Sunday, October 31, 2004

I thought Polls Didn't Call Cell Phones?

Well, now they do, thanks to Zogby International in partnership with Rock the Vote. Remember how all the talking heads dismiss this little detail, instead relying on polling methods that were fixed on people with only land lines? Remember how the blogosphere is always citing how many people under 30 don't even have land lines anymore? Zogby proved us right:

Among 18-29 year-old likey voters, MoE 1.2%:
Kerry 55%
Bush 40%
Nader 1.6%

Now the talking heads will have to remind us that this age group doesn't vote. Zogby has something to say about that in this poll as well:
The poll also found that only 2.3% of 18-29 year-old respondents said they did not plan to vote, and another .5% who were not sure if they would.  The results of the survey are weighted for region, gender, and political party. 
A poll of mobile phones using text messaging. It's about time polls caught up to the real world. And good news for Kerry as well.

Happy Halloween

Just think: in two more days our 4-year national nightmare will come to an end. Spend today trick-or-treating with your family and rest up for some GOTV efforts or what every way you can help on Tuesday.



Click the image above to see the results of a Bush Bashing Pumpkin Contest with some really creative pumpkin carvers who have little love for the soon to be former president.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Remember the Fourth Estate?

Rember when the media used to actually question our leaders? Remember when the media used to report the facts, rather than some made up balanced news? Remember when the media didn't just repeat White House press releases as fact? It's a sad state of affairs when the UK media is more on the ball about what democracy means than our own failed Fourth Estate:
The primary function of democracy is not to elect good leaders, since nobody can predict in advance how a politician will perform. It is to eject leaders who have manifestly failed. The ability to remove leaders who turn out to be corrupt, dangerous, outrageously dishonest or manifestly incompetent is the primary privilege and duty of any democracy. And if any leader in our lifetime deserved to be ejected by voters, regardless of their ideology or political persuasion, it is surely President Bush.

He inherited a prosperous, peaceful, law-abiding country which was universally admired around the world. He promised, if elected, to govern as a “compassionate conservative”, to end partisan confrontation in Washington and to run a “humble” foreign policy which would respect other countries and show restraint in the use of America’s global power.

Four years later, he presides over a struggling economy, the steepest four-year loss of jobs since the Great Depression, and now has the biggest budget deficits and trade imbalances on record. Far worse, he started an unnecessary war on false pretences and mismanaged it so disastrously that the instability of the Middle East is probably now a greater danger to world peace than the Soviet Union was during the Cold War. The President has failed in his primary military mission of capturing or killing Osama bin Laden and destroying al-Qaeda.
Remember when the media used to understand our democracy, and reported on the problems of our system and it's leaders in order to bring about change for the better? Too bad the horse race is all that matters now.

A Truce? You Must Be Kidding Me.

The Bush campaign is incredible. Yesterday, after the tape of bin Laden came out, they had the balls to question Kerry for continuing to point out that the Bush administration failed to catch the bastard when they had him cornered in Tora Bora. Then they say Kerry should lay off for 12 hours:
Speaking to reporters outside the campaign rally here, White House communications director Dan Bartlett said that the tape should not affect the way Bush campaigns but that Kerry should have marked a 12-hour truce.

"You would think that there would be a, maybe, 12 hours to let the American absorb what has just happened today," he said.

Prodded on why, if the tape ought not to affect the campaign, Kerry should have stopped criticizing the president, Bartlett revised his statement, saying that the problem was that Kerry's attack had been "discredited.
Kerry should stop criticizing the president? A "12 hour truce?!?" Why in the hell is that? Because Bush failed to catch him and he made another video? Because he pointed out that Bush has deceived our country since 9-11? Because Bush diverted resources that could have been used to catch bin Laden so we could invade Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with 9-11? Because Bush is losing.

Mr. Kerry, here's my advice: Turn up the volume. Scream to the high heavens. Turn up the heat. Don't stop. Not for 12 hours, not for 12 minutes. Not for 12 seconds. Bush failed to take terrorism seriously before 9-11. He immediately started looking to Iraq after 9-11. He diverted our troops and their resources from the hunt for bin Laden. Then he allowed him to escape when he was cornered at Torra Bora. Then he invaded Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with 9-11. Then he lied about why we invaded. Then he failed to provide enough troops to secure the country after the invasion, allowing terrorists and insurgents to easily acquire weapons and the military's most powerful non-nuclear explosives.

It's Bush's fault. And now he wants a truce? Bite me.

Friday, October 29, 2004

It All Goes Boom, Right?

With today's testimony from US army major Austin Pearson, who told of how his unit had destroyed over 200 tons Iraqi munitions, including tons of stuff from al-Qaqaa, we were treated to another great example of intentional confusion of the issues by using lots of acronyms that the general public doesn't understand.

You see, to the average Joe, it all goes boom. TNT, RDX, HMX, PDQ... it's all stuff that is used to blow stuff up. Major Pearson talked of how his unit blew up lots of the stuff from al Qaqaa. So what's the big deal?

The big deal is that Pentagon spokesman, Larry DiRita, during this press conference tried to claim that the Pentagon doesn't distinguish between RDX and HMX. To the average guy, this makes perfect sense. RDX, HMX? What the hell, they all end in "X" and they both go boom.

But here's the problem with that: RDX (Cyclotrimethylene trinitramine) is plastic explosive with it's roots in 1890's Germany that forms the base for several common military explosives. HMX (High Molecular weight rdX), on the other hand, is the military's most powerful non-nuclear explosive, and is the stuff that can be used to detonate a nuclear bomb.

They both go boom, but HMX is capable of so much more.

According to Wikipedia, RDX burns rather than explodes, and requires a detonator to explode. It is so stable that you can shoot it with small arms fire and not set it off. HMX, also referred to as "High Melting Explosive" explodes so violently at high temperatures it can be used in rocket fuel. Boy, no difference there!?

So the idea that RDX and HMX are somehow of the same level of importance and not classified differently by the Pentagon is pure unadulterated deception. The IAEA didn't place seals on RDX as it had no use in the production or construction of nuclear weapons. HMX does, and as such was monitored by U.N. inspectors, cataloged, mapped, and sealed in the bunkers in which it was stored.

And now the really powerful stuff - HMX - the stuff that can set off a nuclear bomb, is missing. And all the Bush administration can do is try to pass the buck and obfuscate reality. A reality that places in the hands of terrorists the military's most powerful non-nuclear explosive. All because the US didn't have enough troops on the ground to guard the al Qaqaa facility even though they knew this this stuff was there.

Do you feel safer yet?

Al-Qaqaa Graphic Timeline

I'm a visual person, so I like to see dates on timelines. Here's a graphic I put together including today's information about ordnance disposal teams:



A full sheet PDF is available here.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

O'Reilly Buys His Way Out

Must be nice to have money:
"The parties regret that this matter has caused tremendous pain, and they have agreed to settle," said a statement from the 55-year-old talk show host's law firm, Epstein Becker & Green. "All cases and claims have been withdrawn, and all parties have agreed there was no wrongdoing whatsoever by Mr. O'Reilly, Ms. Mackris or Ms. Mackris' counsel, Benedict P. Morelli and associates."
Word on the street (and the blogs) is that O'Lielly paid between two and ten million to settle the suit, and of course, destroy the loofah tapes. Now if I had said the same things, made the same lewd statements involving loofahs, I'd have been fired. Then sued for harassment in civil court. Probably would have lost my house. And probably gotten divorced.

As for Bill, he'll have to cut back on the Armani suits and private jets. Life's a bitch.

"...make some good bombs."

So the explosives from Al Qaqaa were taken before the US got there. Uh, Mr. President, your pants are on fire:
Using GPS technology and talking with members of the 101st Airborne Division, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has determined the crew embedded with the troops may have been on the southern edge of the Al Qaqaa installation, where the ammunition disappeared. The news crew was based just south of Al Qaqaa, and drove two or three miles north of there with soldiers on April 18, 2003.

During that trip, members of the 101st Airborne Division showed the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS news crew bunker after bunker of material labelled "explosives." Usually it took just the snap of a bolt cutter to get into the bunkers and see the material identified by the 101st as detonation cords.

"We can stick it in those and make some good bombs." a soldier told our crew.
A video. From a media embed. After the fall of Baghdad. 760,000 pounds of explosives missing because our troops were not told to guard the place.

I feel much safer.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Systematic Chaos

Peter W. Galbraith, a former US ambassador to Croatia, was one of the US officials in Iraq after the overthrow of Sadam, and a supporter of the War. He's also another to add his voice to the chorus of administration officials and eye witnesses who attest to the fact that the Bush administration failed to plan for anything beyond the combat stage of the Iraq war. What he writes about in the Boston Globe today are events he witnessed first hand and reported to Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz upon his return to the US in 2003. The 760,000 pounds of high grade explosives pale in comparison to this:
The looting that I observed was spontaneous. Quite likely the looters had no idea they were stealing deadly biological agents or radioactive materials or that they were putting themselves in danger. As I pointed out to Wolfowitz, as long as these sites remained unprotected, their deadly materials could end up not with ill-educated slum dwellers but with those who knew exactly what they were doing.

