Election 2004

NH Phone-Jamming Scandal: What’s It About?

On the surface, the NH 2002 election phone-jamming scandal (background here) is, as emptywheel suggests, nothing more than a "third-rate crank phone call".

So why is the GOP spending so much money trying to defend what should be viewed as the acts of a few GOP rogues?  Is it because it wasn’t the act of a few rogues, and the trail goes all the way to the White House?  Is is because the NH Dems are sniffing someplace that makes the GOP uncomfortable?

I think so, and so do many others.

Election 2004 Fraud – RFK Jr’s Article

RFK Jr’s Rolling Stone article is out now — all about the shenanigans of the Presidential Elections in 2004 in the State of Ohio.

It’s a lengthy and heavily sourced article, and one that — hopefully — will get some notice outside the blogosphere.  Want an idea of the kinds of things that went on?  Here’s some frightening excerpts (sources omitted and replaced with numbers):

According to the Conyers report, a team of twenty-five GOP volunteers calling themselves the Mighty Texas Strike Force holed up at the Holiday Inn in Columbus a day before the election, around the corner from the headquarters of the Ohio Republican Party — which paid for their hotel rooms. The men were overheard by a hotel worker ”using pay phones to make intimidating calls to likely voters” and threatening former convicts with jail time if they tried to cast ballots.(84)

***

In heavily Democratic areas around Youngstown, where nearly 100 voters reported entering ”Kerry” on the touch screen and watching ”Bush” light up, at least twenty machines had to be recalibrated in the middle of the voting process for chronically flipping Kerry votes to Bush.(165)

***

In addition to spoiling ballots, the punch-card machines also created bizarre miscounts known as ”ballot crawl.” In Cleveland Precinct 4F, a heavily African-American precinct, Constitution Party candidate Michael Peroutka was credited with an impressive forty-one percent of the vote. In Precinct 4N, where Al Gore won ninety-eight percent of the vote in 2000, Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik was credited with thirty-three percent of the vote. Badnarik and Peroutka also picked up a sizable portion of the vote in precincts across Cleveland — 11M, 3B, 8G, 8I, 3I.(178) ”It appears that hundreds, if not thousands, of votes intended to be cast for Senator Kerry were recorded as being for a third-party candidate,” the Conyers report concludes.(179)

***

How might this fraud have been carried out? One way to steal votes is to tamper with individual ballots — and there is evidence that Republicans did just that. In Clermont County, where optical scanners were used to tabulate votes, sworn affidavits by election observers given to the House Judiciary Committee describe ballots on which marks for Kerry were covered up with white stickers, while marks for Bush were filled in to replace them.

***

In Miami County, after 100 percent of precincts had already reported their official results, an additional 18,615 votes were inexplicably added to the final tally. The last-minute alteration awarded 12,000 of the votes to Bush, boosting his margin of victory in the county by nearly 6,000.

***

The most transparently crooked incident took place in Warren County. In the leadup to the election, Blackwell [Ken Blackwell — the man in charge of the counting Ohio ballots, who was also the co-chair of President Bush’s re-election committee] had illegally sought to keep reporters and election observers at least 100 feet away from the polls. (190) The Sixth Circuit, ruling that the decree represented an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment, noted ominously that ”democracies die behind closed doors.” But the decision didn’t stop officials in Warren County from devising a way to count the vote in secret. Immediately after the polls closed on Election Day, GOP officials — citing the FBI — declared that the county was facing a terrorist threat that ranked ten on a scale of one to ten. The county administration building was hastily locked down, allowing election officials to tabulate the results without any reporters present.

In fact, there was no terrorist threat. The FBI declared that it had issued no such warning, and an investigation by The Cincinnati Enquirer unearthed e-mails showing that the Republican plan to declare a terrorist alert had been in the works for eight days prior to the election. Officials had even refined the plot down to the language they used on signs notifying the public of a lockdown. (When ROLLING STONE requested copies of the same e-mails from the county, officials responded that the documents have been destroyed.) (191)

***

In Hocking County, deputy elections director Sherole Eaton caught an employee of Triad — which provided the software used to count punch-card ballots in nearly half of Ohio’s counties (197) — making unauthorized modifications to the tabulating computer before the recount. Eaton told the Conyers committee that the same employee also provided county officials with a ”cheat sheet” so that ”the count would come out perfect and we wouldn’t have to do a full hand-recount of the county.” (198) After Eaton blew the whistle on the illegal tampering, she was fired.

RFK Jr. has tons more — everything from phony voting registration, to turning away voters, and many odd discrepencies and anamolies in the ballot counting.

I’ve never paid much attention to the whole Election 2004 allegations of fraud, but this is a real eye-opener.

