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Thursday, September 30, 2004

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.


Martini Republic captures the meme:

As John Kerry elucidated on Administration error after Administration error on the war in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran, George W. Bush repeated meaningless mantras wholly composed of his own rectitude, not so much in debate, nor even in defense, but as a refrain a child hums when scared of thunder.

Kerry's demeanor was the demeanor of someone the public can trust, and he scarcely seemed the flipflopper the Bush campaign presents him as; the President's demeanor, conversely, could only be termed as trustworthy by the most partisan Republicans. Kerry delivered with honesty, smoothness and strength; the President, conversely, stumbled many times--once, amazingly, saying that our troops were fighting "vociferously", another time calling the Senator "Bush" (?), was full of blinks and stammers, and began, probably to the horror of Karl Rove, explaining himself. Three times he asked for more time from the moderator to clarify not a Kerry charge but his own position.

Being resolutely wrong is hard to defend.


Spinning Like Tops

Kondrake just said that Kerry looked like a commander in chief.

Barnes feels that Kerry helped himself with his base.

Kristol said that this race now a real race.

Brokaw said that Kerry renergized the base and gave undecided voters a good reason to vote for him.

Russert said John Kerry was the candidate that Democrats thought they were nominating in Iowa.

Matthews said Bush elected to recieve instead of taking it to his opponent.


We just saw the next president of the United States and his name isn't George W. Bush.

George W. Bush behaved like a petulant child. He smirked, he rolled his eyes and he behaved very immaturely. His bearing was not presidential. Kerry didn't lose his cool. He stayed on message. He looked like a president.

John Kerry won this debate folks, because he was right on substance and he was right in attitude. Even the mediawhores are taking Bush to task.

Scarborough on MSNBC said it was Kerry's best showing in a debate ever.

Andrea Mitchell said that Bush misbehaved with his smirking and annoyance.

I'm going back to the spin room. I'll be back in a minute.

Loose Nukes

Prior to 9/11, the Bush administration sought to slash funding for the Nunn-Lugar initiative, calling it a waste of money. Since 9/11, the administration has prudently reversed that posture, but despite his claim of a close personal relationship with Russian president Vladimir Putin, it's hard to find any evidence that Bush has made nuclear threat reduction a particularly high priority in U.S.-Russia relations. After the last Bush-Putin summit, the subject wasn't even mentioned in the two leaders' public declarations. Meanwhile, the administration's vaunted homeland security effort has placed an equally low priority on ensuring systematic inspection of cargos entering our country via sea, land, or air for nuclear materials.

As it happens, Bush's rival, Sen. John Kerry, who has a strong record on proliferation issues, has made aggressive international action on nuclear nonproliferation the centerpiece of his plan for a new collective security system to meet 21st century threats to America and world peace and order. Aside from promising to make the "loose nuke" threat in the former Soviet Union the top item on the agenda in every discussion with Russia, Kerry has called for repealing the loophole in international nonproliferation treaties that allows countries to obtain and process nuclear materials for "peaceful energy uses." That's the guise under which North Korea has created its nuclear weapons program, and the excuse Iran is using to explain its equally aggressive drive to obtain nuclear materials and build enrichment and reprocessing plants. Kerry wants to offer such states and others a simple deal: We will give you the nuclear fuel you need for energy use so long as you agree to let us recapture the spent fuel so it cannot be redirected to a secret weapons program. He has also called for steps to make prevention of nuclear terrorism a central preoccupation of every federal agency involved in national security or international diplomacy.

We Are Bogged Down In Iraq

...and any sentient person knows it. He took the pressure off of al Queda and let bin Laden escape in Tora Bora.

This is indisputable. Iraq was not an imminent danger, but al Qaeda was. Bush took his eye off the ball because a bunch of starry eyed neocons were looking for an excuse to take out their old, dotty nemesis Saddam Hussein.

It is indisputable that the post war planning for Iraq was left in the hand of a group of nepostic know-bothings like Ari Fleisher's brother and people are now dying. On average, U.S. forces are now being attacked well over 60 times per day. This is a 20% increase from the three months before the transfer of sovereignty.

Bush keeps saying that changing position on Iraq is a sign of weakness. But, anyone can understand that when things are hurtling out of control you should change direction. Bush is incapable of doing this because he has staked his presidency on a war he wanted to fight instead of the war we needed to fight.

Hard Work

Have you heard that it's hard work?

It's hard work.

Let 'Em Have It

If the post debate spin tonight is as unfair and absurd as it has been in the past, it would be helpful if people would call the networks in large numbers and complain. It usually takes a few days to gel and it might be possible to turn an incorrect spin if we make an issue of it. If they don't hear from us, they don't realize that they are living in their own little media echo chamber.

Don't jump to conclusions. Wait and watch for a while to see how it plays out. The press corpse might just see the obvious, for once, and realize that Bush's canned, robotic responses are not persuasive and that the public really needs to hear something more than bumper sticker slogans. Bush's cockiness and arrogance may just go too far this time and even the media may be put off by it. We know that Kerry is by far more intellectually prepared to answer questions and win in a fair debate. Perhaps the media will finally wipe the stardust from their eyes and recognise that outtakes from "Bonanza" are simply not adequate answers to serious questions.

But, if they immediately say that Kerry lost then call and complain. Tell them that you thought Kerry did great and that what you saw was the next president of the United States. Don't accuse them of bias. Tell them you wonder if they watched the same debate you did.

If Bush spin grows tomorrow, call again. (Use those free nightime minutes. They aren't good for anything else.) Let the media know that we are watching and listening and that they will hear from us.

My reader jake in the comment below says:

This tactic was at the backbone of the right's onslaught on the media for the last 20 years. This phenomenon didn't happen overnight. Straightening it out won't happen quickly either. But it's gotta start NOW.

And don't email. That gets no attention. You have to call. You have to express yourself verbally and forcefully. You have to be clear, strong and organized. Don't engage in twit-speak about your "feelings." You also have to write letters...Paper ones, delivered in the mail (gasp! horrors!). As I said, I know because I've been in the belly of the beast forever.

ABC News


47 W. 66th St
New York, NY 10023
Phone: (212) 456-7477, 456-3796
Fax: (212) 456-4866, 456-2795

World News Tonight with Peter Jennings

Phone: (212) 456-4040
Fax: (212) 456-2771

CBS News

542 W. 57th St.
New York, NY 10019

News Desk:
Phone: (212) 975-4321, 975-3691
Fax: (212) 975-1893



1 CNN Center
POB 105366
Atlanta, GA 30348
Phone: (404) 827-1500
Fax: (404) 827-1593, (404) 827-1784

Fox News


1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036
Phone: (212) 301-3000
Fax: (212) 301-4224



One MSNBC Plaza
Secaucus, NJ 07094
Phone: (201) 583-5000
Fax: (201) 583-5453

NBC News


30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112
Phone: (212) 664-5900
Fax: (212) 664-2914



635 Mass Ave
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: (202) 414-2323
Fax: (202) 414-3324



PO BOX 50880
Washington, DC 20091
Phone: (800) 356-2626

Get your phone in hand. Listen to the democratic voices in the spin room and make note of their key words and phrases. Read your regular blogs after the debate.

Then get on the phone and make some calls. Tonight. If they fuck this up, the media need to hear from us.

"The Situation"

Everyone needs to read this. George W. Bush is living in a fantasyland of spin, pretending that things are getting better. George W. Bush has turned a potential threat into an active threat.

Here is an excerpt from the Wall Street Journal Reporter's E-mail:

It's hard to pinpoint when the 'turning point' exactly began. Was it April when the Fallujah fell out of the grasp of the Americans? Was it when Moqtada and Jish Mahdi declared war on the U.S. military? Was it when Sadr City, home to ten percent of Iraq's population, became a nightly battlefield for the Americans? Or was it when the insurgency began spreading from isolated pockets in the Sunni triangle to include most of Iraq? Despite President Bush's rosy assessments, Iraq remains a disaster. If under Saddam it was a 'potential' threat, under the Americans it has been transformed to 'imminent and active threat,' a foreign policy failure bound to haunt the United States for decades to come.

