blogenlust
10.31.2004

EC prediction II


Remember to check out my electoral college prediction. There is also a link so that you can make your own.

The Hidden Youth Vote


It is news like this that makes me think it might not be as close as the punditocracy and pollsters are saying.
Polling firm Zogby International and partner Rock the Vote found Massachusetts Senator John Kerry leading President Bush 55% to 40% among 18-29 year-old likely voters in their first joint Rock the Vote Mobile political poll, conducted exclusively on mobile phones October 27 through 30, 2004.  Independent Ralph Nader received 1.6%, while 4% remain undecided in the survey of 6,039 likely voters.  The poll is centered on subscribers to the Rock the Vote Mobile (RTVMO) platform, a joint initiative of Rock the Vote and Motorola Inc. (for more information: http://www.rtvmo.com).  The poll has margin of error of +/-1.2 percentage points. 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.
The turnout is expected to be extremely high, and I suspect that many of the new voters aren't fully represented in traditional polls. if Zogby's numbers are close to accurate, it is very good news for Kerry.
10.30.2004

Get Your War On


It has been awhile, but thankfully Get Your War On has been updated. war.306

The Bush Pledge


This is just plain scary. The Bush Pledge?
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.—"I want you to stand, raise your right hands," and recite "the Bush Pledge," said Florida state Sen. Ken Pruitt. The assembled mass of about 2,000 in this Treasure Coast town about an hour north of West Palm Beach dutifully rose, arms aloft, and repeated after Pruitt: "I care about freedom and liberty. I care about my family. I care about my country. Because I care, I promise to work hard to re-elect, re-elect George W. Bush as president of the United States."
Wow. The cult of personality surrounding George W. Bush has always been something that made me uneasy, but this just raised my uneasiness up a notch. Maybe if Bush wins (which he won't) kids will start saying the Bush Pledge in school!
10.29.2004

Dead or Alive


George W. Bush, March 13, 2002
"I truly am not that concerned about him."
Osama bin Laden, October 29, 2004
"Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or Al Qaida. Your security is in your own hands."
Blogenlust, October 29, 2004
"Hey, at least we got Saddam!"

2004 Electoral College Prediction


I have been confident for some time now that John Kerry will win Tuesday's election and by a margin that is not expected. It's time to put my money where my mouth is. Below you will find my projected electoral college map that gives 320 EVs to Kerry and 218 EVs to Bush. Blogenlust 2004 EC Prediction Bold? Yes. Impossible? No. My reasons for this are many. Among them are the fact that Bush is polling horribly in key states(below 50% in most swing states), the likely large turnout (especially among the 18-28 group), and the fact that a majority of Americans believe we are worse off than we were four years ago and are not heading in the right direction. I don't know what the popular vote will be this time around, but I suspect it won't be as close as 2000. Now, whether or not this is all known Tuesday night is to be determined. It will largely depend on whether or not particular states yield results that are outside the margin of litigation. However, I'm confident that when it is all said in done, my map will look a lot like the map. So, try this for yourself. You can make your own map here and it automatically calculates your total. Leave your total in the comments, and I'll try to think of a cool reward for whomever gets closest. Bring it on.

%#$& Chalabi!


I know we're short on troops and all, but since we have about 150,000 in Iraq could someone please grab Chalabi before we all die? Chalabi is the perfect icon for this mess. He represents all aspects of what has gone wrong...faulty intelligence, delusional notions of grandeur, greater threats to our national security, and totally unaccountable.

Fallujah


As Bush's re-election campaign is dictating practically everything these days, it is important to remember that come November 3rd, the shit will continue to hit the fan in Iraq.
US marines on Friday announced they were in preparations for a "decisive" assault on Falluja and the town of Ramadi. "We are gearing up for a major operation," Brigadier General Denis Hajlik told reporters at a base near Falluja. "If we do so, it will be decisive and we will whack them."
Of course, we've already been whacking them. The situation there is really serious, as you can tell. I've heard from people who have loved ones stationed in Fallujah that they are being told to pray a lot and that they're going to be heroes. Of course, the latter is true regardless of what happens, but it pisses me off that they are even in this position. Remember, this all could have been prevented had the adults been in charge from the beginning.

Eminem


Have you seen the new Eminem video? It is the #1 video on MTV. I thought the video was amazing, and the message is pretty damn clear. I have to think this will affect the election at least in motivating young people to get out and vote. Plus, it is basically free ad time for the Democrats. Lia has some thoughts on this, too.

Steve Clemons: A Soldier's Story


Steve Clemons posts about a recent conversation he had with a soldier in the 82nd Airborne while on a flight back from Europe. If what this soldier says is true, the morale in the military is pretty damn low and nobody is happy with Bush. Moreover, Iraq is just as big of a mess as it seems from the media accounts. Here is a portion, but make sure to read it all:
According to him, 75% of all soldiers want Bush defeated in the election and don't care who defeats him; anger and resentment are high. He says that 90% of the officers remain far out of harm's way. From lietenants all the way up, there is general understanding that the officers are hiding in holes, or holding back in well-defended buildings and quite cavalier about sending troops out for assignments and errands that are frequently stupid, poorly planned, and dangerous. [...] He said morale is very low among the troops and that they all want out -- few believe in the war or Bush, and he thinks that many of these troops' negative feelings are being transmitted back to extended family networks that have traditionally been supporters of the Republican Party, like his own family. He shared quite a bit more, including that his military commanders are planning for at minimum an eight year deployment in Iraq, maybe longer. He also shared an interesting anecdote that about a year ago, certain commanders in the 82nd Airborne had been told to prepare for a quick incursion into Cuba. I was stunned. He said, "Yep, we couldn't believe that on top of everything else, Bush thought he could go take out Castro." The Navy Seals were going to go in and do the dirty work, he said, and the "82nd was going to go in for clean-up." He said that he never heard more about it but that the orders clearly didn't go forward -- but they were prepared for that possibility and told that "Bush just wanted to take out Castro."
In the comments of the post, a lot of trolls are questioniong the legitimacy of Clemon's report. However, I think Clemons is a pretty smart guy, and probably has a keen bullshit detector. He's done some fact-checking, and seems to think that it is an accurate account. What a mess.

O'Reilly Settlement


I'm going to irresponsibly go out on a limb here and suggest that this proves Bill O'Reilly is guilty as hell. And let me be the first to express disappointment over the fact that we probably won't get to hear the tapes Andrea Mackris no doubt made. Unfortunately, "This brutal ordeal is now officially over, and we will never have to speak of it again." Damn.
10.28.2004

100,000


Jesus.
LONDON (AP) — A survey of deaths in Iraqi households estimates that as many as 100,000 more people may have died throughout the country in the 18 months since the U.S.-led invasion than would be expected based on the death rate before the war.

more on oakland bloggers


Generik was kind enough to put up some pictures from last night's Bay Area Blogger (I suggested Bay City Bloggers, but no dice) Meetup. Guess which one I am. Others in attendance included It Looks Like This, Scaramouche, Tomato, Dark Window, Shystee, and Suckful. Check 'em out.

Voter suppression time


Take a moment to check out this flyer that is making the rounds of Milwaukee's black neighborhoods. Then read this article. Which one is satire?

Abu Ghraib


I find it a little strange that Abu Ghraib has not been a bigger focus of the Kerry campaign. It is hard to overstate the damage those pictures of torture and abuse have done for not only the United States' image abroad, but also our attempt to win the hearts and minds of Iraqis. I mean think about it, we ostensibly went to war to take out a dictator who used "rape rooms and torture" against his own people. And what do we, the liberators, do when we get there? Rape and torture. The New York Times has an editorial in this morning's paper regarding the lack of accountability for the architects of our torture policy. Sadly, unaccountability is the trademark of this Administration. We need Kerry to win in order to restore our national image--I'm a little concerned about the message that will be sent to the rest of the world if Bush is re-elected. Imagine the lack of accountability that will continue if he we reinforce his imaginary mandate? If we try to pretend like Abu Ghraib never happened, we'd be committing an even greater atrocity against ourselves.

