside help.

Russell Train Jumps Ship

The Nixon-appointed head of the EPA (a lifetime Republican) doesn't like what he's seeing from the White House crackheads. He's a Kerry guy now.

EPA's chief under Nixon rips Bush on environment
Says he will vote for Kerry

Russell Train is so disappointed in President Bush's environmental record that the staunch Republican, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's second leader 30 years ago, is casting his vote in November for Democrat John Kerry.

Train, 84, EPA administrator under Presidents Nixon and Ford from 1973 to 77, was in Madison Tuesday in support of Environment2004, an organization trying to end what it calls the anti-environmental agenda of the Bush administration.

A Washington insider for more than half a century, Train said the Bush administration's performance is a radical rollback of environmental rules to benefit special interests.

The administration's reversal of a finding that mercury is a hazardous pollutant is one of 400 rollbacks of environmental protections cited by Enviroment2004, and Train said the reversal is the reason he's switched parties this presidential election.

"Almost anybody's policy would be better than George Bush," Train said in an interview with The Capital Times Wednesday. "Kerry's environmental record in Congress is extremely good."

Ironically, Train was awarded the presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in America, from the first President George Bush in 1991.

From the Pen of: Jeff Danziger

Bush's Illusions of Achievement

This, from this morning's Seattle P-I, says all you need to know.
Bush's dismal policy failures in tax cuts and Iraq are being sold as achievements


During his first term, George W. Bush has inflicted more damage on the nation's people than any other president in the post-World War II era. Not only has the Bush administration failed, it has been far and away the most dangerous presidency in this period.

No other administration has seen itself above the law or so disregarded the Constitution by attacking the venerable institutions created to uphold democracy. In addition, the Bush presidency pushed through its policies by employing a calculated lawlessness that featured both deception and secrecy. A couple of examples help illustrate the administration's use of subterfuge. (Hoffmania note: Read the full article for the examples)

Amazingly and unfortunately, the dismal policy failures in pursuing the tax cuts and the invasion and occupation of Iraq are being sold as achievements during the presidential campaign and apparently being bought by large numbers of the public.

The Bush administration's strong suit has been its political propaganda machine. From the first tax cut introduced at the outset of the presidency, the administration has exploited every trick in the books to win the public to its side.This makes it imperative that the electorate has hard evidence readily available showing the dimensions of the failed presidency. What's needed is to provide a solid base for refuting the administration's deceptive presidential campaign, which has used alchemy to change the hard reality of its disastrous policy performance into untruths that proclaim a successful four years.

If not, the most polarizing and likely the most important election in the 60 years since World War II ended will be decided on misinformation and a distorted imagery that covers over a failed presidency.

The reasons to vote against Bush in the upcoming election go beyond partisanship. The nation has become an entrenched plutocracy ruled by immensely wealthy individuals and the leaders of corporate America. It closely resembles the Gilded Age of a hundred years earlier with its concentrated wealth and robber barons. I truly fear for my country -- not because of the threat of terrorist attacks but because the nation's constitutional framework is being destroyed.

I do not believe the destruction is purposeful on Bush's part. Nonetheless, that he sees himself as a patriot defending the nation does not refute the hard evidence that his misguided policies, based on now-disproved theories, are in fact destroying the American republic created by the Founders.

Walter Williams is a professor emeritus at the University of Washington's Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs and is the author of "Reaganism and the Death of Representative Democracy."

From the Pen of: Tom Toles

Bush's Proud Academic Record

His academic record matches his military record, it seems. Bush's business school professor, Yoshi Tsurumi, remembers his student for his...well, outstanding qualities.
Professor says Bush revealed National Guard favoritism

A business school professor who taught George W. Bush at Harvard University in the early 1970s says the future president told him that family friends had pulled strings to get him into the Texas Air National Guard.

Yoshi Tsurumi, in his first on-camera interview on the subject, told CNN that Bush confided in him during an after-class hallway conversation during the 1973-74 school year.

"He admitted to me that to avoid the Vietnam draft, he had his dad -- he said 'Dad's friends' -- skip him through the long waiting list to get him into the Texas National Guard," Tsurumi said. "He thought that was a smart thing to do."

"What I couldn't stand -- and I told him -- he was all for the U.S. to continue with the Vietnam War. That means he was all for other people, Americans, to keep on fighting and dying."

Tsurumi got to know Bush when the future president took his "Economics EAM" (Environmental Analysis for Management), a required two-semester class from the fall of 1973 to the spring of 1974, Bush's first year at Harvard's business school.

