Monthly Archives: October 2004

Bush Is No Kennedy

"It’s hard for me to listen to President Bush invoking my father’s memory to attack John Kerry. Senator Kerry has demonstrated his courage and commitment to a stronger America throughout his entire career. President Kennedy inspired and united the country and so will John Kerry. President Bush is doing just the opposite. All of us who revere the strength and resolve of President Kennedy will be supporting John Kerry on Election Day."

– Caroline Kennedy (according to Willis).

For those of you wondering what this is about, Bush has been invoking President Kennedy (and FDR) in his recent speeches, making implicit comparisons and suggesting that Bush (as opposed to Kerry) has the same courage of his convictions as those earlier Presidents.

Movie Villain of the Year

Total Film magazine’s annual poll of the "Movie Villain of the Year" had an interesting outcome. Was it Dr. Octopus from Spiderman 2? Or the bad guy from Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Or the Alien? Or the Predator?

Nope.

It was George Bush (star of "Fahrenheit 9/11"). (Source)

Heh.

Why Do The Facts Hate America?

I think the whole meme that "we got bad intelligence" rings hollow when you have a White House that is uninterested in ACTUAL reality, and more interested in ITS version of reality.

Check out this article (not online, but reprinted in part here from The American Conservative Magazine):

On Sept. 28, at the Vice President’s request, the Agency provided a special briefing on the subject of Jordanian terrorist Mu’sab al-Zarqawi. The CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center (CTC) reviewed all of the available intelligence on the subject and based its briefing on a just completed comprehensive intelligence analysis. The CTC concluded that Saddam Hussein had not materially supported Zarqawi before the U.S.-led invasion and that Zarqawi’s infrastructure in Iraw before the war was confined to the northern no-fly zones of Kurdistan, beyond Baghdad’s reach. Cheney reacted with fury, screaming at the briefer that CIA was trying to get John Kerry elected by contradicting the president’s stance that Saddam had supported terrorism and therefore needed to be overthrown. The hapless briefer was shaken by the vice president’s outburst, and the incident was reported back to Goss, who indicated that he was reluctant to confront the vice president’s staff regarding it.

Why do the facts hate America??

UPDATE: Speaking of "facts", Bush has pulled out his Obsidian Great Sword of Irony (-3 Intelligence) and whacked himself over the head with it today, by saying (in response to the Iraqi "missing explosives" story): "For a political candidate to jump to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your commander in chief". Funny, that’s what we’ve been saying for months, too.

Pentagon Against Bush?

I think Josh Marshall is on to something when he writes:

This evening, Wingerdom is all aflutter about what they now see as the New York Times-CBS-IAEA international anti-Bush conspiracy. But they might do better to focus their anxieties elsewhere.

Like at the Pentagon, for instance.

Who over there is trying to stick it to the president?

Look at two big news stories on Tuesday, the Washington Post report that the White House plans to ask for some $70 billion more in Iraq spending just a week or two after the election and this USA Today piece reporting that the Pentagon is planning to add roughly 20,000 more troops to the force in Iraq in anticipation of the elections in January.

The White House can’t approve of these stories getting out. Not THIS week, of all weeks. So who is doing the leaking, and why?

Bush Flips On Sex

Get off the subject, George. It’s a minefield. Don’t get all flippity-floppity with the election one week away!

Bush Says His Party Is Wrong to Oppose Gay Civil Unions

By ELISABETH BUMILLER

Published: October 26, 2004

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25 – 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.

No, what am I saying???? Keep it up!!

Ouch, Ouch and Ouch

Today, three well-respected political magazines representing very distinct corners of the political spectrum have either (a) endorsed Kerry and/or (b) forcefully rejected Bush.

They are:

The Nation

The New Republic

The American Conservative

So Bush gets the neo-cons. But as for the greens, moderates, liberal hawks, and traditional conservatives? They can’t they seem to get behind Bush. Why is that?

More ouches: Well-known Republican blogger (and assistant professor of political science at the University of Chicago) Dan Drezner joins the Kerry crowd, and several notable libertarians either pick Kerry or reject Bush by staying at home.

Oh, Jesse Ventura endorses Kerry today, too. What a big tent I suddenly find myself in.

Update: Hey, look. Even spy novelist John LeCarre has shown up in the Kerry tent. Too bad he can’t vote here. Although, now that I think of it, isn’t "John LeCarre" probably the literal French translation of "John Kerry"?

And On This Farm He Had Some . . . .

Mere hours after Bush unveils an ad using scary wolves, Political Wire is reporting that Kerry has a response ad comparing Bush to an ostrich:

Ad transcript: "The eagle sours high above the earth; the ostrich buries its head in the sand. The eagle knows when it’s time to change course; the ostrich just stands in its place. Given these challenging times, shouldn’t we be the eagle again?"

Some one wake me when they get to snow leopards.

UPDATE: Actually, the eagle/ostrich ad comes from the DNC. And it’s pretty effective.

Bush Doesn’t Understand The Nature of The Terrorist Threat

It’s odd. Bush says that Kerry is failing to comprehend the war on terrorism.

It’s odd, I say, because Bush’s own people, are saying (implicitly anyway) that it is Bush who doesn’t get it.

The Bush Administration seems to think that the way to defeat terrorism is by decapitating the leadership of al Qaeda. Capture or kill those AQ leaders (from a three-year old list) and you have defeated terrorism, the theory goes. Hey, that might work if we were fighting a nation-state like, oh, Nazi Germany, but as the above article suggest, that is not the true nature of our enemy. Our true enemies have morphed into numerous cells who no longer wait on al Qaeda leadership for their marching orders. Does Bush care about these facts?

Interesting article — recommended reading.

What It Means

I am by no means a sports nut. And I don’t understand the "fandom" that comes with many sports. Like NASCAR. How can car mechanics even be called a sport, which (I always thought) had something to do with physicality and the indomitable human spirit . . . or something close to that?

No matter. I’m in no position to judge. I am a Red Sox "fan". Or more correctly, a long-suffering Red Sox fan. Everybody raised in New England (as I was) is a Red Sox fan — even those like my sister who has never seen the Red Sox play as much as an inning in her entire life.

Being a Red Sox fan means being for almost winning, or — as some bright person once said — snatching a defeat from the jaws of victory. And for the first time in my life, I am beginning to think that the Red Sox might be unable to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the American League Championship. I may have to accept the fact that — this one time — they were actually victorious over the Yankees (although, like Robb Cordrey of TDS, I still haven’t quite entirely ruled out a Yankees comeback . . . somehow).

