Saturday, October 2

Letter to CBS Evening News

I just sent this to CBS. Hopefully they will hold Fox accountable for their scandalous practices. I'm not stopping here though. Much more mail to be sent. Is that a war path up ahead?


For the second time in one week Fox News has posted blatant lies to their web site as actual news.
Firstly Carl Cameron, Fox news correspondent assigned to the Kerry campaign, attributed false news quotes to John Kerry after the presidential debate. This was caught by Josh Marshall of Talking points Memo who called Fox in Washington for comment. Their exchange was as follows:

Josh Marshall: Late this afternoon I spoke to Fox spokesman Paul Schur who told me the following ...

"Carl [Cameron] made a stupid mistake which he regrets. And he has been reprimanded for his lapse in judgment. It was a poor attempt at humor."

Fox News then posted a retraction and apology to their website that can be found here: Fox apology for false story

This, however, was only the beginning. Today another article that has not been taken down or apologized for has Fox News quoting an organization named Communists for Kerry. Here is an exerpt from: Fox fabrication #2

"Of course, there were some Kerry supporters in attendance who had no doubts whatever about their candidate.

"We're trying to get Comrade Kerry elected and get that capitalist enabler George Bush out of office," said 17-year-old Komoselutes Rob of Communists for Kerry.

"Even though he, too, is a capitalist, he supports my socialist values more than President Bush," Rob said, before assuring that his organization was not a parody group.  When asked his thoughts on Washington's policy toward Communist holdout North Korea, Rob said: "The North Koreans are my comrades to a point, and I'm sure they support Comrade Kerry, too."

It is unclear whether the Kerry campaign has welcomed the Communists' endorsement."

There is a link to Communists for Kerry within the story. When you click on about us you see this message from the Hellgate Republicans:


About us

"Communists for Kerry" is a campaign of the Hellgate Republican Club, a tax exempt non-partisan public advocacy "527" organization that exists for the purpose of; "Informing voters with satire and irony, how political candidates make decisions based on the failed social economic principles of socialism that punish the individual by preventing them from becoming their dream through proven ideas of entrepreneurship and freedom."
Our members help elect candidates who support economic growth through Entrepreneurship, limited government and lower taxes. Communists For Kerry is separate and distinct from the Communist party of America and any of its organization. None of it's members are members of any communist organizations. "

Fox News has been attacking the character and journalistic standards of Dan Rather for running a story where the documents are only in question.

Now Fox News has reported two absolutely fabricated stories within a week, one of which has already been admitted by them to have been false. I will also be e-mailing this information to other news orgainizations and individuals, along with the Daily Show. I, thousands of other bloggers, and millions of our readers expect CBS to air this story and hold Fox News to the same standards they crucified Dan Rather for supposedly not adhering to. Thank you for your time.

If you have need of further assistance you may e-mail me at

FOXGATE!!! Arrrrrggg!! - You Decide 2004 - Some Voters Still Flip-Flop After Debate

Foxnews does it again!!! In two days!!! This is a call to arms. Something has to be done. I'll be back shortly to post the contact information for all the networks, if someone doesn't beat me to it. FoxNews has been beating the ever loving snot out of CBS on the Dan Rather swift boat controversy. They have got to want to hit back. All the networks and cable news stations should know about this. And definitely the Daily Show! They may actually report it. You don't have to wait for me! Let's do this thing. Get the full story from atrios

MSNBC - The Race is On

First Major Post Debate Poll! Kerry by a length!

MSNBC - Kerry opens can of whup ass

Oct. 2 - With a solid majority of voters concluding that John Kerry outperformed George W. Bush in the first presidential debate on Thursday, the president’s lead in the race for the White House has vanished, according to the latest NEWSWEEK poll. In the first national telephone poll using a fresh sample, NEWSWEEK found the race now statistically tied among all registered voters, 47 percent of whom say they would vote for Kerry and 45 percent for George W. Bush in a three-way race.

Removing Independent candidate Ralph Nader, who draws 2 percent of the vote, widens the Kerry-Edwards lead to three points with 49 percent of the vote versus the incumbent’s 46 percent. Four weeks ago the Republican ticket, coming out of a successful convention in New York, enjoyed an 11-point lead over Kerry-Edwards with Bush pulling 52 percent of the vote and the challenger just 41 percent.

Among the three-quarters (74 percent) of registered voters who say they watched at least some of Thursday’s debate, 61 percent see Kerry as the clear winner, 19 percent pick Bush as the victor and 16 percent call it a draw. After weeks of being portrayed as a verbose “flip-flopper” by Republicans, Kerry did better than a majority (56 percent) had expected. Only about 11 percent would say the same for the president’s performance while more than one-third (38 percent) said the incumbent actually did worse that they had expected. Thirty-nine percent of Republicans felt their man out-debated the challenger but a full third (33 percent) say they felt Kerry won.

Kerry’s perceived victory may be attributed to the fact that, by a wide margin (62 percent to 26 percent), debate watchers felt the senator came across as more confident than the president. More than half (56 percent) also see Kerry has having a better command of the facts than Bush (37 percent). As a result, the challenger’s favorability ratings (52 percent, versus 40 percent unfavorable) are better than Bush’s, who at 49 percent (and 46 percent unfavorable), has dipped below the halfway mark for the first time since July. Kerry, typically characterized as aloof and out of touch by his opponents, came across as more personally likeable than Bush (47 percent to the president’s 41 percent).

In fact, Kerry’s numbers have improved across the board, while Bush’s vulnerabilities have become more pronounced. The senator is seen as more intelligent and well-informed (80 percent, up six points over last month, compared to Bush’s steady 59 percent); as having strong leadership skills (56 percent, also up 6 points, but still less than Bush’s 62 percent) and as someone who can be trusted to make the right calls in an international crisis (51 percent, up five points and tied with Bush).

Meanwhile, Bush’s approval ratings have dropped to below the halfway mark (46 percent) for the first time since the GOP convention in late August. Nearly half of all voters (48 percent) say they do not want to see Bush re-elected, while 46 percent say they do. Still, a majority of voters (55 percent versus 29 percent) believe the president will be re-hired on Nov. 2.

Neither man was seen as a particularly stronger leader (44 percent Bush, 47 percent Kerry), more negative (37 percent Bush, 36 percent Kerry) or more honest (43 percent Bush, 45 percent Kerry).

Perhaps because the debate topic focused on foreign policy—and largely was dominated by the war in Iraq—that issue rates higher as a voter concern than it did a month ago. Twenty percent of all voters say Iraq is the issue that will most determine their vote, up from 15 percent. Tied with Iraq is the economy (21 percent), and still leading the list is terrorism and homeland security (26 percent). And key for the president is the fact that he is the preferred man on the issues more important to voters. On homeland security, Bush is preferred 52 percent to Kerry’s 40 percent (a significant spread, but a narrowing one: Last month the spread, in the president’s favor, was 58 percent to 34 percent). On Iraq Bush is preferred 49 percent to 44 percent (compared to 54 percent versus 39 percent a month ago). Kerry is even with the president on the question of which man is better suited to guide foreign policy in general (48 percent Bush to the challenger’s 46 percent) and clamping down on the proliferation of nuclear materiel (47 percent Bush, 43 percent Kerry).

Where Kerry clearly leads is on domestic issues, which will be the focus of the third debate on Oct. 13, in Tempe, Ariz. The Democrat is preferred to Bush by double-digit spreads on who would be better at handling the economy (52 percent to 39 percent), foreign competition (54 percent to 36 percent) and health care (56 percent to 34 percent).