RFK Jr: “Election 2004 Was Stolen”

In other times, this allegation would be a MAJOR story, especially since it comes from Bobby Kennedy, Jr.  But with daily scandals piling up on each other, and scandal fatigue setting in with the general public (myself included), this story will probably just waft around for a few days and disappear.  Too bad.

Actually, it’s not a story yet.  But BradBlog has the exclusive:

A damning and detailed feature article, written by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., for Rolling Stone and documenting evidence of the theft of the 2004 Presidential Election is set to hit newstands this Friday, The BRAD BLOG can now confirm. The online version of the article will be posted tomorrow (Thursday) morning.

The article — headlined on the cover as "Did Bush Steal the 2004 Election?: How 350,000 Votes Disappeared in Ohio" — has been several months in development and will contend that a concerted effort was undertaken by high-level Republican officials to steal the Election in Ohio — and thus the country — in 2004!

Kennedy told The BRAD BLOG this morning that "the best evidence says the Republicans succeeded" in their plan.

He writes in the 10-page long article, and confirmed to us today, that evidence shows Ohio Sec. of State J. Kenneth Blackwell was "certainly in on" the scheme, and there are indications that the effort went all the way up to the White House.

National Security v. Politics

The story will be big tomorrow, but you read about it here first.

ABC News Nightline tonight will talk with Clark Kent Ervin, the former Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security.  Ervin will talk about how, just before the Presidential elections in 2004, he was confronted by Tom Ridge and intimidated into toning down his criticisms of the Department (in order to save embarrassment to Bush).

Not much documentation on this story yet, except this ABC news release.

Nothing There

For months, wingers have whined about Kerry’s military records, trying to foment grass roots pressure on forcing Kerry to release those records.  Examples here and here.  The right wing blogosphere has “questions” about Kerry’s discharge, although they have nothing to base these “questions” on (in short, it’s a fishing expedition).

Well, Kerry finally signed the Form 180 allowing for the release of his records, and the winger blogosphere breathlessly waited to have an orgasm over what would be revealed. 

And what did the military documents reveal?  Nothing

And now the right wing blogosphere is trying to distract everyone from the obvious egg on their collective faces.  For example, this.  Noting that the released documents actually contain “commendations from some of the same veterans who were criticizing him”, one blogger writes:

This raises the excellent question of why Kerry would be so stubborn and obstinate regarding the signing of Form SF-180. Why didn’t he release the records during Campaign 2004, when it might have made a difference?

Ummmm . . . because the only people who believed the Swift Boaters were people who weren’t going to vote for Kerry anyway? 

Or maybe Kerry just wanted to make you all look like conspiracy-theory morons.  He certainly succeeded.

Something You Didn’t Think Of . . .

. . . but you should consider:

Over 55 million Americans voted for the candidate dubbed "The #1 Liberal in the Senate."

In other words, more Americans voted for the "Massachusetts liberal" than they did for either Reagan, Bush I, Clinton or Gore.

Conclusion: apparently "liberal" isn’t the dirty word is used to be.

Harper’s, Don’t Tempt Me . . .

The joke among myself and other recent election loss sufferers is "Let’s move to another country." Of course, we’re not and we wouldn’t. We’re staying and fighting for the soul of the country we love.

But I thought this article was interesting:

So the wrong candidate has won, and you want to leave the country. Let us consider your options.

Read it all.

My only question: if I renounce my citizenship and move to St. Kitts, do I become a St. Kitten?

Where Do We Go From Here?

First Draft of the Next Four Years for Lefties

Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – Phew! Now what?

Let’s look at why we lost. Can’t put blame on the Supreme Court (this year). Can’t put any blame on Nader (this year) either. Can’t really blame the media either. Can’t really blame our candidate either (does anyone out there think one of the others could have done better?) Can’t blame the 527’s — I think the Swiftees hurt, but we gave as good as we got. Can’t blame an October surprise, or even Rove’s supposed genius. VP choice? Not likely. And take off yer tinfoil hats — we can’t blame Diebold either.

So what happened? Bush’s approval rating wasn’t that strong. Fiscally, he’s the most UN-conservative president ever, and nobody seriously bothers to dispute this. Most can see that the war in Iraq is not going well — certainly not as well as hoped or hyped. Most can see that most of Bush’s tax cuts don’t go to them. So what gives? What have we learned? Why did we lose?

The answer is quite simply this: We lost because the Republican base showed up. They may call themselves independents, libertarians, or whatever — but they showed up and voted.