This is apparently what happened. According to an International Atomic Energy Agency report issued earlier this month, there was "widespread and apparently systematic dismantlement that has taken place at sites previously relevant to Iraq's nuclear program." This includes nearly 380 tons of high explosives suitable for detonating nuclear weapons or killing American troops. Some of the looting continued for many months -- possibly into 2004. Using heavy machinery, organized gangs took apart, according to the IAEA, "entire buildings that housed high-precision equipment."

This equipment could be anywhere. But one good bet is Iran, which has had allies and agents in Iraq since shortly after the US-led forces arrived.

This was a preventable disaster. Iraq's nuclear weapons-related materials were stored in only a few locations, and these were known before the war began. As even L. Paul Bremer III, the US administrator in Iraq, now admits, the United States had far too few troops to secure the country following the fall of Saddam Hussein. But even with the troops we had, the United States could have protected the known nuclear sites. It appears that troops did not receive relevant intelligence about Iraq's WMD facilities, nor was there any plan to secure them. Even after my briefing, the Pentagon leaders did nothing to safeguard Iraq's nuclear sites.
Not only 380 tons of high grade explosives, but also biological agents and the tools to make nuclear weapons. Now it is probably in the hands of terrorists or the government of Iran or both. So let's review: Bush launches a crusade (his word). We invade a country that had no ties to terrorism or 9-11. We secure oil refineries but not weapons depots or culturally significant sites. We fail to plan for the aftermath of the invaision, failing to restore basic infrastructure like water and electricity for months. We play right into the hands of Osama bin Laden and religious fanatics like him, aiding in terrorist recruitment. Then we allow these same people to come right into Iraq and take the raw materials they need to kill us.

Grand plan Mr. President. Grand plan. Lest you think Mr. Galbraith is a anti-war liberal from our side of the isle, think again:
I supported President Bush's decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein. At Wolfowitz's request, I helped advance the case for war, drawing on my work in previous years in documenting Saddam's atrocities, including the use of chemical weapons on the Kurds. In spite of the chaos that followed the war, I am sure that Iraq is better off without Saddam Hussein.
Even the people on the President's side think Iraq is FUBAR. I feel much safer now, don't you?

Bush's One Finger Victory Salute

From Texans for Truth via dKos we find this gem:



That's right boys and girls: That's our president. Watch the video.

Post-9/11, Iraq was a bad idea.

James Webb, secretary of the Navy during the Reagan administration, was on Hardball last night hawking his new book and talking about the soldiers who refused to deliver fuel without an escort in vehicles that they felt were dangerous. But near the end of the interview, Webb questioned the Bush administration, and specifically Vice President Cheney's constant insistence that the changes of the post 9-11 world supported their actions in Iraq. For the Bushies, 9-11 justifies everything they do in Iraq. To those us in the reality based world, 9-11 underscores just how wrong the invasion of Iraq was. Webb forcefully made the case that Iraq was a mistake, especially after 9-11 (emphasis mine):

WEBB:  My view of it, when Vice President Cheney repeatedly says that the people who have questioned the war against Iraq don‘t understand the post-9/11 world, my view is the complete reverse.  The people who did this, this was on their to-do list when they got into the administration, and they did not... 

MATTHEWS:  Cheney? 

WEBB:  Cheney and the whole group that really put this together.  They wanted this as a part of what was going to happen in the Bush administration.  One way or the other, they were waiting for... 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  That‘s why they joined, you could argue. 

WEBB:  And in my view, these people don‘t understand the realities post-9/11.  Post-9/11, this was a bad idea.  Pre-9/11, I still would have opposed it, but at least it was an arguable idea. 

MATTHEWS:  Because—why is it more of a bad idea now since 9/11? 

WEBB:  Because international terrorism really moved in a dramatic way from a regional problem to a global problem.  We saw that we had to step to the forefront.  We had all the nations of the world with us after 9/11.  And we systematically alienated a huge percentage of the world at a time we needed their cooperation.  We tied down our military in static positions when we had developed, for 10 or 15 years, we had worked on a maneuverable military.  And now we dumped them into static positions.  So it is a bad idea in terms of international politics, a bad idea in terms of grand strategy, and a bad idea in how to use the military.

MATTHEWS:  Did we dare the Arab world to take us on in Iraq?  The young men of the Arab world?  Did we say, go ahead, make our day, go ahead, step up to the plate, you got it? 

WEBB:  Clearly, it was the inevitable consequences of anyone who thought this through. 

MATTHEWS:  Like bring it on.  That‘s what the president said.  And they did. 

WEBB:  And well, I think that by putting our people in Iraq, we certainly made them targets in a way that they wouldn‘t have been if we were fighting the war against international terrorism from a position to maneuver. 
What's that? Under the Bush administration, we've thrown away 10-15 years of development of a maneuverable military, turning our once mobile army into static targets for terrorists? Naaa. We're liberating Iraq and spreading democracy and making the world safer!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Eminem's "Mosh" = Required Viewing

If you haven't seen Eminem's new video "Mosh" get the hell out of this blog and go download it here NOW. I don't like hip hop. My wife really dislikes Mr. Mathers. We both cried, and I don't do that lightly. This is an anthem on par with some of the greatest. If you can watch this and not feel something you are dead inside. This is the mother of all GOTV anthems.

Download here"

Make sure people see this by voting for it on MTV. It's not listed, so scroll down to the bottom of this page and enter "Eminem" under artist and "Mosh" under title. DO IT NOW.

About that "Search"

The GOP and Whitehouse are spinning that the missing 760,000 pounds of high grade explosives that were just reported missing were missing when the US got there. This is the "Bart Simpson" defense, stage II. But like all White House spin, it's just plain wrong. From MSNBC's interview with the reporter who was actually traveling with the 101st Airborne in the report cited by the White House as searching the facility (emphasis mine):
MSNBC, 10/26/04 (Transcript):

Amy Robach: And it's still unclear exactly when those explosives disappeared. Here to help shed some light on that question is Lai Ling. She was part of an NBC news crew that traveled to that facility with the 101st Airborne Division back in April of 2003. Lai Ling, can you set the stage for us? What was the situation like when you went into the area?

Lai Ling Jew: When we went into the area, we were actually leaving Karbala and we were initially heading to Baghdad with the 101st Airborne, Second Brigade. The situation in Baghdad, the Third Infantry Division had taken over Baghdad and so they were trying to carve up the area that the 101st Airborne Division would be in charge of. As a result, they had trouble figuring out who was going to take up what piece of Baghdad. They sent us over to this area in Iskanderia. We didn't know it as the Qaqaa facility at that point but when they did bring us over there we stayed there for quite a while. We stayed overnight, almost 24 hours. And we walked around, we saw the bunkers that had been bombed, and that exposed all of the ordinances that just lied dormant on the desert.

AR: Was there a search at all underway or did a search ensue for explosives once you got there during that 24-hour period?

LLJ: No. There wasn't a search. The mission that the brigade had was to get to Baghdad. That was more of a pit stop there for us. And, you know, the searching, I mean certainly some of the soldiers head off on their own, looked through the bunkers just to look at the vast amount of ordnance lying around. But as far as we could tell, there was no move to secure the weapons, nothing to keep looters away. But there was – at that point the roads were shut off. So it would have been very difficult, I believe, for the looters to get there.

AR: And there was no talk of securing the area after you left. There was no discussion of that?

LLJ: Not for the 101st Airborne, Second Brigade.
They were -- once they were in Baghdad, it was all about Baghdad, you know, and then they ended up moving north to Mosul. Once we left the area, that was the last that the brigade had anything to do with the area.

AR: Well, Lai Ling Jew, thank you so much for shedding some light into that situation. We appreciate it.

LLJ: Thank you.
She was there with the troops. There was no seach and no talk of securing the area. The GOP lies again.

UPDATE
Bubba noted a good catch from Josh Marshall. It seems that even if the 101st didn't find any explosives, the 3rd Infantry definately saw some:

UN weapons inspectors went repeatedly to the vast al Qa Qaa complex, most recently on March 8. But they found nothing during spot visits to some of the 1,100 buildings at the site 40 kilometres south of Baghdad.

Col. John Peabody, engineer brigade commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, said troops found thousands of five-centimetre by 12-centimetre boxes, each containing three vials of white powder, together with documents written in Arabic that dealt with how to engage in chemical warfare.

A senior U.S. official familiar with initial testing said the powder was believed to be explosives. The finding would be consistent with the plant's stated production capabilities in the field of basic raw materials for explosives and propellants.

So what would Bart be writing on the board at the start of this episode? I've got it: "I will not allow looting of high grade explosives on my watch."