Iraqis like to call this mess 'the situation.' When asked 'how are thing?' they reply: 'the situation is very bad."

What they mean by situation is this: the Iraqi government doesn't control most Iraqi cities, there are several car bombs going off each day around the country killing and injuring scores of innocent people, the country's roads are becoming impassable and littered by hundreds of landmines and explosive devices aimed to kill American soldiers, there are assassinations, kidnappings and beheadings. The situation, basically, means a raging barbaric guerilla war. In four days, 110 people died and over 300 got injured in Baghdad alone. The numbers are so shocking that the ministry of health -- which was attempting an exercise of public transparency by releasing the numbers -- has now stopped disclosing them.

Insurgents now attack Americans 87 times a day.

We did not need to fight this particular war. We had a real war to fight and we did a half assed job of it in Afghanistan because certain members of the Bush administration used 9/11 as an excuse to go after an old enemy who was not an imminent threat. Invading Iraq played into our real enemy's hands and gave their cause new life and many, many recruits. It lost us friends and allies throughout the world. We are less safe than we would have been if George W. Bush had fought the war we needed to fight instead of the war he wanted to fight.

The American people do not want to believe that our government could make a mistake of such epic proportions. But it did and the man at the top needs to be fired. He is not willing to change course and fix his mistakes, so the American people are going to have to do it for him.

Read the entire piece. Send it to the media and ask them why they are covering this election as if it were a sporting event when it is a matter of life and death. "The situation" is lethal and Americans may have to pay a very heavy price if we don't take this war out of Bush's hands while we have the chance. He and his comrades have shown that they cannot be trusted to wage the war correctly.

Pool Coverage

I wrote yesterday that Fox would be in control of the feed of the debate tonight and therefore could not be trusted to show Kerry in a fair light. As it turns out, each network will have a choice of various shots.

Fox News is running the "pool" coverage, feeding multiple streams of video to the other networks -- and also feeding suspicion in the liberal blogosphere that somehow the choice of images shown would be biased toward Bush -- but it's up to each control room what shots to show.

In the past, the feed that went out was the feed that everybody saw. I guess that's changed. So, if they play games with the reaction shots, it's the fault of the particular network, not necessarily FOX.

That's something we should complain about as well. Keep those phone numbers handy. Work those refs.

Who Cares What Grieving Moms Think?

Apparently, the Dan Rather debacle has the quaking mediaswhores completely cowed. None of them are going to talk about anything "controversial" going forward.

So far in this campaign, the surest way for political advocacy groups to grab some TV exposure is to create commercials (the more emotional the better), buy airtime in a handful of swing states and then hold a press conference to announce the spots. The first Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ad that argued Sen. John Kerry lied about his war medals won free airtime for weeks on cable television. More recently, an anti-Kerry ad mixing a grainy picture of Kerry in among notorious Islamic terrorists was dutifully noted by most major news organizations.

The latest ad buy entry came yesterday when families of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq held a press conference in Washington, D.C., to announce two new emotional anti-Bush ads that are set to run in the crucial swing states of Florida, New Mexico and Nevada. Calling themselves RealVoices.org, the mothers of slain soldiers appear in the two ads, often in tears as they describe their loss and their anger over the war in Iraq.

Sounds like some pretty gripping stuff, right? Apparently not to TV news outlets. So far they've been overwhelmingly MIA on the story. Here's an up-to-the-minute tally of the mentions that RealVoices.org has received so far:

CNN: 0
CNN Headline News: 0
Fox News: 0
ABC: 0
CBS: 0
NBC: 0


Write some e-mails folks. Work those cowardly refs. This is a powerful ad campaign and the goddamned gasbags ought to give it just as much coverage as they gave those swift boat bozos.

Here's the CNN feedback page



Rhymes With Wee-Ahtch

Spare me, dear readers, any more chastisement for making a very vague passing remark about Lynn Cheney's backside. The nasty witch doesn't seem to have a problem with mocking other people's looks:

During a campaign stop in Minnesota yesterday, Mrs Cheney joined in the ridiculing of Mr Kerry.

As a group of volunteers moved into a crowd with microphones for a question-and-answer period, the vice-president told supporters to look for the people with dark orange shirts.

When Cheney paused as if searching to describe the shade of orange, his wife said: “How about John Kerry’s suntan?”

Live by Drudge, die by Drudge. If you want to be treated respectfully, you should probably behave respectfully --- particularly if you have an ass the size of a love seat.


Wes Clark and Rudy Giuliani will be doing the live debate coverage with Jon Stewart tonight on The Daily Show: The place where the smart people go for their fake news.

When Will Bush Face The Grim Reality In Iraq?

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Three bombs exploded at a neighborhood celebration Thursday in western Baghdad, killing 35 children and seven adults, officials said. Hours earlier, a suicide car bomb killed a U.S. soldier and two Iraqis on the capital's outskirts.

The bombs in Baghdad's al-Amel neighborhood caused the largest death toll of children in any insurgent attack since the conflict in Iraq (news - web sites) began 17 months ago. The children, who were still on school vacation, said they had been drawn to the scene by American soldiers handing out candy.


"The Americans called us, they told us, 'Come here, come here,' asking us if we wanted sweets. We went beside them, then a car exploded," said 12-year-old Abdel Rahman Dawoud, lying naked in a hospital bed with shrapnel embedded all over his body.

The day of violence, including insurgent attacks and U.S. airstrikes in Fallujah, left a total of 46 people dead and 208 wounded


Also Thursday, the Arab news network Al-Jazeera showed video of 10 new hostages seized in Iraq by militants. Al-Jazeera said the 10 — six Iraqis, two Lebanese and two Indonesian women — were taken by The Islamic Army in Iraq. The group has claimed responsibility for seizing two French journalists last month.


Hours earlier, a suicide car bomber struck in the Abu Ghraib area outside of Baghdad, killing the American soldier and at least two Iraqis, and wounding 60, Iraqi and U.S. officials said.

That bomb targeted a compound housing the mayor's office, a police station and other buildings, police 1st Lt. Ahmed Jawad said. A U.S. Bradley fighting vehicle parked in front of the compound was hit, Hutton said.

"I saw people flying in the air and falling on the ground," said Saad Mohsin, who was in front of the mayor's office and was struck by shrapnel.


American jets, tanks and artillery units repeatedly have targeted al-Zarqawi's network in Fallujah in recent weeks as U.S.-led forces seek to assert control over insurgent enclaves ahead of elections slated for January. The military says the attacks have inflicted significant damage on the network, which has claimed responsibility for a series of bombings, kidnappings and other attacks.

Doctors say scores of civilians have been killed and wounded in the strikes.

Jesus H. Christ.

Are the American people going to fall for the same old tired tropes tonight about freedom and democracy and being resolute or are they going to demand to know why our president has us stuck in a living goddamned nightmare from which we cannot awake in a country that had nothing to do with 9/11?

If you want more of this, America, vote for George W. Bush. He'll stay the goddamned course come hell or high water:

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

"Bush lied, my son died"

In a TV commercial released Wednesday, Cindy Sheehan, a 47-year-old woman from Vacaville, Calif., whose 24-year-old son was killed in Sadr City in April, speaks directly to George W. Bush.

Shot in black-and-white, her soft voice cracking, she says, "I imagined it would hurt if one of my kids was killed, but I never thought it would hurt this bad, especially someone so honest and brave as Casey, my son. When you haven't been honest with us, when you and your advisors rushed us into this war. How do you think we felt when we heard the Senate report that said there was no link between Iraq and 9/11?"

This is one of four new ads featuring relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq, produced by a new political action committee called RealVoices.org. At a time when soldiers' parents have been arrested at Bush rallies and thrown out of the Republican National Convention for trying to make themselves heard, Real Voices was formed to broadcast the excruciating messages of those who feel that their loved ones' lives were wasted in Iraq.