Although the subject of the draft was only briefly addressed during the debate, four in ten voters (38 percent) believe that because of the war in Iraq—which 50 percent of all voters now view as unnecessary—a second Bush administration would reinstate the draft. Just 18 percent feel the same would happen if Kerry were elected. Nearly two thirds (62 percent) feel a draft should not be considered at this time and 28 percent said a draft should at least be considered. But only 46 percent feel going to war was the right decision in the first place with just as many (45 percent) under the impression that the administration deliberately misled the nation into war with falsified evidence of weapons of mass destruction.

Finally, echoing a recurring refrain of Kerry’s, more than half of all voters (51 percent) think the Bush administration has not done enough to engage other nations (43 percent feel they have done enough or even gone too far in that direction as it is).

For the NEWSWEEK poll, Princeton Survey Research Associates interviewed 1,013 registered voters aged 18 and older between Sept. 30 and Oct. 2 by telephone. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.
© 2004 Newsweek, Inc.

Expect the Right to hit back and hit back hard. They won't take this lying down. Every dirty trick in Rove's black bag from hell is gonna be unleashed over the next month. We might have seen the first of them in Washington where Republicans are saying that three laptops were stolen and one contained their state strategy. It stinks of that scorpion worm Karl Rove that used to twist in hell, stinging himself to everlasting death, ere he escaped, following dark passages to earth. Either somebody wanted some laptops to sell or the tentatively titled "robbery" was staged. The Republicans were quick to say the "robbery" was politically motivated. Apparently the rock the "robbers" used to break the window looked Democratic. Of course the police said their was no evidence to support Republicans claims. As MSNBC said, "The Race is On." As Americablog would say, "Who's Dukakis now bitch?"

Do you feel a draft?

the shadow knows

What truth lies in the hearts of men? The shadow knows.

Twenty Big Bush Debate Lies

Bush is such a liar

U.S. cyber-czar suddenly quits after 1 year

U.S. cyber-czar suddenly quits after 1 year

Washington Post
Saturday, October 2, 2004

Washington -- The nation's top cyber-security official has resigned unexpectedly, raising new questions about the progress of efforts to protect the nation's vast computer networks from terror attacks, electronic viruses and other threats, government and industry officials said Friday.

Amit Yoran stepped down Thursday, one year after he was hired by homeland security officials with a broad mandate to reinvigorate Bush administration efforts to improve the way government and industry address computer security.

Yoran is the third cyber-security chief to exit in less than two years as the pace of improvements has caused frustration. He declined Friday to say why he had left his post after giving just one day's notice. But industry officials said he had been disappointed that he was not given as much authority as he was promised to attack the problem.

"Cyber-security has fallen down on that totem pole," said Paul Kurtz, executive director of the Cyber Security Industry Alliance, who previously worked on security issues in the White House. Kurtz said Yoran's resignation underscored a concern in the private sector that government(BUSH) wasn't taking the issue seriously enough: "It's kind of symptomatic of the frustration all around."

Yoran was appointed director of the National Cyber Security Division in September 2003, at a time when industry officials were complaining about the government's(BUSH)failure to give the issue more prominence.

Yoran succeeded Howard Schmidt, the White House adviser on cyber-security who resigned in April 2003, and the nation's first "cyber-czar," Richard Clarke, who stepped down three months earlier. On their departures, both of Yoran's predecessors warned about the importance of stepping up efforts to combat computer and network attacks.

Is the press even going to report this? hell no. You'd think that during an election where the president is touting his anti-terrorism credentials as his best and most important quallfication that someone in tvland might find it relevant that the administrations'(BUSH) anti-terrorism cabinet officials are quitting their jobs because Bush won't make protecting America from terrorism at home a priority! *screams in frustration* *Silmarill gets up from computer, stalks over to the corner of the room and proceeds to beat the stuffing out the Bush doll lying there.* "Take that you wrong war fighting, non American people protecting, economy crashing, language impaired, stupid, lying, whiny and crying, fake ass Cowboy sonofabitch!. *walks back to computer* Whew. I feel better. Ok...things are going to be they're not. Bring it home Kerry.

Bold mine, (Bush)'s also added by me.

My college student oldest son just called me from his cell as he walked to the stadium to watch our Florida State Seminoles play against North Carolina. His wife wasn't with him, he said, because their babysitter had canceled at the last minute to go hear Michael Moore speak. I was delighted, having read that various institutions have canceled his speaking engagements at the behest of right-wing protests.

FSU rocks.


Digby has an important post responding to questions regarding the advisability or appropriateness of liberal blogs presenting obviously partisan "talking points." I'm firmly on his side.


"The war was a mistake, but I want to see a person solve the problem they created," said Alex Cole, a Republican who at 49 was involuntarily retired after being forced out at Lucent Technologies.

Now that might be okay in a business, where a manager wants the chance to evaluate an employee's ability to adjust to adverse circumstances and perform a turnaround. But it's an irresponsible attitude when related to the pResident of the United States, who has responsibility for the safety and prosperity of hundreds of millions of countrymen and inordinate influence over the fortunes of the rest of the world. And even in business, such a tactic could only safely be applied to a lower-level employee -- no competent manager would risk the company's fortunes on a human resources experiment.


David Brooks has an interesting column today. In it, he compares the ways Bush and Kerry's minds work.

Kerry, he opines, thinks like a manager or engineer. While he excels at producing a process by which goals can be met, he fails to "blend his specific proposals into guiding principles."

"Bush, by contrast, is steadfast and resolute. But his weakness is statecraft. That is the task of relating means to ends, of orchestrating the institutions of government to achieve your desired goals.

"Bush sometimes acts as if it's enough for a president to profess his faith. But a coach can't just dream up a game plan. He has to understand what his specific players can and can't do, and adapt to those realities." In Bush's case, he is no coach but a cheerleader.

My company is one of the most brilliantly managed (quoting Barron's and Fortune magazines) in the nation. It is led by engineers, or strategists who think like engineers. They hire people like me for the cheerleader role. Many of the most charismatic CEOs in history have also been colossal failures in the end, damaging their organizations and the prospects of their employees. A blend of the two mindsets in one leader results in a Bill Clinton, which is probably the reason for his huge popularity. But that kind of leader is exceedingly rare. Confined to a choice between the engineer and the cheerleader leadership models, I'll take the engineer any day. The cheerleader (or marketer), like Bush in the debate, has a set number of yells, taglines, or what-not within which to work. We don't lead or even often attend the strategy sessions, so our information is limited and our authority has boundaries. Bush's inability to respond substantively to the debate questions and his repetition of stock phrases betrayed his lack of knowledge or involvement with the important foreign policy challenges of our time. Kerry, on the other hand, performed brilliantly, the facts and concrete plans at his fingertips.

I suspect that voters thought when they cast ballots for Bush in 2000 that Cheney would provide the engineer's role in the government while Bush provided inspiration, moral leadership and overall policy direction. The experience of the past almost-four years has clearly contraindicated that assumption. Bush has been the captive, rather than the leader, of the neocon movement, which has fulfilled that role of policy direction. Cheney has ignored the "engineers" of the State Department and professional bureaucracy, rubber-stamping the idealistic and bumbling adventures of the neocons and using his influence with GWB to assure the continuation of his crony capitalistic and imperialistic initiatives. The Shrub has merely performed as front man, providing cover with his moralistic cliches and strong-man rhetoric.

So which style will win this election? Brooks says, "Bush launched a pre-emptive war even though his intelligence community was incompetent. He occupied a country even though he didn't really believe in, or work with, the institutions of government he would need to complete the task.

"Nonetheless, I suspect that the reason Bush's approval ratings hover around 50 percent, despite a year of carnage in Iraq, is because of the reason many of us in the commentariat don't like to talk about: in a faithful and moralistic nation, Bush's language has a resonance with people who know that he is not always competent, and who know that he doesn't always dominate every argument, but who can sense a shared cast of mind."