Monday, October 25, 2004

Uncommon Endorsement

The New Yorker has never endorsed a candidate in a presidential election. Until now that is. Theirs is an uncommon endorsement though. It is a long, thought-out, thorough case against Bush. It is more of an indictment of the Bush administration and their reckless policies. It systematically in a timeline fashion dismembers the Bush record, and lays bare the damage, to our country, our future and our world, that this administration has done in four short years. From the election theft to the tax cuts, from terrorism to the war in Iraq, the environment, secrecy and arrogance, no issue of this presidency is left uncovered, nor is any quarter given for the array of mistake, misstatement and lies.

This is a blistering review of the Bush administration. This is what makes the positive ending for Kerry so pronounced in it's striking comparison to the failed President:
Throughout his long career in public service, John Kerry has demonstrated steadiness and sturdiness of character. The physical courage he showed in combat in Vietnam was matched by moral courage when he raised his voice against the war, a choice that has carried political costs from his first run for Congress, lost in 1972 to a campaign of character assassination from a local newspaper that could not forgive his antiwar stand, right through this year’s Swift Boat ads. As a senator, Kerry helped expose the mischief of the Bank of Commerce and Credit International, a money-laundering operation that favored terrorists and criminal cartels; when his investigation forced him to confront corruption among fellow-Democrats, he rejected the cronyism of colleagues and brought down power brokers of his own party with the same dedication that he showed in going after Oliver North in the Iran-Contra scandal. His leadership, with John McCain, of the bipartisan effort to put to rest the toxic debate over Vietnam-era P.O.W.s and M.I.A.s and to lay the diplomatic groundwork for Washington’s normalization of relations with Hanoi, in the mid-nineties, was the signal accomplishment of his twenty years on Capitol Hill, and it is emblematic of his fairness of mind and independence of spirit. Kerry has made mistakes (most notably, in hindsight at least, his initial opposition to the Gulf War in 1990), but—in contrast to the President, who touts his imperviousness to changing realities as a virtue—he has learned from them.
This is today's must read.

Why Do Things Go Boom?

Why do things go boom, boys and girls? It seems darn near everything in Iraq goes boom these days. Cars go boom. Improvised Explosive Devices go boom. Oil pipelines go boom. Buildings go boom. Even sometimes people go boom. Now why is that.

Oh that's right, explosives.

Explosives make things go boom. Now, imagine you are a terrorist who wants to make something go boom. You need explosives to do this, so you just drive down to Crazy Omar's Demolition Supply and buy a bit of this stuff, right? Well, maybe not. It seems people keep a watch on these sort of things. At least until the US Army invades the country:
Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told CNN the interim Iraqi government reported several days ago that the explosives were missing from the Al Qaqaa complex, south of Baghdad.

The explosives -- considered powerful enough to demolish buildings or detonate nuclear warheads -- were under IAEA control until the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. IAEA workers left the country before the fighting began.
What, a little war breaks out and the IAEA runs away? Wimps. What are they afraid of. It was only explosives under their control. High grade weapons explosives. Explosives powerful enough to demolish a building or detonate a nuclear warhead. Only 380 tons of the stuff. Only 760,000 pounds of the stuff capable of triggering a nuclear bomb.

760,000 pounds. I wonder how many booms that could make. Well, about that... From the NY Times:
The bomb that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 used less than a pound of the same type of material, and larger amounts were apparently used in the bombing of a housing complex in November 2003 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the blasts in a Moscow apartment complex in September 1999 that killed nearly 300 people.

The explosives could also be used to trigger a nuclear weapon, which was why international nuclear inspectors had kept a watch on the material, and even sealed and locked some of it. The other components of an atom bomb - the design and the radioactive fuel - are more difficult to obtain.
Now that sounds bad. One pound of this stuff makes a whole jumbo jet go boom, and there seems to be 760,000 pounds of it missing. That's a lot of boom. Boy, I sure hope the US isn't responsible for this one:
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said President Bush wants to determine what went wrong.

McClellan, on Air Force One, stressed that the missing explosives were not nuclear materials, and said the storage site was the responsibility of the interim Iraqi government, not the United States, as of June 28, when the United States turned over the nation's administration to the Iraqis.
There you go, boys and girls: The correct use of the "Bart Simpson" defense: We didn't to it. It was those kooky Iraqis learning how to govern their own country. Uh, about that:
Earlier this month, in a letter to the I.A.E.A. in Vienna, a senior official from Iraq's Ministry of Science and Technology wrote that the stockpile disappeared after early April 2003 because of "the theft and looting of the governmental installations due to lack of security."

In an interview with The Times and "60 Minutes" in Baghdad, the minister of science and technology, Rashad M. Omar, confirmed the facts described in the letter. "Yes, they are missing," Dr. Omar said. "We don't know what happened." The I.A.E.A. says it also does not know, and has reported that machine tools that can be used for either nuclear or non-nuclear purposes have also been looted.

[...]

Officials in Washington said they had no answers to that question. One senior official noted that the Qaqaa complex where the explosives were stored was listed as a "medium priority" site on the Central Intelligence Agency's list of more than 500 sites that needed to be searched and secured during the invasion. "Should we have gone there? Definitely," said one senior administration official.

In the chaos that followed the invasion, however, many of those sites, even some considered a higher priority, were never secured.
We should have went there? It's only high grade explosives and the tools to make bombs or nuclear weapons. It's only 760,000 pounds of this stuff. And now it's all missing. Who needs Crazy Omar's when you can just go pick the stuff up for free at a self-serve ammunitions facility! More boom for your terrorist buck that way.

No wonder everything has been going boom in Iraq lately. With over 760,000 pounds of free explosives, Crazy Omar is now probably another unemployed Iraqi looking for something to do with his free time and free explosives. More time and more free explosives to kill and injure US troops. More time and free explosives to kill innocent civilians. More time and more explosives to make all sorts of things go boom.

Let us not forget this is just the latest in a long list of incompetent acts. We have only eight days left until election day for the American people to lower the boom on this incompetent administration.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Wolfpacks for Truth

Did you see the new Bush ad featuring the scary wolves that look more like cute adorable puppies? You know, the ad that is so original it is basically a rip off of the old Regan "Bear in the Woods" ad (that actually featured a scary bear). You know, the ad that when showed on Crossfire received laughter and jeers from the crowd as the GOP hack co-host tried to paint it as very good.

Well, now there's this from Wolfpacks for Truth.org:
When the camera crew showed up, we wondered why they were all driving Hummers. Our agent
assured us it was a Greenpeace commercial and they paid TWICE our hourly steak rate. Little did we know we were being tricked into this vicious campaign attack ad.

We are not Terrorists!
There you go. The wolves were duped; unknowing pawns in the Bush team's web of lies. Oh, about that web. You might want to read this bit from Slate that discusses the obvious distortion in the ad. You see, no one proposed cutting intelligence spending after 9-11. Everyone, including the GOP, proposed cutting intelligence (and the military) back in 1993 as part of the "Peace Dividend."

What, you didn't get that from Bush's puppies ad? Gee, I'm sure the Bush team thinks just terrible.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Today's Must Read

From the good people at The Nation, we provide our "must read" of the day:

100 Facts and 1 Opinion
The Non-Arguable Case Against the Bush Administration.


Don't just read it. Print the PDF and give out copies.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Cheat: Part II

That's right, it sequal night around here. In case you've missed it, it seems that sample ballot that is being distributed to the masses in IL-06, Heny Hyde's current district, seem to have a bit of an error:



What's that? Right under where it says "Vote for one" there is only one: Henry Hyde. I seem to remember a certain democratic challenger named Christine Cegelis. Call me silly, but shouldn't she be on this ballot next to Henry Hyde (instead of under state senate candidates where they put here). I mean, she did win her primary. The DuPage County Election Commission should have noticed this. She is running an active campaign. The DuPage County Election Commission has her on file. So what gives? From the Cegelis blog:
“I cannot believe that with all of the problems with the election in 2000, that the DuPage Election Commission does not triple-check their work. I thought that this would be a fair election, I was wrong,” Cegelis stated upon seeing the sample ballot imprinted with the “Legal Notice” on it.

She continued, “This was not an honest mistake. Considering I won the Primary Election, I cannot believe that anyone at the DuPage County Election Commission did not know that I was running against Henry Hyde. This does not give me any confidence in DuPage County’s ability to hold a fair election.”

“This is an obvious ploy to disenfranchise and confuse the electorate. I am appalled that Bob Saar would even consider signing off on a sample ballot that is so erroneous,” Democratic Party of DuPage County Chair Gayl Ferraro commented.

Upon hearing about the error, Lt. Governor Pat Quinn stated that, “The DuPage County Election Commission has a solemn duty to conduct elections with competence and without bias.”

“It is imperative that this board immediately rectify the blunder it has committed in describing the sixth congressional district race,” Quinn said.
The Commission on the other hand doesn't think so. Reprinting the whole sample would cost too much. They just want to redo the one page. That way it's easier to lose.