Real Voices is spending $200,000 on its initial ad buy while trying to raise more money. Each one of the spots is bitter and searing. In one, Raphael Zappala, whose 30-year-old brother was killed in Baghdad while searching a warehouse for weapons of mass destruction, says, "My brother died trying to make an honest man out of George W. Bush, needlessly. He was betrayed by the lies of his commander in chief. And the troops still in Iraq are being betrayed." Another features a California mother named Jane Bright, who remains livid about Bush's rash "Bring 'em on!" challenge. "Mr. Bush," she says, "I have no way of knowing whether the insurgent who killed my son ever heard your foolish taunt. But thanks to you, Mr. President, I have the rest of my life to wonder about it."


One might think that Sheehan's sacrifice would protect her from assaults by the right-wing patriotism police, but one would be wrong. Since she started speaking out, she's been attacked as a political opportunist and accused of treason.

"I have had people tell me that what I'm doing is supporting terrorists and that my son would be ashamed of me," she says. "I was on a radio call-in show on Sunday morning, and I had a lot of people call me a traitor."

This group is raising money to run these ads in swing states. If you have any left to spare, this is a good place to put it.

Real Voices

Brat Boy Debater

In case anyone's wondering why Bush and company negotiated hard for the networks not to show cut-away or reaction shots in the debate, this little passage from "When George meets John" by James Fallows explains it:

The debate was held in a tiny basement room on the campus of the University of Texas at El Paso. The candidates' families and a few local officials sat on metal folding chairs in the room; everyone else, including reporters, watched TV monitors elsewhere. Laura Bush sat a few feet away from Mauro's children, whom she knew but (according to Mauro) did not speak to or acknowledge. According to the rules of this debate, insisted on by Bush's team, the screen had to show only whichever candidate was speaking—that is, no cutaway or reaction shots were allowed

Therefore no one outside the room saw the miniature drama inside. Bush was halfway toward his presidential style, speaking more slowly and less gracefully than four years earlier, and with a more dismissive air toward his opponent. While Mauro was speaking, Bush would sigh, grimace, and send body-language messages of boredom or contempt. "It was incredible," Mauro told me recently. "I almost can't believe it in retelling it. Because the press was upstairs, they didn't realize how aggressive he was on the stage—pulling the sleeve of the moderator, staring or winking at Laura in the crowd." The moderator of the debate, Bob Moore, of the El Paso Times, told me that Bush actually grabbed him just before the debate: "In the hallway, Bush did grab me by the lapels, pull me close to his face, and say, 'Bobby, you clean up real good.' Typical Bush." When Bush was on stage but off camera, Moore said, "there was that Bush smirk, rolling his eyes, all of which Bush is very good at."

Now, supposedly the networks are not going to follow the negotiated restrictions:

And the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, which is not a party to the agreement, said it could not be expected to enforce strictures on network coverage of the four debates.

At issue are rules that bar the networks from airing "cutaway" shots of either Republican President Bush or Democratic challenger John Kerry while they are waiting their turn to speak during the debates.


Fox News Channel, whose turn it is under a rotation system to operate the "pool" cameras for all the networks in the first debate on Thursday in Coral Gables, Florida, said it would follow its own editorial judgment in operating its cameras.

"They don't want reaction shots," said Fox News spokesman Paul Schur told Reuters. "We're not going to bow to outside pressure. We're not going to follow these restrictions."

Yeah, sure.

This is a problem. FoxNews has a very bad track record of signalling GOP propaganda in debates. In the January 22 Democratic primary debate, they cut to their panel for immediate spinning by William Bennett before the debate was over.

Fox News is going to follow it's own editorial rules all right. And, I think we know what they are, don't we?

Dick's Big Flop.

Most of you have undoubtedly seen this Campaign Extra post featuring an interview with Dick Cheney in 1992 via Atrios, but it's worth thinking about a little bit.

Here's what he said back then:

We stopped when we did, and it was a unanimous recommendation on the part of the President's advisors, civilian and military, we stopped when we did because we had achieved our objectives. We had said from the outset that our purpose was to liberate Kuwait and destroy Saddam Hussein's capacity to threaten his neighbors, his offensive military capability, we did that. We destroyed about two-thirds of his army in that portion that he sent in to Kuwait and Iraq, and stripped him of most of his weapons of mass destruction.

We could have gone on. There is no doubt in my mind, from a military standpoint we could have sent forces on down the road to Baghdad, captured Baghdad, but I would expect in terms of trying to get rid of Saddam Hussein that it would not have been an easy task. I don't think it was the kind of situation where we could have pulled up with a paddywagon in front of the Presidential Palace and said, "Come on Saddam, you're going to the slammer." I think we would have had to run him to ground, and doing that in Baghdad or in a nation as large as Iraq would have involved a lot of US forces.

Once we rounded up Saddam, then the question is what do you do? You're going to put a government in his place. Presumably, you're not just going to turn your back and walk away. You have to put some kind of a government in its place. And then the question comes is it going to be a Shi'a government or a Kurdish government, or maybe a Sunni government, or maybe it ought to be based on the old Baathist Party regime, or some combination thereof.

How long is that government to be able to stay in power without US military support to keep it there? How long can we maintain the coalition?

Remember we entered into this activity with the support of 30 other nations. A very important part of that support was the support of other Arab nations who took up arms against a brother Arab state, who allowed us to operate military forces from their territory, who sent combat forces to fight alongside our people in Kuwait.

How long could we have maintained that coalition of Arab states if we had been involved in the long-range occupation by the US in Iraq? I would guess if we had gone on to Baghdad I would still have forces in Iraq today. I don't know how we would have let go of that tar baby once we had grabbed hold of it.

A final point that I think is very important. Everybody is fond of looking back at Desert Storm and saying that it was, in fact, a low cost conflict because we didn't suffer very many casualties. But for the 146 Americans who were killed in action and for their families, it was not a cheap or a low cost conflict. The question, to my mind, in terms of this notion that we should have gone on and occupied Iraq is how many additional American casualties would we have had to suffer? How many additional American lives is Saddam Hussein worth? And the answer I would give is not very damn many.

Not very damn many...

Now, the harpies will screech at the top of their lungs, "But, 9/11 changed everything OHMYGODTHEYARETRYINGTOKILLUS!!!!!"

But, you know, it didn't change the fact that Saddam had not reconstituted his WMD, that he had no ties to al Qaeda and that all we needed to do was to get weapons inspectors back into the country to harrass him and keep him in line. An invasion and occupation simply wasn't necessary for our safety or the safety of those in the region.

Junior will wax on about liberating the Iraqi people and freeeeedom and demaaahcracy and loving yer neighbor like you just love to love yerself. But, if that's why we did it --- because we're so good --- then Unka Dick sure has some splaining to do. How many additional American lives is Saddam Hussein worth? And the answer I would give is not very damn many. Yup.

It's funny to me how differently I see the events of 9/11 changing "everything" than these people do. To me, it meant that we could not go gallivanting around the world "liberating" people if it meant that we would exacerbate the terrorist threat without any tangible benefit in security. Until this period of radicalism is brought under control or ends through other means, wars of liberation in the mid-east and the Indian subcontinent anyway, are just too dangerous. 9/11 turned me, a dyed in the wool liberal, from something of a Wilsonian internationalist into much more of a realist.

And, as I have written about many times before, we are much less safe today that we were before we let the entire world know that our vaunted intelligence services couldn't find a weapon of mass destruction if it fell out of the sky and landed on the White House lawn. And now we've also let everybody know that we have a thinly stretched part-time military and a government that can't get it together enough to plan an occupation properly.

A little mystery about the super powers of a super power is a very powerful thing. We are now looking pretty damned weak compared to what the world thought of us in January of 2002.

Weirdly, I think that Dick Cheney, of all people, would have agreed with me back in 1992. Sometime between then and now he drank the neocon fire water and it packs a punch. What did Lady MacMyleroie put in that stuff, anyway?

Good News

Over the past 30 days, more than 2,300 attacks by insurgents have been directed against civilians and military targets in Iraq, in a pattern that sprawls over nearly every major population center outside the Kurdish north, according to comprehensive data compiled by a private security company with access to military intelligence reports and its own network of Iraqi informants.

What is good about that, you ask?

military officers argue that despite the rise in bloody attacks during the past 30 days, the insurgents have yet to win a single battle.

"We have had zero tactical losses; we have lost no battles," said one senior American military officer. "The insurgency has had zero tactical victories.