Not very reassuring words. I'm faithful too, and I pray that come election day, voters will opt to return "America's favorite neighbor" George W. Bush to the neighborhood, where he can moralize all he wants but never again make a life-and-death choice for the American people. The engineer can read a blueprint: he understands what it takes to provide an infrastructure for society, from foundation (guiding principles) to topping-out (finishing a job). He may not be the most articulate guy on the jobsite -- after all, his is a complex duty. But he knows the steps of the process and is able to speak honestly and directly to the architect, the project owner, and the employees, and he knows the value of doing so; otherwise, the job doesn't get done, and for the engineer, seeing the blueprint come alive is his raison d'etre.

The cheerleader can only stand by and rah rah while others play the game... or cry when it's lost.

Friday, October 1


What a hoot. Scumbag Dick Morris is on Bill O'Reilly and blames the whole debate fiasco on Bush's lack of "homework." When Bill asked him what Shrub would have to do to score better in the next debate, Morris repeated several times that he had to practice, he would have to have the issues drummed into him by rote. "With Bill Clinton," he said, "you didn't have to do that. He'd just go out and do it. But with George Bush, he has to do his homework." As if professor Karl Rove hadn't prepped his boss properly and/or little legacy student George hadn't completed his assignment!

I know I read reports pre-debate that said GWB, who usually retires for the night at 9:30 p.m., was conducting late-night practices in the days before the debate. The fact is, a president of the United State shouldn't have to have the "issues drummed into him by rote." They should be at his fingertips. That this is not the case with GWB was not only evident in last night's debate but it's downright scary.

As are his beady little vacant eyes.


Earlier I was reading another blog where someone commented on Bush's poor posture last night and how while it might work during a stump speech, it was inappropriate for a formal debate.

But Bush has been "slouching" for some time now. I think this is largely due to the fact that he's taken to walking with his arms bowed away from his body, his hands curving towards his hips, looking for all the world as if he's a gunslinger readying himself to fast-draw. You can't stand that way with your spine straight.

He's been living his cowboy fantasy since 9/11, and every day it gets worse.

Unfortunately for him, last night he looked like Billy Bob Thornton staring down the barrel of Kurt Russell's Wyatt Earp.


I suspect that it might be over. Despite reports that independent voters, while liking what they saw in Kerry still want to know what Kerry would do in Iraq, if Bush doesn't do something drastic in the next debate to reverse the uneasy impression they have of him they'll pull the lever for Kerry.

I know some fairly well-informed people who habitually postpone making a decision until they enter the voting both. Knowing them as well as I do, it's my contention that refusing to decide gives them a sort of power -- both sides court them, and they project a thoughtful independence that they imagine gives them an aura of sophistication. Several of them today gave me a world-weary shrug when I questioned them about their thoughts on the debate and indicated that they had only watched the debate off and on, you know, it was the same old tired stuff, these guys are just politicians, after all.

But you know what? Despite their seeming indifference, all three of my "subjects" are great citizens, devoted to their charities, and have probably never missed a vote in the past 20 years. When push comes to shove, they'll be scared to death to chance another four years of Bush. Only the Republican base can continue to ignore the signs of instability, arrogance and ignorance, despite the pResident's vaunted "passion" for his convictions.

Passion without direction, after all, is just an explosion.


I've been waiting all day for someone to articulate what I saw in the debate last night. Sidney Blumenthal comes through:

Kerry gains the upper hand in a debate as significant for its substance as for what it revealed about Bush.

John Kerry was set up beforehand as Bush's ideal foil: long-winded, dour and dull. But the Kerry who showed up was crisp, nimble and formidable. His thrusts brought out Bush's rigidity and stubbornness. The more Bush pleaded the case of his own decisiveness, the more he appeared reactive. Time and again, as he attempted to halt Kerry, he accused him of "mixed signals" and "mixed messages" and "inconsistency." For Bush, certainty equals strength. His facial expressions exposed his exasperation at having to hear an opposing view. As he accused Kerry of being contradictory, it was obvious that he was peeved at being contradicted.

Kerry responded with a devastating deconstruction of Bush's epistemology. Nothing like this critique of pure reason has ever been heard in a presidential debate. "It's one thing to be certain, but you can be certain and be wrong," said Kerry. "It's another to be certain and be right, or to be certain and be moving in the right direction, or be certain about a principle and then learn new facts and take those new facts and put them to use in order to change and get your policy right. What I worry about with the president is that he's not acknowledging what's on the ground, he's not acknowledging the realities of North Korea, he's not acknowledging the truth of the science of stem cell research or of global warming and other issues. And certainty sometimes can get you in trouble."
In response, Bush simply insisted on his authority. "I just know how this world works, and that in the councils of government, there must be certainty from the U.S. president." He reverted to his claim that Sept. 11 justified the invasion of Iraq because "the enemy" -- meaning Saddam Hussein -- "attacked us." A stunned but swift-footed Kerry observed: "The president just said something extraordinarily revealing and frankly very important in this debate. In answer to your question about Iraq and sending people into Iraq, he just said, 'The enemy attacked us.' Saddam Hussein didn't attack us. Osama bin Laden attacked us." In his effort to banish all doubt, Bush had retreated into a substitute reality, a delusional version of Iraq, ultimately faith based.

Watch the one-panel ad and read the whole thing.

DEBATEGATE: Fox News publishes obvious lies about John Kerry to the front page of!!!

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall October 1, 2004 05:08 PM

(October 01, 2004 -- 05:08 PM EDT)

Fox News has now posted a retraction and apology for the piece with the fabricated Kerry quotes ...

Earlier Friday, posted an item purporting to contain quotations from Kerry. The item was based on a reporter’s partial script that had been written in jest and should not have been posted or broadcast. We regret the error, which occurred because of fatigue and bad judgment, not malice.

The only retraction doesn't name the reporter in question, Carl Cameron, which was noted in the statement Fox News gave TPM this afternoon.
-- Josh Marshall

That's it? Is there any way to follow up on this and find out why Carl really posted this article as factual? There's blood in the water and we ought to follow this sucker all the way to the truth. Theres gotta be a seedy story here. Well....maybe it's bad enough. Naaaah. Only if the print media and tele-media pick up the story. What a steaming pile of...


Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall October 1, 2004 04:48 PM

(October 01, 2004 -- 04:48 PM EDT)

Okay some more details on that bogus Kerry story that ran this morning on the Fox News website. As we noted earlier, this morning the front page of the Fox website ran a story with a series of phony Kerry quotes (see post below). After questions were asked the offending material was quickly pulled from the site, without explanation.

So what happened?

Late this afternoon I spoke to Fox spokesman Paul Schur who told me the following ...

“Carl [Cameron] made a stupid mistake which he regrets. And he has been reprimanded for his lapse in judgment. It was a poor attempt at humor.”

So the Fox reporter covering the Kerry campaign puts together this Kerry-bashing parody right out of the RNC playbook with phony quotes intended to peg him as girlish fool and somehow it found its way on the Fox website as a news item.

Imagine that.

More to follow ...
-- Josh Marshall

*CHEER* Give em Hell Josh!

Spin is not enough for Fox News: DEBATEGATE!

Talking Points Memo:

You're not going to believe Fox News did this. Yeah you will.

Is Fox News literally making stuff up out of whole cloth about John Kerry?

I don't expect much from this Republican operation. But this does seem to break new ground.

If you go to the front page of the Fox News site, there's a link right there up front to "Trail Tales: What's that Face".

Link through and you find this ...