If you can't beat 'em, cheat.

Are Voters Stupid: Part II

Yes. Still. And Republicans seem to be even more ignorant than most.

Yes, I'm biased. But I've got studies now to prove it. From Salon's "The blind leading the blind,"we get this overview of a new report from PIPA, the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland:
Analyzing data from a series of nationwide polls, the report finds that a majority of Bush supporters believe things about the world that are objectively untrue, while the majority of Kerry supporters dwell in the reality-based community.
...Believe things about the world that are objectively untrue...what a nice way call them stupid. Actually, it's not their fault though. The just want to believe their Commander in Chief:
Though its language is dispassionate, the report lays responsibility for this epidemic of ignorance at the White House's door. "So why are Bush supporters clinging so tightly to these beliefs in the face of repeated disconfirmations?" it asks. "Apparently one key reason is that they continue to hear the Bush administration confirming these beliefs."
But, as is borne out in my own discussions, Bush supporters often don't even know Bush's actual positions. From an earlier PIPA report:
"Majorities incorrectly assumed that Bush supports multilateral approaches to various international issues -- the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (69%), the treaty banning land mines (72%); 51% incorrectly assumed he favors US participation in the Kyoto treaty -- the principal international accord on global warming ... Only 13% of supporters are aware that he opposes labor and environmental standards in trade agreements -- 74% incorrectly believe that he favors including labor and environmental standards in agreements on trade. In all these cases, there is a recurring theme: majorities of Bush supporters favor these positions, and they infer that Bush favors them as well."
Are voters stupid? Yes. And it would seem, Republicans are willfully ignorant as well.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The List

Don't think Big Brother is in the works? You want to be scared? This is a must read. I haven't tried to get on a plane recently. I wonder if bloggers are on the list too?

Karen Hughes: Lying Liar

So good old Pat opens his mouth and out falls this big fat juicy quote:
"And I warned him about this war. I had deep misgivings about this war, deep misgivings. And I was trying to say, 'Mr. President, you had better prepare the American people for casualties.' "

Robertson said the president then told him, "Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties."
Must be a misunderstanding...
Senior Bush campaign adviser Karen Hughes, a longtime confidant of the president, said she was "certain" Bush would not have said anything like that to Robertson.

"Perhaps he misunderstood, but I've never heard the president say any such thing," Hughes said on CNN's "Inside Politics."
Well, if Karen Hughes says it's a misunderstanding, then it must be. Well, about that. Ah, maybe she's not that credible in her recollection of what the president does and doesn't say...
Carlson also interviewed George W. Bush for a 1999 profile in Talk, which featured Bush "swearing like a truck driver, making fun of Karla Faye Tucker's death penalty appeals, mimicking her saying, 'Don't kill me!'". In response, Bush communications director Karen Hughes said Carlson was lying and told Carlson she'd never heard Bush use profanity, even though Carlson claims he'd seen Hughes listen to Bush use profanity. Carlson told Salon:

"I've obviously been lied to a lot by campaign operatives, but the striking thing about the way she lied was she knew I knew she was lying, and she did it anyway. There is no word in English that captures that. It almost crosses over from bravado into mental illness."

The Incumbent Rule

As one who is fairly new to political awareness, having been tuned in now for about a year and a half, I find myself learning new things all the time. One I keep hearing about lately is "The Incumbent Rule." Essentially, according to Chris at MyDD, if an incumbent is below 47% in the polls, then it's over for them. Toast. Road kill. Last stop. Cue the fat lady.

The more I learn about this "rule" the more I agree with it. So I thought I'd try to explain it for those unfamiliar, as the best way to really learn something is to teach it to others. So here goes:

The idea is simple really:
Take 100% of the voters that show up in the polls. If two candidates are polling at 47% each (as is the case in many of the polls these days), you wind up with 94% committed for each candidate. That leaves 6% undecided in such an arrangement (100 - 94 = 6). But let's say Nader or someone else enters into this arrangement as a third party candidate. Let's give him a generous 2%. That leaves 4% undecided.

Based on some research Chris has done, we find that undecideds break on average at least 2 to 1 for the challenger. Now that's at least 2 to 1. Higher numbers, like 75-80% in the challenger's favor are not uncommon.

So if we take our 4% undecideds from our example, that means a straight 2-1 challenger advantage, Kerry adds 2.64% and Bush adds 1.32%. Which leaves us at a minimum with:

Kerry: 49.64%
Bush: 48.32%
Nader: 2%

If the undecideds break at 75% or better, Kerry wins by a majority with 50% or more of the vote. That's something that would help silence the critics of a Kerry presidency as even with all the election fraud and voter disenfranchisement on his side, Bush never achieved a majority. And remember, Nader ain't on the ballot in many states, and 2% is generous for a third party candidate this year. And let's not forget the polls don't call cell phones. And let's not forget Democratic registration are WAY up compared to Republican registration.

The Incumbent Rule. Less than 47% and Bush is toast. That should make poll watching much more fun.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

A Little Help Please.

I just received an email from Mike Kisler, candidate for DuPage County Coroner, and all around volunteermister for our county Democratic party. We have some local candidates who have really given the county GOP ticket some heart burn, and cost them dearly to defend local offices that were never in play before.

But our county Democratic party HQ is lacking a wee bit. As Mike notes:
Great news! We are going to have over 200 pollwatchers plus 30 volunteer attorneys, out in the field on election day! Given the DuPage Polling Place "irregularities" that were documented in 2002, I suspect they will be quite busy.

But that poses a problem. These field personnel will be calling in reports all day to the Dem Hq. in Lombard. We only have three phone lines in that office, which are already not enough some times. Given the number of "normal" calls made and received on election day, these "Field Report" calls are more than we can handle.

But the County Party can't afford any more phone lines. They are stretched to the limit as it is, helping the candidates get elected. So, I'm asking each of you ta make a SMALL donation, (Even $5 or $10 would help!) to help us pay for three additional phone lines.

This money needs to remain seperate, so please make your checks payable to "Democratic Party of DuPage County", but mail them to ME at the address below.(Please write "Phone Lines" on the memo line of your check) We will sit down when the bill comes, apply your donations, and then I will have to make up the difference out of my own pocket, so all help is appreciated.

Mail your checks to:
Mike Kisler
P.O. Box 2575
Darien, IL 60561
I've worked with Mike both on Dean stuff and designing his campaign logo, so I know he's legit. I've checked with him about publishing this as well. The Elections Commission is aware of the arrangement. Any help anyone could give, even five dollars would be appreciated.

Registration note: DuPage has a record 526,599 registrations, with 21,000 since September 1st. Three phone lines aren't going to cut it.

Are Voters Stupid?

Yes.

I was going to write about the studies done on just how uninformed the electorate is, but Taegan Goddard beat me to it. It's a must read, so what are you still here for. When finished, pick up the phone and pound some sense into someone on the fence. Yeesh.

Monday, October 18, 2004

What Bracket Are You Really In?

Today I got into a discussion with on of my co-workers from the "right" persuasion. As we discussed Kerry and Bush, he argued that I was better off today because of Bush's tax cuts. I came back with Bush's tax cuts were a large portion of the deficit. He shot back that why should anyone pay half their income to taxes? "Half" I said? Where do you get that? He argued that if you were in the top bracket you were paying 35% of your income to the feds, plus state taxes that made 50%. That one made me think a bit, and I think I'll question that call.

Upon further review, the argument is invalid. The receiver stepped out of bracket, and included all income in the field of play erroneously.

I think this is a great misconception that the right plays upon. If you are in the "35% bracket, or any bracket for that matter, only a portion of your income is taxed at that bracket. Plus, not all of anyone's income is taxed, especially if you are lucky enough to be in the highest brackets. Mortgage interest, property taxes, home equity loan interest are "essential" deductions that people in the 15% bracket can't afford to take.

Let's look at an example. Let's say you are a lucky single person, with a plumb job working your ass off for $160,000 a year. Sweet. But, damn, that puts you in the second highest bracket: THE 33% BRACKET (cue scary music). So you'll be paying $52,800 in taxes this year! Damn that Federal Government!

Or will you...(Doctor Evil look).

Actually, unless you have no money skills, you've invested in some real estate and own your home/condo/duplex. Let's say you've got a mortgage for $250,000, which means you are paying around $14,400 a year in interest. Wow, good thing that's all tax deductable. Then you are probably paying, in my area anyway, around $6,500 in local taxes. But you know what, those babies are tax deductable too! Damn, being in debt is great! But wait, that BMW you bought with your home equity loan is a sweet ride. It's not technically a tax deduction, but it is a home equity loan, and you have enought to pay for an accountant (who's services are also a tax deduction), so the interest on that is tax deductable too! Extra sweet bonus dedution points for around another $5,200 in interest.

So that puts you at a taxable income of $133,900 assuming you don't have any other deductions (which you probably do thanks to your accountant). Now that nearly $134K puts you in the 28% Bracket. Not as bad as 33%, but still you have to pay more than one-forth of your hard earned money to The Man.