Well, who ARE these people? The vast majority of them are the people described in "What’s the Matter With Kansas?". To get a flavor, check out this Amazon review:

The largely blue collar citizens of Kansas can be counted upon to be a "red" state in any election, voting solidly Republican and possessing a deep animosity toward the left. This, according to author Thomas Frank, is a pretty self-defeating phenomenon, given that the policies of the Republican Party benefit the wealthy and powerful at the great expense of the average worker. According to Frank, the conservative establishment has tricked Kansans, playing up the emotional touchstones of conservatism and perpetuating a sense of a vast liberal empire out to crush traditional values while barely ever discussing the Republicans’ actual economic policies and what they mean to the working class. Thus the pro-life Kansas factory worker who listens to Rush Limbaugh will repeatedly vote for the party that is less likely to protect his safety, less likely to protect his job, and less likely to benefit him economically. To much of America, Kansas is an abstract, "where Dorothy wants to return. Where Superman grew up."

The world to them is that simple. We on the left may be correct in our world vision of a world that is nuanced, where words have specific meaning, where ideas and events have more than two sides and shades are gray. No — forget "may be correct". We ARE correct. But you don’t win votes by being correct, by being nuanced, or by being . . . well . . . smart.

You win votes by projecting a positive image. By portraying yourself as being, for example, a "strong leader" (whether or not you actually are). People like the solid image better than the (nuanced) reality. Don’t bother worrying about what "strong leader" actually means. If you have to try to translate that phrase into a program or a policy, then you’ve lost. Red State Republicans don’t care about your policies and programs either. They just need to be convinced that you are a "strong leader" or a "this" or a "that".

So that’s one reason why Kerry lost. He too readily accepted the image of being smart, thus unwittingly embracing the idea of being weak.

But if I had to choose the one single "X factor" which made a difference in this election, it would be "values". I think we will learn more and more as the days continue, that DESPITE economic news, and even the WOT, Bush won because conservatives came out to vote because of conservative values. I am surprised, for example, at how much the gay marriage issue played not only in the campaign, but in the actual election. Conservatives ACTAULLY BELIEVE that the institution of marriage, which lives in THEIR HOME, is actually being attacked by what some lesbian women are doing in an ANOTHER HOME. (UPDATE: Kevin Drum apparently agrees, saying with 20/20 hindsight that the most important event of the campaign season was the Masschusetts Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage.)

Now, I have yet to flesh this out, but I think I may hear a clarian cry. I remember the first time I heard a homophobe say that there shoudn’t be gay teachers because they will just "promote the gay agenda". I thought that was awfully funny at the time, because the only gay agenda I was aware of was the American agenda — freedom, equality, etc. But now, I have come to see the emergence of a "conservative agenda" which, under the guise of American values, is at its core very anti-American as any social agenda can get.

And I now understand why conservatives have bemoaned things like judges legislating morality from the bench. It has little to do with separation of powers. It is because conservatives want to legislate THEIR morality from whereever they can. And it’s not just gays. It’s privacy. It’s the Patriot Act. It’s immigration and profiling.

All morning, I have been thinking about Pat Buchanan and his references four years ago to the "coming culture war." It scared the shit out of me then. But don’t look now — I think we are in one. And I think the left not only has to fight it, but win it.

That’s where the left needs to hit next — the cultural conservatives. We can’t make them understand the hypocrisy of fighting for freedom abroad, while curbing it here. Kerry’s solution was to treat social conservatives with kit gloves. I say no. I say we fight the culture war at home. BRING. IT. ON.

Update: I don’t mean to suggest by anything in this post that the Left, having lost this election, is in disarray. There are tens of millions of us, and we are all united and more organized than ever before. We just need to focus again, and make this country a better place — from the outside if need be.

Thoughts . . .

Jeez. I go to bed with explicit ideas and instructions about how the election is supposed to play out . . . and you guys screw it up. (I don’t know specifically who I am refering to here, but that’s my rant).

Seriously, let me get out some random thoughts.

First of all, the country is not going to be torn apart if Kerry waits and holds out hope for the Ohio provincial/absentee/military ballots. This is not a ballot controversy like it was in 2000.  These are not recounts. There are no major court cases over these ballots. It is more important, for the sake of democracy, to be RIGHT than to be politically expedient. Especially in wartime.

Note to wingers: Are you seriously asking Kerry to concede because we are at war? Is our democracy that fragile? And what kind of a message does that send to Iraq, who we are expecting to have elections in the midst of a REAL war? Your lack of faith in the democratic process is so staggering, that I begin to wonder if you should be lending your voice in support if it.