More Endorsements for Kerry


Two more noteworthy shout outs for John Kerry. The first from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
In 2000, we lauded Bush for his ability as Texas governor to work in bipartisan fashion. We admired what seemed to be a tendency to make moderate judicial appointments. We’ve seen precious little of that in his first term as president. This time around, there is just so much at stake. There is an ever-evolving economy that must lift more boats, a health care crisis requiring bold solutions, Iran and North Korea posing global threats, an environment that needs more protection than has been given in this term and Supreme Court nominations that will touch just about every policy issue imaginable. The president is a decent man, yes. On the whole, however, he has been so wrong about so much in such a short time that accountability must kick in at some point. We’re at that point. John Kerry for president.
The second is from The Economist (via Instapundit):
Many readers, feeling that Mr Bush has the right vision in foreign policy even if he has made many mistakes, will conclude that the safest option is to leave him in office to finish the job he has started. If Mr Bush is re-elected, and uses a new team and a new approach to achieve that goal, and shakes off his fealty to an extreme minority, the religious right, then The Economist will wish him well. But our confidence in him has been shattered. We agree that his broad vision is the right one but we doubt whether Mr Bush is able to change or has sufficient credibility to succeed, especially in the Islamic world. Iraq's fledgling democracy, if it gets the chance to be born at all, will need support from its neighbours - or at least non-interference - if it is to survive. So will other efforts in the Middle East, particularly concerning Israel and Iran. John Kerry says the war was a mistake, which is unfortunate if he is to be commander-in-chief of the soldiers charged with fighting it. But his plan for the next phase in Iraq is identical to Mr Bush's, which speaks well of his judgment. He has been forthright about the need to win in Iraq, rather than simply to get out, and will stand a chance of making a fresh start in the Israel-Palestine conflict and (though with even greater difficulty) with Iran. After three necessarily tumultuous and transformative years, this is a time for consolidation, for discipline and for repairing America's moral and practical authority. Furthermore, as Mr Bush has often said, there is a need in life for accountability. He has refused to impose it himself, and so voters should, in our view, impose it on him, given a viable alternative. John Kerry, for all the doubts about him, would be in a better position to carry on with America's great tasks.
The Journal Sentinel didn't endorse anyone in 2000, and it is the largest newspaper in Wisconsin, which everyone knows is pretty popular these days. I think this could have important implications for Kerry's Wisconsin efforts. The Economist endorsement is great because it might give a lot of those wary fiscal conservatives another excuse to hold their nose and vote against Bush.

Oakland Blogger MeetUp


I had a chance to meet up with some fellow Oakland-area bloggers last night. It was cool to meet some other like-minded people, especially this time of the year, when I can't seem to vent enough! Anyway, I'll have a complete list of those in attendance later today, but thanks to Pete M. and Scaramouche for organizing the shindig.
10.27.2004

Neighborhood Watch


This little helpful tool will help you know who your friends are in your neighborhood. You'll also find out who to blame and who to thank on November 3rd. (via political wire)

MyDD


I don't point out MyDD nearly as often as I go to their site, which these days, is a few times a day. (Is there an election?) On their front door this morning is a nice graph of the Reuters/Zogby national tracking poll. It shows some good upward movement for Kerry. They also have a more Kerry friendly complement to Electoral Vote.com.

Further Evidence That Democracy is Hardwork


I have a hard time rationalizing how 60,000 mailed ballots are missing in Broward County, Florida.
FORT LAUDERDALE - The Broward County Supervisor of Elections office on Tuesday said it couldn't account for nearly 60,000 missing absentee ballots sent to voters and that its phone lines were being overwhelmed by calls. Hoping to avoid another embarrassing election, Broward County commissioners Tuesday offered to send county employees to help. Dozens of county employees could begin assisting the elections office as early as today to answer telephone calls and to process voters at the 14 early voting sites. "What we are seeing is unprecedented so if the supervisor of elections needs our help, we will help," county mayor Ilene Lieberman said. Just six days away from the general election, the Supervisor of Elections office has fielded hundreds of complaints from people who have yet to receive their absentee ballot. Countless more have been unable to get through to election officials to complain or get their questions answered. "I tried for the last week or so to call the elections office, and it's just busy continually," said 70 year-old Paula Zubatkin, whose four-week old request for an absentee ballot has gone unanswered. "I want to vote." Election officials also said they launched an investigation and found that many of the missing ballots - 58,000 of them - were sent Oct. 7 and Oct. 8. The problem, they say, lies with the post office. Post office officials say they are not at fault.
The only reason I know Broward County exists is because of the 2000 Election debacle. One would think that they would take extra care this time around. Broward County, of course, is heavily Democratic. Not that I'm suggesting anything.
10.26.2004

bay area blog meetup


If you live in the Bay Area, check out the blogger meet up tomorrow night in Oakland. I might go.

Prediction


I think tomorrow we will see a big swing for Kerry in the Electoral College calculations and the legitimate daily tracking polls. Just a hunch.

Bush and Civil Unions


Imagine the media shitstorm that would have ensued had this been John Kerry.
President Bush said in an interview this past weekend that he disagreed with the Republican Party platform opposing civil unions of same-sex couples and that the matter should be left up to the states. Mr. Bush has previously said that states should be permitted to allow same-sex unions, even though White House officials have said he would not have endorsed such unions as governor of Texas. But Mr. Bush has never before made a point of so publicly disagreeing with his party's official position on the issue. In an interview on Sunday with Charles Gibson, an anchor of "Good Morning America" on ABC, Mr. Bush said, "I don't think we should deny people rights to a civil union, a legal arrangement, if that's what a state chooses to do so." ABC, which broadcast part of the interview on Monday, is to broadcast the part about civil unions on Tuesday.
Things must be really desperate for the Bush campaign if Bush has to declare a week out from the election that he now supports civil unions. Rove and company always knew that an attempt to create a Constitutional amendment barring gay marriage was going to turn-off a lot of swing voters. The only reason they went along with it was that they figured it would shore up Bush's base (i.e. The Bigot Vote). The fact that Bush is now lurching towards the center on this issue this late in the ballgame tells me that they must think he is in big trouble. In other words, his base is not going to be enough to cover the likely surge in Kerry votes coming from undecides and new voters. Bush's nuance/flip-flop/pander could also have unintended consequences, in that it might deflate the Bigot Vote. Either way, me thinks it is too little, too late. update: I see Sullivan is already pointing out these unintended consequences.

Next Week is "Prepare for the Draft Week"


A friend of mine who still attends my alma mater forwarded me the schedule for this week's "Conservative Week" at the school.
Tuesday, October 26 Free Flip Flops distributed, XXXX, 11 am - 2 pm and 5 - 7 pm Wednesday, October 27 Honor Our Troops and Support Our Veterans Day Thank you card writing for our troops. Speakers included former Governor of Iowa Terry Branstad and the National College Republicans Chair Eric Hoplin. XXXX, 4-6 pm Thursday, October 28 Ronald Reagan Day Free Ronald Reagan buttons and information available in XXXX, 11 am - 2 pm and 5 -7 pm Friday, October 29 Ann Coulter is speaking at XXX. Carpooling available at XXXXX@hotmail.com Carpools will leave from XXX approximately 6:15 pm
I have to admit that Flip Flop day is pretty clever. You know they didn't think that up themselves! Five hours of Reagan propaganda on Thursday? Wow. And to top it all off, Ann Coulter on Friday. Where can I send an alumni donation?! For reasons of personal integrity, I took out all references to the school.
10.25.2004

D is for Fucking Huge Deficits


Whatever you do, don't connect the dots. Bush Signs $136 Billion Corporate Tax Cut (10/22/2004)
WASHINGTON Oct 22, 2004 — President Bush showered $136 billion in new tax breaks on businesses, farmers and other groups Friday, quietly signing the most sweeping rewrite of corporate tax law in nearly two decades.
Increase in War Spending Sought (10/26/2004)
The Bush administration intends to seek about $70 billion in emergency funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan early next year, pushing total war costs close to $225 billion since the invasion of Iraq early last year, Pentagon and congressional officials said yesterday.
First President to call for tax cuts during a time of war. Ever.

Learning From Your Mistakes


Check out these effective ads by Errol Morris. All of the people featured in the ads voted for George Bush in 2000, but will be voting for John Kerry in 2004. Morris is a great filmmaker (you must see The Fog of War), but you might know his work from these Apple "Switched" commercials. (via kottke.org)

Retroactive Responsibility


That was quick. Yesterday, in commenting on the missing tons of explosives in Iraq, I asked, "Who will they blame for this?" Thankfully, Scott McClellan provides an answer:
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. McClellan said the Iraqi government reported the missing weaponry to the IAEA on October 10, and the IAEA informed the U.S. mission in Vienna on October 15. National security adviser Condoleezza Rice was told a few days later, then informed the president.
So you see, even though the theft took place 18 months ago, in the immediate aftermath of the war, it was the Iraqi interim government's responsibility, even though they didn't exist at the time. (via josh marshall)