Or do you...

Funny how tax laws work. You see you actually only pay 28% on the money you've earned in the 28% Bracket. Since this bracket starts for you lucky well paid singles at $70,350, that means only roughly half your income is actually taxed at this rate. Here's the math for our example:

$133900 - $70350 = $63550 x 28% = $17,794 in tax @28% Bracket
$70350 - $29050 = $41,300 x 25% = $10,325 in tax @25% Bracket
$29050 - $7150 = $21900 x 15% = $3285 in tax @ 15% Bracket
$7150 x 10% = $715 in tax @ 10% Bracket

For a grand total of $32,119 in taxes.

Now remember, you lucky hard working single person, you make $160,000 a year. With just a few simple deductions, you've paid over $32K in taxes. Now that's a chunk of change. But is it the 33% you originally feared?

No. In actuality, a single person earning $160,000 a year with the simple deductions I've used pays 20% of their income to federal taxes - not the 33% their initial bracket may suggest.

What about the same single person not lucky enough to get that plumb job? What if they only made $45,000 a year? That puts Joe Workingstiff in the 25% Bracket. You can't afford a home in my area on that income. What happens to Joe with but the standard deductions? Let's say Joe manages to get $10K in deductions. That still puts him at $35,000 taxable income, or the same 25% bracket. Let's do the math for Joe as he can't afford the accountant:

$40,000 - $29050 = $10950 x 25% = $2737 in tax @25% Bracket
$29050 - $7150 = $21900 x 15% = $3285 in tax @ 15% Bracket
$7150 x 10% = $715 in tax @ 10% Bracket

For a grand total of $6,737 in taxes.

It turns out Joe is paying 15% of his income in taxes. Plumb Guy pays 5% more of his income to taxes, yet he earns 3.5 times Joe's income. Hmmm.

Bottom line: Arguing tax brackets is misleading at best, and a good GOP talking point to confuse people into thinking "tax relief" is really for the middle.

Blogosphere Strikes Back

Remember Sinclair Broadcasting Group? You know, that nice bunch of non-partisan right-wing Bush supporters who just happen to own the TV stations that nearly 25% of all Americans watch. Remember, the broadcasting company that was going to run the (wink) news program (wink) highlighting Kerry's traitorous ways and treasonous protesting of the war in Viet Nam - prempting their regulary broadcasting to do so. Sure, you remember those guys.

Well wouldn't you know it. Some damn liberals on the internet got their panties in a bunch and started writing Sinclair's advertisers and investment groups selling their stock. Well, the nerve. It seems, even though Sinclair is going through with the broadcast of the propaganda, err, news programs right before the election to influence, err, educate voters, the company's stock seems to have taken a hit. Now I'm sure a 7.8% decline in value is probably just a small hick-up, what with our volitile markets and all. I couldn't have been those damn liberals. But that graph sure seems to show a downward trend.

Too bad all those nice stock holders are taking a hit since they've chosen to hold on to their Sinclair stock. Maybe they don't have to take a hit. Maybe some of them, like the damn liberal stock holders, might want to choose this opportune moment to call their broker. Just a thought...

Sunday, October 17, 2004

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Cheat.

Well, they did it. Some bastard swiped my Kerry yard sign. They left my Cegelis and Freeman signs, left the wire frame, but took the Kerry sign. Idiots. Is that what the election comes down to? I can't display on my own property my own candidate whom I endorse? How dare they think they can come on to my property and commit a crime in an effort to silence me and my views. Typical Republican tactic. If you can't win with overwhelming money and deceptive ads, then resort to illegal activity.

Just in case the moran or some idiot like him is reading, I put up another sign as soon as I noticed it was missing. I've got lots more signs. I will replace the sign taken from my neighbor as well. You just went out in the middle of the night, in really crappy cold windy weather, trespassed on my and my neighbor's property, then committed a crime by stealing my property, and for what? So I could replace the sign within hours. Next time you'll be on night vision video.

This small theft is symptomatic of the Republican agenda for this election. They can't win fairly. They have to cheat. Don't believe me? Here's just a few examples: It's wholesale voter fraud the GOP is after. Jeb Bush has been caught lying in Florida. The RNC is funding a company that tears up Democratic voter registrations in several states. And the leading manufacturer of electronic voting machines, run by GOP supporters, are open to easy abuse and fraud.

The Republicans can't win fairly. They must cheat the system. Don't let this election be a repeat of 2000.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

"I'm not going to be your monkey."

If you've been watching this election since way back in the primaries, then you've had occassion where you've wanted to call Tucker Carlson a dick. Come on, you know you have. What better way to do it, than on television. Even better, on television, on his show. Leave it to Jon Stewart:
Tucker Carlson:
"You know, you're not as fun as you are on your tv show."

Jon Stewart:
"You know what, you're just as big a dick as you are on your tv show."
Who was the idiot who booked Jon Stewart on Crossfire? Thank goodness for our side. Stewart, host of the "fake" news show "The Daily Show," shows why many people are looking to his fake news program for journalistic integrity before they look to the "real" news shows like Crossfire.

If you haven't seen the segment, click here now, and enjoy Tucker Carlson getting his head handed to him.

Freeway Free Speech Day

Today is Freeway Free Speech Day, thanks to Freewayblogger.com. Got paint, cardboard, and a nearby freeway? Then you too can practice free speech:



View lots more at Freewayblogger.com.

"They don't like you."

I've never been so scared by an administration in my life. The Right's fundemental base isn't just against what we on the left stand for, they are against us. Today's must read comes from Ron Suskind in today's New York Times magazine:
But Billington said he ''looked to God'' and said what was in his heart. ''The United States is the greatest country in the world,'' he told the rally. ''President Bush is the greatest president I have ever known. I love my president. I love my country. And more important, I love Jesus Christ.''

The crowd went wild, and they went wild again when the president finally arrived and gave his stump speech. There were Bush's periodic stumbles and gaffes, but for the followers of the faith-based president, that was just fine. They got it -- and ''it'' was the faith.

And for those who don't get it? That was explained to me in late 2002 by Mark McKinnon, a longtime senior media adviser to Bush, who now runs his own consulting firm and helps the president. He started by challenging me. ''You think he's an idiot, don't you?'' I said, no, I didn't. ''No, you do, all of you do, up and down the West Coast, the East Coast, a few blocks in southern Manhattan called Wall Street. Let me clue you in. We don't care. You see, you're outnumbered 2 to 1 by folks in the big, wide middle of America, busy working people who don't read The New York Times or Washington Post or The L.A. Times. And you know what they like? They like the way he walks and the way he points, the way he exudes confidence. They have faith in him. And when you attack him for his malaprops, his jumbled syntax, it's good for us. Because you know what those folks don't like? They don't like you!'' In this instance, the final ''you,'' of course, meant the entire reality-based community.
It's not about ideas or debate of the facts. It's about faith in the President. It's about faith in God. And to them, the two are inseparable. They don't like us. We are evil. But what would you expect from people who consider the facts, look to reality, and read that damn New Yawk Times. To them we might as well be heritics.

We must win on November 2nd, or this idea that "they don't care" will only get bigger, stonger and more overt. The crusade will be extended to the heritics within our own country. God help all of us then.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Back to the Front

It seems we've gone from not just giving our troops the supplies they need, like body armor, to ordering them into delivering fuel without any armed support in vehicles considered too dangerous by the troops who maintain them. From Yahoo News:
WASHINGTON - The Army is investigating up to 19 members of a supply platoon in Iraq (news - web sites) who refused to go on a convoy mission, the military said Friday. Relatives of the soldiers said the troops considered the mission too dangerous, in part because their vehicles were in such poor shape.

[...]

The Clarion-Ledger, citing interviews with relatives of some of the soldiers, said platoon members refused to go on Wednesday's mission because their vehicles were in poor condition and they had no capable armed escort. They were going to Taji, which is north of Baghdad.

The mission was ultimately carried out by other soldiers from the 343rd, which has at least 120 soldiers, the military said.

Convoys in Iraq are frequently subject to ambushes and roadside bombings.
Then there's this from the UK media:
In an extraordinary breach of military discipline, an entire platoon of US army troops is under arrest in Iraq for refusing to undertake what they called a "suicide mission", relatives of the detained soldiers have said.

[...]

Patricia McCook, of Jackson, said her husband Sgt Larry McCook had phoned her at 5am on Thursday, saying he and 16 others had been read their rights and ordered out of their barracks into isolation in a collection of tents.

Mrs McCook said her husband, a staff sergeant, understood the severity of his actions, but had decided he could not force his unit to carry out the mission to Taji, north of Baghdad, because three of their vehicles were "not safe to go to a hotbed like that".
You will die, if I say, you must die. Back to the Front.
Metallica

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Meeting the Congressional Black Caucus

Boy, George sure got in a good one last night. When that liberal from Massachusetts stated that George hadn't even met with the Congressional Black Caucus, he was ready. Why of course he'd met with the CBC. Silly Massachusetts liberal.