I won’t bore you with "the curse". You either know about the Bosox’s 7th game World Series loss in 1967 to the Cardinals . . . or not. Or its extraordinary 6th game win in the 1975 World Series, only to be followed by an excruciating loss in the 7th game, to the Reds (29 years ago today). Or its one game tiebreaker against the Yankees in 1978, where it lost (that Bucky Fuckin’ Dent!). Or the painful 1986 World Series, where the Red Sox were one strike away from winning the World Series, and that awful grounder that (somehow!) went through Buckner’s legs. Or 1999, when the Yankees (again) denied the Red Sox a trip to the World Series. Or 2003, when the Yankees hit a home run in the bottom of the 11th in the 7th game of the AL League Championship.

No, I won’t bore you with "the curse".

But I will tell you this. There are graves, my friends. Graves of my relatives — as well as the forebears of many a New Englander — bearing the remains of once-lively bodies who have done little but wait for a baseball year like this. My grandmother never saw the Red Sox win a World Series — she died in 1977. My mother — as diehard a Red Sox fan as they come — is pushing 70. She knows there aren’t many more chances to see a victory. "What would that be like", I remember her thinking out loud to her kids . . . 30 years ago!!!

What would it be like? The psyche of an entire region of the United States will change overnight with a Red Sox victory.

And I can’t stress this enough: the impact of a Red Sox World Series victory will extend to those who never even watch baseball. New Englanders — all New Englanders — even those who are not Red Sox fans — possess an undercurrent of cynical pessimism which can be directly attributable to the tortured history of the Red Sox. You soak it up like a sponge, whether you pay attention to the Red Sox or not.

The cataclysmic sea change in the social psychology of New England will have far-reaching implications beyond the world of sports — it will effect millions of people politically and culturally. Instead of repeating the well-understood lesson of accepting defeat from an almost-win with grace (like Gore in 2000), millions will taste true victory. Heck, we might even become "faith-based Republicans"!!!

So send some good karma up North and to the East.

Need more incentive? A Red Sox win will stop New England intellectuals like me from pontificating out of our butts about the Red Sox. We simply will have nothing to write about anymore.

Thank you.

White House Stops Airing Its Dirty Linens

A little late, in my opinion, but the White House realized it is probably not a good idea to have Bush’s bloopers and flip-flops on the official White House website. So they have been slowly and quietly removing them.

Not to worry. This guy is on top of it. Gone now are Bush’s "I’m not that concerned about Bin Laden" audio and video, as well as audio and video where Bush talks about how dangerous Saddam’s WMD are, and all those Saddam-AQ links.

Now if only the White House could get a hold of them nifty flashy mind-erasing pen-things they had in "Men in Black" . . . .

Fisking Ann

Yes, she’s an easy target, but her Amazon Interview is too priceless to miss. Plus, it’s short. Let’s begin.

Amazon.com: How important is this presidential election in the larger context of the Republic and its history?

Ann Coulter: Insofar as the survival of the Republic is threatened by the election of John Kerry, I’d say 2004 is as big as it gets.

The survival of the Republic? Yes, that DOES sound pretty big and important. But what a weak system of government we must have to begin with if John Kerry’s election can bring it to shreds. Who were the assholes who thought up our pansy-ass Republican structure?

Amazon.com: Is there one standout issue, and why does it make a difference? What are the most crucial issues?

Coulter: I repeat: The survival of the Republic is threatened by the election of John Kerry. I’d say that’s the big one.

I’m detecting a theme here, Ann. Actually, it’a theme they floated around back in — let’s see — 1860, if I’m not mistaken.

Amazon.com: What are the top five books you’d recommend to become an informed voter? And what can your new book contribute?

Coulter: The Bible, High Crimes and Misdemeanors, Slander, Treason, and How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must).

One of these things . . . is not like the others. One of the these things . . . doesn’t belong. Can you tell me which thing . . . is not like the others . . . before I finish my song.

Oh, and Ann? How come you didn’t answer the second question?

Amazon.com: What’s the closest parallel from American history to this year’s race?

Coulter: 1864. Bush is Lincoln and Kerry is General McClellan–who, I note, was a great military leader.

I see. A "great military leader" is a general who repeatedly refuses to take the fight to his enemy, based on false paranoia that the enemy has more strength than it actually does. Thank you, Ann. I didn’t realize you were such a military historian.

Amazon.com: What is the most important lesson from President Bush’s term so far?

Coulter: Peace through strength is an idea that never goes out of style.

Where have we achieved peace through strength in President Bush’s term thus far? Just asking.

Coulter: Also, some people can’t be negotiated with but have to be crushed; e.g., the Taliban, al Qaeda, possibly North Korea and Iran, Pat Leahy, Carl Levin, Richard Ben-Veniste…

Whoa, whoa, whoa!!! I’m getting writer’s cramp here, Ann!

So . . . Richard Ben-Veniste has to be crushed, but only "possibly" North Korea and Iran?? I’m glad to see you have your priorities in order. What happened to peace through strength, by the way?

Amazon.com: What would a Kerry administration mean?

Coulter: Quite possibly the destruction of the Republic.

And we return to the theme which we started, just like they taught us in freshman writing class. Wow.

So to recap: Kerry = "end of the Republic". Ann’s books are kind of like the Bible. McClellan was a great general which explains why there are so many statues of him as opposed to, say, Lee. And saying "go fuck yourself" to Pat Leahy isn’t as effective as crushing him with a huge boulder.

Thank you, Ann. Nice Halloween costume.

Oh.

Sorry.

Bush Supporters Are More Likely To Be . . . er . . . Wrong

It’s true, according to this study. For example . . .

Even after the final report of Charles Duelfer to Congress saying that Iraq did not have a significant WMD program, 72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program.

But how can this be? Could it be because Bush & Co. misled — and still continue to mislead — their supporters?

You betcha. How about how the U.S. is perceived around the world? Do Bush supporters have an accurate sense of the world’s view toward us?

Nope.