Pre-Election Anxiety Disorder


Is this you?
Americans are in the grip of a monster case of Pre-Election Anxiety Disorder. No one is talking about voter apathy anymore, because the opposite is more likely the case. People care too much. They're losing sleep. They're having bad dreams about unfavorable tracking polls. PEAD worsens as Election Day approaches and it's a 50-50 country and there's a war going on and people are dying and the talking heads are howling and the polls come firing at your head like fastballs. It's too close to call, too close, too close, we know the whole thing could pivot with the slightest breeze, that nothing is too trivial now, that even the slightest verbal gaffe by a candidate or his wife or one of the daughters could have a butterfly effect on world history. Lawsuits are flying as we speak, and the election may come down to a single precinct in Winter Haven or Deland or Immokalee, followed by the soon-to-be-traditional Recount, the dueling press conferences, James A. Baker flying to Tallahassee, and a final and definitive verdict by Nino Scalia. Laura Auerbach, a Democrat and the director of a Washington research foundation, finds herself struggling with her emotions as E-Day gets closer. She hates the president. He's a "horrible" man, she says. She sent an e-mail to a friend: "I never feel like such a bad person as I do when I'm talking about Bush. He is so hateful he makes me hate." The worst part is that her 2-year-old, Ben, is picking up on her rage, and she feels as though she's a bad role model. She and her husband routinely fume about George W. Bush, and the little boy sometimes asks why they're upset. "I'll explain to him, 'Ben, there are people out there who don't always make what Mommy thinks are the right choices.' " Parents making speeches to toddlers: A classic sign of pre-election stress. [...] Michael Gillenwater, who works for a nonprofit environmental organization, had a bad dream recently in which people were deciding not to vote for Kerry because of his reference in the third debate to Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter. Gillenwater woke up at 3:30 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep for two hours. "I totally have pre-election anxiety," he says. Anecdotally you hear about close friendships being ripped apart by differing political allegiances. Forget the old wedge issues, like abortion, affirmative action, taxes: The election itself is a wedge issue. If you're not feeling wedged you're not paying attention. Pre-Election Anxiety Disorder is often driven by serious and rational fears, with global events so alarming. Technology ensures that we are stalked by data, that we're always hearing about who's up, who's down, what's the latest controversy, the latest menace to peace and sanity and good health. We get all twisted up by the spin cycle.
I admit, a few times a week I get a little too anxious. Although, I'm quietly confident, it is still tough to stay optimistic on days like today, when Zogby comes out with less than great numbers for Kerry. I guess I picked a bad week to stop sniffing glue.
10.24.2004

Eating Bananas


Is it hot in here?
Mayoral first lady Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom says way too much is being made of her sexually playful comments at a recent gay rights dinner, and that for the record she was not -- we repeat not -- pantomiming eating a banana when talking about her husband's sexuality. Sure, Guilfoyle Newsom said, she did make a brief reference to her husband's hunky attributes, but she insists she absolutely didn't try to simulate any form of oral sex. She was just thrusting a pointed fist at herself while making the remarks. [...] It started when Guilfoyle Newsom -- a rising TV star in her own right - - stood in for Mayor Gavin Newsom at the Empire State Pride Agenda Foundation gay awards dinner. Guilfoyle Newsom said there had been many jokes and questions from gays in recent months about whether her "straight white male'' husband -- who made a national splash when he allowed gay marriages in San Francisco -- might himself actually be gay. A question she chose to answer, with humor, when she took the stage. According to the Post, Guilfoyle Newsom closed her remarks by joking, "I know that many of you wanted to see my husband, and some of you had questions out there. "Is he hot? Yeah. "Is he hung? Yeah. "Is he (she waved her hand to suggest gay)?" At which point, according to the Post's version that we repeated, Guilfoyle Newsom said: "Not unless you can give a better,'' while she mimicked eating a banana. Now, Guilfoyle Newsom isn't contesting that she made most of the remarks -- it's just that her version of the punch line was more R-rated than X. Yes, she joked about her husband's endowments, but when answering as to whether her husband is gay, Guilfoyle Newsom said only, "Not unless you are better than me.'' At which point, she says, she raised her elbow at a 45-degree angle and pointed at herself with a closed fist and thumbs up. "It was not a banana-mimicking gesture,'' she said. "I know what I said and did. ... I have nothing to hide.'' Guilfoyle Newsom says she was simply trying to add a bit of levity to an otherwise emotion-packed evening, and that her speech drew a half-dozen standing ovations.
Um, what's the big deal about pretending to eat a banana? You might recognize Mrs. Guilfoyle Newsom from her appearances on Anderson Cooper and Court TV.

Who will they blame for this?


Just when I thought I could not be more outraged about our handling of post-war Iraq, I read something that brings me to previously unknown levels of o-rage. For instance, the New York Times is leading with a story regarding how a huge cache of explosives vanished from a site in Iraq in the immediate aftermath of the war.
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 24 - The Iraqi interim government has warned the United States and international nuclear inspectors that nearly 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives - used to demolish buildings, produce missile warheads and detonate nuclear weapons - are missing from one of Iraq's most sensitive former military installations. [...] American weapons experts say their immediate concern is that the explosives could be used in major bombing attacks against American or Iraqi forces: the explosives, mainly HMX and RDX, could be used to produce bombs strong enough to shatter airplanes or tear apart buildings. The bomb that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 used less than a pound of the material of the type stolen from Al Qaqaa, and somewhat 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. But the other components of an atom bomb - the design and the radioactive fuel - are more difficult to obtain. "This is a high explosives risk, but not necessarily a proliferation risk," one senior Bush administration official said.
I look forward to seeing who is at fault for this and to what position they'll be promoted. Josh Marshall has a lot more in the way of context.

Raytown Paper for Kerry


I am proud to say that the The Racine Journal Times endorsed John Kerry today.

Good News?


Alan Abramowitz, at The Emerging Democratic Majority WebLog, has some thoughts about the Big Mo' and who has it, and who doesn't.
Based on the average of all October polls, Kerry is currently leading in 7 states with 87 electoral votes. Bush is currently leading in 4 states with 48 electoral votes. In addition to these battleground states, The Times has Kerry favored in states with 190 electoral votes with Bush favored in states with 213 electoral votes. Adding these to the electoral votes of the battleground states in which Kerry and Bush now have the edge and you get the following: Kerry 277, Bush 261. Obviously, neither candidate has a secure lead in the Electoral College right now--a switch of one or two states such as Ohio, Wisconsin, or Florida could change the picture considerably. But based on this analysis of recent polls in the battleground states, if either candidate has a slight edge, it's John Kerry. And that's without even factoring in the expected late movement of undecided voters to Kerry
Then, the Washington Post adds this:
GOP officials who talked to Bush-Cheney campaign leaders said the leaders have grown more worried about Ohio, Florida and other key states where Bush lacks a lead with just 10 days until the election. A poll by Ohio University's Scripps Survey Research Center, completed Thursday night, found Kerry leading 49 percent to 43 percent among registered voters, with a margin of error of five percentage points. [...] One Republican official described the mood at the top of the campaign as apprehensive. " 'Grim' is too strong," the official said. "If we feel this way a week from now, that will be grim."
A lot can happen in a week, but all things considered, I'd rather be in Kerry's position than Bush's at this point.

James Dobson, Unhinged


I just finished reading George Lakoff's Don't Think of An Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate--The Essential Guide for Progressives. Basically, the book is a quick rundown of how conservatives do a better job of framing issues in a way that gets people to support their policies. One of the people Lakoff credits for helping conservatives more effectively frame their rhetoric is James Dobson. Dobson is the founder of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization that produces internationally syndicated radio programs that are heard by over 200 million people every day. He has also sold millions of books about parenting, marriage, and discipline. If you can't tell, he is practically the commercial wing of the Religious Right. Now, I had never heard of the guy before reading Lakoff's book, which I guess is pretty normal for people like myself (i.e. "blue staters".) For those of the "red state" persuasion, though, Dobson's words are downright biblical. As a result, the Republicans have applied his rhetorical style to issues ranging from tax cuts to the war on terror. This has shrewdly enabled large portions of the population to identify themselves with Republican policy precisely because it echoes Dobson. This is why you always hear Republicans talking about values, and it is why people vote for those politicians who mirror their own values, even if the politician's policies aren't in their best interests. I find the connection interesting, but from a practical standpoint it scares me, and I think it should scare a lot of moderate Republicans. For example, Andrew Sullivan points out Dobson's latest thoughts on gay marriage:
Dobson warned those attending the Friday afternoon rally at Oklahoma Christian University that the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman must be protected. He cited examples of countries such as Norway that have allowed same-sex couples to marry as proof that fewer men and women get married. Dobson said 80 percent of children are born out of wedlock in Norway. "Homosexuals are not monogamous. They want to destroy the institution of marriage," Dobson said. "It will destroy marriage. It will destroy the Earth."
So you can see, Dobson is a real peach, and it comforts me that such a wise and reasonable man is the driving force behind the Republicans' rhetorical framing.
10.23.2004

Why You Can't Just Run Off And Join the Foreign Service


Speaking as someone who recently experienced the FSOA, I'd have to say this article is pretty good at describing the whole ordeal. I found the test to be extremely challenging and rewarding, even though I missed the cut-off. Next time I'll wear pants to the interview (It's worked in the past.)

Ken "Conflict of Interest" Blackwell


Read this story about how a Circuit Court judge issued a ruling in favor of Ohio's Secretary of State, Kenneth Blackwell. The federal appeals court ruled Saturday that provisional ballots in the state cast outside their own precincts could not be counted. Now re-read the article with the knowledge you gain from this. Does it change your perception of Mr. Blackwell's motives?

Homestretch


I just signed up to volunteer in Nevada next weekend over at the ACT site. If you live in, or near, a swing state (and I know there are many of you reading this who do) take a few hours of your time to help register new voters and encourage those last few undecided voters to get out and vote on November 2nd.