See, the ragtag insurgency in Iraq has not "won" a "battle" against the mightiest military the world has ever known so they aren't accomplishing anything.

In other news, death by a thousand cuts was declared illegal by the Ashcroft torture division of the Justice Department.

Dancing For Democracy

MSNBC just had a professor from Syracuse University on telling us that body language and gestures are what matter to voters in debates and it occurred to me that it is a mistake for Bush to agree to debates at all. He should insist that the candidates instead do an interpretive dance for the citizens and let them decide strictly on the basis of physical expression.

Karl Rove always says that politics is TV with the sound turned off and Preznit Gibberish has proved it time and again. He wears costumes and mimes being a flyboy, a cowboy and a good ole boy so well that he's downright french about it. As a presidential interpretive dancer, Dubya's the best there's ever been. He'd be unbeatable if he never had to open his mouth.

Fortune Telling

Atrios has a good post up about the polls and mentions that Matt Yglesias takes Texeira and others to task for focusing on the Gallup poll's obvious bias. Matt says:

The reality is that after a few days of what looked to me like a comeback, the Kerry campaign has once again lost its momentum.

You know, I hate to bring this up, but perhaps it's time to issue a reminder here about political prognostication and instincts. It seems like it was only a few months ago --- and, by gosh it was --- that we heard this:

Do note that, much as Dean's nomination is inevitable, it is also inevitable that at some point in the not-too-distant future, his nomination will cease to look inevitable. Nevertheless, it will still be inevitable as has been clear for some time. When you combine the most impassioned supporters with what's obviously the best-run campaign, and the most money, you're looking at a winner.

As you can see, prognostication is a dangerous game.

The reality is that this race is close. It is NOT clear that Kerry has lost momentum. It is simply unknowable from the polls who has momentum, if anyone, and whether Kerry is ahead by a few points or behind by a few points --- because the race is close. These divergent polls are likely the result of the impact of technology on polling methods finally coming to fruition, a shifting undecided electorate as they finally tune in heavily and some very bad polling methods that don't matter a lot when the race is a blowout. We simply don't know anything more than that the race is within spitting distance for both candidates at this point.

As for political instincts, one of the purposes of calling the damn polls into question is to try to work the refs a little bit. The polls are all over the place and some of it is obviously due to this ridiculous sampling of extra Republican.
Just now Blitzer had Frank Newport on and, needless to say, Blitzer stood up for Gallup and even said he would "vouch" for the poll. But by even airing this controversy it shakes at least some people's faith in the poll and puts Gallup on the defensive. That's how the game is played, folks.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Swimming In The Tank

Media Matters has a run down on debate expectations and clearly, the media have high expectations of George W. Bush in this debate. Across the board they are assuming that he will win with his two-faced, phony folksy ways. After all, they are the ones who decide such things. So, don't get your hopes up for John Kerry to "win" this debate even if he wins it. The press is in the tank.

On the other hand, I have a feeling that undecideds may be looking for more substance this year than robotic, on-message non-sequitors and they might just find the president's slouchy, casual style a little bit disconcerting in a time of serious challenges. It's easy for him to appear in charge and in control when he's all by himself on a stage. But, when you see him next to someone who has command of the issues and looks straight in the camera and challenges his unresponsive bumper sticker mantras, they may just be surprised. Anything's possible.

By the way, has anybody noticed that Bush is sounding a little bit spacey on the stump these last couple of days? Maybe he hasn't been getting enough sleep or enough coffee. His eyes are very puffy. I don't know what it is, but he doesn't seem to be himself. Wierd.


Kitty's Number One

Here's a fun little tid-bit from page 492, just to whet your appetite:

Barbara Bush was more determined than ever to see her daughter re-marry. She believed that only through marriage could Doro and her children find their safest haven. To that end Barbara encouraged Doro to date.

"We spent a weekend up at Camp David with the Bushes....They had two dogs up there at the time and the divorced daughter," recalled one congressional wife. "Barbara told me she was concerned because Doro had dated Representative David Dreier for a year and he never touched her... 'Never laid a hand on her,' said Barbara... I think Doro had better luck when she started dating a democrat."

There's more --- much, much more.

Thanks to Sekmet and Pandora on BCF

Pink Slip

Taking Bob Novak at face value (always a dicey proposition) I think we have to conclude that our vaunted resolute, CEO president doesn't listen to anyone and can't manage his way out of a bag of pork rinds.

Paul R. Pillar, the CIA's national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia, sat down Tuesday night in a large West Coast city with a select group of private citizens. He was not talking off the cuff. Relying on a multi-paged, single-spaced memorandum, Pillar said he and his colleagues concluded early in the Bush administration that military intervention in Iraq would intensify anti-American hostility throughout Islam. This was not from a CIA retiree but an active senior official. (Pillar, no covert operative, is listed openly in the Federal Staff Directory.)

For President Bush to publicly write off a CIA paper as just guessing is without precedent. For the agency to go semi-public is not only unprecedented but shocking. George Tenet's retirement as director of Central Intelligence removed the buffer between president and agency. As the new DCI, Porter Goss inherits an extraordinarily sensitive situation.

What a good idea it is to re-elect a president who is at war with his own State department and CIA in the middle of a national security crisis. This alleged great leader makes enemies of practically everyone he comes in contact with, particularly those who have expertise and knowledge he desperately needs. Harvard Business School must teach some odd management techniques.

For a man who coasted on his daddy's name until he was fifty four, antagonizing all of America's allies and half the US government is quite an achievement in just three short years. His family must be so proud. Four More Years!

Inevitablity Dance

Sunday's Washington Post made me suspect that the Bush campaign really does think things are going poorly right now. Why? Because Republicans are starting to make preposterously overconfident predictions of a Bush landslide.


It's well-known that Karl Rove believes that swing voters like to vote for the winner. Therefore, one of the central political strategies for Bush has been to create an "aura of inevitability" that, theoretically, will bring people to his side. If everyone believes you're a political juggernaut, the theory goes, then you will become a political juggernaut.


The worse things get for Bush, the more likely his aides are to declare that he is invincible. The Bushies are starting to sound like Baghdad Bob, trumpeting a decisive victory for Saddam Hussein as the American military zooms into Iraq's capital city. Whenever Bush is in trouble, someone—usually Rove—declares that things are going just swimmingly. The most memorable example of this was Bush's 2000 campaign trip to California to make it look like his election was going to be a walk even though polls showed that the race was a toss-up. Bush also took a day off from campaigning as a sign of confidence in his impending landslide. On Election Day, of course, Al Gore won more votes than Bush did, and eventually Bush won the presidency with only one more electoral vote than he needed to take office.

And, if one were to make the obvious comparison of their political campaign to their military campaign, then we can see this exact same dynamic at work with the war in Iraq. Lots of happy talk about "winning" and "mission accomplished" when the results are anything bit clear.

Let's keep this in mind as we go forward this next month. Whatever they say is happy horseshit spin from here on out. And the news media is unlikely to help out much. On Inside Politics yesterday, wide-eyed Judy Woodruff was extremely confused when Tad Devine pointed out that her poll was stacked with Republicans. The cable press corpse ranks only slightly above undecided voters and FoxNews viewers for sheer ignorance of current events.

Monday, September 27, 2004

The Big Fix

Jeffrey Rosen writes in TNR today:

It's November 2, and the presidential election looks close in Ohio. An army of lawyers are dispatched by the Bush and Kerry campaigns to scour all 11,614 precincts in the state for any hint of voting irregularities. Within hours, both sides have filed competing suits in state courts challenging the standards for counting provisional, absentee, and military ballots, as well as for the use of different voting machines. Within days, Laurence Tribe and James Baker are filing petitions to the Supreme Court, arguing that Bush v. Gore--the case that decided the 2000 election--compels the justices to intervene. The justices, who once confidently predicted that Bush v. Gore would have no effect on future elections, are horrified. Even the Bush v. Gore dissenters are shocked at the mess the decision has created. After all, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called Bush v. Gore a "one-of-a-kind case" as recently as February 2003 in a speech to San Diego law students, adding optimistically, "I doubt it will ever be cited as precedent by the court on anything."