Furthermore, I expect that Bush will ultimately prevail in Ohio. If it was meant to be, then let us let him. You want to be rid of the moniker "Commander-in-Thief"? You tired of hearing about the illegitimacy of the Presidency? Me, too. This election, for all its closeness, went well. Let the votes be counted the way they are supposed to be counted. For the sake of democracy, if it has to be Bush, then let’s for once and for all give Bush an UNDISPUTABLE legitimate win by counting all the votes that should be counted. It is in everybody’s interest. Calls for Kerry to concede before he’s even assessed the Ohio situation are anti-democratic. Only totalitarian states and dictatorships are afraid of controversy — not democracies.

Thirdly, kudos to the news organizations for a change. When it became clear that the exit polls were screwy, they stood up and said, "Hey, the exit polls are screwy" and with one or two exceptions, they all stopped the stupid game of trying to be the "first", and they all started playing the game of trying to be "accurate". Which is what we want from them, right?

Which beings me to a meta-point of the past two years. Pick your favorite story — WMDs in Iraq, CBS memos, the election results — and you will see that the same theme emerging over and over again: ACCURACY OF INFORMATION. Specifically . . . "how quickly should we act on information, and how good should that information be before we act?"

It seems to me that those who act hastily, and whose partisan beliefs cause them to accept bad data too readily (or reject alternative information too quickly) do a disservice to the American people. Dan Rather was one such guy. So was George Bush. I am becoming increasingly of the opinion that there are only two kinds of people in this world — those who go to the utmost extremes to convince you of their rightousness . . . and those who actually want to BE rightous. Be wary of the former.

But it looks like the dawn of the Bush second term. And if Bush is sworn in, let him be sworn in clean. Let’s be able to at least say that Bush won and (assuming Ohio doesn’t get short-circuited), he won legitimately. I and many others will happily remain the loyal opposition, as is befitting any democracy, and — from the outside — move this country to a better, more secure, more equitable, more respected, more honest place. There are tens of millions of us — you don’t think we can’t???

I’m Calling It . . .

. . . against my better judgment. As a Red Sox fan, I know that you should never declare victory until the final out. (I know, we broke the curse this year, but still . . .)

But I’m calling it a Kerry victory — now — and here are some (very bad) reasons why.

(1) I pulled my back and I’m not sure how far into the night I can last.

(2) "Democracy Plaza" is Rockefeller Center. That’s all. I can’t deal with "Democracy Plaza" anymore.

(3) Wonkette’s little bird. Conventional wisdom is that Democrats vote LATE, so if Wonkette’s numbers are even remotely correct, it STILL looks good for Kerry. (NOTE: I think her early exit polls are the same as Slate’s. (UPDATE: The later, but more accurate, "unofficial" exit polls are even better for Kerry — see here)

(4) High voter turnout favors the challenger. Record high voter turnout REALLY favors the challenger.

(5) Right-wing blog cites are urging their readers to behave in the face of defeat, except for those which are not. Either way, there seems to be the spector of defeat in right-wing blogosphere land.

(6) Same reason as always: No President with <50% approval rating as ever been re-elected. Case closed.

If some of you intend to really get into watching the returns tonight, you must read this must-read about exit polls. You need to know for your own self how much (or how little) you want to trust them. But Icy Hot patches await me, and I think I’m going to call it a Kerry victory. Feel free to send me some Dewey-Truman jibes — or (ugh!) Koolaid references. I’ll read them all in the morning!!

Final Thoughts and Predictions

1. Kerry has the momentum going into the election. He will win the popular vote: 48.8% to 47.8%. More importantly, Kerry will win the electoral college: 280 to 258.

The battleground state breakdown will be:

NH, PA, NJ, MI, MN, FL, NM, WI for Kerry

NV, OH, IA, MO for Bush . . .

although we won’t know the results for many of these states until early Wednesday. Florida and/or Wisconsin will be the tightest. No upsets in non-battleground states, but Arkansas will give Bush a bigger run for his money than expected.

If I am wrong, then the first indication will be when NJ fails to have a clear winner by midnight. If that’s the case, then turn off the TV and go to bed. You will wake up in the morning with Bush being President.

2. The "second headline" for the election (underneath "Kerry Wins") will be the strength of the (Kerry-leaning) youth vote, which all polls have universally underestimated and undersampled.

3. Highest voter turnout ever. For weeks, the right wing has been saying that the left has been motivated by its anti-Bush feelings, rather than pro-Kerry feelings. Yup. You better believe it. Just watch how much.

4. Yes, there will be fighting and lawsuits afterwards . . . by both parties. The public will not stomach it for very long, and it will all go away.

5. The Republican party will fall into disarray as neo-cons fight the Reagan conservatives for the soul of the party. Not to mention fiscal conservatives who want to regain their voice. And then the fight between social (religious) conservatives and the "Arnold" (socially liberal) conservatives. Sadly, they’ll pull it together by 2008 — they always do.

6. There will be no honeymoon for Kerry.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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

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.

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.