Rallying supporters in Tampa Friday, Kerry played up his performance in Thursday night's debate, in which many observers agreed the Massachusetts senator outperformed the president.

"Didn't my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate!" Kerry said Friday.

With the foreign-policy debate in the history books, Kerry hopes to keep the pressure on and the sense of traction going.

Aides say he will step up attacks on the president in the next few days, and pivot somewhat to the domestic agenda, with a focus on women and abortion rights.

"It's about the Supreme Court. Women should like me! I do manicures," Kerry said.

Kerry still trails in actual horse-race polls, but aides say his performance was strong enough to rally his base and further appeal to voters ready for a change.

"I'm metrosexual — he's a cowboy," the Democratic candidate said of himself and his opponent.

A "metrosexual" is defined as an urbane male with a strong aesthetic sense who spends a great deal of time and money on his appearance and lifestyle.

Did Kerry really say that stuff? Stuff that sounds like classic winger parody? I looked around on google and no other reporters seem to have gotten those choice quotes from Senator Kerry. A source on the Kerry campaign told me Kerry certainly didn't say anything remotely like that.

So what's the story from Fox? Are these quotes real? Made up? Unidentified parody? Straight-up fabrications?
-- Josh Marshall

And then...

Caught red-handed?

This morning on the Fox News website, Fox was running a post-debate story about Kerry with several apparently fabricated quotes meant to disparage the Democratic candidate.

Now Fox has pulled the article from the front page without explanation. And on the article itself the passages I quoted in the post below have all been removed -- again, without explanation.

[ed. note: I saved a copy of the offending article in its original form. Normally, I'd upload it to the site in .pdf format. But I'm away from my office and without my .pdf making software. I have a copy of it saved in Microsoft's .mht format. So I'll work on getting a copy online.]

So what's the deal here? Where did the fabricated piece come from? Who made up the quotes? How long did it run? Why did it get taken down? What happened?
-- Josh Marshall

Josh is all over this. He rocks. Check this out:

Follow-up to the previous two posts ...

I just placed a call to Fox News in Washington, DC to see if they had any explanation for the fabricated Kerry story they were running this morning on their website.

We're waiting to hear back. We'll update when he hear their explanation.

Howie, are you gonna be following up on this?
-- Josh Marshall

Fox News must pay for this! Bloggers of the Blogosphere unite!

The Kerry Economy

It's kinda funny. Kerry wins the debate last night and just look what happens to the market indexes this afternoon:

Dow 10,178.64 +98.37 (+0.98%)
Nasdaq 1,935.41 +38.57 (+2.03%)
S&P 500 1,129.68 +15.10 (+1.35%)


I must comment on CNN's post-debate coverage last night. I thought it was amazingly partisan, clueless and hapless. Jeff Greenfield: "Kerry looked -- and I hate to say it -- as presidential as the president." Did he hate to say it because he didn't want it to be true? Or because it's a cliche? Wolf Blitzer looked pained and lost trying to be "fair and balanced" to Bush when the facts just weren't. Carlos Watson, both before and after the debate, was clearly trying to make happy re Bush.

Look at the Pundits Scorecard:

Paul Begala - GWB content B-, delivery C-; Kerry content A+, delivery A
Bob Novak - GWB content B, delivery B-; Kerry content D, delivery A
Carlos Watson - GWB content B+, delivery B; Kerry content B, delivery B+

You expect this from Begala and Novak -- they don't pretend to be independent. But what debate could Watson possibly have been watching, that he could score the debate a tie? Even Fox couldn't say such a thing! His credibility is completely destroyed (not that he had much left with me).

(Incidentally, the CNN audience scorecard thus far rates GWB a C in both content and delivery and awards Kerry a B for content and A- for delivery.)

I trust Fox is getting the deserved kudos for its split-screen coverage. Credit where it's due.


Ruy Teixeira:

Respondents choices on who won the 1st Presidential debate:

Kerry beat Bush 43-28 percent uncommitted voters, with 29 percent chosing a tie. - Knowledge Networks for CBS News

Kerry beat Bush 45-36 percent among debate viewers, with 17 for tie. Kerry won independents by 20-point margin - ABC News poll

Kerry beat Bush 53-37 percent of RV debate viewers with 8 percent for both, 1 percent neither, 1 percent no opinion - CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll

My friends, I think we just heard the sound of a tree falling in the forest.


Listened to talk radio wackos Darrell Ankarlo and Laura Ingraham on the commute. Having queried everyone I know at the office this morning about their take on last night's debate, I've concluded that these are the main opposition talking points for the day:

(1) A misinterpretation of Kerry's reference to pre-emptive action requiring that we pass a "global test" whereby our countrymen know why we're doing what we're doing and the world accepts it as justified. The first part about "our countrymen" is being completely deleted from everyone's memory and the "global test" part is being spun as Kerry reaffirming he won't do anything about our defense unless the French and Germans okay it.

(2) Kerry's answers are STILL TOO LONG AND COMPLICATED. Now, how anyone could have seen the same debate I saw last night, where Kerry was clear, clipped, and on-time, and still say that just says more to me about them than about Kerry. How much more dumbed-down can they want it?

(3) Bush is passionate about what he believes, and he believes what he says, so we can trust him. (So what if he hasn't a clue as to how to get us out of a desperate mess of his own making?) Kerry is still a flip-flopper. (They swagger less when making that point since last night, but hey, it worked before, so they're staying with it.)

(4) Kerry's "mixed messages" embolden the enemy and demoralize our troops.

The bottom line is, Kerry gave them no good new ammunition to use, and they're embarrassed by their guy's performance but can't and won't admit it.


What's everyone saying? The TV newsfolk are spinning madly. Let's look at print:

James Ridgeway says the debate was "a knockout for Kerry":

Bush tried to use his campaign's flip-flop line against Kerry, but it went nowhere. Kerry had such a clear control of facts and argument that the charge fell almost immediately, a spent and useless weapon.

Paul Krugman bemoans "America's lost respect":

As a result of the American military," President Bush declared last week, "the Taliban is no longer in existence."

It's unclear whether Mr. Bush misspoke, or whether he really is that clueless. But his claim was in keeping with his re-election strategy, demonstrated once again in last night's debate: a president who has done immense damage to America's position in the world hopes to brazen it out by claiming that failure is success...let me make a prediction: if Mr. Bush gets a second term, we will soon have no democracies left among our allies - no, not even Tony Blair's Britain. Mr. Bush will be left with the support of regimes that don't worry about the legalities - regimes like Vladimir Putin's Russia.

WaPo has a patently ridiculous editorial take on the debate:

Yet Mr. Bush's clarity in defining goals was not matched with candor about conditions on the ground in Iraq.

Clarity in defining goals? As far as I could tell (and this is nothing new) his goal is to "win" and "defeat terrorism." Those are EVERYBODY's goals. So what?

Ron Brownstein of the LA Times agrees with me:

But the president sometimes seemed exasperated and even angry as Kerry pressed his case against him; at one point, Bush even apparently sighed in frustration, a distant echo of the behavior that hurt Vice President Al Gore in his first debate against Bush in 2000...But Bush may have been weakest in offering specifics on how he would improve the situation in Iraq. On that question, he offered mostly resolve.

Peter Canellos of The Boston Globe says, "Senator scored with confidence":

But for most of the first hour, during which Iraq was the prime focus, Bush's repetition seemed insistent rather than firm, and his body language -- sighing, clenching his teeth, rolling his eyes -- suggested a man on the defensive. Kerry, as had been expected, was more fluid and facile in scoring conventional debating points -- answering Bush's arguments with fresh rebuttals. But his easy manner projected an unexpected confidence that has been missing for most of the general-election campaign, and he leavened his senatorial manner with more-direct answers.