Despite an abundance of evidence–including polls conducted by Gallup International in 38 countries, and more recently by a consortium of leading newspapers in 10 major countries–only 31% of Bush supporters recognize that the majority of people in the world oppose the US having gone to war with Iraq. …

Similarly, 57% of Bush supporters assume that the majority of people in the world would favor Bush’s reelection; 33% assumed that views are evenly divided and only 9% assumed that Kerry would be preferred. A recent poll by GlobeScan and PIPA of 35 of the major countries around the world found that in 30, a majority or plurality favored Kerry, while in just 3 Bush was favored. On average, Kerry was preferred more than two to one.

Interesting. But surely if there is ONE thing that Bush supporters get right, it is their own candidates’ positions, yes?

Bush supporters also have numerous misperceptions about Bush’s international policy positions. Majorities incorrectly assume that Bush supports multilateral approaches to various international issues–the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (69%), the treaty banning land mines (72%)–and for addressing the problem of global warming: 51% incorrectly assume he favors US participation in the Kyoto treaty. After he denounced the International Criminal Court in the debates, the perception that he favored it dropped from 66%, but still 53% continue to believe that he favors it. An overwhelming 74% incorrectly assumes that he favors including labor and environmental standards in trade agreements. In all these cases, majorities of Bush supporters favor the positions they impute to Bush. Kerry supporters are much more accurate in their perceptions of his positions on these issues.

So to Bush supporters, I say this: Be sure that Bush really believes what you THINK he believes.

Actually, the same should be stressed for Kerry supporters, too, although this seems to be less of a problem.

God Sent Mixed Messages

We all know He speaks to Bush, and we all know He speaks to Pat Robertson.

So why was He telling Bush one thing about the War in Iraq, and telling Pat Robertson something else:

"I mean, the Lord told me it was going to be A, a disaster, and B, messy," Robertson said. "I warned [President Bush] about casualties."

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

Okay. Thanks for the guidance, God.

But jokes about God aside (hey, I kid God because I love, you know?), I’m really interested in the response from conservative Christian coalitions. Did Bush really say that? Or is Pat Robertson lying? Let’s play it out — publicly. Please?

UPDATE: Apparently, the Kerry campaign is thinking along similar lines as me:

Kerry campaign advisor Mike McCurry responds:

"We believe President Bush should get the benefit of the doubt here but he needs to come forward and answer a very simple question: Is Pat Robertson telling the truth when he said you didn’t think there’d be any casualties or is Pat Robertson lying?"

Arnold, Arnold, Arnold . . .

From Reuters:

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said on Monday that his speech backing President Bush at the Republican Convention in August resulted in a cold shoulder from his wife, Maria Shriver, a member of the famously Democratic Kennedy family.

"Well, there was no sex for 14 days," Schwarzenegger told former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta in an on-stage conversation in front of 1,000 people.

Arnold, let me give you some advice. This doesn’t help you with the Missus. Expect at least another 14 days of banishment (if not more) for discussing the prior banishment.

We’ll Call It “The Freedom Vaccine”

Now we’re told that Chiron (which, by the way, Bush lied about in the last debate) was supposed to supply "46 million to 48 million doses, nearly half of the country’s projected need of 100 million doses" of the flu vaccine, according to CNN.

But should we worry? No, says Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. See, apparently when we have a "projected need" of 100 million doses of vaccine, that does not represent a need. Basically, the vaccine is like something you buy on impulse at the checkout counter — nice to have, but you don’t really need it.

But if you are still concerned, it’s FRANCE to the rescue: "The loss leaves Americans with a supply of about 54 million doses of vaccine made by Aventis Pasteur, based in Strasbourg, France . . ." That’s going to cheese off the French-bashers a bit.

Endorsements

NYT endorses Kerry. Captains Quarters blog endorses Bush. Whew! Because I was on the edge of my seat.

Does anyone know ANYONE who votes based on a newspaper endorsement? I’m seriously asking, because I don’t.

Even when it is a bit of a surprise (like a newspaper which traditionally endorses Republicans now "switching" sides and endorsing Kerry). I mean, it’s interesting, but does it have an impact? No. Should it have an impact? No.

I guess the reason we hear about endorsements so much is because the media (whether it be left, right, or mainstream) is always one thing: obsessed with itself.

So . . . enough already with the endorsements. Please.

And at the risk of sounding Andy Rooneyish . . . why do Republicans poke fun at liberals who like listen to liberal actors/entertainers? At least we KNOW they are actors/entertainers. We don’t, you know, idolize them to the point of electing them like Repubs do!

Do NOT, do NOT, do NOT . . .

Do NOT miss out on this video of Jon Stewart on "Crossfire". It is clear that he appeared on Crossfire to make a serious point about how unhelpful the media is (and particularly, "Crossfire"). He’s right of course — shows like that often shed a lot of heat, and almost no light, on any given subject.

Tucker Carlson lamely tries to catch Stewart by pointing out how easy Stewart was in his interview with Kerry, as if there is (or should be) a comparison between "The Daily Show" and real journalism. Carlson clearly expected Stewart to come on "Crossfire" and be funny (to which Stewart replies that he is not going to be "your little monkey"). Begala is just as much a part of Steward’s criticism, but Carlson bears the brunt of Stewart’s criticism because he clearly can’t stand what Stewart is saying.

Kudos to Stewart, who has turned himself up one notch. He may not be a bona fide journalist, but as a media critic, he’s right on the money.

Swift Boat Liars Hit New Low in Truth-Telling

Oh, I always knew they were bad, but this takes the cake. Apparently, in their quest for the "truth", the Swift Boat vets actually stumbled upon the truth while looking for dirt on Kerry in Vietnam. But since it confirmed that Kerry was right all along, they basically walked away from it. Oh, well.

Read in more detail here. Note that this is a developing story with some speculation, but I think it suggests that the SWBT are bigger a-holes than earlier thought.

The Arab-American Vote

They voted 45.5% for Bush, 38% for Gore, in 2000. They "danced in the streets" here in America when Baghdad fell.

But in the battleground states of Michigan, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, they overwhelmingly back Kerry over Bush, according to the polling firm Zogby International . . . to the tune of 47 percent for Kerry to 31.5 percent for Bush.

Why? Read more. But you know you have to be a pretty bad President when you can’t even get pro-democracy Arab-Americans on your side.

Dirty Tricks

And illegal, too. A GOP registration group called Voters Outreach of America (a.k.a. America Votes) registers voters, but then throws away the Democratic registrations.

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

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

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

(Source)

This happened in Florida, but it may be coming to a town near you.

UPDATE: Like Oregon.