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]

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.

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."

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.

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?

Bush “Finds” Another Military Record Saying He Quit The Reserves

WASHINGTON – The White House said seven months ago that it had released all the records on President Bush (news – web sites)’s stateside military service during the Vietnam War, yet new records are still dribbling out as Election Day approaches.

The White House on Wednesday night produced a November 1974 document bearing Bush’s signature from Cambridge, Mass., where he was attending Harvard Business School, saying he had decided not to continue as a member of the military reserve.

The document, signed a year after Bush left the Texas Air National Guard, said he was leaving the military because of "inadequate time to fulfill possible future commitments." White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the resignation was found in connection with a lawsuit brought by The Associated Press.

The White House said the document had been in Bush’s personnel file and that it had been found by the Pentagon.

Source

How can the WH/Pentagon suddenly "find" a document in Bush’s personnel file? Didn’t they look before . . . like when they said that everything had been released??

Another Eisenhower Republican for Kerry

I’m not sure what an "Eisenhower Republican" is — I believe Clinton used the term to describe anyone who refused to go spend more federal money during a time of deficits (i.e., "Dubya is not an Eisenhower Republican — although Clinton ironically was one.").

Anyway, this guy, being Eisenhower’s son and a Republican, is truly an Eisenhower Republican . . . and he’s voting for Kerry. Read why.

Best quote: "I urge everyone, Republicans and Democrats alike, to avoid voting for a ticket merely because it carries the label of the party of one’s parents or of our own ingrained habits."

Undercutting Allies?

JANESVILLE, Wis. – Democrat John Kerry wrongly questioned the credibility of the interim Iraqi leader [Ayad Allawi], and "you can’t lead this country" while undercutting an ally, President Bush said Friday.

From here.

President Bush then ate some "freedom fries", dissed "old Europe", and talked about how ineffective the U.N. is.

Seriously, this is the scariest thing about Bush, in my opinion. Every serious assessment of the situation on the ground — including statements made by Allawi himself — show that the situation in Iraq is deteriorating. Kerry is speaking the truth about this, which is the FIRST STEP in turning the situation around (if it CAN be turned around at this point). Bush, on the other hand, is telling people everything is getting better in Iraq, and insinuating that Kerry’s truthful comments (rather than, I suppose, the insurgents) are undercutting peaceful progress in Iraq.

More and more, I hear the label "The Excuses President" being applied to Bush. I’m not much of one for perjorative monikers, but — boy — that one really sticks to him.

Bush Campaign In Disarray Over Kerry Speech

In response to Kerry’s four-point plan on Iraq, Bush said: "Forty-three days before the election, my opponent has now suddenly settled on a proposal for what to do next, and it’s exactly what we’re currently doing." (Source)

In response to Kerry’s four-point plan on Iraq, Bush-Cheney campaign spokesmen Steve Schmidt said: "John Kerry’s latest position on Iraq is to advocate retreat and defeat in the face of terror" (Same Source)

So . . . does this mean that Bush’s plan is to retreat and defeat? I guess so. That’s what Novak says, too.

Two Veterans Support Bush

In the latest meme polluting a site I often contribute to, we read this:

Veterans Like Bush

Or, well, at least he got two endorsements from major veterans groups, the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Except, well, that’s not true.

Instead, if you actually come across the news story (tellingly, the prior post has no link), it says this:

George W. Bush picked up the endorsement of two veterans’ group leaders Wednesday as questions about his service in the Texas Air National Guard resurfaced.

During a conference call sponsored by the Bush-Cheney ’04 campaign, former American Legion National Commander John Brieden and the former national leader of Veterans of Foreign Wars, Ed Banas, gave Bush high marks for his commitment to veterans and to increasing U.S. national security.

(emphases mine)

So . . . here’s the story: the FORMER leader of the American Legion and the FORMER leader of the VFW — two guys total — endorsed Bush.

Not only did the VFW not endorse Bush, but the VFW can’t endorse Bush. Read this from the VFW’s own website:

VFW Doesn’t Endorse Presidential Candidates Washington, D.C., Aug. 27, 2004—Recent appearances in the news media by a number of members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States have given an impression that the organization endorses one presidential candidate over another.

"This is a false impression," said John Furgess, a Nashville native who was elected August 20 as the new commander-in-chief of the nation’s largest organization of combat veterans. "We are a 501(c)(19) nonprofit veterans’ service organization that is prohibited from endorsing political candidates," he said. "We do, however, encourage all 2.4 million members of the VFW and our Ladies Auxiliary to get involved in their communities and to vote for the candidates of choice. That involvement permits the wearing of VFW caps to remind America and all politicians that the freedoms we enjoy today were won by the blood, sweat and sacrifice of military veterans."