Unfortunately, the hopes that Bush v. Gore would fade from memory like an embarrassing dinner guest have proved to be wildly mistaken. And, if the election is close, the nightmare scenario described above seems all too likely to come to pass. During the four years since Bush v. Gore, the case has emboldened political candidates to file a tangle of litigation challenging election procedures in federal and state races--from the recall of Governor Gray Davis in California to the replacement of Senator Robert Torricelli in New Jersey. Moreover, in response to the legalization of politics that has followed Bush v. Gore, Democratic and Republican legal swat teams have been assembled to challenge the results of the 2004 presidential election if the vote in any state proves close enough to provide the margin of victory in the electoral college. And, even if the presidential election is not close, Bush v. Gore will continue to haunt congressional and local elections in November and beyond. "You could have dozens or even hundreds of cases filed on the Wednesday morning after the election," says Jack Goldsmith of Harvard Law School. "Given the litigation opportunities in Bush v. Gore, you could have real, real uncertainty for many weeks and months, not only about national elections but about local elections. And it's likely to get worse."

If this came from anyone but Rosen I would think it was another of those Greenfield-esque parlor games in which they sit around on CNN for hours at a time in stultifying discussion of bizarre election scenarios that will never happen. But we'd be fools to ignore the fact that Bush vs Gore is a cancer that has the potential to metastisize very rapidly if this election is as close as we expect it to be.

If you haven't had a chance to read the fascinating in-depth article in Vanity Fair this month about the Florida debacle in 2000, here are the (pdf) links to it--- Part one and Part two. It opens with a conversation between two of the Supreme court clerks who seem to have had the exact same opinion that I forcefully espoused at a dinner party during the recount drama (as I imagine many others did throughout the country.)

Shortly after the presidential vote in November 2000, two law clerks at the United States Supreme Court were joking about the photo finish in Florida. Wouldn't it be funny, one mused, if the matter landed before them? And how, if it did, the Court would split five to four, as it so often did in big cases, with the conservative majority installing George W. Bush in the White House? The two just laughed. It all seemed too preposterous. Sure, friends and relatives predicted that the case would eventually land in their laps, but that was ignorant, naïve talk -- typical of people without sophisticated legal backgrounds.

A majority of the justices were conservatives, but they weren't partisan; mindful of the Court's fragile authority, the justices had always steered clear of messy political spats. Moreover, the very jurists who'd normally side with Bush were the ones most solicitous of states' rights, most deferential to state courts, most devoted to the Constitution's "original intent" and the Founding Fathers had specifically provided that the Congress, not the judiciary, would resolve close elections. To top it off, the Court rarely took cases before they were ripe, and the political process in Florida was still unfolding. "It was just inconceivable to us that the Court would want to lose its credibility in such a patently political way," one of the clerks recalls. "That would be the end of the Court."

Boy, was I ever wrong. And as you read the article the sheer partisan nature of the court's involvement becomes even more obvious than we have previously known. The article goes on to show how Anthony Kennedy, widely considered dumb as a post and obsessed with his own grandeur, had been staffed by the right wing with a cadre of federalist society Hitler Youth who "guided" him the partisan direction Big Tony and the Chief wanted him to go. (Our gal Sandy, it turns out, was in the tank from the get-go.)

The Bush's petition for certiorari - that is, for the Court to take the case?went initially to Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose task it was to consider all emergency motions from Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. For Kennedy, then 64, a man known to relish the pomp and circumstance of the Supreme Court and his own, often crucial role in close cases, weighing such a momentous matter must have been glorious indeed. Batting aside a Thanksgiving Day plea from the Gore campaign to pass on the case, Kennedy urged his colleagues to take it on, suggesting that the Court was absolutely the essential arbiter of such weighty matters. He conceded, though, that Bush faced an uphill struggle on the law. When Kennedy's memo circulated, one flabbergasted clerk had to track down Justice John Paul Stevens on the golf course in Florida and read it to him over the phone. Under the Court's rules, Kennedy needed only three votes beside his own for the Court to hear the matter. Quickly, the four others who make up the Court's conservative block signed on: Chief Justice William Rehnquist, along with Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Sandra Day O'Connor.


As was customary, the Court did not detail how many justices had voted to hear the case, or who they were, and Gore's lawyers didn't really want to know. At that point, they felt a certain faith in the institution and in the law: it was inconceivable to them that the court would intercede, much less decide the presidency by a vote of five to four.

As you continue through this article you see that this was the problem for the Democrats throughout the recount period. It wasn't cowardice, it was a naive faith in the rule of law. It was the last vestige of true, internalized belief that the American legal system was immune from naked, opportunistic partisanship.

Desperate for legal advice, Klain reached out to prominent firms in the capital of Tallahassee. He found little help. "All the establishment firms knew they couldn't
cross Governor Bush and do business in Florida," recalls Klain. And so he improvised,
pulling together a team headed by former secretary of state Warren Christopher, now a Los Angeles-based lawyer in private practice. Christopher, Gore felt,would imbue the team with an image of decorous, law-abiding, above-the-fray respectability.


Unlike Christopher and company, Baker spoke to the press loudly and often, and his message was Bush had won on November 7. Any further inspection would result only in "mischief." Privately, however, he knew that at the start he was on shaky political ground. "We're getting killed on "count all the votes," he told his team. "Who the hell could be against that?"

Baker saw his chance that Thursday, November 9, when the Gore team made a formal request for a manual recount in four counties: Volusia, Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade. Asking for a recount in these large, Democrat-dominated counties left the Gore team fatally vulnerable to the charge that they wanted not all votes counted, as Gore kept claiming in his stentorian tones, but only all Gore votes. Yet the Bush team knew full well that Gore could not have asked for a statewide recount, because there was no provision for it in Florida law. A losing candidate had 72 hours to request a manual recount on a county-by-county basis or wait until the election was certifed to pursue a statewide recount. The requests had to be based on perceived errors, not just the candidate's wish to see recounts done. Certainly, Gore chose counties that seemed likely to yield Gore votes. But he chose them because that's where the problems were.

Proper as this was by Florida election law, the Democrats?strategy gave Baker the sound bite he'd been seeking: Gore was just cherrypicking Democratic strongholds. It was a charge the Bush team wielded to devastating effect in the media, stunning the Gore team, which thought its strategy would be viewed as modest and fair.

Foolishly, Gore thought that being modest and fair still meant something. He was not prepared for a streetfight. And, looking back I realize that I wasn't either. Like a green youth I didn't believe they'd actually go that far. Even after the impeachment sideshow, an event that solidified my belief in the lethal, fascistic nature of the modern Republican party, I was not fully prepared for the no holds barred approach they would take in this situation.

It is what led me to the point at which I am able to say without any sense of restraint or caution that I would put NOTHING past them --- even a staged terrorist attack. This is because every time I think they have some limits, they prove me wrong. As the old saying goes, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice...won't get fooled again....

Gore and his team knew that the Republicans would fight with everything they had, but they still maintained some faith in the legal system to require basic fairness in something this important. And, even the most cynical of us thought that the egos of the Supreme Court justices would never allow them to make a purely partisan decision because history would remember them as whores.

If I had any political idealism left it died on the day that Antonin Scalia stopped judges from counting votes in Florida.

This article shows that fix was in from the beginning. Had Gore audaciously requested a statewide recount he would have been accused of not following the strict laws that required him to show problems in each precinct. It was always headed to the Supremes and once they took the case, the interviews with the Supreme court clerks show that there was never any question about who would win. It was always a decision in search of a rationale.

If Jeffrey Rosen is correct and dozens of lawsuits await filing in close races out there, all based on this ill-considered opinion, then we are likely to see a repeat. After all, the same five vote majority still sits on the court today. And like all the others who voted for this irresponsible, unqualified, incompetent boob in 2000, they are not likely to admit their mistake and vote otherwise this time out.

This time, we must operate on that assumption and prepare for a knife fight --- in the courts and in the realm of public opinion. There are no rules other than winning.