Electoral Dynamics


Kos has a rundown of the electoral dynamics going into the last week of the campaign. I was initially surprised that Bush wasn't putting up a fight for Ohio, but they must now realize that it isn't worth the energy to try and squeeze out a victory. This means that the election will come down to about four or five states: Florida, Iowa, New Mexico, and Wisconsin (maybe Minnesota). Wisconsin looks like it will be the battleground state of the year. Kos also has his own electoral vote prediction: 311 to 227 for Kerry. Mine are as follows: 1) 304 (Kerry), 234 (Bush), or 2) 294 Kerry, 244 (Bush).
10.22.2004

The American Conservative: John Kerry is the One


Guess who The American Conservative endorsed for President.
George W. Bush has come to embody a politics that is antithetical to almost any kind of thoughtful conservatism. His international policies have been based on the hopelessly naïve belief that foreign peoples are eager to be liberated by American armies—a notion more grounded in Leon Trotsky’s concept of global revolution than any sort of conservative statecraft. His immigration policies—temporarily put on hold while he runs for re-election—are just as extreme. A re-elected President Bush would be committed to bringing in millions of low-wage immigrants to do jobs Americans “won’t do.” This election is all about George W. Bush, and those issues are enough to render him unworthy of any conservative support.
Ok, so it's more of an ABB than an endorsement of Kerry, but I'll take it regardless. Read the whole thing, it's a really scathing critique of Bush that is worthy of even the most enraged liberal.
10.21.2004

Democracy: "Bring it on"


Maybe elections can wait:
Leaders of Iraq's religious parties have emerged as the country's most popular politicians and would win the largest share of votes if an election were held today, while the U.S.-backed government of interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi is losing serious ground, according to a U.S.-financed poll by the International Republican Institute. More than 45 percent of Iraqis also believe that their country is heading in the wrong direction, and 41 percent say it is moving in the right direction. Within the Bush administration, a victory by Iraq's religious parties is viewed as the worst-case scenario. Washington has hoped that Allawi and the current team, which was selected by U.S. and U.N. envoys, would win or do well in Iraq's first democratic election, in January. U.S. officials believe a secular government led by moderates is critical, in part because the new government will oversee writing a new Iraqi constitution. "The picture it paints is that, after all the blood and treasure we've spent and despite the [U.S.-led] occupation's democracy efforts, we're in a position now that the moderates would not win if an election were held today," said a U.S. official who requested anonymity because the poll has not been released.
I submit that it would be ironic if our war in Iraq turned two mortal enemies into Islamic Fundamentalist allies. Oh, and it gets worse:
But in another blow, one out of three Iraqis blames the U.S.-led multinational force for Iraq's security problems, slightly more than the 32 percent who blame foreign terrorists, the poll shows. Only 8 percent blame members of the former government. "We had convinced everyone -- Americans and Iraqis -- that things might change with the return of sovereignty, but, in fact, things went the other way," a congressional staff member said. "What's particularly damning is that the multinational force gets more blame than the terrorists for the problems in Iraq. It's all trending in the wrong way . . . and it's not likely we'll be able to change public sentiment much before the election. " In positive news for the administration, the poll found that 85 percent of Iraqis want to vote in the January election.
If one out of three Iraqis are blaming us for the security problem (and their probably at least half right), then we're in deep shit. That means there is an awful lot of popular sympathy for the Iraqi insurgency, which will make it virtually impossible for us to subdue it. And I love how the "positive news" for the Administration is that 85% of the population is going to be voting for religious hard-liners.

Another CIA Misstep?


Another failed attempt by the CIA?
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban President Fidel Castro tripped and shattered a kneecap in a tumble captured on live television that raised new questions about the political future of the communist-run country he has led for 45 years.

The Krugmeister


The indispensable Paul Krugman:
Electoral College projections based on state polls also show a dead heat. Projections assuming that undecided voters will break for the challenger in typical proportions give Mr. Kerry more than 300 electoral votes. But if you get your political news from cable TV, you probably have a very different sense of where things stand. CNN, which co-sponsored that Gallup poll, rarely informs its viewers that other polls tell a very different story. The same is true of Fox News, which has its own very Bush-friendly poll. As a result, there is a widespread public impression that Mr. Bush holds a commanding lead. By the way, why does the Gallup poll, which is influential because of its illustrious history, report a large Bush lead when many other polls show a dead heat? It's mostly because of how Gallup determines "likely voters": the poll shows only a three-point Bush lead among registered voters. And as the Democratic poll expert Ruy Teixeira points out (using data obtained by Steve Soto, a liberal blogger), Gallup's sample of supposedly likely voters contains a much smaller proportion of both minority and young voters than the actual proportions of these voters in the 2000 election.
Here is how bad things are for Bush. He will lose despite shitty cable news' non-coverage of how much he's screwed things up. Now that's bad. Krugman brings up some other important points, and you should definitely read the rest of the article. One of the things that has worried me the most about this election is the fact that the Secretaries of State in at least two major swing states (Ohio and Florida) are Republicans and the Bush campaign chairs for their respective states. Does conflict of interest mean anything anymore? Is anybody home in Florida? The name Katherine Harris ring any bells? Anyone? Bueller? Maybe there are other examples, and I'm sure there are a few with Democrats, but this has just got to stop. You can't be the campaign chair of a particular candidate and then be expected to objectively rule on voting matters in the same state. At least back in the olden days, the fix was more subtle. These days, though, it's as though they don't even think anyone will notice/care/vote.

Bush going to Iraq/Afghanistan?


So, allegedly Bush is taking the day off on Saturday. I agree with those who find this a strange vacation during the last 10 days of the political fight of your life. My guess is that Bush is planning a campaign trip to Iraq or Afghanistan during this time, and I'd like to suggest that such a politically motivated trip be treated as the desperate act it really is.
10.20.2004

BoSox!


I really can't believe that the Red Sox actually won the Pennant. Coming back from 0-3 against the Yankees, winning the last two in Yankee Stadium is just plain awesome. I wish I was back in Boston tonight! Although, I wouldn't want to have a car parked in the proximity of Kenmore Square!

Kerry For President


In case you haven’t noticed, or are visiting for the first time, Blogenlust is endorsing John Kerry for President. There are about a million different reasons for this, but the most important for me is that I believe Kerry will be better able to deal with the many problems, both domestically and internationally, that the United States is facing. The war on terrorism and our war in Iraq are complex problems. We need a leader that is willing to think hard about these issues and think outside the box. George Bush is incapable of doing this. Terrorism is an asymmetric threat that requires asymmetric thinking to adequately deal with the problem. I do not think that Bush’s black vs. white, us vs. them, good vs. evil way of framing the issue is the appropriate solution. In fact, it is detrimental to the overall effort of countering terrorism because it looks at a non-traditional threat through a traditional lens. The war in Iraq is a perfect example of this (leaving aside the fact that the justifications for the war were all false). Terrorism will not be defeated by dealing with it at the state level. It might help, but if it is the only focus of our war on terrorism, and under Bush by all indications it is, we’ll end up getting bogged down in situations that ultimately hurt us more than our targets—supporters of terrorism. As if his framing of the issue wasn’t bad enough, Bush’s inability to plan for the aftermath (or even recognize various possibilities, for that matter) of the war in Iraq has been the single most damaging mistake of his Presidency, and it is one that has serious implications for our economy, military, and our national security. We are paying for this mistake through the lives of soldiers, a skyrocketing national debt, and an increase in the animosity towards the US. And yet, the buck stops anywhere but the feet of the Bush Administration. To reward these mistakes with the reelection of George Bush would be a tragic mistake. I believe that John Kerry understands these issues in a way that George Bush is incapable of doing. You simply cannot fight terrorism unless you understand the nature of the threat. George Bush’s understanding stops at “It’s evil”-- an accurate description, but not sufficient to truly do something about it. Moreover, terrorism is a threat that is not unique to the United States. As a result, we need to bridge the gap between our allies, and even non-allies, in order to effectively fight it. John Kerry will be able to do a better job of working with the international community than Bush has demonstrated in the past four years. This will have very real, positive consequences for our national security. We can’t do this alone, and we can’t do it without the full support of other nations. Finally, I think that Kerry will be more honest with Americans. Right now, we are not getting an accurate picture of the seriousness of Iraq, the seriousness of the debt, the problems with Social Security and public education, as well as many other important issues. Ignorance is bliss is not an effective governing policy. Things need to change, and this needs to start with the election of John Kerry. This election is about George Bush, not about John Kerry. It is painfully obvious how worse off we are now than just four years ago--and things aren't looking good for the future. There is only one person responsible for this, and it isn't a Senator from Massachusetts.