I don’t know if the American Legion is the same way, but I think the point is made, and the lie exposed. The VFW and the American Legion did not endorse Bush.

The RNC Damage Control Machine Loses a Gear

Despite the high and — in retrospect — undeserved praise here, the 60 Minutes bombshell wasn’t Ben Barnes (who repeated his allegation that he got Bush the cushy National Guard post).

This was the part of the story that hurts Bush (Click "New Bush Service Questions" for the video). It’s about how Bush’s commander was getting pressure to give Bush positive evaluations when he didn’t deserve them.

And this isn’t he said/she said stuff, 30 years after the fact. This is from documents WRITTEN AT THE TIME.

And the RNC’s "damage control" rapid response team? They . . . um . . . had no response, except to say that the new authentic documents from the early 1970’s are "partisan politics".

Pretty lame.

Zogby Battleground Poll

This can’t be good news for Bush supporters.

Bush’s bounce notwithstanding, the electoral college map still favors Kerry 307-231. Now, granted — that Kerry lead is ever so slight and the usual caveats about polls and margins of error (expressed in the WSJ link, so I won’t repeat them here) apply.

Not a Satire

The Texans For Truth group as a new ad out . . . .

Speaking of video, check out this news footage of the skirmish at the RNC, showing a Republican kicking a female protester when she was on the ground . . . and then lying about it to a reporter.

By the way, notice that that "oh, shit" look in that Republican’s eyes when the reporter informs him that they have footage. That "oh shit" look. Where have we seen that before? Oh, yeah . . . here . . .

Bush’s Missing Records

The Associated Press has conducted an analysis of Bush’s "military" records and identified "five categories of records that should have been generated after Bush skipped his pilot’s physical and missed five months of training."

For example, Air National Guard regulations at the time required commanders to write an investigative report for the Air Force when Bush missed his annual medical exam in 1972. The regulations also required commanders to confirm in writing that Bush received counseling after missing five months of drills.

No such records have been made public and the government told The Associated Press in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that it has released all records it can find.

Imagine my surprise.

White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said there were no other documents to explain discrepancies in Bush’s files.

No, of course not.

Swift Boat War Criminals

Are the Swiftees pissed at Kerry because he supposedly lied in his Senate testimony, or are they pissed because he told the TRUTH (thus breaking the unspoken code of slience among brothers-in-arms)?

Well, it seems that at least ONE of the Swiftees — actually, one of the group’s organizers — had no problem ordering the execution of Vietnamese civilians.

Means, a 55-year-old investigator for several Bakersfield law firms, was particularly annoyed by the words of one retired admiral. Roy F. "Latch" Hoffman, one of the co-founders of the pro-George W. Bush group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, had publicly criticized Kerry, a former Swift boat commander, for having brought back stories about alleged war crimes by U.S. forces — often carried out, Kerry said in 1971, "with the full awareness of officers at all levels."

Seemed to him, Means said, his own Swift boat crew had come close to committing a war crime themselves one day. A senior officer, hitching a ride up the coast aboard their Swift boat, had ordered the crew to fire on a small group of unarmed Vietnamese fishermen working their nets in unrestricted waters, Means said. The boat’s commanding officer had refused to comply.

Was that the way the boat’s commander remembered the incident too, all these years later? Means had to know.

So he got on the Internet and hunted down Thomas W.L. "Tad" McCall, the retired Navy captain who’d commanded Means’ boat, PCF 88, as a newly minted ensign. Means called him.

Not only did McCall remember the day in question, and that confrontation off the coast of South Vietnam, he remembered the name of the officer who had given the command to shoot: "Latch" Hoffman himself, then a Navy captain in charge of the entire Swift boat task force in Vietnam.

(Source) (subscription required)

Yup. They don’t like Kerry . . . because Kerry spoke the truth to power.

Shhweet Home Abalama . . .

Never mind the fact the Dubya may or may not have actually attended training at the Alabama National Guard.

Let’s look at why he was in Alabama in the first place, and what he did while there. Here‘s a pretty revoltin’ development. Check out what George "Some may not like my stagger; in Texas, we call it walking" Bush was up to.

This is going to be the political story next week (spurred by the upcoming "60 Minutes" interview with Ben Barnes), although it may get overshadowed by Frances.

Random Thoughts About the RNC

Let’s get a few preliminary obvious things out of the way first. The Republican National Convention wasn’t geared to people like me, and not being a Republican or a conservative, I’m not supposed to "get it". That said, here are some random chicken-scratchings, for what it is worth:

(1) I find it very telling that McCain and Giuliani were placed in the shitty slots (the first night, with the lowest viewership). If the Rove strategy was to speak to on-the-fence moderates and swing voters, both those men — the most "accessible" in the Republican Party — would have been in more prominent positions. Instead, the Republicans opted to give those prime slots to the flame-throwers. It seems clear that the Rove strategy is to energize the conservative base (hoping that more conservatives will be motivated to vote), rather than go for the swing/undecided vote. And who knows? It may work!