I urge you to read the entire article. There is much more about the disenfranchisement of the black community and the shocking actions they've taken since then to supposedly update the voting system. (Kevin Drum has more on this latest.) With fine fellows like "Buckhead" working on the wing nut Voter Integrity Project, and Ashcrofts new intimidation tactics, this election could be very, very ugly.

Update: Via Suburban Guerilla, here is more on the suppression of black voters Jeb has planned for 2004.

The Billionaires Are In The House!

I love these guys...

Now We're Talking Some Real $$$

If you have the nerve, it's now worth more than $8,000 to ask the Preznit One Simple Question

He's Simple

One of my readers, who works at the UN, noticed something unique about George W. Bush's speech last week.

Evidently, the official UN transcript is the exact speech that Bush read off the teleprompter. My reader says that nobody who works there can ever remember a leader having to have words phonetically spelled out before, as it is here (pdf):

In the last year alone, terrorists have attacked police stations, and banks, and commuter trains, and synagogues ... and a school filled with children. This month in Beslan [bez-LAN] we saw, once again, how the terrorists measure their success in the death of the innocent, and in the pain of grieving families. Svetlana Dzebisov [day-BEES-off] was held hostage along with her son and her nephew and her nephew did not survive.

This is the best the so-called greatest nation on earth can do?

Embolden This

Matthew Yglesias makes an interesting observation about this new charge of "emboldening" the enemy by criticising the war in Iraq. As he notes:

Does anyone really believe, after all, that our enemies currently lack for boldness of all things? One can say accurately various nasty things about Osama, his hardened core of terrorists-cum-special-forces, his more conventional guerilla fighters, Zarqawi, al-Sadr, their followers, etc., but one thing they certainly aren't is some kind of chickenshit force that would be really scary if only they got bolder.


The notion that the USA could possibly impress these guys with grand displays of machismo is silly. The bad guys here are hard core and that's just the way it is. A strategy to beat them has to be smart and has to use the many advantages America really does have. Worrying about the other side's boldness isn't going to get us anywhere.

And anyway, doesn't it seem a bit, well...girlie-manish...for our swaggering Crusdader Codpiece to be tremulously waving his hands and shushing his opponents because it might make the nasty terrorists even bolder than they already are? Surely, superheroes such as he are much too strong and manly to care whether the bad guys are emboldened by talk of any kind. Real men say "bring it on," right?

Clearly, people who are willing to blow themselves up aren't suffering from a lack of physical courage. That is not the problem. Indeed, until we create a corps of suicide bombers they have the advantage in willing human cannon fodder material. Our military superiority isn't supposed to be our "courage" and "boldness" it is our international leadership, advanced technology and smart strategy, none of which Junior has employed worth a busted fuck.

This has been part of the fallacy driving Junior's misbegotten strategy from day one. While it's obvious that a fair amount of his ridiculous Hopalong Cassidy bullshit was calculated to thrill the rubes here at home, there is ample evidence that many of the starry-eyed neocons truly believed that a thrilling show of Big American Power would snap some of those Ay-rabs out of their little dreamworld and bring them around right quick to the knowledge that they can never win against us, the Ubermenschen.

As Richard Perle memorably said back in October of 2001:

Having destroyed the Taliban, having destroyed Saddam's regime, the message to the others is, "You're next." Two words. Very efficient diplomacy. " You're next, and if you don't shut down the terrorist networks on your territory, we'll take you down, too. Is it worth it?" Of course it isn't worth it. It isn't worth it for any of them.

You can almost smell the testosterone, can't you? These guys really believed this Neverneverland nonsense. I'm afraid our Boy King still does.

He's just being his typical two-faced self bellowing "bring 'em on" one day and then falling over with the vapors the next because Kerry's words might make the badguys mad. Nothing new there.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

You can't build alliances if you criticize the efforts of those who are working side by side with you.

The President:

President Musharraf is a friend of our country, who helped us capture Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the operational planner behind the 9/11 attacks. Today, because we are working with Pakistani leaders, Pakistan is an ally in the war on terror, and the American people are safer.

The Ally

ZAHN: Is the world a safer place because of the war in Iraq?

MUSHARRAF: No. It's more dangerous. It's not safer, certainly not.

ZAHN: How so?

MUSHARRAF: Well, because it has aroused actions of the Muslims more. It's aroused certain sentiments of the Muslim world, and then the responses, the latest phenomena of explosives, more frequent for bombs and suicide bombings. This phenomenon is extremely dangerous.

ZAHN: Was it a mistake to have gone to war with Iraq?

MUSHARRAF: Well, I would say that it has ended up bringing more trouble to the world....

ZAHN: Has that happened in Iraq?

MUSHARRAF: Well, there are difficulties. One can't predict. Maybe the difficulties are surmounted and then it ends up with a victory, with a success. But, at the moment, we are bogged down, yes, yes indeed....

ZAHN: Do you think that the war in Iraq has undermined the overall war on terror?

MUSHARRAF: It has complicated it, certainly. I wouldn't say undermined. It has further complicated it. It has made the job more difficult.

The Vice President:

America does not create terrorists. But under President Bush, we will defeat them. (Applause.) And we will defeat them where they live and plot and plan so that we do not have to fight them on the streets of our own cities. (Applause.)

Senator Kerry

The invasion of Iraq was a profound diversion from the battle against our greatest enemy, al-Qaida, there's just no question about it. The president's misjudgment, miscalculation and mismanagement of the war in Iraq all make the war on terror harder to win.

Uh Oh.

This is the kind of thing that gives Lil' Crusader Codpiece a headache and makes him want to drink some choco-milk, eat a PB&J, grab his favorite pilly and go to bed early.

Do You Believe In Fairies?

I didn't have a chance to see Bush's speech before the UN last week but I recorded it so I could watch it this week-end. It May have been a litle bit optimistic, but for the life of me I can't figure out why John Kerry keeps saying Junior is living in fantasyland:

Here's a transcript:

Terrorists and their allies believe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the American Bill of Rights and every charter of liberty ever written are lies to be burned and destroyed and forgotten.

They believe that suicide and torture and murder are fully justified to serve any goal they declare. And they act on their beliefs.

We're determined to destroy terror networks wherever they operate, and the United States is grateful to every nation that is helping to seize terrorist assets, track down their operatives and disrupt their plans.

Defending our ideals is vital, but it is not enough. Our broader mission as U.N. members is to apply these ideals to the great issues of our time.

Our wider goal is to promote hope and progress as the alternatives to hatred and violence. Our great purpose is to build a better world beyond the war on terror.

Because, it's a world of laughter, a world of tears, it's a world of hopes and a world of fears. There's so much that we share, it is time we're aware. It's a small small world.

It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all. There's so much that we share. It is time we're aware. It's a small small world.

There is just one moon and a golden sun. And a smile means friendship to everyone,
Though the mountains divide,and the oceans are wide, it's a small small world.

It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all. There's so much that we share,it is time we're aware it's a small small world.

It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.

That John Kerry is just a big ole meanie pessimist! If you're happy and you know it clap your hands!

Do Something

All of you Democrats out there who are just aching to do something tangible to get Kerry elected, ACT is the place to go.

If you live in or near a swing state, volunteer on the ground. If you don't, there are programs in place (travelling where you're needed, writing letters, calling with your week-end minutes, etc) to help get newly registered voters to the polls.

And, apparently, there are a bunch of them:

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

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

While comparable data could not be obtained for other swing states, similar registration drives have been mounted in them as well, and party officials on both sides say record numbers of new voters are being registered nationwide. This largely hidden but deadly earnest battle is widely believed by campaign professionals and political scientists to be potentially decisive in the presidential election.

"We know it's going on, and it's a very encouraging sign," said Steve Elmendorf, deputy campaign manager for Senator John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee. The new voters, Mr. Elmendorf said, "could very much be the difference."

A spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, Christine Iverson, declined to comment on The Times's findings and said she did not believe Republicans were lagging in the registration battle. "We're very confident that we have a ground game that's as good as the Democrats', and better," she said.

The precise impact of the swell in registration is difficult to predict, as there is no reliable gauge of how many of these new voters will actually vote. Some experts, though, say that the spike has not been accurately captured by political polls and could confound prognostications in closely contested states.