We'll have to wait for a credible poll to see how voters actually reacted to the show. But Zogby gives us a hint what he thinks that may be. Writing before the debate was aired, "The pressure is really on Mr. Kerry to give a strong performance in both the debates and in the remaining five weeks of this campaign. If he is the John Kerry who defeated popular Governor Bill Weld in the Senate race of 2000 and the one who came from dismally low numbers in 2003 to win the primaries in 2004, he will win this race." He WAS that John Kerry, so "we're going to win!"

Okay, okay. But everybody is entitled to a little celebration once in a while.

Bush: the greatest and most dangerous flip-flopper of all time...

"The most important thing is for us to find Osama Bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him." -- George W. Bush September 13, 2001

"So I don't know where he is," our commander-in-chief replied. "You know, I don't spend that much time on him... I am truly not that concerned about him." --George W. Bush March 13, 2002 Press conference in the James S. Brady Briefing Room

May he burn in hell for what he's done....and all that he has not. Read below all ye that have forgot:

Al-Jazeera: Bin Laden tape praises hijackers

September 9, 2002 Posted: 7:38 PM EDT (2338 GMT)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (CNN) -- A tape purportedly of Osama bin Laden praises the al Qaeda hijackers for changing "the face of history" when they flew airliners into the World Trade Center and Pentagon last year.

"There aren't enough words to describe how great these men were and how great their deeds were," bin Laden said in an audiotape message played Monday by the Qatar-based, Arabic-language television news network Al-Jazeera.

It was not immediately clear when the tape was made, but it left no doubt that al Qaeda was behind the terror attacks that killed more than 3,000 people. In the past, al Qaeda has released tapes claiming responsibility for terror attacks, such as the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, months afterward.

"When you talk about the invasion of New York and Washington, you talk about the men who changed the face of history and went against the traitors," bin Laden said on the tape. "These great men have consolidated faith in the hearts of believers and undermined the plans of the crusaders and their agents in the region."

Al-Jazeera also showed al Qaeda video of the hijackers -- all wearing turbans and having full beards, in contrast to their clean-shaven looks on the day of the attacks -- reviewing flight manuals in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and it played a video message from one of the hijackers, who implored the United States to "take your fat hands off the land of Arabs."

"We will get you. We will humiliate you. We will never stop following you," said Abdulaziz Alomari, one of the hijackers aboard American Airlines Flight 11, which flew into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

"God praise everybody who trained and helped me, namely the leader Sheikh Osama bin Laden. May God bless him. May God accept our deeds."

An image of the gutted Pentagon was superimposed behind Alomari's shoulder as he spoke -- an indication al Qaeda had made the video after the attacks.

Al-Jazeera did not specify how it obtained the tapes, saying only that it had received them Monday.

A longer version of the tapes is to be played Tuesday.

In the bin Laden audiotape, he specifically names the four hijackers who U.S. authorities have said were the pilots of the four hijacked flights. Of the mastermind hijacker Mohammed Atta, who flew the first plane into the World Trade Center, bin Laden said, "He carried the pains of the nation. May God accept him as a martyr."

He called Hani Hanjour, the terrorist who flew the plane into the Pentagon, "a great man."

The two other men whom bin Laden named were Marwan Al-Shehhi, the pilot of United Airlines Flight 175, which slammed into the south tower of the World Trade Center, and Ziad Jarrahi, the pilot of United Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers apparently fought with the hijackers.

While bin Laden spoke, faces of the hijackers were superimposed on the screen.

U.S. authorities have said they are unsure whether bin Laden is dead or alive.

Sources have told CNN that bin Laden suffered a shrapnel wound in the U.S. bombardment of Afghanistan but is alive in the frontier region of Pakistan near the Afghan border.

Heres another memory jogger:

Bin Laden tells U.S.: Expect more

Osama bin Laden praises the suicide hijackers who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks and calls on Muslims around the world to join a war against America.

Osama bin Laden swears America "will never dream of security" in a videotaped message that aired Sunday on Al Jazeera television.

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times,
published October 8, 2001

Osama bin Laden on Sunday sent another chilling message to the United States that was heard around the world, declaring that Americans will not feel safe or secure unless Muslims feel the same in their countries.

"I swear to God that America will never dream of security. Or see it, before we live it and see it in Palestine, and not before the infidels' armies leave the land of Mohammed, peace be upon him," bin Laden said...

Bush let Bin Laden get away
To plan attacks another day
Now both the bastard-fucks must pay
The first we fire, the next fillet

The evil eye and furious gaze of George W Bush....n stuff

Talk about a smirking chimp

I'll pay for this!...uh...I mean...uuhh...ya see....I understand how hard it is to speak. Talkins tough. It's hard work. As I was saying, You'll pay for this! I'll get you Kerry! And your little dog too!!*mad cackle*

After this debate even Bush is leaning to the left

Dude whens this class gonna be over???

I'll fu*%#n have you killed!!!

Thinking things could not possibly get any worse, conservative Republicans were even further dissapointed by Bush's debate performance, when the president asked America to join him in a prayer to the God of Lemons to protect Florida Citrus growers from future hurricanes.

Hear ye Hear ye

AMERICAblog: Because a great nation deserves the truth

AMERICAblog: Because a great nation deserves the truth

Americablog has done such a great job of post debate coverage. I have to refer you to their entire blog, not just one post. Check out everything they've posted tonight. They've got great stuff. Cheers to them for all their wonderful coverage. Thanks guys!!!

Here's a taste of Americablog's coverage of the debate coverage(smile)
Most of you know the National Review is a right-wing rag. Here's what they had to say about the debate:

Friday, October 01, 2004
National Review SLAMS Bush!
by John in DC - 10/1/2004 01:46:33 AM

Read it and weep, baby:

I thought Kerry did very, very well; and I thought Bush did poorly — much worse than he is capable of doing. Listen: If I were just a normal guy — not Joe Political Junkie — I would vote for Kerry. On the basis of that debate, I would. If I were just a normal, fairly conservative, war-supporting guy: I would vote for Kerry. On the basis of that debate.
And I promise you that no one wants this president reelected more than I. I think that he may want it less.
Let me phrase one more time what I wish to say: If I didn't know anything — were a political naïf, being introduced to the two candidates for the first time — I would vote for Kerry. Based on that infernal debate....

Friends, I have no doubt that this little reaction column of mine will disappoint many of you. I'm sorry. I have called George W. Bush a Rushmore-level president. I believe history will bear that out; and if it doesn't, history will be wrong. I think that Bush's reelection is crucial not only to this country but to the world at large. I not only think that Bush is the right man for the job; I have a deep fondness — love, really — for the man, though I don't know him.
But tonight (I am writing immediately post-debate) did not show him at his best. Not at all. He will do better — I feel certain — in subsequent debates. I also worry that they count less.

When Bush's own people can see how badly he performed, despite their over-arching desire to ignore reality and pretend everything is hunky dori, the man is in trouble. At least I hope. It's in the hands of the American people now. A few broken election laws aside(Florida) - SUDDEN INSIGHT

Some rather plain talk from Houston. Good stuff. - SUDDEN INSIGHT


A serious debate, on more than equal footing
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

Let's be honest. We won't have a clear idea of any effect of tonight's debate on the presidential campaign until well into the weekend or beyond.

Media coverage -- and campaign spin -- can settle in to reflect an outcome that's sometime at odds with the initial response.

In short, first impressions are often wrong.