Well, about that. Using Bush's logic, Senator Barry Goldwater, Former Arizona Governor Rose Mofford and the ever awesome rock god, Ozzy Osborne have met with me. You see, I once photographed an event for the City of Scottsdale where my job was to corral Senator Goldwater and Gov. Mofford for a photograph, and years later, I snagged back stage passes from a friend and showed up in Ozzy's dressing room (man he's short). But they did meet with me.

Bush's meeting the CBC is much the same affair. After yearsof being ignored, as noted in a letter to President Bush from Elijah E. Cummings, head of the CBC..:
Mr. President, I need not remind you that the CBC's requests for meetings with you have gone unanswered for more than two-and-one-half years. As a result, you and your Administration have had less opportunity to receive the expertise, wisdom and insights of our 39 Members on a wide variety of significant national and international issues including: the current crisis in Iraq, the double-digit unemployment in the African American community and the overall state of the American economy, homeland security and our defense against terrorism, our bilateral relationships with African nations, and the many other domestic and international challenges facing our country.
...the CBC finally got tired of waiting for a reply, and showed up at the White House. Good one, George.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Kerry 3-0

CBS News Poll:
Kerry: 39%
Bush: 25%

CNN Focus Group:
24 on the panel
Kerry 10
Bush 7
Undecided 7

ABC News:
Kerry: 42%
Bush: 41%

38% GOP
30% Dem
28% Independent
(even with an 8% sample bias Bush loses!)

MSNBC/Olberman:
Scored on points per "round"
Kerry: 18 points
Bush: 3 points

UPDATE
Gallup Poll:
Kerry 52%
Bush 39%

Republican 36%
Democrats 36%
Independents 28%

Desperation Bush: A 3rd Debate Summary

ASU. My alma matter. What a weird experience to see the debate held on the same stage I walked across as an undergrad. But enough about me, there's a debate going on!

I thought this debate was on domestic policy? What's up with this loaded question for Kerry, essentially on foreign policy. But we did learn Bush has a new four syllable word: comprehensive. Not once, but twice, but three times. Bush now has a comprehensive plan. Wow. Only four years late.

Health Insurance: We learned Kerry knows that statistics on health insurance. But of course Bush reminds us that stuff costs money and Kerry can't pay for it. Kerry slam dunks him on it using his own argument for medicare reform.

Balanced Budget: Kerry reminds us of Bush forgetting about pay as you go, and goes on to list things Bush has lost. Kerry: every plan he's laid out have shown how to pay for them. Every plan. We do this, we pay for it this way. Bush goes back to attacking Kerry's record. Bush cites's the "facts" on Kerry's voting record. I can't wait to see FactCheck.org's assesment of this one. "Paygo?" WTF is a Paygo? Budgetman? Budgetman paygo, yougo to next question.

[Note to Bush: Get rid of that goober on the right corner of your mouth. Wads of spit are not presidential.]

Budget: Kerry: Bush = Tony Saprano. Kerry=Fiscal responsible. Kerry=Balance Budget. [Bush:deer in headlights look].

Tax Reform: Kerry wants a level playing field. Bush touts higher Pell grants, but fails to note there are fewer of them due to his underfunding. Bush touts the sweet spot family of four in his tax plan. Bush then goes back to the "facts" on Kerry's record, and Kerry again spikes him with his own "facts" on his own record.

Gay Rights: Bush says he "doesn't know." Wow, that's a first. Gays good. Just stay at home. Marriage is sacred. Activist judges again. Does his just not remember how he got his job? Bush=Marriage amendment. Kerry wants equal rights.

Faith and Abortion: Kerry won't legislate his morality. Bush goes to his "culture of life" and the "partial birth" abortion ban. Abortion bad under all circumstances.

Tort Reform: Bush: "Gosh, I sure hope it's not the adminstration." Duh. Lawyers=Bad. Doctors aren't using "information technology" and should to reduce cost 20%. Kerry spikes him with a liteny of thing Bush has not done to lower drug costs. Medicare drug cards. Drug importation. Bush overrides the moderator again to say essentially "did not.

Healthcare: Moderator takes a shot at Kerry's health plan, questioning how he's going to pay for it. Kerry explains how the plan is paid for and further cites two organizations that agree. Bush: government run health is bad. Distortion boys and girls. Kerry stuffs him on underfunding VA and medicade. Bush in fantasy land on veteran benefits.

Social Security: Bush promises seniors their social security checks. Gee thanks George. Kerry points out how privatization of social security is a disaster, cites the CBO's quote about cutting benefits to make this work [Bush pastes on smile]. Moderator lays it on with Greenspan quotes about the need to cut benefits. Kerry hits on Bush giving tax cut to the rich when it could have saved social security.

Immigration: Bush sees it everyway possible. Card 'em. If employer's want 'em, give 'em a card! Kerry=Bush broke his promise, and Kerry will do more. Enforce the law. Earn legalization. Bush: we done better. Kerry: have not.

Minimum Wage: Kerry: long overdue to raise it. Republicans won't even allow vote to raise it. Women's pay equity: Republican's have blocked that too. Bush: I would have supported it. Side step to education. Standards equal better jobs? Huh?

Roe v. Wade: President won't have litmus test (and we believe the Dred Scott answer too!). Kerry flat out pledges he will support Roe v. Wade. Kerry pivots to education and spikes him on funding education. Bush hauls out the "liberal from Mass" big guns. Kerry spikes him again using Bush's own budget cuts for afterschool programs yet the wealthy got a tax cut.

The Draft and the Guard: Kerry: military over extended, guard over extended, Bush has bad judgement. Rush to war, mislead, OBL. Bush: Iraq is good, democracy, serve their with honor. Bush is resolute, strong and comprehensive (there's that word again). Kerry: Bush has it wrong. Bush: the "internation world"?

Assault Weapons Ban: Republicans AND DEMOCRATS against renewing. Huh? Kerry: Failure of presidential leadership. Hunter and sportsman. As a prosecuter he knows law enforcement wanted a ban. Good story followed by gun show, and then pivots to America is less safe thanks to Bush.

Affirmative Action: Kerry: we have not reached equity. Long way to go although we've made progress. Cite's Clinton policy. Kerry: Bush first president not to meet with NAACP, Congressional Black Caucus, divider not uniter. Bush: [dear in headlights], stumbles through answer pivoting back to BS about education and Pell grants. College solves all, and then goes on to small business issues that tangentally related to minorities.

Higher Authority and Faith in Policy: Bush: faith, faith is personal, faith important and George prays and people pray for George. Decisions base on principal. Bush's "I Believe" speech about God wants everyone to be free, and in Afganistan people are happy and free. Kerry: Respects Bush's faith. Talks about differnt connectiveness to higher being. Love your neighbor, pivot to two Americas and difference between Bush and him. Faith without works is dead.


National Unity: Kerry: Starts with a complement to Bush after 9-11. Pivots to Bush's divisiveness and ideological policy pushing divisiveness and how Kerry has worked with both sides, then pivots again to rally against Bush secrecy and working with McCaine on finanace reform. Bush: Dissapointed in how partisan Washington is. Pot meet kettle. Washington's tuff. Special interests bad. Pot meet kettle again. Divided in the 1990s (GOP majority). Pot meet kettle again. Then WAR ON TERRA! WAR ON TERRA!! Huh?

Strong Women as Spouses: Bush: Listen to them! Good joke finally about first debate performance. Followed by bad joke. [Note to George: Stopy while ahead]. Story of George and Laura. Awwww, he's so nice. Bush rambles. Kerry: Lucky to marry up. Joke! We all laugh. Mom in hospital bed story: integrity. Kerry ties to honesty and respect.

Kerry wins again. Bring on November 2nd.

Who Says Little Guys Can't Win?

Yesterday I wrote about a bunch of local candidates and the devestation they are reaping on the county GOP party. It's true for all of them that this campaign is going to be an uphill battle. But the tide may be shifting. Yesterday, Hiram Wurf, candidate for DuPage County Board, District 5, was endorsed by one of the big guys: Illinois Lt. Governor Pat Quinn endorsed his candidacy. In a press conference, Quinn endorsed all the DuPage candidates and further highlighting Wurf, recommending his weblog as a source of local information.

Today, Wurf Offers DuPage Board "Seven Steps To OpenGovernment." From the release:
In the last six months the Board has discussed making government more open in DuPage. On June 15, Board member Brien Sheahan advocated putting much more information on the county website, and in a budget address yesterday Chair Robert Schillerstrom said the county would expand online services. Schillerstrom has previously said: "We can always provide more information to the public, and I think it improves their trust in the integrity of government."