Bush had transferred to Air National Guard reserve status before he enrolled in the MBA program. He had enlisted in the Texas Air National Guard in May 1968 and trained to fly fighter jets until he was suspended from flying status in August 1972 for failing to submit to an annual physical, according to Bush's military records released earlier this year.

Tsurumi said he remembers Bush because every teacher remembers their best and worst students, and Bush was in the latter group.

"Lazy. He didn't come to my class prepared," Tsurumi said. "He did very badly."

Tsurumi concedes that he disapproves of Bush's politics. He wrote a letter to the editor of his hometown newspaper, the Scarsdale Inquirer, that derided the president's claims to "compassionate conservatism."

"Somehow I found him totally devoid of compassion, social responsibility, and good study discipline," Tsurumi said. "What I remember most about him was all the kind of flippant statements that he made inside of classroom as well as outside."

Saturday, September 25

CBS, Once Bitten, Becomes Another Scared Little Lamb

Ironic, isn't it? Because they were handed documents that were reproductions (I call them that since they replicated the real documents - wherever they are), CBS will shy away from a story about how really forged (phoney, fake, trumped-up) documents gave Bush an excuse to get almost 1,100 of our kids killed in a real war. Why we can't go after Bush the same way his goons went after CBS is a crime.

Hey. Why don't they show it on Showtime - kinda like that Reagan movie...?
The Story That Didn't Run

In its rush to air its now discredited story about President George W. Bush's National Guard service, CBS bumped another sensitive piece slated for the same "60 Minutes" broadcast: a half-hour segment about how the U.S. government was snookered by forged documents purporting to show Iraqi efforts to purchase uranium from Niger.

The journalistic juggling at CBS provides an ironic counterpoint to the furor over apparently bogus documents involving Bush's National Guard service. One unexpected consequence of the network's decision was to wipe out a chance - at least for the moment - for greater public scrutiny of a more consequential forgery that played a role in building the Bush administration’s case to invade Iraq.

Flippety Floppety Flappety Fluppety

Looks like Kerry bringing Iraq to the top-of-mind is somehow catching these clowns by surprise - adrift without a map or a compass. Nobody in this White House seems to be in agreement on that crapstorm.

First Rumsfeld wants to reward the "good" Iraqis with voting. Then Armitage says nooooo - it'll be open to everyone.

Post-war plan? What frigging post-war plan? These people are lost. LOST.
Armitage: No Plans for Partial Iraq Election

Iraq's elections in January should encompass the entire country, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said on Friday, differing from comments by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that some violent areas could be excluded.

Armitage said he knew of no plans to hold partial elections that exclude violent areas.

"I know of no changes and no plans. We're pushing ahead, fully supporting the Iraqi people, and the United Nations and the Iraqi electoral commission to have nationwide elections for a 275 person national assembly before the end of January," he told reporters after a House appropriations foreign aid subcommittee hearing.

Rumsfeld raised the possibility of partial elections on Thursday, just hours after Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and President Bush both insisted national elections would be held on schedule in January despite the flaring insurgency.

"If there were to be an area where the extremists focused during the election period, and an election was not possible in that area at that time, so be it. You have the rest of the election and you go on. Life's not perfect," Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Rumsfeld said there could be a situation where an election could be held in "three-quarters or four-fifths of the country. But in some places you couldn't because the violence was too great."

And the AP Smacks Down Bush-Cheney!

Wow. THIS makes up for everything Nedra Pickler ever wrote. Okay, I'm not crazy about the second 'graf, but I'm lovin' the headline.
In new attacks on Kerry, Bush twists his rival's words

WACO, Texas - President George W. Bush opened several new scathing lines of attack against Democrat John Kerry, charges that twisted his rival's words on Iraq and made Kerry seem supportive of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein.

It was not unlike the spin that Kerry and his forces sometimes place on Bush's words.

Campaigning by bus through hotly contested Wisconsin on Friday, Bush sought to counter recently sharpened criticism by Kerry about his Iraq policies:

-He stated flatly that Kerry had said earlier in the week "he would prefer the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein to the situation in Iraq today." The line drew gasps of surprise from Bush's audience in a Racine, Wisconsin, park. "I just strongly disagree," the president said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NYT Drops the Hammer on Bush-Cheney

Someone was bound to call these crackheads on the carpet. This is a magnificent start.
An Un-American Way to Campaign

President Bush and his surrogates are taking their re-election campaign into dangerous territory. Mr. Bush is running as the man best equipped to keep America safe from terrorists - that was to be expected. We did not, however, anticipate that those on the Bush team would dare to argue that a vote for John Kerry would be a vote for Al Qaeda. Yet that is the message they are delivering - with a repetition that makes it clear this is an organized effort to paint the Democratic candidate as a friend to terrorists.