UPDATE: This group is NOT a part of America Votes, as I originally wrote.  America Votes is actually a respectable organization. Voters Outreach has been fraudulently claiming to be a part of America Votes, which is what caused the confusion.

And The Answer Is . . .

During the second debate, Bush kept on asking "Kerry says he is going to involve the international community in securing the peace in Iraq. But what country is going to follow Kerry into Iraq, if Kerry keeps on saying that the situation there is so bad??" . . . or words to that effect.

Good question.

The answer? Well, um, perhaps Germany for a start.

Germany might deploy troops in Iraq if conditions there change, Peter Struck, the German defence minister, indicated on Tuesday in a gesture that appears to provide backing for John Kerry, the US Democratic presidential challenger.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Struck departed from his government’s resolve not to send troops to Iraq under any circumstances, saying: “At present I rule out the deployment of German troops in Iraq. In general, however, there is no one who can predict developments in Iraq in such a way that he could make a such a binding statement [about the future].”

Mr Struck also welcomed Mr Kerry’s proposal that he would convene an international conference on Iraq including countries that opposed the war if he were to win next month’s election.

You see, Mr. President, you fail to understand the dynamics. Other countries won’t follow you. Why? Because they know that if a house is on fire, you don’t follow the guy who lit the match.

Conservatives Honor Christopher Reeve

Below are some of the comments made at the Free Republic regarding the passing of Christopher Reeve. They were rescued by Digby before Free Republic deleted them.

Wonder if Hell is handicapped accessible.

The willingness to sacrifice another life to save his own was not worthy of the Man of Steel.

I’m sorry, but I have no compassion for this man. He suffered a terrible injury through his own fault and, instead of accepting it, he lashes out in anger against Bush.

Reeve? Is this the guy who, his picture-perfect Hollywood life having been tragically altered by an accident, spent the remainder of his life advocating the killing of unborn children so that he might walk again?

Reeve seemed like a nice chap until he got involved with the pro-death wing of the democrat party. We can’t always get what we want, but we often get what we deserve.

The fact is, Mr. Reeve spent his last days using his fame and access to champion the murder of unborn children. The fact is, Mr. Reeve took very clear and very selfish political stands and used his medical condition to gin up sympathy for murder.

My point is that some people spend their entire lives breaking down traditional morality and then when they die they are eulogized as if they did as much for the world as Mother Theresa.

Sure hope he was a saved man. Otherwise right now he is roasting in hell. C

ontrary to mythology, he sunk into bitter, violent anger, pouring every ounce of derision he possibly could on Christianity and America. And then he simply died.

You can bet Kerry will again mention Reeve at the 3rd debate. It is this crude, blatant exploitation of the disabled and afflicted, which make the Dems so despicable. They provide false hope in order to win debating points and votes. The implication will be that GWB caused the death of Reeve.

You could make an argument that the first implemention of "Political Correctness" was the custom of speaking better about someone after their death than while they were living. But I won’t try to make that argument here. I will say this: if it were demonstrated that Reeve, knowing the seriousness of his condition, actually made an explicit request that his possible death be used to help the Kerry campaign, all subsequent scorn would be deserved.

You think you’re cynical? I am wondering if Clark Kent would possibly pull the plug on himself in a desperate attempt to "matyrize" the stem-cell issue and help Kerry?

Reeves spent his last few years advocating the destruction of human life in order to find a cure for what ailed HIM. It may have seemed selfless to some, but in reality and objectively, it was selfish. He was looking for a cure and if it meant the destruction of unborn children to acheive that end, then too bad for them. He was not willing to let a fetus stand between him and his goalpost.

The Opposition Is Idiotic

I thought the "global test" flap was retarded, but the RNC is topping themselves yet again. Kerry said:

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

”As a former law enforcement person, I know we’re never going to end prostitution. We’re never going to end illegal gambling. But we’re going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn’t on the rise. It isn’t threatening people’s lives every day, and fundamentally, it’s something that you continue to fight, but it’s not threatening the fabric of your life.”

What does the RNC glean from that?  They say taht Kerry said:

"The war on terrorism is like a nuisance."

Guys, just because your candidate’s reading comprehension stops at My Pet Goat doesn’t mean yours has to as well. – Oliver Willis

Re-election More Important Than Military Victory

President Bush likes to accuse John Kerry of harming the morale of our troops in Iraq by criticizing the war. Of course, if you were serving in Iraq your morale would probably be affected much more by things like roadside bombs and suicide attacks, but let’s imagine you got a hold of today’s Los Angeles Times and read this:

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration plans to delay major assaults on rebel-held cities in Iraq until after U.S. elections in November, say administration officials, mindful that large-scale military offensives could affect the U.S. presidential race.

***

"When this election’s over, you’ll see us move very vigorously," said one senior administration official involved in strategic planning, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Once you’re past the election, it changes the political ramifications" of a large-scale offensive, the official said. "We’re not on hold right now. We’re just not as aggressive."

This isn’t to say that initiating the assaults right now is necessarily the best military strategy. But making military decisions based on what will be most advantageous to one party’s electoral fortunes is nothing short of a betrayal of every man and woman who wears the uniform. Soldiers who would otherwise have lived will die because of it.

Truly despicable.

— from The Gadflyer

Fun with Flashbacks

The Washington Post, April 19, 2001:

An influential energy task force headed by Vice President Cheney has broached the possibility of lifting some economic sanctions against Iran, Libya and Iraq as part of a plan to increase America’s oil supply. According to a draft of the task force report, the United States should review the sanctions against the three countries because of the importance of their oil production to meeting domestic and global energy needs.

The April 10 draft acknowledges that sanctions can "advance" important national security and diplomatic goals. But it adds that United Nations sanctions on Iraq and U.S. restrictions on energy investments in Libya and Iran "affect some of the most important existing and prospective petroleum producing countries in the world."

Book Recommendation

Conservatives and libertarians, you can skip this post.

The rest of you: If you are at all like me, one of the questions that may plague you is WHY (why oh why oh why) does so much of "middle America" vote Republican when doing so is clearly against their economic interest. To that end, permit me to recommend Thomas Frank’s What’s The Matter With Kansas?. I just finished reading it, and it is very readable and humorous and informative. Not much in it by way of solutions, but as soon as we recognize the problem, then we can build a bridge to the solution.