It Depends On Your Definition of "Winter"


Many people have asked me about the differences between California and the rest of the places I have lived. Well, I think this headline and story mark a pretty clear difference! The headline: "Early Winter Storm Smacks the Bay Area" The first line:
The biggest October storm in years smacked the Bay Area Tuesday morning with up to two inches of rain.
Feel our pain.
10.19.2004

John Stewart in the Crossfire


If you haven't heard, last Friday John Stewart appeared on Crossfire, for what I am sure the CNN folks thought would be a funny exchange, perfect for a Friday afternoon. John Stewart didn't get that memo, though. He came out swinging at the "political theater" that is Crossfire and was critical about how it purports to be a political debate. I couldn't agree more with what he had to say, and thought that Tucker Carlson's response was representative of just how clueless some of these TV personalities can be. You can watch the exchange at IFILM

Political Wire: Quote of the Day


Political Wire: Quote of the Day
"Well, there was no sex for 14 days." California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), quoted by Reuters "in front of 1,000 people" about his RNC speech backing President Bush which "resulted in a cold shoulder from his wife, Maria Shriver, a member of the famously Democratic Kennedy family."
Probably should have been longer.
10.18.2004

Democracy is Hard Work


How is this STILL possible!!!???
In Florida, the process was far from seamless. In Broward County, north of Miami, supervisor of elections Brenda Snipes said a computer connection went down, preventing nine ballot stations from accessing a database to find out which one of the county's 152 different ballot styles each voter should have. "It's a hiccup, it's a bit more than a hiccup," Snipes told the Sun-Sentinel newspaper. In Orlando, home to the Disney World theme parks, people were kept waiting for more than two hours by a combination of long lines and computer malfunctions that prevented poll workers from verifying the names and addresses of voters. In Miami-Dade, poll workers appeared overwhelmed by the hundreds brought to the government center by a rally of trade unions, voter activists and Democrats, and the line to cast an early ballot moved achingly slowly. "This is unusual," said election official Javier Gonzalez, pointing to the long line. Patience quickly began to run thin. "They've got four people to register hundreds," said John Simon, a Republican turned Democrat who wanted to pick up an absentee ballot but decided after waiting for two hours that he might as well cast an early vote. Voting rights activists and Democrats have been highly critical of the state's elections division, run by Glenda Hood, a Republican appointed by the president's brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. A string of lawsuits on issues such as the lack of a paper trail for touch-screen systems are before the courts.
No, it's not a hiccup, its broken democracy. And democracy is hard to do.

Democracy is Fun


I just voted. In the interest of being fair and balanced, I won't disclose for whom, but lets just say he is the Senator of the Red Sox. Thank God for the Red Sox. I actually think they'll win this series, but it might require the pitchers to start throwing underhand!! (that was a joke on the fact that they've played so many innings and gone through so many pitchers---bada bing!) I had to go to bed early on Sunday night so I missed the end of the game, but when I did go to bed, the Sox were down and it was the bottom of the 8th. Imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning to see all the Boston idiots running around like they just won the World Series! Tonight's game was also pretty incredible. Baseball is almost certainly more fun than voting. In other, less exciting news, I've been in the Midwest for the past few days and I have to tell you how strange it is to see so many things relating to the Presidential race. We don't have that so much in California. It's no wonder that everyone I've talked to is sick of hearing about the damn election. Isn't democracy a pain in the ass? I've also met a few "fucking idiots" who still don't know who to vote for. The scary thing is these are the people who will determine the course of the country over the next four to eight years! The good news is that on my parent's block, Kerry is winning in the yard sign race, 3 to 1. That isn't counting at least one other person I know is a Democrat, but doesn't have a sign.
10.16.2004

Live blogging (sorta) plane trip from San Francisco to Milwaukee


12:35AM PST: Very tired, looking forward to sleeping the three hours to Minneapolis. I board the plane. 12:37AM PST: An old man arrives to take the seat next to me. 12:38AM PST: Old man whips out "Unfit for Command" and begins reading from pg.25. 12:38AM PST: Wonderful. Now what do I do? Tell him that if he wants to waste money, next time he can just send it directly to me? No, too harsh. Strike up conversation about the book? No, I don't want to end up like this. How can this otherwise sane looking man decide to purchase such a piece of shit (hardcover, too! Its only 1 inch thick!)? 12:38AM PST--04:00AM PST: Try to rationalize this poor old man. Get no sleep. 04:05AM: Land. Wait for next flight. Write this stupid post, but think it's funny, anyway.
10.15.2004

"You Want to see some Goddamn Optimism?"


The future Vice President of the United State:
Thanks! Thanks so much for laughing at that—and the cheese pun! Just injecting a little humor into the proceedings, because you "regular folks" eat that shit up! The polls say voters want optimism, not analysis. Well, I really want to be your vice president, so I'm more than willing to avoid all that intellectual mumbo-jumbo. My fellow Americans, you want to see some fucking optimism? Let's go! By the time I'm through here, you'll be shitting candy canes! Chim chim cheree! Any blue-collar laborers out there? Wow! A lot of hands! Well, line up for your complimentary ass-kiss! You keep this country strong! Now, I think you deserve better than what you've received from the present administration, but I won't be a Negative Nelly and go into all the details. I'm at a cheese factory, for Christ's sake, not some goddamn international symposium on economic policy. You probably all want to go home and watch TV. I'll just briefly mention that, as the son of a humble textile-mill worker from North Carolina, I understand the challenges average Americans face. I won't elaborate, though. What is this, the "culture wars"? Ha! Know what? I love watching TV, too! Law & Order, Friends... I eat that shit up. [...] Did I mention... the tax cut? John Kerry and I support a nice, big, fat, fucking tax cut for you, because let's face it, nothing good can ever come from taxes. They're a big pain in the ass! We'll do fine without 'em! There! I'm feeling so cheery, I wouldn't be surprised if a friggin' unicorn stepped out on stage and started humpin' my leg! Say, anybody out there a fan of... the Green Bay Packers? All right! Cool!
I love the Onion.

"We like to give them a 20 month head start."


Um, I'm with Atrios. Shouldn't this have been done, oh, I don't know, a year and half ago:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Friday ordered a freeze on assets of the militant group led by Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, which has claimed responsibility for a series of bombings, kidnappings and beheadings in Iraq (news - web sites). The Treasury Department (news - web sites)'s Office of Foreign Assets Control added Zarqawi's Tawhid and Jihad group to its list of suspected terrorists and terrorism financiers.
In a related story, the United States also froze the assests of Adolf Hitler, the German leader responsible for the death of 8 million Jews and the destruction of Europe. "This is an important step towards undermining the Nazi grip on Europe. I don't know why we didn't think of this sooner!" said Dennis Lormel, the former head of the FBI (news - web sites)'s terrorist financing section.

Juvenile Death Penalty


This week the Supreme Court began reviewing the case of Donald P. Roper v. Christopher Simmons (scroll down to Wed, Oct 13). The case re-examines the minimum age for capital punishment. You can read about the Simmons case here and TalkLeft has some thoughts, too. Fun Fact of the Day: Other than the United States, countries that execute juveniles are Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, China, Somalia, and the Congo! Bonus fact: the US and Krygystan are the only two countries that execute the mentally retarded. Culture of life, my ass.
10.14.2004

state of the race


A friend wrote me today expressing concern over the latest tally at Electoral-Vote.com. Below is my response:
The thing is, if you look at the actual polls from the states on E-V.com, you'll notice that many of the swing states are a week or more old, and do not take into account last night. I still think that there is a huge number of people not being polled including young people and newly registered voters, both of whom are allegedly coming out in large numbers (for whom? I don't know, but my guess is that it will be mostly for Kerry). Bush also pulled his television advertising from Pennsylvania yesterday, which is important because it is the state he has visited the most (39 times). So I don't think we need to worry about that. The job numbers out today, especially concerning GM, mean that Michigan might be a Kerry lock. In Ohio, Nader was kicked off the ballot, which can only be good for Kerry---and Bush's remarks last night regarding how the unemployed should just go back to community college (jesus!) cannot play too well in Ohio, which has one of the highest unemployment percentages in the country. And don't worry about Wisconsin, my people will deliver! Same with Iowa and NJ, EV.com has them tied but I don't think they will be when it matters. I think we'll probably see one or two of the southern border states like Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennesse go/lean Kerry, or at least become a problem for Bush in that he needs to go there and campaign, thus taking away his attention from places like WI and OH. Of course, there are also those post-debate polls that show Kerry has momentum. I could go on and on. One last thing--the fact that Lynne Cheney is making such a whiny mess about Kerry mentioning her daughter is a lesbian further underscores how desperate these guys are. Its such a diversion and it only plays to the base. And if the Republicans have to play to their base they are in big trouble, because it was "compassionate conservatism" and "uniter not a divider" that fooled the moderates into voting for Bush in 2000. In other words, they've conceded the entire moderate part of the political spectrum to Kerry (and the polls show it). Kerry is going to have a huge turnout from Democrats that are rabid to oust Bush. With the addition of the moderates and undecided going for Kerry (mostly), Bush will have to rely on a HUGE turnout by his base just to stay at the level he had in 2000. I don't think he's going to get many more people from his base to get out and vote, and certainly not more than the combined increase of Kerry (formerly Gore) voters with moderates, undecideds, and new voters. Plus, Nader isn't as big a factor this year as he was in 2000. THUS, KERRY WINS. Simple as that.
Was denkst du?

Lynne Cheney---Biatch.