When Vice President Dick Cheney declared that electing Mr. Kerry would create a danger "that we'll get hit again," his supporters attributed that appalling language to a rhetorical slip. But Mr. Cheney is still delivering that message. Meanwhile, as Dana Milbank detailed so chillingly in The Washington Post yesterday, the House speaker, Dennis Hastert, said recently on television that Al Qaeda would do better under a Kerry presidency, and Senator Orrin Hatch, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has announced that the terrorists are going to do everything they can between now and November "to try and elect Kerry."

This is despicable politics. It's not just polarizing - it also undermines the efforts of the Justice Department and the Central Intelligence Agency to combat terrorists in America. Every time a member of the Bush administration suggests that Islamic extremists want to stage an attack before the election to sway the results in November, it causes patriotic Americans who do not intend to vote for the president to wonder whether the entire antiterrorism effort has been kidnapped and turned into part of the Bush re-election campaign. The people running the government clearly regard keeping Mr. Bush in office as more important than maintaining a united front on the most important threat to the nation.

Mr. Bush has not disassociated himself from any of this, and in his own campaign speeches he makes an argument that is equally divisive and undemocratic. The president has claimed, over and over, that criticism of the way his administration has conducted the war in Iraq and news stories that suggest the war is not going well endanger American troops and give aid and comfort to the enemy. This week, in his Rose Garden press conference with the interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, Mr. Bush was asked about Mr. Kerry's increasingly pointed remarks on Iraq. "You can embolden an enemy by sending mixed messages," he said, going on to suggest that Mr. Kerry's criticisms dispirit the Iraqi people and American soldiers.

It is fair game for the president to claim that toppling Saddam Hussein was a blow to terrorism, to accuse Mr. Kerry of flip-flopping and to repeat continually that the war in Iraq is going very well, despite all evidence to the contrary. It is absolutely not all right for anyone on his team to suggest that Mr. Kerry is the favored candidate of the terrorists. And at a time when the United States is supposed to be preparing the Iraqi people for a democratic election, it's appalling to hear the chief executive say that loyal opposition gives aid and comfort to the enemy abroad.

The general instinct of Americans is to play fair. That is why, even though terrorists struck the United States during President Bush's watch, the Democrats have not run a campaign that blames him for allowing the World Trade Center and the Pentagon to be attacked. And while the war in Iraq has opened up large swaths of the country to terrorist groups for the first time, any effort by Mr. Kerry to describe the president as the man whom Osama bin Laden wants to keep in power would be instantly denounced by the Republicans as unpatriotic.

We think that anyone who attempts to portray sincere critics as dangerous to the safety of the nation is wrong. It reflects badly on the president's character that in this instance, he's putting his own ambition ahead of the national good.

Friday, September 24

From the Pen of: Don Wright

From the Pen of: David Horsey

Yes. Yes. Thank you, David.

From the Pen of: Jeff Danziger

Putting an End to this Hallowed Tradition Once and For All

Friday Cat Blogging. Our cute, precious, iddle bitty Woody.

Wow. That's unpleasant.

Here's what the li'l bastard looks like when he's not trying to eat the camera.
Next Week: Friday Scared Parakeet Blogging!

Rall: Giving the Stupids the Vote

The anti-letariat. The boob-geoisie. Thanks to talkradio and Fox News, the unintelligent are being replaced by the merely misinformed. Barry Champlain asks, "Can we NOW please stop kissing the asses of 'average Americans'??"
Ted Rall

"Kerry doesn't know what the working-class people do; he hasn't done any physical labor all his life," Sharon Alfman, a 51-year-old cook in New Lexington, Ohio, told a New York Times reporter. It's true. Kerry is a rich boy. But then she added: "Bush's values are middle-class family values."

George W. Bush earned $727,000 last year. Estimates of his net worth range between $9 and $26 million. Middle class he most assuredly is not. Working class he never has been. Like fellow Skull and Bones member John Kerry, man of the people he never will be. But it matters that Sharon Altman thinks he is. Unless you too are a voter living in a swing state like Ohio, her vote counts more than yours.

Demonstrating that stupefying ignorance can be bipartisan, another Ohioan interviewed for the same article said she is against the war in Iraq because, like 42 percent of her fellow Americans, she thinks Iraq was behind 9/11: "We shouldn't be over there building them back up because they didn't build our towers back up." She is wrong on so many levels that it makes my brain hurt.

Both women are entitled to their unawareness. We can't pass a law to force them to read the paper. But neither of these people ought to force their fellow citizens to suffer the consequences of their being so uninformed. Voting should be a privilege earned by an intellectually engaged citizen, not a right given to any adult with a pulse.