Kerry’s Speech of October 9, 2001

I thought I would share with my friends on the right (and those on the left, if they aren’t aware of this), what Kerry said when he voted "for the war". Remember this is what Kerry said on the floor of the Senate on why he was giving a "yay" vote. The full text of the speech is here.

The first thing to understand is that it was not REALLY a vote "for the war". Nor did Kerry consider it one at the time. It was a vote to give the President authorization for the war. And Kerry makes it clear that his vote is based on certain representations that Bush made about what Bush would do — representations that turned out to be lies.

We join Kerry in mid-speech:

As the President made clear earlier this week, "Approving this resolution does not mean that military action is imminent or unavoidable." It means "America speaks with one voice."

Let me be clear, the vote I will give to the President is for one reason and one reason only: To disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, if we cannot accomplish that objective through new, tough weapons inspections in joint concert with our allies.

Catch the IF clause? Kerry is expecting, based on what the President said, that we give "new, tough" inspections a chance.

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

Sadly, Kerry was not the first to speak out. Or, if he was, he was drowned out by the masses in the street.

If we do wind up going to war with Iraq, it is imperative that we do so with others in the international community, unless there is a showing of a grave, imminent–and I emphasize "imminent"–threat to this country which requires the President to respond in a way that protects our immediate national security needs.

This makes it clear that Kerry’s position (contrary to what Bush is now saying) was that there must be an IMMINENT THREAT to this country. (Later, Bush and his supporters would go to great lengths to argue that Bush’s position was that Saddam’s threat did NOT have to be imminent. So here, we have a clear case where Kerry’s views on what should prompt war — specifically, the nature of the threat — and Bush’s views on the nature of the threat, were sharply different).

Prime Minister Tony Blair has recognized a similar need to distinguish how we approach this. He has said that he believes we should move in concert with allies, and he has promised his own party that he will not do so otherwise. The administration may not be in the habit of building coalitions, but that is what they need to do. And it is what can be done. If we go it alone without reason, we risk inflaming an entire region, breeding a new generation of terrorists, a new cadre of anti-American zealots, and we will be less secure, not more secure, at the end of the day, even with Saddam Hussein disarmed.

Wow. Just like he is saying now — we are less secure because we’ve created a new generation of terrorists.

Let there be no doubt or confusion about where we stand on this. I will support a multilateral effort to disarm him by force, if we ever exhaust those other options, as the President has promised, but I will not support a unilateral U.S. war against Iraq unless that threat is imminent and the multilateral effort has not proven possible under any circumstances.

Got it, John. By the way, readers, "as the President promised" is the key line. Bush got the votes he needed for authorization for the war by making false promises of exhausting other options. You will recall that when he started the war, the inspectors were BACK in Iraq, inspecting things, and progress was being made. But Bush and his supporters just assumed that the inspections would fail.

In voting to grant the President the authority, I am not giving him carte blanche to run roughshod over every country that poses or may pose some kind of potential threat to the United States.

Here, Kerry is distinguishing between vague general "some kind of potential" threats vs. actual imminent threats, as well as making clear that this is an Iraq-only thing. Doesn’t sound like he trusted Bush too much, huh? In retrospect, he had good reason not to!

Every nation has the right to act preemptively, if it faces an imminent and grave threat, for its self-defense under the standards of law. The threat we face today with Iraq does not meet that test yet. I emphasize "yet."

There’s that word "test" again. But notice it is not something subject to allies approval. He could have used those words in any one of the debates. Flip-flop, my ass.

Yes, it is grave because of the deadliness of Saddam Hussein’s arsenal and the very high probability that he might use these weapons one day if not disarmed. But it is not imminent, and no one in the CIA, no intelligence briefing we have had suggests it is imminent. None of our intelligence reports suggest that he is about to launch an attack.

Grave threat because he will probably use weapons if he develops then and if he is not disarmed. Why is that so hard for some people to understand? That’s plain English to me.

Pop Quiz

When did the United States announce that it had developed a formal strategy to get control of Iraq in time for Iraq’s January elections?

  1. Before April 1, 2004
  2. Sometime in spring 2004 (April – June)
  3. Sometime in summer 2004 (July – August)
  4. On or after September 1, 2004

Answer below the fold . . .

Cheney Implicates Himself

Well, it’s bound to happen when the wheels of the spin machine fall off.

Speaking of the Duelfer Report, Cheney says:

"As soon as the sanctions were lifted, he [Saddam] had every intention of going back. . . . [T]he sanctions regime was coming apart at the seams. Saddam perverted that whole thing and generated billions of dollars."

(Emphasis mine) Saddam sure did pervert the whole thing. But from whom did he generate "billions of dollars"? Well, France, Russia, etc. to be sure, but it is a little more complicated than that. It was French companies as well. Well, sort of. Enter my time machine to a November 2000 article:

Millions of dollars of US oil business with Iraq are being channelled discreetly through European and other companies, in a practice that has highlighted the double standards now dominating relations between Baghdad and Washington after a decade of crippling sanctions.

Though legal, leading US oil service companies such as Halliburton, Baker Hughes, Schlumberger, Flowserve, Fisher-Rosemount and others, have used subsidiaries and joint venture companies for this lucrative business, so as to avoid straining relations with Washington and jeopardising their ties with President Saddam Hussein’s government in Baghdad.

***

Halliburton, the largest US oil services company, is among a significant number of US companies that have sold oil industry equipment to Iraq since the UN relaxed sanctions two years ago.

From 1995 until August this year Halliburton’s chief executive officer was Dick Cheney, US secretary of defense during the Gulf war and now Republican vice-presidential running mate of George W.Bush.

From September 1998 until it sold its stake last February, Halliburton owned 51 per cent of Dresser-Rand. It also owned 49 per cent of Ingersoll-Dresser Pump, until its sale in December 1999. During the time of the joint ventures, Dresser-Rand and Ingersoll-Dresser Pump submitted more than $23.8m worth of contracts for the sale of oil industry parts and equipment to Iraq. Their combined total amounted to more than any other US company; the vast majority was approved by the sanctions committee.

Source

Why Dick?!? Did you know what your company was doing? I’m sure if you knew that Halliburton’s efforts were perverting the sanction scheme (even if it was done legally — technically), you would have put an end to it, right? Right? Uh, Dick?

Cheney argued then that sanctions did not work and punished American companies. The former defense secretary complained in a 1998 speech that U.S. companies were "cut out of the action" in Iran because of the sanctions.