Apparently Lynne Cheney has a problem with Kerry discussing her daughter's sexuality. What she really means to say, though, is that she has a problem with her daughter's sexuality. Kerry was probably trying to get under the Bush-Cheney skin, but I don’t think it was over the line. On someone’s blog, I read the argument that if Cheney’s daughter was adopted or parapalegic and the discussion was about either of those things, nobody would have considered it over the line. I think that is a good point. Mary has been out for over ten years, she has worked as a gay and lesbian liason for major corporations (and campaigns), and she went onto the stage with her partner at the VP debate. Kerry’s comment shouldn’t have been a surprise to anybody.
10.13.2004

The Last Debate


Too much prayer crap. I felt like I was watching Dr. Phil. Not one question on the environment? No questions on stem cell research, fucking gas is $2.60/gallon and no questions on our foreign dependance on oil? Nice work Bob! Kerry looked Presidential. Bush looked like he was trying too hard. I didn't think there was a lot of substance to this debate, partly because of the moderator, but also because both candidates were set on regurgitating their canned messages from previous debates and the campaign trail. It's a damn shame there wasn't more substance, because there are a lot of serious issues facing this country on the domestic front. In my opinion, the Bush Administration has fanned the flames of these problems and should be held accountable for that. Fortunately, I thought Kerry did a good job of doing this at very opportune times. Oh, and you should watch this. I'd like to go back to the prayer stuff for just one second. I thought Kerry handled that much better than I thought he would. He did a great job of using his faith and morals to point out how this country isn't doing a good job "loving its neighbors" both domestically and internationally. That was gold, Poneyboy, gold! I predict Kerry will win. Bush is toast.

Cut his mic...please!


Apparently, the missing chapters of Bill O'Reilly's The O'Reilly Factor for Kids have shown up on The Smoking Gun. Just to be clear, O'Reilly is free to indulge in any sexual fantasy he wants. The problem, of course, is when you use your power to thrust foist your perversions on others, which is what O'Reilly allegedly did. Assuming all this is true, I will enjoy my schadenfreude.
10.12.2004

Paging Mr. Sullivan...


John Stewart made the cover of the latest Rolling Stones, and in the article is one of the funniest, but dead-on things I've read lately:
After mulling over how to find an undecided voter for an upcoming bit ("Well," Stewart muses, "you'd have to go out and find a fucking idiot.")
My thoughts exactly.

If you see 25 white people wearing backpacks, call John Ashcroft ASAP


Given what will grace Wednesday morning's Washington Times (I know, its the Washington Times...), I think it is a good idea to point out this handy dandy timeline. Feel free to peruse this graph, too. Now, I don't know whether or not there really is a group of backpacked Chechen terrorists that have infiltrated the US-Mexican border with aims of disrupting the election. But I do know that there are enough white backpackers in the Southwest and the rest of the country to scare the shit out of undecided voters. Especially those living near schools. Given this Administration's history of suspiciously timed terror warnings, you have to wonder about the veracity of this report. I suspect we'll hear a lot about potential terrorist threats over the course of the next 20 days. Breeding fear is about the only thing this Administration has done well over the last 3 years, so it shouldn't be surprising that they'll rely on their ringer to try and win the election. My hope is that people are beginning to recognize the pattern behind these warnings.

Four Years


A lot can happen in four years. Four years ago I might not have believed that something like this could happen. Now, its just par for the course. Whether its destroying registration forms, faulty absentee ballots, or good old fashion voter suppression, these people will stoop to any level to maintain their power. And the majority of us don't seem to give a fuck.

8 Lies


Definitely read Paul Krugman's latest Op-Ed 8 Lies You'll Hear before tomorrow night's debate.

Columbia


Lest we forget Columbia.
WASHINGTON– The number of U.S. troops in Colombia will double to 800 under new legislation aimed at ratcheting up the fight against guerrillas and criminals financing themselves through drug trafficking, kidnapping and extortion. The number of American civilian contractors paid out of U.S. funds also would rise to a maximum of 600 from the current limit of 400. The increases were approved as part of the fiscal year 2005 defense authorization bill passed by lawmakers in an unusual Saturday session. Some lawmakers have said they are worried that piece-by-piece increases in assistance there could draw the United States into a quagmire like Vietnam. The United States is funding a $3.3 billion, five-year military aid package known as Plan Colombia, under which Colombian forces receive training, equipment and intelligence to root out drug traffickers and fumigate coca crops.
More at Beautiful Horizons.

Frontline of the War on Terror


Despite popular belief, Iraq is not "the frontline of the war on terror." That honor goes to the western tribal provinces of Pakistan. This Asia Times article is a good source of recent information regarding Pakistan's attempt to reign in al Qaeda. I found one part particularly telling:
The blueprints for Pakistan's anti-terror operations are prepared by the US, and they do not reflect local conditions, especially in the tribal areas. For instance, it is a ground reality that apart from perhaps a very few, there are no longer any foreign elements in Pakistani territory. Initially, foreigners lived in South Waziristan, but they were then shifted to areas that are not technically part of Pakistan. This was relayed to US forces. After shifting the foreign militants to Afghan areas, whether it is Darey Nishtar or areas near Razmak, Pakistan should have announced that since militants no longer lived in Pakistani territory, it would abandon its operations in the tribal areas and man checkposts and guard the borders, and leave the foreign militants for US and Afghan troops to deal with. But Pakistan did not do so, and continued futile operations in the tribal areas, succeeding only in bombing locals and raising their anger even further. [...] When Pakistan launched its serious operations on these networks, several returned to the tribal areas in search of a safe haven. In a matter of a few months they regrouped and restored their financial links with the outside world, and initiated recruitment drives for fresh blood. As a result, hundreds of jihadi cells have been born and they have produced for the first time a "Pakistani al-Qaeda" with the sole aim to create maximum anarchy through any form of violence. They want the country to face maximum destabilization, and their supporters in institutions like the army will then have the chance to dismiss the present leadership of President General Pervez Musharraf and take over power. And unlike in the past, when the Pakistani establishment - despite its denials - had close contacts with jihadis, today's new breed of jihadis remain largely anonymous, just waiting for their chance to strike.
I swear, about the only thing we need more than a destabilized Iraq, is a destabilized Pakistan ("pssst. They have the bomb!").
10.11.2004

Awesome!


Sometimes when I get upset about the fact that Iraq is FUBAR and that over 1,000 men and women have given their lives to squash Saddam Hussein's wet dream-like WMD programs, I remind myself that at least we protected all of the sites that had equipment and materials that could have been used for nuclear weapons. Oh, wait. The BBC is reporting that nuclear "assets" are vanishing in Iraq.
Inspectors from Mr ElBaradei's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who established that Saddam Hussein had abandoned any nuclear weapons programme before the war, have not been allowed to move about Iraq freely by the US. Apart from a couple of limited checks on the main nuclear facility at Tuwaitha last June after reports of looting - and with no teams now on the ground - the IAEA has to rely on satellite imagery and other sources. In a letter to the UN Security Council, Mr ElBaradei said buildings related to Iraq's previous nuclear programme appeared to have been systematically dismantled and equipment and material removed. "The disappearance of such equipment and materials may be of proliferation significance," the IAEA director general warned. [...] Sensitive technology such as rocket engines has turned up for sale abroad, Mr ElBaradei said. However, high-precision "dual-use" items including milling machines and electron beam welders appear to have disappeared, as has material such as high-strength aluminium. Mr ElBaradei called on any state with information on the location of such items to inform his agency. The US removed nearly two tonnes of low-enriched uranium from Iraq earlier this year. The IAEA has verified that 550 tonnes of nuclear material still remain at Tuwaitha.
Yes, you read that correctly. We invaded a country on the grounds that it might "one day" pass along WMD to terrorists, but when we actually invaded the country, we didn't make an effort to secure the very materials we accused them of wanting to give to terrorists. As a result, the very people we didn't want getting the material probably have it! Thank you, George W. Bush! update: The Iraqis say, "Pshaw!!"

disgusting


I came across a few new blogs this weekend and have added them on the right (The Liberal Slut, Mr. Underhill, and Virtual Pus). Virtual Pus points out that the US is delaying major assaults on rebel-held cities in Iraq until after the US elections in November. The clear implication is that such an assault will be a bloody fucking mess and will not reflect well on the person who led us into the war on now discredited justifications. I think it was The Onion that once ran a story on how great it would have been if the Bush Administration would have put as much planning into post-war Iraq as they do into their re-election campaign. How true. It should chap everyone's ass that this is going on. The thing that irks me the most is that the Bush team will continue to attack Kerry for changing his mind on Iraq depending on the current political winds. Bullshit. You can always tell where the Bush Administration is most vulnerable by seeing how they attack Kerry. The real victims of all this, of course, are the troops and the Iraqis. The troops are just sitting around, waiting to attack an enemy that is not only hard to find, but smart enough to realize what is going on and prepare for the inevitable. The Iraqis are going to have a helluva time avoiding the inevitable carpet bombing that will commence on November 3rd. Meanwhile, back in the USA, the President is campaiging on a record of deception regarding Iraq and is trying his best to de-emphasize American casualties in order to coax half the country into believing that he should be the one to lead us out of the mess he created! Best of all, people actually believe it! Wonderful time to be alive, ain't it?

a friendly reminder...