Smart writer. This worries me. No matter how well Kerry performed tonight the press has not yet reared its ugly head. They turned the sweet keep a stiff upper lip Howard Dean speech during the primary into the angry Howard scream speech. As the major tele-media often take their story lines from those incubated in the dungeons of conservative talk-radio, I remain skeptical about how the debate will be defined over the next few days. Honestly, I expect the press to screw it all up.

But with that in mind, here's my first draft of history.

President Bush insisted that the first debate be about national security.

He thought he could command -- even dominate -- the issue.

He was wrong.

Over 90 minutes in their nationally televised encounter, Sen. John Kerry easily held his own on questions of the war in Iraq, terrorism, nuclear non-proliferation and other international questions.

Most surprisingly, Bush spent much of the evening it seemed on Kerry's turf, defending his Republican administration's stewardship in that crucial field.

Kerry was seeking to give voters who do not want to re-elect Bush enough confidence to support his Democratic candidacy. If Kerry's performance didn't accomplish his aim, it may be an impossible task.

Confidence in a candidate is an especially important question in terms of foreign policy, because it includes the role as military commander-in-chief.

There had been speculation whether Bush would use the debate to discuss any errors in Iraq, either in the invasion or its administration.

He did not. He even seemed to back away from his earlier concession that there had been "miscalculations."

He remains, he insisted "realistic" and "optimistic."

Kerry said he had made a mistake in how he talked about his vote against $87 billion for the Iraq conflict, but "the president made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse?"

Bush's main thrust, repeated several times, was that Kerry, having declared Iraq "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time," could not be trusted as commander-in-chief.

Bush's main message, however, may have been the sometimes sour expression which cameras caught several times as Kerry spoke.

Bush's well-known favoring of hammering home a few main thoughts may have looked more like having a limited range of message.

Even with both candidates' frequent recourse to tested campaign-speech formulation, it was a serious discussion of serious issues.

Personality, as opposed to policy, had little to do with the evening. But Kerry's presentation was generally strong, while Bush had more moments of hesitation.

Both candidates scheduled rally appearances immediately after the debate, giving themselves an opportunity to clean up any rough edges (or worse) from the debate.

They know that the television's drive for something fresh give them a chance of getting their personal post-debate spin on the air quickly, especially for Friday morning's news shows.

Debate review

The short of it: Kerry rocked, Bush sucked. Thank God. Heres some analysis from someone who gets paid to make it. Keith is one of the very few tele-media show hosts that has insightful things to say. Break it down Keith.

Live blogging tonight's presidential debate

• September 30, 2004 | 11:43 p.m. ET

The tie goes to the challenger (Keith Olbermann)

If you had heard John Kerry and George Bush for the first time in this first debate, it would've been hard for you to figure out which one was the president, and which one the challenger struggling to coalesce his campaign.

That is very bad news for George Bush.

Kerry still fell periodically into the quicksand of his familiar Senatespeak, still sometimes must have blinded viewers with his ellipses, still occasionally had to have had them banging their ears to clear out his lapses back towards the unnecessary role of East Coast Distributor of Statesmanship. But for ninety minutes at the University of Miami, the Senator never once seemed off guard, never once seemed the wannabe victim of a practiced and seasoned incumbent, never seemed like he was in anything worse than a tie ballgame.

From his first bold statement, accusing Mr. Bush of a "colossal" mistake in judgment in Iraq, through his ominous pronouncement that "certainty can sometimes get you into trouble," to his last stiletto twist of quoting the poet laureate of conservatism George Will about Russian democracy's lost momentum, John Kerry never seemed to flip-flop, never seemed flustered, never seemed out of focus.

President Bush, once unfairly described as sounding like a 2nd Grade Teacher frustrated because Kindergarten students didn't intuitively understand him, at times came close to justifying that bitter evaluation. Twice at least he seemed visibly exasperated by Kerry— ready to turn on seeming softballs, but unable to connect. "Course we've done everything to protect this country," he began one reply, then petered out. Later offered another opportunity to pound Kerry after the Senator reminded the audience that Osama Bin Laden had attacked this country, not Saddam Hussein, Mr. Bush began "I know Osama Bin Laden attacked us," and then paused as if that statement had led him not towards an easy parallel between threats realized and threats pending, but rather down a dead-end alley. He took the alley.

In trying to explain his own previous use of the term "miscalculation" in regards to Iraq, the President appeared to get lost in the kind of entangled nuance which his party has so effectively criticized in Kerry. His explanation of the fact of the insurgency might've been boiled down to 'we won too fast'— and by that point, the President's breathing itself seemed labored.

By the time Mr. Bush made perhaps his most important news, in his concluding remarks— that in a second administration, the military would remain all-volunteer— the meaningfulness of the remark had lost its impact. It had been fifteen minutes since Kerry had proclaimed that a "backdoor draft" had already been instituted in this country, and that the nation's armed forces were "overextended." The President's forceful answer was so delayed as to be relegated to an afterthought, the kind of mot juste that comes to you on the way home from the party.

It is impossible to gauge, in an era recently and aptly described as the time when vast numbers of the electorate don't want to hear what they don't already believe, if Kerry's forcefulness and the president's frequent struggles will have any profound effect on the polls, or on the election itself. But it is impossible to believe that undecideds, or even Mr. Bush's supporters, could have watched this debate and thought that the president had put his opponent away, or made Senator Kerry seem unpresidential.

A personally popular, image-creating and image-employing president— man who has triumphed, rightly or wrongly, by rendering the complex issue into the simple and stalwartly-held belief—should have looked at least as in command as his challenger. And he simply did not. By Joe Scarborough's count, the president fell back no less than eleven times on the cliche "It's hard work."

Tonight, for him, it certainly seemed to be exactly that.


Thursday, September 30


AmericaBlog has all the polls you need to vote in TONIGHT. We cannot risk the story being any other than the truth, that John Kerry tonight showed us the president of the United States we must have to replace the utterly clueless George W. Bush.

I voted in them all, and in none did Our Man score in the "who won" question less than 70%. Either our guys are dominating the polls in a very big way, or America saw it the way I saw it.

Either way, it's a great night.


I'm speechless. From my perspective, it was 80-20 Kerry. Bush was so fumbling, unconvincing, and incoherent I couldn't believe it. This was so far beyond my expectations I actually started feeling compassionate for Bush about 30 minutes into it.

I started to blog the debate but stopped about 10 minutes in. I was almost paralyzed with disbelief.

As I started to listen to the post-debate reports, at first I was appalled and dismayed. People were actually saying that Bush was adequate but not exciting, and Kerry didn't hit the homer I knew he did. As the hour has worn on, I am finally hearing a (MSNBC - Joe Scarborough) panel speaking a little more courageously about Bush's poor performance. But only a little.

We live in Bizarro World.

UPDATE: They're trying to spin John Kerry as the anti-war, and therefore neutral-on-the-terrorists candidate.

UPDATE: Who looked more presidential? Joe Scarborough: I'm a Republican, and I say John Kerry. Howard Fineman: John Kerry. Kerry won the event.


Center for Public Integrity issues report:

A new report finds the Defense Department now spends half of its entire budget on private contractors. The study also found that the top 50 contractors received more than half of all the money and were more likely to get contracts without competitive bidding.

In fact, the report states that 44% of the contracts are let without bidding.

Now, I find this remarkable, perhaps because I know just a little something about government and contractors. In my case, I am a marketing executive of a Fortune 250 company that, among its business lines, owns and operates one of the nation's top building contractors. We've built for the U.S. government, state and local governments for more than a half century, constructing VA hospitals, courthouses, schools, military facilities of all types (including housing, aeronautical and rocket testing, memorials, bases, etc.), structures for the CIA, FBI, NASA -- I could go on an on, but you get the point. The competitive bidding process in nearly all these cases was so structured, so expensive to participate in and so difficult, that today we are striving to do less and less work with governments and positioning ourselves to do "negotiated" work with the private sector almost exclusively. It is incomprehensible to me that nearly half of the military's contract work is now being awarded absent the competitive bidding process...and it makes me very suspicious that something underhanded and corrupt is taking place.