Source

And like Iran, so Iraq.

So to recap: As Halliburton chairman, Cheney complained that sanctions (with Iran, but the principle is the same) hurt American companies, so he was more than happy to do legal end-runs around them with Iraq, until he became VP. Then, when all the reasons for invading Iraq blew away like leaves in the wind, Cheney now argues that Saddam was a bad guy because he perverted the sanctions — sanctions of the sort that Cheney himself once complained about. And then Halliburton assisted Saddam in perverting them.

Wow, is Cheney stupid.

The Story That Won’t Die

Bush’s mystery bulge at the first debate intrigued me about as much as Kerry’s "cheat sheets" — that is, not very much. But unlike Kerry’s "cheat sheets" — which turned out to be a pen — the Bush bulge story hasn’t ebbed. It has even inspired websites like www.isbushwired.com.

The theory that Bush was wired was enhanced by the fact that Bush would say "Let me finish" to Lehrer when (a) Bush had the "green light" indicating he had time to respond and (b) nobody was interrupting him (well, nobody that we would SEE).

And now Salon is on it.

Yes, it is silly. More importantly, if Bush was wired, it didn’t help him. In fact, it probably hurt. It’s tough trying to talk when someone is speaking in your ear.

But the question remains: What is that bulge in his back?

And you may scoff, but I bet every one of you will be looking at Bush’s back tonight.

UPDATE: Well, here’s one plausible explanation.

Qui Est Le Menteur?

So the French didn’t want to help the United States invasion of Iraq?

Not according to this story which I almost missed:

French officials were prepared to provide as many as 15,000 troops for an invasion of Iraq before relations soured between the Bush administration and the French government over the timing of an attack, according to a new book published in France this week.

***

French military officials were especially interested in joining in an attack, because they felt that not participating with the United States in a major war would leave French forces unprepared for future conflicts, according to Thomas Cantaloube, one of the authors. But the negotiations did not progress far before French President Jacques Chirac decided that the Americans were pushing too fast to short-circuit inspections by U.N. weapons inspectors.

Oh What A Week It Was

Kevin Drum has put together a wonderful chronology of the past week, and how it has combined into a sort of "perfect storm" leading to a Bush downfall. Some of it is simply unfortunate timing — unwelcome news coming at a bad time — and there wasn’t much Bush could have done about it. Some of it was because of Kerry, and some of it was self-inflicted by his own administration.

Tomorrow is the most important day of Bush’s political career. He doesn’t have to win the debate, but he has do enough to stop Kerry’s mo(mentum). Otherwise, it’s over. I think Bush can do it, but WILL he?

Thursday: George Bush gets his butt kicked by John Kerry in the first presidential debate.

Saturday: Partly due to Bush’s dismal debate performance, polls indicate that Kerry is catching up. Bush’s lead appears to have been reduced to 2-3 points.

Monday: Donald Rumsfeld admits that Saddam Hussein didn’t have any substantial ties to al-Qaeda. "To my knowledge, I have not seen any strong, hard evidence that links the two." After his statement is reported, he tries unsuccessfully to claim that he was "misunderstood."

Later Monday: The CIA agrees with Rumsfeld. The linchpin of the administration’s case for collaboration between Saddam and al-Qaeda has been Saddam’s alleged "harboring" of terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, but a CIA report concludes that it probably didn’t happen. "The evidence is that Saddam never gave Zarqawi anything," said an official who read the report.

Tuesday: Paul Bremer admits that the administration made a big mistake by not having enough troops in Iraq. "The single most important change — the one thing that would have improved the situation — would have been having more troops in Iraq at the beginning and throughout" the occupation. When his statement becomes public, Bremer complains that his remarks were "off the record." For its part, the Bush administration tries to claim that Bremer was lying, but is forced to backtrack almost immediately when it becomes apparent that Bremer did ask for more troops as far back as July 2003.

Later Tuesday: Dick Cheney initially appears to fight John Edwards to a near draw in the vice presidential debate, but before long attention shifts to Cheney’s numerous and obvious lies during the debate. This is likely to be the consensus post-debate talking point.

Wednesday: Weapons inspector Charles Duelfer releases his final report. He says that Saddam Hussein destroyed all his WMD after 1991, had no WMD programs in place after that, and that his capacity to build WMD was actually deteriorating after 1998, not increasing.

Thursday: Polls show that Bush has lost nearly his entire lead. The race is now a dead heat. AP/Ipsos actually shows Kerry ahead. [And the Green Zone in Baghdad is starting to show signs of insecurity]

Beyond Outrageous!

WASHINGTON – President Bush and his vice president conceded Thursday in the clearest terms yet that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, even as they tried to shift the Iraq war debate to a new issue — whether the invasion was justified because Saddam was abusing a U.N. oil-for-food program.

Are you shitting me?!? Are you fucking pulling my leg?!?

I mean, good for finally admitting no WMD, but – – – ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?

The abuse of the oil-for-food program is reprehensible. And every country, company, diplomat, or individual knowingly involved in it should be charged with a crime and punished accordingly (even the ones here in the United States who the Duelfer Report couldn’t mention by name).

But if we could get in the time machine and do it again — knowing what we know now — would we put so many men and women’s lives on the line simply because Saddam (and others) were committing a CRIME rather than a POSING a THREAT?!?

Maybe I just read this wrong, and I am overreacting, but . . . . ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!?!?

Ridiculing the Bush administration’s evolving rationale for war, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (news – web sites) shot back: "You don’t make up or find reasons to go to war after the fact"

No kidding, John.

Anyone recall Tommy Flanagen — the Jon Lovitz SNL character? Better known as the Liar? "Yeah — Actually we invaded Iraq because . . . we . . . because of the oil-for-food program. Yeah. That’s the ticket."

War Crimes

Who are were these people, and why were the bombed? It doesn’t look like anyone tried to find out beforehand. Disturbing video here.

UPDATE: According to this, the Pentagon is investigating.

I guess that’s what happens when our soldiers don’t over-think it.

New Kerry Ad

Sometimes the simplest ads, with the least gimmicks, are the best. A familiar somewhat strained human face talking about a real problem — nothing more, nothing less. Keep up the fight, Michael.

See the ad here.