Wurf responded, "That sounds great - but what has taken them so long to act? They have talked about putting up County Board minutes and votes at least since summer - something they should have done years ago. Just last month they were found to have violated the Illinois Open Meetings Act which doesn't inspire much confidence in their current approach to 'Open Government.' Clearly the board needs help, since they don't practice, and are not used to Open Government.
With the right turn out and continued hard campaigning, this is one race where the little guy might come out on top. Read more about Hiram's Seven Stepts at Hiram's site, and while you're there, toss him a buck or two.

Attack D'Jour?

So, what's it going to be tonight boys and girls? Will Bush paint Kerry a "tax and spend" Democrat? Will he bring out the "L" word and call him a Liberal - again and again and again? Maybe we'll get some more code words like Dred Scott for Roe v. Wade again. Maybe Bush will bring the big guns to bear, going for extra bonus attack points by combining various attack lines and call Kerry a tax and spend Massachusetts Liberal flip-flopper. Now that would take skill.

The third debate is critical. As Zogby puts it:
The two candidates go into the third and final debate tied. TIED!!! There is no major sub-group movement to report, but the undecided voters give us the real key to what is happening behind the scenes. Today's three-day track reveals that only 11% of the undecided voters feel that President Bush deserves to be re-elected. That is the lowest figure yet. Two in five -- 40%-- feel it is time for someone new and 49% are undecided about his future.
Only 11% believe Bush should be re-elected. I think Bush better try for the extra bonus attack points. After all, that's all he's got left.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Why Every Race Counts

The other day I finally got to meet Rob Freedman. What, never heard of him? You probably haven't heard of other local Democratic candidates Doug Henk, Hiram Wurf, or Mike Kisler either. Getting Kerry in the White House is where our focus should be right now? Not these local guys, right?

Well, my conversation with Rob, done as he dropped off some newly minted yard signs, underscored why these types of candidates are important to the cause, as each has made an impact on their race, and more importantly, on the county GOP:

Rob Freedman's Republican opponent, now facing an organized challenger with an active campaign effort, has spent over $100,000 on his campaign so far. You read that right: $100K! That's $100,000 less the local Republican party has to support other Republican candidates. It's another GOP candidate who isn't getting a free ride to re-election. It's another race that cutting into the GOP donor base in the county. It's turning out to be one of the most expensive local races on record, and it's costing the Republicans dearly to keep their man in office.

Doug Henk's opponent, facing an organized and energized opponent, has actually had to campaign for the first time since being elected. The 18-member DuPage County Board is composed entirely of GOP members. Entirely. As Hiram Wurf,- another candidate for a Board seat - notes:

The Board unanimously voted on a non-agenda item endorsing O'Hare expansion in 2003 that was found on appeal (Sept 2004) to be in violation of the Open Meetings Act.  The endorsement deprived DuPage citizens in Bensenville, who stand to loose their homes, businesses, work and community in the expansion, a chance to publicly confront their elected officials who moved from being publicly against the expansion to endorsing it, with no public discussion or warning.

Because of Doug and Hiram and their spirited campaigns, GOP Board members have to campaign, spend money, and otherwise do things other than help the DuPage County GOP.

Mike Kisler's opponent dropped out mid-way through the race. With a viable challenger, the county GOP had a nasty battle to figure out who to support as a replacement:

It might have been DuPage County GOP Day, but local Republicans Thursday couldn't have been more divided.

The mudslinging in the race to slate a coroner's candidate continued - even on the one day each year the troubled party unites to raise money and celebrate shared political ideals.

The local contest pits powerful county board member Bill Maio of Itasca against Peter Siekmann, a 28-year deputy coroner from West Chicago with limited political experience.

Thanks to Mike's campaign, there has been much focus placed on what otherwise would have been a back door replacement, with the added benefit of even more GOP infighting here in Illinois. It's all good.

You see, no matter what the outcomes of their races, these candidate show that every race matters. Through their efforts they have diverted large sums of money, time and resources from the county GOP and even helped sow a little discord in the opposing party along the way. This can only help our side.

Throw them some turkey for their efforts, even if it's only a couple bucks:

Rob Freedman
Doug Henk
Mike Kisler
Hiram Wurf (a fellow blogger)

Uncle Sam and Science

Here's a good series of articles from the New Scientist covering global issues from playing politics with science to energy independence to US Abortion policy and it's impacts on world health.

Go read it and pass it along to the more curious of your friends looking for another reason not to vote for Bush.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Compare|Decide|Vote.

If you have anyone who is still making up there mind about voting, especially younger people, send them to Compare | Decide | Vote. Send them today. The site offers an interactive quiz on 20 issues ranging from college tuition to Iraq to minimum wage, then compares the records of George Bush and John Kerry. Visitors can then choose which candidate matches their views, and decide who they fit with best. Finally, voting rights and information are given to help anyone cast a vote. No wonder Viacom wouldn't run the group's ads on it's stations.

Compare|Decide|Vote is a highly recommended site.

Attackumentary

The FCC election laws state that labor unions and corporations are not allowed to run ads or programming that attempt to influence the election within 60 days of said election. Sinclar Broadcasting, broadcaster to 25% of the television viewers in the US, thinks it has the right to do otherwise. It has ordered all of it's 64 affiliates to pre-empt their regularily scheduled programming and run an anti-Kerry "documentary" in the week proceeding the presidential election. Sinclair's justification: The program is on the Viet Nam war and surrounding protests, and therefore newsworthy.

A 30-year old war is newsworthy? Surely this guy is not completely biased toward Bush. Maybe not:
A cursory look at Sinclair's recent record shows which side the broadcasting company is on. This is the same Sinclair Broadcasting Group who last April cried wolf over an attempt to "influence public opinion" by forbidding its seven ABC affiliates from airing a Nightline special devoted to the soldiers killed in Iraq.

The same Sinclair who gave $66,000 to the Republican Party in 2004.

The same Sinclair who required weather men to read a statement supporting President Bush's war on terror in 2001.

The same Sinclair who prevented a Madison, Wisconsin Fox affiliate from airing an advertisement by the Democratic National Committee last July.

The same Sinclair who today forces local stations against their will to run a daily "commentary" segment by its corporate spokesman which calls the French "cheese eating surrender monkeys," and antiwar Congressman "unpatriotic politicians who hate our military."

You get the picture. Can you imagine the response from the right if CBS pre-empted local programming in late October to show Fahrenheit 9/11?
So what do we do about this. Josh Marshall notes a letter from FCC Chairman Reed Hunt who essentially threatens Sinclair's broadcasting license. Try to electioneer with the public airwaves and risk your license. Go Reed! The Left Coaster has more here.

The GOP are desperate indeed.

There’s a Difference

A few weeks ago, President Bush’s home town paper, The Lone Star Iconoclast, endorsed Senator Kerry for President. Although they had endorsed then Governor Bush for President in 2000, they changed their mind this time – rather forcefully:
We should expect that a sitting President would vacation less, if at all, and instead tend to the business of running the country, especially if he is, as he likes to boast, a “wartime president.” America is in service 365 days a year. We don’t need a part-time President who does not show up for duty as Commander-In-Chief until he is forced to, and who is in a constant state of blameless denial when things don’t get done.

What has evolved from the virtual go-it-alone conquest of Iraq is more gruesome than a stain on a White House intern’s dress. America’s reputation and influence in the world has diminished, leaving us with brute force as our most persuasive voice.
A newspaper writes and editorial and endorses a candidate. No big deal, right? Well not in the eyes of Bush supporters. In the eyes of Bush’s base, this is tantamount to treason - a crime right-wing talking heads like Ann Coulter would have “liberals” all taken out and publicly hanged for. This was not too far from the reaction the Iconcolast received:
We expected that perhaps a few readers might cancel subscriptions, and maybe even ads, but have been amazed at a few of the more intense communications, some of which bordered on outright personal attacks and uncalled-for harassment.

We have been told by several avid Bush supporters that the days when newspapers publish editorials without personal repercussions are over. As publishers, we have printed editorials for decades, and have endorsed candidates, both Republican and Democrat.

When Bush was endorsed four years ago, the Gore supporters did not respond with threats, nor did Democrats when we endorsed Reagan twice. Republicans did not threaten us personally or our business when we endorsed Carter and Clinton for their first terms. In the past, when individuals disagreed with an editorial, they would write a letter to the editor politely expressing a different point of view in contrast to the views of the publishers, which we have usually published. Occasionally someone would cancel a subscription or an ad, but this was rare.

The new mode of operation, I am told, is that when a newspaper prints an editorial of which some sectors might disagree, the focus is now upon how to run the newspaper out of business. Out the window are the contributions the newspaper has made to the community in the past and the newspaper’s extensive investment in the community.
Publicly endorse the wrong candidate and be threatened with violence, and have your business destroyed. Personal repercussions. Threats. This is just another example of the difference in the way Bush’s supporters view the world vs. the way Kerry’s supporters do. It’s a difference I don’t like and another reason to work overtime for a Kerry presidency.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Words Without Deeds

Washington Monthly's Amy Sullivan has a good article on how the GOP and Bush have touted their faith based initiatives, but not delivered. Here's a snip:
Currently, only individuals who itemize their taxes (usually those at the higher end of the income scale) are entitled to deduct their donations to charitable organizations. Bush's proposal was simple: Allow the nearly 85 million non-itemizers to take a charitable tax deduction, while also increasing the amount of money corporations can give tax-free to charities and permitting tax-free charitable donations from individual retirement accounts.