The excuse that corporate mergers have resulted in very few companies having the capabilities to perform the work doesn't hold water. When we bid for a contract, it is customary for the client, on the basis of returned RFP's (Request For Proposal), to select a small number of companies for their "short list." It is between these few that the real competition takes place. We are challenged to answer a zillion questions, from our detailed estimates of the costs of every aspect of the project to the names and experience of the exact team that will oversee the project. It is a rigorous procedure, and when we don't win, the money expended is lost. So what if there really WERE very few companies with the appropriate capabilities? Those that there are, should still be subject to the competitive bid process. In the end, it's the only way to prevent charges of cryonism corruption.

While I'm at it, it often bothers me that Cheney is usually accused of an ongoing connection with Halliburton because of his deferred compensation, which is chickenfeed and insured at that. That's not the real issue. It's his 433,000 stock options that should be called into question. Cheney SAYS he intends to donate the proceeds of them to charity once he's exercised them. Does anyone really want to trust him on that? If he meant it, why hasn't he exercised them already and donated them to charity? I suspect he intends to wait until after he's no longer VP -- then nobody can hold him to it.


I wrote this earlier as a comment to Kevin Drum's post about a military draft on Political Animal:

In the fall of 1969, as college students, my future (and present) husband and I sweated buckets worrying if his application for Conscientious Objector status would be approved, or if not, if he would get a low number in the draft lottery. I can't believe that 35 years later we are facing the same dilemma -- only this time, it's worse. We're the parents of five young adults aged 21-26. I don't want to see a single one of our precious sons and daughters fighting for George W. Bush's insane wars. I would be proud to see them fighting to protect the U.S.A. against a real and imminent threat, but an ill-conceived adventure by a man who couldn't be bothered to even make an effort to advance Carter and Clinton's progress in the Middle East is not a quest for which I'd sacrifice their lives. Canada, you nearly got us once -- I'm already looking for homesteads.

A commenter responded:

Motherlode -

I thought Clinton's progress was negated after the second intifada started in 9/00.

Strictly speaking, you're right, that was a huge setback. My point was that Democratic POTUS's have understood that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a virus that infects the entire region and an evenhanded approach to the problem and leadership by the U.S. towards a solution has been our best hedge against a regional conflagration and an increase of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism that could threaten our own nation. Bush, in his laziness and laissez-faire attitude, allowed the situation to deteriorate. And now look where we are.

image added by silmarill 10/2/04


Oh my God. You must read this post by Mark Kleiman:

"The Bush administration is supporting a provision in the House leadership's intelligence reform bill that would allow U.S. authorities to deport certain foreigners to countries where they are likely to be tortured or abused, an action prohibited by the international laws against torture the United States signed 20 years ago.

"The provision, part of the massive bill introduced Friday by House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), would apply to non-U.S. citizens who are suspected of having links to terrorist organizations but have not been tried on or convicted of any charges. Democrats tried to strike the provision in a daylong House Judiciary Committee meeting, but it survived on a party-line vote.

"The provision, human rights advocates said, contradicts pledges President Bush made after the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal erupted this spring that the United States would stand behind the U.N. Convention Against Torture. Hastert spokesman John Feehery said the Justice Department 'really wants and supports' the provision."
No, this isn't a winning issue for the Democrats. Just the reverse. Forcing Democrats to vote against torturing suspected terrorists is an excellent way to paint them as soft on terrorism. That's been the Administration strategy from the get-go: pursue absolutely disgustinly outrageously illegal and unconstitutional policies and then take advantage of the fact that some of your political opponents have enough self-respect and common decency to oppose them. It worked in 2002, and it's working now.

As noted before in this space, anyone voting Republican this year is fully on notice of what that means. Maybe you intend to vote for staying the course in Iraq, tort reform, or tax cuts, or against affirmative action, teachers' unions, or political correctness. But you are, in addition, actually voting for torture.

My great fear is that they know it, and like Bush, will be wildly enthusiastic at this "strong, resolute" initiative.

I love it. Lou Dobbs is calling tonight's debate the first "Presidential Presentation."


Just reported by CNN: U.S. military have moved in a major offensive on Samarra, Iraq, mounting a full-brigade operation, in what they call "a battle for Samarra."

UPDATE: After luring children with chocolate to the sewage plant opening that resulted in 35 dead Iraqi children and over 100 horribly wounded, I surely hope and pray our military was careful to send in leaflets warning innocents to evacuate before the operation began and gave them time to do it. I should explain, I'm sure our individual troops offered the chocolate in all innocence and good intentions, but what were they thinking? Any gathering of Iraqis with U.S. forces HAD to be seen as a natural target for violence. A terrible tragedy, and not only for the Iraqis -- every soldier that offered chocolate to an Iraqi child will have to live with the result forever. What are we doing to our young troops?


Of the many great debate questions for Bush that I've read so far, this is my favorite:

Name: Michael Olsen
Hometown: Alexandria, Virginia
Question:  Mr. President, you have accused John Kerry of not supporting the troops because he did not vote in favor of the funding bill that contained funds for basic soldier gear such as body armor. My question is who sent them into battle without that equipment in the first place?

(Via Eric Alterman's Altercation.)


Via Smirking Chimp, "Bush is an embarrassment to real men."

The man on TV swaggers like he's undefeated in 57 Collinwood bar fights. He threatens, he talks big, he's fearless. His are the pronouncements of a badass.

Meet George Bush, consummate man.

It's a noble thing he seeks. While the Manly Man has fallen from fashion, replaced by The Sensitive Guy who can cook a five-course meal while discussing his feelings of inadequacy, the rules for real men have been around for thousands of years, and they've always been simple and good:

You work hard. You provide. You look out for the weak and speak when everyone else is afraid. You make your shoulders available to those who need carrying.

It doesn't matter who you are or what you do. This is the one-size-fits-all path to honor.

Unfortunately, Bush, like so many others, confuses attitude with masculinity.

Jesus understood the rules. Now here was one tough sonuvabitch. He knew that to be a real man is to sacrifice, to walk it like you talk it, not wear it on your sleeve.

But Bush grew up with the trust-fund set, where no one knew the traditional ways. So he adopted the fraudulent version, like the gangbanger who waves a gun and thinks he's big, yet carries no one, provides for no one. This, unfortunately, is the definition of a punk.

If Bush understood the rules, there would be no swagger. The toughest fight of his life probably came in the third grade, when a tall girl kicked his ass and the Secret Service came to the rescue. The guy never earned his bones.
If Bush was a real man, he'd keep his sights on the real enemy, Osama, not pick an easier, more convenient fight with Saddam. It's like the guy who's called out by a big man in a bar, but decides to beat up a midget in the parking lot instead.

It was no sin to seek revenge on Saddam, who tried to kill his father. Real men understand the beauty, the necessity, of vengeance. But Bush had his chance before the war, when Saddam challenged him to a duel. A real man would have relished the opportunity, demanding to fight with knives, so he could kill Saddam up close, with his own hand. Yet Bush was a coward, choosing instead to burn 1,000 American lives and billions of American dollars, then play the cheerleader from thousands of miles away, lauding the heroics of men and women who were brave enough to do what he would not. A real man would never say "bring 'em on" from the safety of the sidelines.