The fact that these yahoos are allowed to vote is an abomination. Their ill-considered ballots cancel or dilute those cast by those who do the heavy lifting that makes them good citizens: keeping abreast of current events, researching issues, studying candidates' positions.

In the Old South, literacy tests were used to disenfranchise blacks. Alternatively, a basic political literacy test should be used to ensure that anyone who picks ESPN over CNN--regardless of race or creed--stays home on Election Day. Prospective voters should be required to answer at least three of the following questions correctly; to give people a fair shot, the test should be published in newspapers a week before an election:

1. Who is the vice president?

2. What is your state capital?

3. Name one of the following: your governor, congressman or one senator.

4. What is the capital of the United States?

5. Name one federal cabinet-level department.

Of course, such a political literacy test would drastically reduce voter turnout. On the other hand, those who pass could take comfort in knowing that they're not competing against the 60 percent of Americans who think we've found Iraq's imaginary WMDs, or the 22 percent who "believe" that Saddam Hussein used such weapons against U.S. troops during the 2003 invasion.

"Tax Cuts" Had Too Much Negative Connotation To It... we're now going to call it: RELIEF! Fast, soothing (yet temporary) RELIEF! So the richest (and neediest) 10% of America's wealthy will soon be feeling some of that cool refreshing RELIEF! (Underscoring ours)
Congress Votes to Extend Tax Cuts
$146 Billion in Relief Would Be Bush's 4th Reduction in 4 Years

The House and the Senate overwhelmingly voted last night to extend three tax cuts aimed at the middle class, along with an array of business tax breaks, sending President Bush a $146 billion tax cut that would be his fourth in four years.

With the approval of the legislation, virtually all of Bush's first-term tax agenda -- four tax measures worth nearly $1.9 trillion over 10 years -- would survive a potential second Bush term, unless Washington elects to change the tax code again. The total is $300 billion more in tax relief than Bush envisioned with his first tax-cut proposal in 2001.
Apparently, the nice soothing sounds of RELIEF! swooned Democrats in the Senate where it passed 92 to 3. Thanks for nothing, senate Dems. Way to make a stand. Horrible.

Our Washington correspondent Michael shot this off this message the Washington Post:
Dear Editor,

Jonathan Weisman's story, "Congress Votes to Extend Tax Cuts: $146 Billion in Relief Would Be Bush's 4th Reduction in 4 Years" (Sep. 24, A1) is playing into the GOP's strategy by helping them frame the debate by using the controversial word "relief". What is wrong with the neutral term "tax cut"? Personally, I would prefer the term "deficit exploding revenue killer" but "tax cut" will suffice.

So I ask, relief for who? Relief for our kids who are stuck with a massive deficit to pay off? Relief for my parents when the government can no longer afford to pay social security? Relief for the millions of school children who are being under-funded by the federal government? Relief for the soldiers who have to traverse Iraq in unarmored vehicles without body armor, because we can't afford it? Just who does this provide relief for?

Although the story does talk about the relationship of these tax cuts to our national debt, words like 'tax relief" automatically frames the argument and tilts it to the Republican advantage. I ask you refrain from Republican or Democratic buzz words and stick to the facts.

Excuse me, but I'm gonna roll me some RELIEF! when I get home...

Say Hello to Our New Friends...

...or else.

BagNews Notes and The American Voice 2004. Don't just sit there. Click on 'em.

Thursday, September 23

I Told You Polls Will Make You Crazy

Kerry is Doing Much Better than the Polls State
Accurate voter turnout has not been part of the equation for pollsters.
Recently Pollster John Zogby of Zogby International wrote an article discussing how the Newsweek Poll that showed an 11-point lead for the president after the convention was flawed and deceitful.

Zogby's article stated that, ''If we look at the three last Presidential elections, the (percentage of voters per party) was 34% Democrats, 34% Republicans and 33% Independents (in 1992 with Ross Perot in the race); 39% Democrats, 34% Republicans, and 27% Independents in 1996; and 39% Democrats, 35% Republicans and 26% Independents in 2000. While party identification can indeed change within the electorate, there is no evidence anywhere to suggest that Democrats will only represent 31% of the total vote this year. In fact, other competitors have gone in the opposite direction. The Los Angeles Times released a poll in June of this year with 38% Democrats and only 25% Republicans. And Gallup's party identification figures have been all over the place."