Just a reminder to those who might be interested, I've placed a LiveMessage Alert button on the right. What is LiveMessage, you may ask? LiveMessage Alerts enable you to receive real-time updates of your favorite blogs whenever they are updated. The cool thing is you can choose where you receive the alerts--via email, MSN Messenger, SMS, etc. The alerts are completely free to receive and send out, and you can unsubscribe to alerts whenever you like. If you are interested in seeing how this works, check out this page. If you are interested in signing up for my alerts, just click on the orange button. If you want this for your blog, just follow this link and you'll be set up in a matter of minutes. Again, its free and easy and you can control how and when you receive the alerts.
10.10.2004

"I want them all voting for me."


Am I the only one who didn't laugh at this?
MICHAELSON: Mr. President, if there were a vacancy in the Supreme Court and you had the opportunity to fill that position today, who would you choose and why? BUSH: I'm not telling. (LAUGHTER) I really don't have -- haven't picked anybody yet. Plus, I want them all voting for me. (LAUGHTER)

The Marines' Perspective


You should read this article in today's Washington Post. Its the reality of Iraq through the eyes of the Marines on the ground. Their observations are interesting: on the one hand, they believe that their mission is to help the Iraqi civilians, but on the other hand, they question the decision to engage Iraq on the grounds of the WoT.
But Perez said he came to think that war in Iraq was unrelated to his anger. "How do I put this?" he said. "First of all, this is a whole different thing. We're supposed to be looking for al Qaeda. They're the ones who are supposedly responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks. This has no connection at all to Sept. 11 because this war started just by telling us about all the nuclear warheads over here." Snyder, who was listening, added: "Pretty much I think they just diverted the war on terrorism. I agree with the Afghanistan war and all the Sept. 11 stuff, but it feels like they left the bigger war over there to come here. And now, while we're on the ground over here, it seems like we're not even close to catching frigging bin Laden." Perez said he thought that in some ways he was still fighting terrorists "and I can see how they might attack the United States in the future. It's a link, but it's not really based in the same thing." Perez added that he now believes the primary reason for the U.S. presence is to help the Iraqis. "But they don't seem like they want to be helped," he said. "I've only been here two months, but every time you go out, people give you bad looks and it just seems like everybody wants to shoot you." [...] When the Marines returned to their truck, Autin and Kelly began to debate the merits of the American presence in Iraq. "And, by the way, why are we here?" Autin said. "I'll tell you why we're here," Kelly replied. "We're here to help these people." Autin agreed and said he supported the mission. He added later that it was difficult to wage the battle when American commanders were holding them back. "We feel they care more about Iraqi civilians than they do American soldiers," he said. Asked if he was concerned that the Marines would be punished for speaking out, Autin responded: "We don't give a crap. What are they going to do, send us to Iraq?"
10.09.2004

Deconstruction icon Derrida dies


Derrida was a brilliant guy. I'm not going to pretend like I understood more than 10% of what he wrote, but that 10% I did understand was some of the most interesting stuff I ever came across in philosophy.

2nd Debate


I don't have a whole lot to say about last night's Presidential debate. All of the polls I've seen show a slight Kerry win, which I think is really important. Kerry seemed at ease in front of a live audience and connected well with them. I thought Bush, who's strength is supposedly suited for these situations, seemed like he was trying too hard. He definitely did better than last week, but when he rudely interrupted Charlie Gibson to shout down John Kerry on the size of the Iraq Coalition, he pretty much lost any chance of winning the debate. This next week will be the most important week of Bush's political life. Kerry has a lot of momentum, and barring any major surprises, I think Bush is toast. Today is my birthday, so I'll not be posting, and maybe not until Monday. Have a great weekend!
10.08.2004

Alternate Universe


You might have seen today's job numbers for the month of September, which all things considered, are not very good for the Administration or the nation (96,000 were created, but we need 150,000 just to keep up with the growth rate of population). However, if you caught the MSNBC site early this morning, you would have seen an entirely different story. Yes, that's right. The headline says 300,000 jobs created in a boost for President Bush. Somebody jumped the gun, and "miscalculated"--big time. Funny thing is, it isn't the first time in the last two days that the major media have reported something that wasn't true, but sounded optimistic for President Bush. Yesterday, the AP released a story that reported Bush won the election by a 47 percent to 43 percent margin. Those playing along at home will note that the election is in fact on November 2nd. What the hell is going on here? People need to lose their jobs over stuff like this. Who knows, it might have been a blip in the matrix, a glimpse of an alternate universe where bad news is good news for Bush. hat tips to rising-hegemon and oliver willis
10.07.2004

Raytown!


Did you see Paula Zahn's Town Hall Meeting in my hometown (Racine, WI) tonight? I thought it went well. I did not know that Racine had the highest unemployment in the state of WI and is twice the national average. Racine is was home of many manufacturing jobs, and a lot of them have gone overseas. In general, it seemed like there was greater support for Kerry than Bush, which made me proud. I think a lot of people are getting smart to the distorted reality painted by this Administration. update: Here is a run-down of the CNN Racine event.

Why wouldn't Saddam prove he destroyed his WMD program?


In the run-up to the Iraq War, it was often asked by proponents of the war, “Why doesn’t Saddam just come out and prove that he doesn’t have WMD?” They believed he wasn’t fully complying with our demands, and that meant he was hiding something. Forget, for the moment, that there was probably nothing Saddam could have done to quiet down the dogs of war. As an honest question, I think it is important to try and answer it, especially since the now definitive answer is that there never were any WMD. Juan Cole puts forth what I think to be a reasoned answer to the question.
The main reason for which he would not provide proof of the destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles, he told the group, was that he was worried about Iran. Apparently he never got over the trauma of the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988, when he came close to being defeated by his much bigger neighbor. (Only the Reagan Adminsitration alliance of convenience with him saved him). And, of course, his anxiety about Iran was in part a code for fear of a Shiite uprising. Saddam was fighting several Shiite revolutions, being mounted by the Sadrists, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the al-Da`wa Party, and the Marsh Arab Hizbullah. He was barely able to keep a lid on them, using secret police and brutal repression. They were being backed by Iran (or at least all but the Sadrists were), and he was admitting that he feared that if the Iranians and the Iraqi Shiites thought he would not be able to gas them, he might be open to another invasion or a popular Shiite uprising. The group report says Saddam used chemical weapons on the Shiites to put down the rebellion of spring, 1991. (What it does not say is that the United States, which was in a position to stop this use of WMD on civilians, as well as the use of conventional weapons to massacre thousands, declined to so much as fire a missile at a helicopter gunship). Ironically, the Sadrists and Marsh Arabs have gone on to pose a dire threat to order in post-Saddam Iraq, and the US has also treated them harshly as a result. Saddam also was appears to have been convinced that the US would not attack his regime after September 11, because of its secular character. Saddam is often caricatured as a madman (and it is true that there is something wrong with the man), but in this remark he shows himself thinking rationally and expecing Bush to do the same.
I think this is a solid answer to the one question that seemed to confound even the most stringent anti-Iraq War advocates. Saddam was never a world-domination sort of guy, despite all the nasty rhetoric from this Administration. Containment and sanctions were working, and the strength of his regime was only a fraction of what it used to be. Saddam’s primary concern was maintaining his power of Iraq. It seems that his biggest miscalculation was believing Iran posed the greatest threat to his power, and not the US. He certainly miscalculated the intensity and depth of the desire among certain people in the Bush Administration to invade Iraq. Maybe he thought we weren’t stupid enough to invest so much of our resources to displacing him, when we had Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to worry about. Frankly, neither did I.

Going Up River: The Long War of John Kerry


I saw Going Up River: The Long War of John Kerry last weekend, and fully intended to comment on it, but I wasn't feeling good when I sat down to write a review. Fortunately, Kevin Drum saw the movie and wrote the very same review I had hoped to write. One thing that stood out to me about Kerry from watching this movie is just how much he is a man of strong convictions and ideals. It is precisely this quality that has forced the Republicans to attack Kerry on his flip-floppery. They’ve taken what I believe to be his biggest strength and turned it into his biggest liability. The inverse is true for Bush. I don’t think that he is the man of iron convictions and ideals that he tries to portray. His life history illustrates this. Kerry’s dedication to serving his country, not only on the battlefield, but also in protest, is inspiring to me because I got the feeling that he did it for no other reason than his idealism—he genuinely believed in what he was doing. Kerry’s detractors would like you to believe that he did this out of political opportunism, but I don’t think that is the case. Casting one’s self as an anti-war protest leader is not the easiest way to political glory, much less the Presidency. Certainly, there would have been far easier paths for John Kerry to take. I walked out of the movie with more admiration for Kerry than I had when I entered. This is because I connected with Kerry the idealist. I don’t expect him to be an idealist today, but I feel comfortable that he at least knows how it feels to believe in and act strongly for one’s ideals and convictions. I think this adds a perspective to one’s thinking that can only be gained from going through it. I do not believe that George Bush has this perspective, and never will. I also think it will require this type of perspective to adequately address some of the major issues facing the country in this election cycle.
10.06.2004

Psych!