Good Timing

Last August, there was a little exchange with the President that went like this:

Q Mr. President, a year ago in Evian, there was an expectation that in the ensuing months, weapons such as chemical or biological weapons, would be found in Iraq. I wonder if you can share with the American people your conclusions, based on what you’ve learned over the past 15 months, sir, as to whether those weapons were — existed and they were hidden, were they destroyed, were they somehow spirited out of the country, or perhaps they weren’t there before the war, and whether you had a chance to share this with your G8 partners.

THE PRESIDENT: Right, no — Bob, it’s a good question. I don’t know — I haven’t reached a final conclusion yet because the inspectors — inspection teams aren’t back yet. I do know that Saddam Hussein had the capacity to make weapons. I do know he’s a dangerous person. I know he used weapons against his own people and against the neighborhood. But we’ll wait until Charlie gets back with the final report, and then I’ll be glad to report.

"Charlie" refers to "Charles Duelfer" and as we all know, the Duelfer Report came back Wednesday saying no WMDs.

Seeing as how President Bush said he would be "glad" to report to us on it, and seeing as how there is a big debate tomorrow, maybe he can say a few words about it then??? What do you say, Mr. Prez??

Heh.

Dick Morris Gives Crummy Debating Advice To Bush

. . . or good advice, depending on whether or not your want Bush to lose. Check this op-ed out.

UPDATE: Jesse at Pandagon got the same idea as I did a couple of hours later. Read it.

Here are some of Morris’ tips to Bush:

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

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

Kerry should respond: "It’s not one aspect, Mr. President. We can also talk about our borders themselves, which allow people to come in. We can also talk about our failure to secure nuclear and chemical facilities as targets. And many other things. And frankly, Mr. President, I don’t give you a pat on the back because you’ve only inspected 5% of containers coming into this country and there hasn’t been a terrorist attack here in 3 years. Because al Qaeda is known to be patient. Weapons and other terrorist materials snuck in last year might not be used until 3 years from now. Or hadn’t you considered that? Finally, I want to note that after the first WTC bombing, we were on notice that we were a target of terrorists. Clinton, working with our allies, managed for 7 years to keep the American homeland free from a terrorist attack. You ignored memos, and we got attacked. No pat on the back for you."

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

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

Kerry should respond: "In the days following the attack on 9/11, President Bush — to his credit — stood up and told the American people that the war against terror would be different than all other wars previously fought. And he was right. But what does he do when his failed plan to attack terrorism is exposed? He makes false analogies to 20th century wars, where the enemy was nation states, rather than the borderless cells that we faced today. Besides, President Bush’s response rests in a fctional world of alternate history — he relies on what Roosevelt would have done if Hitler hadn’t declared war on us. Well, Mr. President, we need someone who recognizes reality — present reality — and not historical what-if’s — if we are going to win the fight against a 21st century enemy. It’s time to come into the 21st century. We’re not living in a pre-9/11 world anymore, and certain not six decades pre-9/11."

When Kerry calls the war in Iraq a mistake and a diversion from the War on Terror . . .

. . . Bush should hit him between the eyes: "Al Qeada operatives are congregating in Iraq. We can kill them there before they can spread mayhem around the world. If we can hunt down those who would attack us in the caves of Pakistan and of Afghanistan and the streets of Fallujah and Baghdad, how is that a diversion from the War on Terror? It’s not. It is fundamental to success in that war."

Kerry should respond: "The attacks in Spain and, some would say, in Chechnya, show you to be a liar, or simply mislead, Mr. President. Studies show that terrorism has INCREASED throughout the word in 2003 — and that’s excluding what is happening in Iraq. Furthermore, almost every anti-terrorism expert outside your administration agree that our actions in Iraq have fomented anti-U.S. sentiment throughout the Middle East and elsewhere throughout the world. As a result, we are creating to breeds and regimes of anti-U.S. terrorists. It does no good to kill one terrorist and create five. In fact, it is counterproductive to the War on Terror, and — like your fiscal policy — future generations will pay."

And when Kerry accuses Bush of neglecting our allies . . .

. . . The president must set the record straight: "We have the single most important ally in the fight against terror: Pakistan is helping us hunt down terrorists who have escaped from Afghanistan. As to France, Germany and Russia, the evidence of the Oil-for-Food scandal suggests that no amount of diplomacy would have induced them to abandon a regime that was paying them vast sums of money to stay loyal."

Kerry should respond: "Any president who thinks we can win a GLOBAL war on terrorism with the help of Pakistan is dangerously naive to a fault about the potential reach and location of our enemy. Furthermore, we should remember that our allies in Europe and NATO were co-partners in the Cold War and the World Wars that preceded. There’s strength in numbers, and we need them for this new type of war as well as Pakistan. And remember, it was the internaitional community of nations that prevented Saddam from acquiring WMD in the 1990’s, including the very countries that this administration shows such contempt for. Remember the headline from "Le Monde" on 9/12/01? It said ‘We Are All Americans Today’. I ask you — how bad a President do you have to be able to take that sentiment and cause it to degenerate to the extent it has? Here’s a hint, Mr. President: The success of your worth as a world leader can be determined by looking behind you at how much of the world is actually willing to be lead by you. I dare say that on 9/12/01, it was virtually every free country in the world. And you blew it, sir."

If Kerry says we let bin Ladin escape . . .

. . . Bush has to say: "It’s easy to second-guess a specific military decision, but I leave those questions to the generals who are trained to make them. We may not have bin Laden, but he is running from cave to cave to cave and hasn’t been able to strike at us. And we do have Saddam. And we did get Khadafy to flip and support us. And we have the terrorists on the run."

Kerry should respond: "I am appalled that the commander-in-chief would blame the decision to abandon bin Laden on this country’s generals. That, to me, is the height of cowardice and disrespect. EVeryone knows that such a major and massive relocation of military resources and efforts would and should be made only by you, Mr. President. Furthermore, a moment ago you were invoking Roosevelt’s decision to fight Hitler in the wake of Pearl Harbor. Roosevelt ultimately made that decision, not his generals. Mr. President, please, accept responsibility for your own decisions. Isn’t that the first thing they teach you in 12-step programs?"

When Kerry criticizes any aspect of the war effort, like the shortage of body armor . . .

. . . The president should really let him have it. "It was not me, but you who voted against adequate intelligence funding, to abolish the CIA, to cut defense budgets and, ultimately, against the $87 billion for our efforts in Iraq. Those were your votes, not mine."