Unfortunately, the deceitful Newsweek Poll that showed the 11-point "bounce" was because the pollsters at Newsweek polled "38% Republican, 31% Democrat and 31% Independent voters". This is very deceitful because the Republicans, in recent history have NOT come even come close to that type of voter turnout. Pollster Scott Rasmussen says the Time Magazine Poll that showed an 11- point bounce after the convention, also over sampled 38% Republicans.

So as you can see, not only is it obscene and not historically accurate to take a poll using 38% Republicans, 31% Democrats, and 31% Independents, it is also inaccurate to take polls based upon what has happened over the last 3 elections. (I.e. 34% Republican, 34% Democrat, 33% Independent). Because based upon the motivations on the right and the left, we could see very high voter turnout on the Democratic and Independent side, and lower turnout on the Republican side.

So don't believe the polls. Just go out and vote.
Thanks, Jer


The David Dreier story breaks in LA Weekly.

The Freeway Blogger's Latest Challenge

SITE LINK - In response to numerous requests that I start signposting in swing states, I've decided to extend the following offer. If I get 25 pictures of signs hung in Arizona, I'll go there and put up 75. Same for New Mexico and Colorado.
That sounds like a thrown-down gauntlet to me. Whattya say, folks?

A Preview of January 20th, 2005

I'm looking forward to seeing that dopey wave for the last time.

Am I the Only One to Interpret This as an Admission by Bush?

LINK - Standing beside Iraq's interim leader, President Bush contended Thursday that insurgents could "plot and plan attacks elsewhere, in America and other free nations," if the United States pulled out. He said his top commander there has not asked for more troops but if he did, "I'd listen to him."
Hello? (tap tap tap) Is this thing on?

Forget that Bush is playing the terrorist card again - we knew he was going to do that when things got a little nasty for him.

What he's saying to us now is that he has taken a country with ZERO ties to the terrorism which attacked the United States - and turned it into a fast-germinating breeding ground for yet a NEW wave of terrorists: The Iraqi insurgents.

So now we not only have al Qaeda looking to come after us on our soil. We also have Iraqi terrorists who wish to do the same. The notion of Iraqi terrorists attacking the U.S. simply did not exist before Bush's war - except in Bush's demented little world. His horrific fairy tale has come true.

Is anybody hearing us?


I don't know if this is a first for a hurricane - to break in two and reform. But it's still weird. This is one pissed off storm.
Ivan Remnants Return to Gulf of Mexico

Ivan is making an encore appearance in the Gulf of Mexico, this time as a tropical storm that could come ashore along the coasts of Texas or Louisiana.

After hitting Florida on Sept. 16 as a hurricane, Ivan weakened and broke apart as it traveled north, drenching southern and mid-Atlantic states before returning to sea. Its remnants then swung southward, growing slightly as it traveled over warmer waters.

The regenerated storm was expected to make landfall in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday night, and could bring 50 mph winds and 5 to 10 inches of rain.

Wednesday, September 22

SF Chron: The "Flip Flop" Label is Bullcrap

Thursday's SF Chronicle has a front page analysis by Mark Sandalow (somewhat redeeming himself for last week's article) which debunks the flip-flop fairy tale plastered on Kerry. He uses something revolutionary in the story - actual quotes by Kerry from day one. What a concept.

Oct. 9, 2002

Senate floor speech on Iraq resolution:

"In giving the president this authority, I expect him to fulfill the commitments he has made to the American people in recent days -- to work with the United Nations Security Council to adopt a new resolution setting out tough and immediate inspection requirements, and to act with our allies at our side if we have to disarm Saddam Hussein by force. If he fails to do so, I will be among the first to speak out."

Sept. 9, 2003

Speech announcing presidential campaign, Patriot's Point, S.C.:

"I voted to threaten the use of force to make Saddam Hussein comply with the resolutions of the United Nations. I believe that was right -- but it was wrong to rush to war without building a true international coalition -- and with no plan to win the peace."

March 18, 2003

Statement on the eve of the attack on Baghdad:

"Even having botched the diplomacy, it is the duty of any president, in the final analysis, to defend this nation and dispel the security threat. ... Saddam Hussein has brought military action upon himself by refusing for 12 years to comply with the mandates of the United Nations. ... My strong personal preference would have been for the administration ... to have given diplomacy more time."

Dec. 3, 2003

Speech before the Council on Foreign Relations, New York City:

"Simply put, the Bush administration has pursued the most arrogant, inept, reckless and ideological foreign policy in modern history."

Sept. 20, 2004

New York University:

"President Bush tells us that he would do everything all over again the same way. How can he possibly be serious? Is he really saying that if we knew there were no imminent threat, no weapons of mass destruction, no ties to Al Qaeda, the United States should have invaded Iraq?"