Hey America! You're on Candid Camera!:
A new CIA report delivered to Vice President Dick Cheney last week calls into question White House assertions of a link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, officials told ABC News. On Feb. 5, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell presented a case for war against Iraq to the U.N. Security Council, in part by stating, "Iraq today harbors a deadly terrorist network headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda lieutenants." Earlier this year, in a joint press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the Rose Garden on June 15, President Bush said, "Zarqawi's the best evidence of a connection to al Qaeda affiliates and al Qaeda." And Cheney, while speaking at the D-Day Museum on July 1, said, "Later, senior al Qaeda associate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi took sanctuary in Baghdad after coalition forces drove him out of Afghanistan." But a senior U.S. official told ABC News that the CIA report, based on captured documents and interviews with former Iraqi officials, raises serious questions about such statements. The official said there was, in fact, no clear-cut evidence that Saddam even knew Zarqawi was in Baghdad, contrary to what Bush has claimed.
PSYCH!! Golly, this Administration sure likes to play practical jokes on us.

Breaking News!


File this under No Shit:
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US government will release a report saying Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) had no weapons of mass destruction or concrete plans to make them, reports said, but President George W. Bush (news - web sites) remained unrepentant over the 2003 invasion of Iraq (news - web sites). Charles Duelfer, the chief US weapons inspector in Iraq, has produced a 1,000-page report which says Saddam, who was ousted after a US-led invasion, had the desire but not the means to produce biological, chemical and nuclear arms, The Washington Post reported, quoting US officials. The report, to be released about 1830 GMT, would be a new blow to US administration efforts to justify the invasion, which has been made into a central theme of the presidential election race by Democratic contender John Kerry (news - web sites).
So we invaded a country with no ties to 9/11, stretched our military to its breaking point, and in the process, lost over 1,000 men and women (and, to follow Dick Cheney, I won't forget about the tens of thousands of Iraqis that have have lost their lives, too)all because Saddam Hussein had the DESIRE to develop WMD. He didn't even have the means...just the desire. Unfuckingbelievable. Do you know how many countries in the world have the desire to own nuclear weapons?? Just about every single one of them. Not surprisingly, the President is unrepentant:
Without mentioning the report, he said at an election speech in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, there was a "real risk" that Saddam would give weapons of mass destruction to terrorists. "After September 11, America had to assess every potential threat in a new light," Bush said. "We had to take a hard look at every place where terrorists might get those weapons and one regime stood out: the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. "We knew the dictator had a history of using weapons of mass destruction, a long record of aggression and hatred for America. He was listed by Republican and Democrat administrations as a state sponsor of terrorists. "There was a risk, a real risk, that Saddam Hussein would pass weapons or materials or information to terrorist networks. In the world after September 11, that was a risk we could not afford to take."
You maybe wowed at the President's remarkable consistency in the face of reality, but remember that the decision to go into Iraq has now been shown to be a colossal miscalculation, to put it nicely, that has left our military (and thus, our ability to defend ourselves from real threats) with its hands tied behind its back. We are absolutely not safer now than we were at the beginning of March 2003, and Bush should be held responsible for that.

Celebrity Death Beeper


Occasionally, a site comes a long that fills a gaping void in what the Internet has to offer. Celebrity Death Beeper.Com is one of those sites. If only I would have had this yesterday, I might have learned about Rodney Dangerfield sooner. This site is also just begging for LiveMessage!
10.05.2004

VP debate


Curious to hear what people thought of the VP debate. I disagree with Jesse, in that I thought Edwards was best in the first third of the debate, specifically in attacking the Administration's Iraq policy. I thought Edwards was worst in trying to justify his ticket's stance on gay marriage--something I think they deserve because it is stupid--you can't defend being against gay marriage, in my opinion. Overall, Edwards I think looked better, which probably gives him an edge. Cheney's body language was horrible--he talked into his folded hands a lot. From some of the online polls I've seen, Edwards was the clear winner, which sort of surprised me, since I thought it was closer while watching. Cheney lied a lot, and made this funny slip. Andrew Sullivan had a surprising response. He thought this debate was a car wreck for Bush compared to last Thursday. I guess I thought last Thursday was far more damaging to Bush than Cheney's performance tonight. However, I don't think Cheney did anything to improve on Bush's performance, and Edwards did enough to keep up with Kerry's. Kevin Drum also has a good rundown of some of the more official polls released immediately after the debate (consensus: Edwards probably won). If this post was a little erratic it's because I'm trying to watch The Daily Show, read the responses of the debate, and type this post.
10.04.2004

Poland


"You forgot Poland!" GWB, 9/30/2004
PARIS (AFP) - Poland said that it aims to withdraw all of its 2,500 troops from Iraq (news - web sites) during the course of next year, a major disappointment for Washington which sees Warsaw as one of its staunchest allies in Iraq.

September Among Deadliest Months for U.S. in Iraq


Nothing to see here:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - September was one of the deadliest months for U.S. troops in the 18-month-old war in Iraq (news - web sites), and the death toll for the first time has risen four straight months. At least 76 U.S. troops were killed this month, reflecting a steady increase in American deaths since the United States transferred sovereignty to the interim Iraqi government headed by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi on June 28, officially ending the occupation, according to a count of U.S. fatalities announced by the Pentagon (news - web sites). Forty-two U.S. troops were killed in June, 54 in July and 66 in August. Only three other months have produced a higher American death count than September since U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq in March 2003 to topple President Saddam Hussein (news - web sites). The highest death count, with 135 U.S. military fatalities, came this past April, with the simultaneous flaring of the insurgency in the so-called Sunni Triangle and in the Shi'ite south. Eighty were killed in May as well.
Casualties are going to be a part of war, but you can't put lipstick on a pig --or something (did I get that right?)--and that is what this Administration is trying to do with the situation in Iraq. The situation is much worse than we found it and it is a direct result of fundamental "miscalculations" by the Bush Administration. John Kerry is going to have a mess on his hands.
10.03.2004

Cheney = Nutcase


Who are we to argue with the Vice President of the United States?:
WARRENTON, Mo. -- The phrases vary. Some days, Vice President Dick Cheney says Saddam Hussein had "long-established" ties to Al Qaeda. Other days, he says the former Iraqi dictator "had a relationship" with the terrorist group. But the underlying message remains unchanged -- Cheney plants the idea that Hussein was allied with the group responsible for the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Although the extent of any relationship between Al Qaeda and Hussein has been widely disputed, Cheney proceeds with his contention with nary a nod toward such questions. In doing so, he draws a line from the war in Iraq, on which public opinion is divided, to the larger war on terrorism, for which President Bush wins greater support. "When voters look at Iraq as a stand-alone issue . . . it is a horrible situation for the president," said Charles Cook, a nonpartisan political analyst in Washington. "But when it is woven into the fabric of a global war on terrorism, people are more accepting of it as the price we have to pay." Cheney slips his reference to Hussein and Al Qaeda into his litany of Hussein's offenses: the regime's production and use of chemical weapons against enemies; support for the families of suicide bombers; and Iraq's defiance of various United Nations resolutions. Each has largely been established and is subject of little debate, with the exception of the tie to Al Qaeda. The bipartisan commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks said it had found no evidence of a "collaborative relationship" between Hussein and the terrorist organization led by Osama bin Laden. Its staff has said it had found "no credible evidence" that Iraq had cooperated with Al Qaeda in targeting the United States. To back up Cheney's contention of a "relationship" between Al Qaeda and Hussein, the vice president's aides point to the presence in pre-invasion Iraq of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian-born militant thought to be behind much of the insurgency in postwar Iraq. But although Zarqawi is widely thought to have had ties to bin Laden's group -- Cheney calls him "a senior Al Qaeda associate" -- the extent of his links to Hussein, if any, has never been established. [...] Surveys of Americans consistently have found large numbers who say Hussein was personally involved in the Sept. 11 attacks, despite repeated declarations by a variety of investigators to the contrary. As recently as June, a Gallup Poll indicated that 44 percent of those surveyed said Hussein was personally tied to the terrorist strikes; 51 percent said he was not. A senior Republican who served in top White House positions during the Ford and Reagan administrations cited the Gallup findings in discussing Cheney's campaign comments on Al Qaeda and Hussein. Cheney, the senior Republican said, is "talking about something that is credible with the American people, despite the intelligence. And the intelligence community is so under attack that he can say whatever he wants." "What he gets out of it is making the case even stronger for why we went into Iraq, and it fits a pattern of what the American people want to believe," said the Republican, who requested anonymity because his comments could be interpreted as being critical of the vice president, with whom he has worked in the past.
If there is a God in heaven, He will have John Edwards hang Cheney with his own words during Tuesday's debate. It is ludicruous that Cheney can travel around the country and make such bunk claims even after they've been repeatedly disputed. The 44% of people in this country who still believe that Hussein had something to do with 9/11 must be responsible for their ignorance, but the VP should not be able to spout false claims about something so significant. Unless, of course, Cheney actually believes what he says, and if that is the case, it is a whole other problem. Tuesday should be interesting. Some people think that Cheney's "gravitas" will overwhelm the inexperienced Edwards. I don't think so. Cheney is one of the least popular politicians in the country and has zero personality. Edwards, on the other hand, is well-liked and very smart. He should be able to portray a stark contrast between himself and Cheney--one that is in his favor, too. This election is all about contrasts--confident vs petulant, gloom & doom vs optimism. You can decide which is which.