This is awfully good news for us, guys. I always knew there were more of us than there were of them. But, the Republicans are all set to cry foul and say that felons and illegal immigrants and dead Democrats stole the election so we have to do this right and that means grassroots involvement on our side to make sure the voting is transparent and everything is out in the open.

This takes a little time and effort, but it's key. The media are determined to help Bush (for reasons I simply cannot fathom) so we just have to win the hard way, one voter at a time.

Blog Fever

LA Times, today:

Blogging Sells, and Sells Out by Billmon.

By most accounts, blogs — web logs to the uninitiated — scored a major coup last week when CBS News admitted that it couldn't vouch for the authenticity of memos supposedly written by George W. Bush's commander in the Texas Air National Guard. The conservative bloggers who led the charge against the CBS story were hailed as giant slayers. And yet it's the blogging phenomenon itself that may need the last rites.

That may seem a strange thing to say, given the flattering coverage of blogs triggered by the CBS affair. But the media's infatuation has a distinct odor of the deathbed about it — not for the blogosphere, which has a commercially bright future, but for the idea of blogging as a grass-roots challenge to the increasingly sanitized "content" peddled by the Time Warner-Capital Cities-Disney-General Electric-Viacom-Tribune media oligopoly.

Matt Yglesias said more or less the same thing a month or so ago (I can't be bothered to find the link) only his thinking was that blogs were rapidly devolving into an exclusive forum for professional writers in various specialized fields and the amateur players were fading away into obscurity.

Steve Gilliard, (via Atrios,) believes it's commercial advertising that fuels the blogosphere already.

Meanwhile, The NY Times does a big story on liberal bloggers that apparently has the right blogosphere in a complete tizzy.

Blogging as we know it is dead. Long live blogging.


I should make it clear that I was in no way beDrudging any blogger's success. I'm thrilled if anyone can make a buck doing this thing. If I got any real traffic on a regular basis, I'd think about doing it myself. And, believe me, on the days when I get one of those links from Atrios or some others, I think about it a lot because my traffic goes through the roof.

It's all about linkage, folks.

The blogosphere is a beehive in which the queenbee bloggers (and I'm not just talking about Sullivan) serve and are served by the rest of the colony. As Atrios points out in the comments, as long as some of the top bloggers continue to link to other blogs, the blogosphere as we know it will continue to thrive. People need hubs and starting points to make their way through all the buzzing and that's what the popular blogs provide.

Commercialization in terms of blogads doesn't have much to do with it so far because the ads don't seem to conflict with the content. That could change, I guess, but I think we are dealing more on a Nation model than Newsweek, anyway. Nobody's going to buy an ad on Kos or Atrios who isn't trying to reach liberals. They know exactly what they are getting into.

In my opinion, if there is any real danger of the old political blogosphere going extinct, I think it's more in what Yglesias describes than strict commercialization. It may be moving toward "professionalization" which is truly a big change. Marshall, Drum, Sullivan, Kaus and The Corner may be the new developing paradigm.

It's not that the blogosphere isn't incredibly enhanced by the presence of those writers, it's that they may develop the habit of only reading and linking to each other which, as Billmon points out, takes it one step closer to the insularity of the mainstream media. In academic fields this is generally a good thing --- consult the experts, talk amongst yourselves, get feedback. But, in politics it's not such a good idea. The blogosphere may not be the best sample of regular folks in the world, but it does consist of some intelligent, well informed citizens outside of the political and media world who are not required to please that establishment either socially or professionally and who bring a different perspective that may not make it into the Washington conference room on Monday morning or the cocktail party on Friday night.

In that sense, politics are more like art than science. The pros need fresh insights and passion or they get stale and repetitive. The blogosphere is a very convenient way to access some of that and it would be a shame if it contracted into a mirror image of the professional political media.. If it does,(with some relief I must admit) I'd probably just go back to reading newspapers and magazines and yelling at the TV, both of which I can do from the much more comfortable position of lying flat on my back.

As a political organizing and fund raising tool, the blogosphere has definitely shown its worth this round and it will remain a player, no doubt about it. Look at how much $$$$ just Atrios and Kos have managed to raise. If they were Republicans they'd be called "Conquerors."

But other than that, I think the blogosphere will continue to change in largely unpredictable ways. Certainly, anything the mainstream media says about it (now that they've discovered it like it's the Macarena of 2004) is almost assuredly wrong. So, I think it just keeps keepin on. Who knows what it all means and as long as it provides some good fun then there's really no reason to question it.

And, as I have said many times, it beats putting your fist through a wall or kicking the cat. In fact, it's downright therapeutic. Maybe that's the real point after all.

Props To Joe Biden

Joe just turned Chris Wallace into a puddle on Fox, refusing to back down and challenging all the predictable assumptions. At the end, Wallace made a crack about Biden needing to go on decaf and Biden retorted, "the way you guys misrepresent thing, it's just disgraceful."

Correction: Evidently I heard Biden say "you guys misrepresent" meaning Fox, when he actually said "these guys misrepresent" meaning the Bush administration.

Not that there's any real difference...

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Say It Loud

I'm shrill and I'm proud.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Shivering In Our Boots

Andrea Mitchell just said that the Kerry campaign knows that if they take the fight to the president they have to be respectful because he is extremely well-liked and very popular. And Kerry talks in long sentences and is boring but there's not much they can do about it.

Gosh, I think she's being much too generous. John Kerry is not only long winded and boring, he is also known to hold forth on aboriginal history in town meetings and sing Andrew Lloyd Webber songs for hours on end on the stump. It will be a miracle if he manages to even stay in the race after debating our very sharp, entertaining president who I understand usually hands out hundred dollar bills and tells hilarious jokes while laying out a cogent, simple plan for all Americans to become millionaires by 2008. I sure hope he doesn't do that in the debates or old boring Kerry will definitely lose.

Epic Disaster

Charles Peters at the Washington Monthly asks, "Was I right?"

Boy, he most certainly was:

Just before we went to war in Iraq, I wrote in this space, "This country has been conned by Karl Rove and the super-hawks. They have succeeded in changing the subject from Bush's failures and embarrassments, putting Iraq first on the national agenda for nearly six months at the expense of more important matters--like finding Osama bin Laden, securing peace between Israel and Palestine, drastically improving the FBI and CIA's ability to deal with terrorism, keeping nuclear weapons from being used by nations that already have them, including North Korea, and engineering economic recovery here at home. If we end up paying practically all the bill for Iraq and subsequent military occupation, that money won't be there for badly needed health and education programs … Once you consider these other higher priorities, the danger from Iraq isn't nearly imminent enough to justify war." I haven't changed my mind.

I think that one of the most frustrating things about Bush's smarmy rejoinder "they world is better off without Saddam in power" is that you have to answer..."well, yes, BUT THERE ARE PRIORITIES, GODDAMIT..."

It is impolitic to say it, (and probably suicidal) but in a very real sense, the answer to the question "is the world better off without Saddam in power?" is no.

9/11 did change everything. It meant that we could not afford to go around willy nilly experimenting with Wilsonian democracy schemes in the mid-east without further endangering Americans by ramping up terrorist recruiting. It meant we needed to be smart and cunning, not blustering loudly with half baked information or "liberating people" without considering the consequences. It meant that creating another failed state crawling with lawless terrorists was the most dangerous thing we could do. But, that is exactly what we did.

Clearly, if we had left Saddam in power and used the excuse of 9/11 to get inspectors back in, we would probably have made more progress against the fight against the Islamic radicals who pose the greatest threat to us. At the very least we wouldn't have been creating more terrorists every single day with our corrupt mismanagement of the occupation.

Saddam was not an imminent or even near term threat. We knew it then and we certainly know it now. If one had asked the American people in the fall of 2002 if they thought it was worth it to "liberate" Iraq if it made Americans less safe, I think we know what the answer would be. We are a good people but we aren't that good. Sadly, it appears that we will have to have that fact demonstrated before many people will understand that this is precisely what we just did.

And those poor schmucks who are over there fighting and dying for this misbegotten war need to believe that they are doing a good deed for their fellow man and protecting their own. I understand that. But, their commander in chief has made a series of terrible, terrible errors and he is setting them up for death right now by manipulating the situation on the ground in order to get elected here at home. It just gets worse and worse.