(2) Was it just me or did the "cutaways" seem less friendly to the RNC than they were with the DNC? I was surprised how often the Republicans delegates really looked bored or comatose.

(3) I understand that the Repubs want to project a positive image, but is "hopeful" the best word they could think of (as in, "a stronger, more hopeful, America")? "Hope" is an optimistic desire for something. "I hope to get a BMW." "I’m hoping to save enough money to pay off my student loans." And so on.

Now, although "hope" suggests a positive and upbeat feeling, it also implies a paucity. I mean . . . we don’t hope for things we already have, right? So what is the subtext behind a "hopeful America"? Doesn’t it imply that America is somehow lacking? That we must hope for (prosperity, peace, security, whatever) because we don’t have it? And isn’t that an odd slogan for an incumbant to be running on?

I just think they should have picked a better word. "Positive" or "optimistic" come to mind.

(4) Gotta talk about Jenna and NotJenna. Their speech, aside from being embarrassingly unfunny, made my head explode. At first I thought, well, they’re young, so what can you expect? But then I thought about the men — and women — in Iraq, and how some of them are as young or even younger than the Bush twins. And some of them are not coming home. And then I thought about John Kerry, also around that age, risking his life in the war of his generation. And then I thought about the Bushes — W and his daughters, specifically — all of them products of privilege — partying while others their age were facing death. Such serious times we live in and, like Vietnam 35 years ago, it is our youngest generation that makes the greatest sacrifice for our country. Then, as I reflected on the burdens of the generation before me and the generation after me, I heard one of the Buish twins say that their parents’ favorite term of endearment is "Bushie." [awkward laughs from the delegates]. And that’s when my head exploded.

(5) You know what? Having heard it over and over again a decade ago, and having heard it again only a month ago, the "girly men" reference STILL isn’t funny. By the way, I’m not one of them, but I think there are literally millions of people who ARE concerned about the economy. And legitimately so. Calling them "girly men" for the sake of an in-crowd punchline is not only unhelpful and nonresponsive, but it also isn’t, uh, compassionate.

(6) For an interesting exercise, I suggest you read the keynote speech of the DNC (Barack Obama) and the keynote speech of the RNC (Zell Miller). Or even better, watch the videos.

(7) Oh, yeah. About the distortions and deceptions . . . sweet wounded Jesus, so MANY of them! WAY too many to possibly reference them ALL. (But that was the idea, wasn’t it, Karl?). My favorite (so far) was the moving soldier’s letter referenced by Bush. You probably thought it was just an average soldier from middle America. Actually, no. It was from a guy named Joe Roche who, although being a soldier with the 16th Combat Engineer Battalion in Iraq, is ALSO an adjunct fellow with the conservative think-tank known as The National Center For Public Policy Research.

(8) Did I mention how mean-spirited the RNC was, in my view? It really was.

I have a few more thoughts, but that’s good for now.

A Day I’ll Never Forget

On September the 14th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. I’ll never forget the day. A fellow pointed at me and said, "Do not let me down." Workers in hard-hats, and police and firefighters were shouting, "Whatever it takes. Whatever it takes." – May 7, 2004

On September the 14th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. I’ll never forget that day. There were policemen and firefighters shouting, "Whatever it takes, Mr. President, whatever it takes." A guy in a hard-hat pointed at me and said, "Do not let me down." – May 8, 2004

September the 14th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. I’ll never forget that day. Workers in hard-hats were chanting, "Whatever it takes." I remember working — trying to console people, and either a firefighter or a policeman said, "Do not let me down." – July 13, 2004

On September the 14th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. I’m never going to forget that moment. There were workers in hard-hats yelling at me, "Whatever it takes." I remember looking in the eyes of either a policeman or firefighter, and he said, "Do not let me down." – July 14, 2004

On September the 14th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. It’s a day I’ll never forget. Workers in hard-hats chanted, "Whatever it takes." A fireman or a policeman, I don’t know which one, grabbed me and said, "Do not let me down." – July 14, 2004

On September the 14th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. It’s a day I’ll never forget. There were workers in hard-hats yelling at me, "Whatever it takes." A fellow grabbed me by the arm — I can’t remember if he was a policeman or fireman — and he said, "Do not let me down." – July 21, 2004