Kerry should respond: "Bush is again being deceptive here. When he says that I voted against adequate intelligence funding, he is talking about my vote in 1995. It was a bit of a scandal at the time, but what happened was that the intelligency agencies — one in particular, really — had secretly hoarded $1.5 billion in funds earmarked for, among other things, a satellite that they never built or launched or intended to build or launch. The agency had kept this money hidden from the Pentagon and the White House others in the intelligence community. I sought to get it back, slowly, incrementally, over the next five years, and was joined by many on both sides of the aisle who were upset at the misappropriation."

"President Bush is flat out lying when he says I want to abolish the CIA. The only talk about that came from Republican senators about a month ago, in response to the 9/11 Commission report. But the President has so many detractors — even within his own party — that I can see why he might be confused."

"As for my vote against the $87 billion, that was not because, as Bush misleadingly suggests, because I didn’t want to support the troops. It was because I thought we should be able to support the troops AND be fiscally responsible while doing it. President Bush thinks a president should have carte blanche; I do not. In fact, the way he has handled Iraq only proves precisely WHY one man should not be invested with such power. The President thinks that the patriotic thing for me to have done would be to send young men and women into harm’s way without reservation. Me? I think we should always have reservations — about the wisdom of what we are doing, about the consequences of what we are doing, and about the costs of what we are doing. That’s what comes from war experience. It’s not just about winning, but WHAT we are winning, and HOW we are winning."

Business School Professors Write To Bush

. . . and it isn’t very flattering.

Bush’s saving grace? He probably doesn’t understand most of it (there aren’t, as far as we know, any pictures).

Dear Mr. President:

As professors of economics and business, we are concerned that U.S. economic policy has taken a dangerous turn under your stewardship. Nearly every major economic indicator has deteriorated since you took office in January 2001.

It gets worse from there.

The letter is signed by literally 165 business school professors, including over 50 from Harvard (Bush’s alma mater).

Read it.

Here We Go Again

No joke. Take a close look at the Michigan ballot.

See any problem with the presidential portion?

Update:  Okay.  They’re going to fix it, I read.

When Bullshit Ruled The Earth . . .

With so many lies and distortions being tossed out by the Bush-Cheney team, I’m sure it is confusing.

That’s why this is bound to happen now and then:

President Bush in Wilkes-Barre, PA, this morning:

"My opponent says he has a plan for Iraq. Parts of it should sound familiar — it’s already known as the Bush plan"

President Bush in Wilkes-Barre, PA, this morning, a minute or so later:

"In Iraq, Senator Kerry has a strategy of retreat; I have a strategy for victory."

Um . . . . okay.

VP Debate Bloopers & Thoughts

It probably wasn’t a good idea for Cheney to recommend that debate watchers go to factcheck.com. Cheney meant to say factcheck.org, a rather decent non-partisan site which — by the way — you SHOULD be checking out regularly. But factcheck.com, on the other hand, points the web user to George Soros’ site. Ooops.

It gets even worse though, because if you actually go to the site that Cheney was recommending — Factcheck.org — it starts out its VP debate coverage with "Cheney wrongly implied that FactCheck had defended his tenure as CEO of Halliburton Co., and the vice president even got our name wrong." (emphasis mine) *Gulp*

Note to Cheney: In the future, make sure the websites that supposedly back you up actually back you up.

I was originally planning to say that the debate was a toss-up, based largely on the last 20 minutes that I caught, plus the after-debate commentary. I mean — Cheney distorted a lot, but Edwards never really called him on it — so that’s a tie in my book.

But then I saw this poll at WorldNetDaily and it convinced me that Edwards must have won by a decision, or a TKO, or by a KO. After all, 55% of WorldNetDaily readers can’t be wrong, right?

Heh.

And Ezra at Pandagon has this very astute observation:

The moderator, by the way, was awful. Not partisan, just bad. She seemed inexperienced, intrusive, and too interested in gotcha’s. Her question on the contradiction between Kerry’s personal position on gay marriage and what the MA Court decided ("is John Kerry trying to have it both ways?") is like accusing me of having it both ways because even though I support clean air, Los Angeles has a pollution problem.

Yup.

Sanctions Worked and Iraq Was Not A Gathering Threat

So says the United States government investigation.

An extensive U.S. investigation has found that Iraq destroyed virtually all its chemical and biological munitions in 1991, a dozen years before President Bush ordered U.S. troops to invade based largely on the alleged threat posed by those weapons.

The report will be presented Wednesday to a Senate committee by chief U.S. arms inspector Charles Duelfer. It says Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein believed in the deterrent power conferred by weapons of mass destruction but ordered them destroyed in an effort to end sanctions imposed on his country after the Persian Gulf War in 1991. The key findings of the report were described Tuesday by a high-level administration official who has been briefed on its contents.

Source

The story adds:

[B]y dating the destruction of Iraqi weapons to 1991, the Duelfer report raises new questions about how U.S. intelligence agencies and the Bush administration were so far off the mark in their assessment of the Iraqi threat.

"So far off the mark", 1050+ American dead (and rising) — that’s the Bush legacy.

Watch, however, how Bush & Co. will STILL try to tell the American people that Saddam posed a "gathering" threat.

Republican Shame Watch

MSNBC is reporting:

LANSING, Mich. – Republicans say filmmaker Michael Moore should be prosecuted for offering underwear, potato chips and Ramen noodles to college students in exchange for their promise to vote.

The Michigan Republican Party has asked four county prosecutors to file charges against Moore, charging that his get-out-the-vote stunt amounts to bribery.

Now, I haven’t researched this, but I am pretty confident that there is no law against offering "bribes" in order to get someone TO vote. It might be a different matter if Moore was offering bribes in exchange for a promise to vote for a particular person, but that’s not what is going on here, according to the article.

I mean, if what Moore is doing is illegal, then arguably every polling place which offers an "I voted" button to people who voted is violating this same supposed "bribery" law.

The point here is that Republicans know better, and this is simply a matter of trying to keep people from voting. Shame on them. Both parties should be encouraging GOTV efforts. What does that say about those Republicans who claim to want to spread democracy around the world ("Look how many people registered in Afghanistan"), but SUE people who are trying to spread democracy here?

Soldier’s Letters to Moore

As you may know, Michael Moore is coming out with a book of letters and emails that were sent to him from soldiers fighting in Iraq.

The Guardian has an exclusive excerpt for those of who give a rat’s ass.