[...]

Potential givers and recipients lobbied on behalf of the plan, which the White House sent to Congress in early 2001 as part of its faith-based legislation. Universities, fund-raising associations, religious groups, advocates for the poor, and corporate lobbyists all urged that the provision be included in the tax plan barreling through the usually sluggish legislative process on the Hill. Quickly incorporated, the charitable giving provision seemed destined for speedy enactment and flew through both houses of Congress.

[...]

And then the plan that everybody liked, that would have unleashed the armies of compassion with an injection of eighty billion new dollars, ran into one insurmountable obstacle: greed. [...]

"In reality, the bottom line was that their priorities were in the rates, the death tax, marriage penalty, and the child credit," a senior Republican staffer told The Washington Post at the time. The charitable tax deductions were "never high on anyone's list," including the White House's. A Democratic aide involved in the negotiations agreed: "There wasn't a lot of push coming from the White House." Even worse, for advocates of charitable giving, was the fact that the repeal of the estate tax was expected to hurt charities by depriving them of an estimated $6 billion each year from bequests, a traditional way of getting around tax payments.
Words without deeds. Remember this on November 2nd.

Both Sides Don't Do It

I hate when I try to argue with my Republican co-workers or relatives about Bush's distortion of the facts, or more often, his complete fantasy land distortion of reality. The first thing they do is throw out some instance where Kerry has stated something not quite accurately or used numbers that were contestable in the context provided. For example, when I cite that Bush keeps changing the his rational for invading Iraq, they state that Kerry over stated the cost of the Iraq war at $200B. The conversation usually ends with their saying something like "Kerry is distorting the facts. That's politics. Both sides do it."

Damn it. Both sides don't do what Bush is doing. Kerry may use figures that show a total appropriations instead of funding increase (NCLB funding vs. appropriation), may overstate his numbers (Iraq War cost vs. money spent), and may cite sources both sides don't agree on (partisan sources). But he is not completely making up reality.

Reality for Bush, on the other hand, places no such bound. For example, his claiming Clinton had 15% discretionary spending while it was one of the lowest in three decades at 2.5%, while cliaming his administration's was less than 1% when in reality it was one of the highest in three decades at 8.2%. Kerry might play politics with the facts, but Bush just makes stuff up.

Finally the media seems to finally be calling Bush on it. This week, ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin wrote a memo that was leaked via Drudge. In it he questions the Bush campaign's character:
The New York Times (Nagourney/Stevenson) and Howard Fineman on the web both make the same point today: the current Bush attacks on Kerry involve distortions and taking things out of context in a way that goes beyond what Kerry has done.

Kerry distorts, takes out of context, and mistakes all the time, but these are not central to his efforts to win.

We have a responsibility to hold both sides accountable to the public interest, but that doesn't mean we reflexively and artificially hold both sides "equally" accountable when the facts don't warrant that.
We saw this artificial equity this week with the media's fact checking. Knowing that the blogosphere was doing real time fact checking of the debates, a threat that had the ability undercut their coverage and their credibility, all the major networks announced their poll weightings in advance and interviewed "fact checkers." But just as in the past, they brushed off Bush's timber company and discretionary spending lies, putting them on par with Kerry's use of appropriations approved by congress for NCLB and the total cost of Iraq.

Kerry plays politics with the facts in the time honored tradition of all presidential races. Only Bush makes up the facts based on whatever purposes he needs. Both sides don't do that.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Bush Math: 8.2% = <1%

That's right boys and girls, we've once again been treated to Bush's fuzzy math. Remember this one from last night's debate:
"Non-homeland, non-defense discretionary spending was raising at 15 percent a year when I got into office. And today it's less than 1 percent, because we're working together to try to bring this deficit under control."
President Bush, 10-8-04
Well, it seems he got this one wrong, as Meteor Blades at dKos points out. From the Congressional Budget Office we find this one:

Nixon/Ford: 6.8% per year
Carter: 2.0% per year
Reagan: -1.3% per year
Bush I: 4.0% per year
Clinton: 2.5% per year
Bush II: 8.2% per year

Working together to bring this deficit under control, eh? More like the Mother of All Spenders.

Bush's Private Internets

This is good. It seems one of the bloggers from our side managed to get a peek and a screen shot or two of Bush's private internet. A must see.

Kerry 2-0

It’s official, Kerry wins, beating the testy, angry, yelling Bush. My favorite response to the debate comes from Paul Begala, CNN: " Two words for President Bush: anger management. He spent much of the debate nearly yelling at the audience.” Click here to see Bush lose his temper, ignore the moderator, and bully his way to another rebuttal.

Anger management. The polls reflect it:

From Gallup:
Kerry: 47
Bush:45

ABC News:
Kerry: 44
Bush: 41

Keith Olberman (MSNBC):
Scored on points per “round”
Kerry: 16
Bush: 6

SUSA Snap Polls:
Colorado:
41% Kerry
42% Bush

California:
48% Kerry
38% Bush

Oregon:
47% Kerry
38% Bush

Washington:
49% Kerry
36% Bush

UPDATE
Highlights of the national post-debate panel survey conducted by Democracy Corps, using the only
nationally representative sample of the American public:

Overall:
45% Kerry
37% Bush

Independents:
44% Kerry
Bush 33%

Undecided:
39% Kerry
30% Bush

Battleground state voters:
45% Kerry
40% Bush

Kerry favorably increased to 47%, a 7-point swing from last poll.
Kerry as likeable rose 5 points to 60%.
Bush gained no ground in his personal standing.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Internets?

Boy. Where to start? Did Bush actually say anything? He did yell a lot. He talked over the moderator, and often jumped up and began talking before Kerry could even finish or the (weak) moderator could cut him off. He appeared angry at times, out of touch at times, and even forgot he was debating Senator Kerry, refering to Senator Kennedy's voting record.

He proposed hydrogen vehicles?
He yelled like the stereotypical tourist in Europe on spring break.
He slammed "those people" on the "Internets."
And just like Cheney, he just plain lied with a straight face. He does have ownership in a timber company. He just convieniently forgot.

Bush was better than the last debate, but Kerry did better. He had commands of the facts, had answers and new solutions to problems, and had real plans to answer. He was thoughtful, poised and in control. Bush was argumentative, condescending, and dismissive. Saying the same things over and over, louder and louder, don't make them right.

This one is going to fall on partisan lines. If you believed Bush before, you believe him now. But just remember: there were no WMD's, the MediCare bill cost $520B not $400B, 89% of the tax cuts go to the top 1% not the middle class, and the 9-11 Commission, a Department of Homeland Security and nation building were all considered ideas to fight.

Who are you going to believe?

UPDATE
According to ABC News "instant" poll taken after the debate, Kerry wins:
Kerry: 44,
Bush: 41
Tie: 13

The Real Sadam

From the funny animations meet political commentary file, we find this little gem:
*CHORUS*
Now I’m stuck in captivity
I wasn't even the real enemy
Nine eleven was not tied to me
And I never even made a WMD.
Osama Bin Laden's free.
But they sent an army after me.
Despite my gross iniquity
Iraq will be so empty without me.

Play the clip. Warning: some "rough" content.

Weak

From the NY Times:
"This is a weak number, no matter how you cut it," said the chief economist at Morgan Stanley, Stephen S. Roach, adding that private sector jobs are up "an average of only 65,000" over the past three months. "That's a pathetic pace of job creation by corporate America."

From CNN:
September job growth weaker
Gain slows from August, misses economists' forecasts; jobless rate holds at 5.4%.

From Yahoo:
September Job Growth Weaker Than Forecast

From Fox News:
Sept. Job Growth Weaker Than Expected. In a mixed report Friday, the government said the unemployment rate held steady at 5.4 percent in September, but businesses added only 96,000 jobs — far fewer than the 148,000 expected.


Just repeat after me: The economy is getting better, the economy is getting better…. (Oh, and by the way, 5.4% unemployment is still way above the 4.2% it was when Bush took office.)

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Truth to Power in Washington

If you haven't heard about the rumors that Bush, if re-elected, will bring back the draft, you might want to take notice right about now. The GOP and Bush of course completely deny having any intention of doing so. But people, especially young people under the age of 25, are registering to vote in record numbers. And they don't believe the President's claims that he won't reinstate the draft.

Ohio House Representative Tim Ryan, on the House floor, gave the best explanation why people don't believe this administration anymore. It's a moving explanation of why young people are still afraid of the draft despite repeated Republican denials.

You must listen to this, because it's about time someone in Washington said what we've been thinking.