On September the 14th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. It’s a day that I will never forget. There were workers in hard hats yelling at me, "Whatever it takes." I remember a guy grabbing my arm, a firefighter or policeman, I don’t know which one, he had tears in his eyes and he looked at me and said, "Do not let me down." – July 30, 2004

On September the 14th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. It’s a day I will never forget. I remember those guys in hard hats yelling at me: Whatever it takes. I remember the firefighter grabbing me by the arm and looking me in the eye, bloodshot eyes and sweat pouring, and he said: Do not let me down – July 31, 2004

On September the 14th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. It’s a day I’ll never forget. There were workers in hard hats yelling at me: Whatever it takes. I remember walking along and a fellow grabbed me, policeman or fireman, I don’t know which one, but he had tears in his eyes and said: Do not let me down – July 31, 2004

On September the 14th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. It’s a day I will never forget. There were workers in hard hats yelling at me: Whatever it takes. A guy grabbed me by the arm, he had tears in his eyes, he was exhausted from searching through the rubble to find his friend. He said: Do not let me down. – August 4, 2004

On September the 14th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. It’s a day I’ll never forget. I remember workers in hard-hats yelling at me, "Whatever it takes." I’ll never forget the guy that grabbed me by the arm — I don’t remember if he was a firefighter or a policeman. I do know he had been in the rubble searching for a loved one. His eyes were bloodshot. He said, "Do not let me down." – August 4, 2004

September the 14, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. It’s a day I will never forget. I remember the guys in the hard- hats screaming at me, "Whatever it takes." I remember working the rope line and looking in the eyes of a man who had just come out of the rubble searching for a buddy. He said, "Do not let me down." – August 10, 2004

On September the 14th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. It’s a day I’ll never forget. Workers in hard-hats were yelling at me, "Whatever it takes." I remember shaking people’s hands and a guy looked me in the eye, his bloodshot eyes, he’d just come out of the rubble, saying, "Do not let me down." – August 18, 2004

All the foregoing — plus lots more of the same — can be found on the White House website (Do a site search for "Do not let me down" in quotations).

[Chris Farley] Hey. You remember when — you remember the part about, uh, the guy who like pointed at Bush or grabbed Bush’s arm or had bloodshot eyes or tears ’cause he had just, like, come out of the rubble looking for his buddy or loved one or whatever, you know? The dude who Bush wasn’t sure if he was a policemen or a firemen (except for July 31, 2004), but he was all like "Do not let me down" and stuff? Y-y-you . . . . remember? Remember that? Yeah, that was awesome. That story rocked. I hope Bush uses that in his convention speech. [/Chris Farley]

But here is my bestest FAVORITEST one — from last Friday — which I saved for last:

I was traveling with Rudy Giuliani yesterday in New Mexico, and I — (applause.) It reminded of the day we spent together, September the 14th, 2001, the day I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers, the day that, obviously, I’ll never forget. There were workers in hard-hats yelling, "Whatever it takes." I was walking down, thanking people, and a fellow looked me and said, "Do not let me down." This is one of these memories that have been indelibly etched in my mind. – August 27, 2004

Yeah, George. Traveling with Rudy "reminded" you of the story which you happen to tell at every single fucking campaign stop.

And then his ad lib at the end: "This is one of these memories that have been indelibly etched in my mind." Yeah, I would think so!

We Can’t Win the War On Terror

Several months ago, and I can’t seem to locate where, I made the point that we can’t actually WIN a war on terror, since "terror" is a tactic and not an enemy. Which is why, I added, that it is wrong to claim that it IS a "war".

It seems Kerry agrees with me:

When asked whether we can "win" the "war on terror" Senator Kerry said: "Can we win? I don’t think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that the — those who use terror as a tool are — less acceptable in parts of the world.”

Oh, one more thing: Before you wingers jump down Kerry’s throat for being such a woosy spinless negative nay-saying candy-ass wimp, as I’m sure you will want to, check this out

One Swift Boat Vet Who Chose Not To Lie

This [Swift Boat Veterans] group asked for my signature on their "open letter" because I also commanded a Swift Boat in Vietnam in 1969 and served alongside many of them and John Kerry. I refused. I knew that what they were doing would only degrade the heroic actions of all Swift Boat veterans. You cannot challenge the process by which one person received recognition without making everyone else’s medals and awards suspect as well.

Many people who served on Swifts performed many acts of heroism and courage but were never recognized for it because no one took the time necessary to submit an award recommendation for them. Over the years these men have shared vicariously in the honors given to select, fortunate individuals. Now with the relentless mudslinging from the Swift Vets for Truth, we are all sharing in the shame that they are bringing on our community. I would prefer that they spend their energy and their money promoting the positive attributes of their candidate rather than trying to settle a 35-year-old score.

Right on, brother.

(Read it all here)