Two-faced Bush can pretend and lie and prevaricate and mislead all he wants. But, the facts are what they are. He sent American soldiers to die for no good reason. It has resulted in a large number of unnecessary Iraqi deaths in the process and it is creating Anti-American terrorists much faster than they can even kill themselves.

It's a disaster of epic proportions.

Freedom's Just Another Word For Chaos

Today, the Iraqi and Afghan people are on the path to democracy and freedom. The governments that are rising will pose no threat to others. Instead of harboring terrorists, they're fighting terrorist groups. And this progress is good for the long-term security of us all. George W. Bush, UN General Assembly, September 21, 2004

Well, except for the victims of the bombings, kidnappings and beheadings:

Gunmen have seized six Egyptians in a raid on their Baghdad office, Iraqi officials say, the third in a series of kidnappings of foreigners in the Iraqi capital this month.


Rahman said the Egyptians work for Iraqna, a subsidiary of Orascom which is an Egyptian-owned mobile telecommunications company.

Last week, two Americans and a Briton were kidnapped at their home in Baghdad by armed men.

A group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi later beheaded the Americans, Eugene Armstrong and Jack Hensley, and posted video footage of the killings on the Internet.

But, don't worry about it. We'll stop hearing about all this unpleasantness soon. It's only a matter of time before it's too dangerous for any journalists to report on what's going on:

Germany's biggest television network, ARD, said on Friday it planned to pull out its two correspondents in Iraq after a foreign ministry warning that German journalists could be singled out for kidnappings.

Separately, the Spanish government has recommended to media that they withdraw their correspondents from Iraq following the increase in attacks and kidnappings there, the newspaper El Mundo said on its Web site on Friday.

The Spanish news agency EFE has withdrawn its only Spanish correspondent, Jose Manuel Seage, from Baghdad, a senior journalist at the agency said.

More than 100 foreigners have been abducted in Iraq since April in a deepening campaign, among them two French journalists who are still being held. Most hostages have been released, but around 30 have been killed.

The German foreign ministry last week strengthened a warning originally issued in March 2003 that mentioned journalists and the "very high risk" of kidnapping. But it declined to comment specifically on the issue on Friday.


Until this month, almost all the kidnapped foreigners were snatched on Iraq's perilous roads. But the capture of foreigners in Baghdad in operations that seem carefully planned is an escalation that has alarmed foreign embassies and firms.

Everything is going very well. If it weren't for that little problem with fifty percent unemployment, civil war, beheadings and suicide bombers, it would be a lot like Nebraska.

Flying Blind

What happens when a horserace is being called by different commentators in completely different ways? This post in Salon's War Room again shows that something has gone seriously wrong with the polling this election:

It's been said that the 2004 election would be a challenge for pollsters, and today's polls are a fine demonstration. Put simply, side by side they make little to no sense.

In the national arena, the Associated Press finds Bush up by nine points, 52-41. An Economist poll, conducted on the same days, finds Kerry leading by one point. Both surveys were of registered voters, so previous disputes between pollsters regarding who constitutes a likely voter, can't account for the discrepancy.

Some new state polls also lead nowhere, with Wisconsin going from a two-point Kerry lead to a 14-point Bush romp in 24 hours, and Oregon, which went from a 12-point Kerry rout to a one-point Bush lead in the same span. And two Florida polls released today are at odds. Gallup gives Bush a 47-45 lead among registered voters, while Quinnipiac University finds Bush ahead 49-41.

I wonder if the campaigns can trust their own polls any more than these? How scary. Politics without a net.

I'm beginning to truly believe that this race is the one we've all been waiting for for the last few cycles --- the election when so many people screen their calls and so many people use cell phones that you can no longer get an accurate sample.

One experiment worth watching is the Zogby online poll. He seems to have faith that he's got a good model. We'll see.

If we don't see a better consensus before November 2nd, it's going to be one nail-biter of a night.

Killing Time

Following up on my earlier post about the Bush campaign claiming that Kerry is causing the insurgency, I find this article by Matt Yglesias that points out that two-faced Junior Codpiece is actually doing it. it is one of the most egregious cases of projection we've yet seen.

Bush has adopted policies designed to keep the death count low, primarily by avoiding ground combat in the Sunni triangle. Good campaign tactics, needless to say, but, as ever, the Bush team seems better at winning elections than winning wars. By delaying any assault on the wily Salafi terrorists (read: Democratic campaign operatives) lurking in Fallujah, Samarra, Ramadi, and Baquba until after November, we give them more time to dig in, prepare defenses, and strengthen their forces before the attack.

An important point comes next, so it gets a paragraph of its own: This plan will get people killed. If an assault is to be mounted, it should be done as soon as possible, before the adversary has been given months to prepare for it. The Marines and soldiers serving in Iraq volunteered for the military, but they've been conscripted into the Bush campaign. Decisions, as Lieutenant General James Conway recently stated, are being made on the basis of narrow political considerations rather than military ones. It's appropriate for generals to be subordinate to civilian politicians, but not to civilian campaign strategists. We're waging war as an extension of an electoral campaign, exposing our soldiers to harassing attacks right now and to a more difficult fight later on in order to help secure the president's re-election.

George W. Bush is setting up our soldiers for a killing field in order to keep the casualty count down during the election campaign. There's a word for that and starts with a "t" and ends with a "reason."

Security Spin

As I watched Judy Woodruff go on and on yesterday about the alleged Security Moms and how they are abandoning the Democrats in favor of that handsome hunk of manhood, Crusader Codpiece, I was reminded of the interesting piece that Matt Stoller wrote during the RNC on the subject.

This "security mom" story is a campaign tactic to keep Republican women in the fold. The bogus polls gave them cover to make their appeal based upon a two-faced premise that they were already busting the gender gap open. Attractive housewives have been popping up all over television to discuss "their issues" and make the case for Junior as their security teddy bear.

Here's what Matt reported from a GOP training seminar for women at the GOP convention:

"The Bush campaign is not anywhere in the hemisphere of where these women are…" Leslie Sanchez, political analyst for Bush/Cheney

I spent three and a half hours in a training session for grassroots leaders of the GOP, hosted by GOPAC, Newt Gingrich's group that led the Republican Congressional takeover in 1994. ...the most interesting part of the day was a presentation by Leslie Sanchez, Bush/Cheney advisor and frequent commentator on MSNBC, Fox News, and CNN, on how to win women voters. According to Sanchez, women voters make up the majority of registered voters in every battleground state, and they are angst-ridden, scared, tolerant, cynical, distrusting, and want and fear change. They are also the key to this election.

In 2000, there was an eleven point gender gap in terms of Republican support for women. Women are more often registered to vote, they are usually registered independent, and Republican women - who tend to be married - are voting increasingly for Democrats. The model is that they first vote for a Democratic female, and then start voting for Democratic candidates in general. This trend is worrisome to Republicans. The target for the Bush campaign this year is married women with high religiosity, women who voted for Bush in 2000 and value their family's safety.


The bottom line here is that the President's messaging strategy so far has been a failure with women, and women will decide this election. This Convention is an attempt to fix this political problem, but the only real solution is to scare women into voting for him, because Bush has no real successes that he can credibly point to (and that women believe).

In other words, the "security mom" is actually a Republican who Rove is fearful of losing, not a Democrat who is drifting to the Republicans. As usual, the media got seriously spun.

Noam Scheiber does some fact checking in an interesting article in TNR today:

Indeed, just about the only evidence you can find in support of the security mom proposition comes from the New York Times/CBS poll. A Times/CBS poll conducted September 12-16 found that Bush gained 14 points relative to Kerry among women since mid-August, but a mere four points relative to men (itself a highly dubious proposition), which would have narrowed the gender gap substantially. When I asked CBS polling director Kathy Frankovic about this, her response was sheepish. "I attribute it to short-term/long-term" differences, she said. In any case, Frankovic was quick to add, CBS had just finished another poll, which showed a return of the "gender gap one would expect."

Ruy Texeira runs the numbers.