If Bush was a real man, he would kick his swift-boat lapdogs in the head. It was no sin to stay clear of Vietnam; it wasn't our fight. But a real man never calls out the courage of those who went, and he sure as hell doesn't let his lapdogs do it. He does it himself, face to face.

If Bush was a real man, he wouldn't side with pharmaceutical companies against grandmas who can't afford medicine. There's only one choice in this fight: You go with Grandma. A real man would rather stick his face in an arc welder than abet the suffering of old people.

If Bush was a real man, he wouldn't run up deficits like a trophy wife. He'd respect and fear debt for the curse it is. He'd understand that he must pay his own way, leave a little extra for his children. Only a trust-fund kid believes he can spend without borders, knowing that someone else will pay.

If Bush was a real man, he wouldn't talk about the economy rising. He'd understand that a man's highest calling is a real job, with real pay, so he can put food on the table of his children, a roof over the head of his wife. He'd know that everything else is bullshit.

If Bush was a real man, he'd never pick a fight with gays. He'd understand the embarrassment in beating down those without power. It's like punching out a guy in a wheelchair, then pretending you're Shaka Zulu.
If Bush was a real man, he'd know there's no honor in being a country club tough guy, one who believes the work of men is to rattle their lips, then play another round of golf. He'd also know there's no righteousness in following the badass CEO model, guys who lays off hundreds to Wall Street cheers for making the tough call, but never do any of this face-to-face, and never put themselves on the line.

Because if Bush was a real man, he'd know this code transcends left and right, rich and poor. It's been around forever, and has nothing to do with the squawking parrots in the Capitol or on cable. It's about standing up. Doing what's right. Honor.

And if Bush was a real man, he'd know that even an Ivy League cheerleader can achieve it. All you gotta do is try.
But if Bush was a real man, he'd man up right quick. Because he'd know he's embarrassing us right now.


There's a new PIPA-Knowledge Networks poll that demonstrates that Americans who plan to vote for President Bush largely misread his foreign policy positions, while Kerry supporters are mostly accurate in their assessments. Undecideds also tend to misread Bush’s positions, though to a smaller extent than Bush supporters, but perceive Kerry’s positions correctly. Steven Kull, director of PIPA, comments: “What is striking is that even after nearly four years President Bush’s foreign policy positions are so widely misread, while Senator Kerry, who is relatively new to the public and reputed to be unclear about his positions, is read correctly.”

This doesn't surprise me. For one thing, Bush speaks in doublespeak, so who wouldn't be confused? It's surely part of Karl Rove's game plan to deceive voters about Bush's agenda while wooing them with his persona. The mainstream media have also played a significant role in this pattern of deception by (for the most part and until very recently) neglecting or refusing to fact-check Bush's speeches and pronouncements and acting as megaphones for every Republican assertion. And surrounded by Republicans as I am at work, in my extended family, and in my social life, I am convinced that few Repugs do their own research but mostly act as a Greek chorus for their party and its leaders.

What amuses me about the report, though, is that Kerry, who is so often accused of being too long-winded and too detailed in his speeches, has somehow communicated much more effectively with voters than Bush, who is lauded for his "simple, clear, straight talk." Maybe Kerry's too nuanced for voters who are lazy and don't want to have to THINK, but he seems to connect with people who care enough about the issues (and the country) to pay attention.

Bush wouldn't know a straight line if it was a two-by-four and he was knocked over the head with it. He's much more comfortable (and successful) using silly-string speech that winds around, blows with the wind and makes a mess while being mildly amusing, but doesn't in the end have any substance.


From The Right Christians:

Give us, O God,
leaders whose hearts are large enough
to match the breadth of our own souls
and give us souls strong enough
to follow leaders of vision and wisdom.

In seeking a leader, let us seek
more than development for ourselves--
though development we hope for--
more than security for our own land--
though security we need--
more than satisfaction for our wants--
though many things we desire.

Give us the hearts to choose the leader
who will work with other leaders
to bring safety
to the whole world.

Give us leaders
who lead this nation to virtue
without seeking to impose our kind of virtue
on the virtue of others.

Give us a government
that provides for the advancement
of this country
without taking resources from others
to achieve it.

Give us insight enough ourselves
to choose as leaders those who can tell
strength from power,
growth from greed,
leadership from dominance,
and real greatness from the trappings of grandiosity.

We trust you, Great God,
to open our hearts to learn from those
to whom you speak in different tongues
and to respect the life and words
of those to whom you entrusted
the good of other parts of this globe.

We beg you, Great God,
give us the vision as a people
to know where global leadership truly lies,
to pursue it diligently,
to require it to protect human rights
for everyone everywhere.

We ask these things, Great God,
with minds open to your word
and hearts that trust in your eternal care.


--Joan Chittister, OSB

Barbara at Mahablog has some positive thoughts about tonight's debate:

Awhile back I wrote about this article in the July/August Atlantic Monthly, by James Fallows (who has done some great work this year), on Bush's and Kerry's debate style. Kevin Drum writes about it today. Time for a review.
Bush has been a remarkably successful debater in the past. He finessed Ann Richards articulately. His success against Gore is harder to analyze -- part Gore being overbearing, part post-debate spin. Bush was just impressive enough to persuade nearly half the electorate to vote for him..
Can he pull it off again?
Of course he might, but I think it's going to be a lot harder for him now. This is true in spite of the fact that if Bush manages to stand up straight and appear self-assured, no matter what he or John Kerry say, he'll be declared the "winner."
As Fallows indicates, Bush seems to be experiencing some kind of mental deterioration. He's gotten worse since 2000. And his fuse seems to have gotten shorter. If he loses his temper, or his focus, tomorrow night, especially while standing next to a cool, articulate Kerry, Bush's campaign would take a serious blow.
And what's he going to talk about? His stump speech, I'm told, consists of a stand-up act making fun of Kerry combined with happy talk about Iraq. If he tries the Kerry jokes tomorrow he'll look like an asshole (which he is), and I'm sure Kerry is ready to pounce with the facts about the increase in violence in Iraq, plus Colin Powell's recent glum assessment.
Still, we know that Kerry's performance will be picked apart and Bush's will be inflated into a victory, no matter what they do. Bush will be declared the "winner" if he stays on his feet and doesn't pick his nose on camera. When it's over, you'll be able to flip around the dial and watch Pat Buchanan declare that Kerry "didn't lay a glove on him," while the symbiot George Will/Peggy Noonan says, "Doesn't [Bush] look presidential?"
But if he loses his temper ...  well, we can hope.


Frank Rich provides a glimpse into the bizarre world of "The Passion of Bush:"

"George W. Bush: Faith in the White House" must be seen because it shows how someone like General Boykin can stay in his job even in failure and why Mr. Bush feels divinely entitled to keep his job even as we stand on the cusp of an abyss in Iraq. In this pious but not humble worldview, faith, or at least a certain brand of it, counts more than competence, and a biblical mission, or at least a simplistic, blunderbuss facsimile of one, counts more than the secular goal of waging an effective, focused battle against an enemy as elusive and cunning as terrorists. That no one in this documentary, including its hero, acknowledges any constitutional boundaries between church and state is hardly a surprise. To them, America is a "Christian nation," period, with no need even for the fig-leaf prefix of "Judeo-."

Far more startling is the inability of a president or his acolytes to acknowledge any boundary that might separate Mr. Bush's flawed actions battling "against the forces of evil" from the righteous dictates of God. What that level of hubris might bring in a second term is left to the imagination, and "Faith in the White House" gives the imagination room to run riot about what a 21st-century crusade might look like in the flesh. A documentary conceived as a rebuke to "Fahrenheit 9/11" is nothing if not its unintentional and considerably more nightmarish sequel.


Must-reads for today:

Via Working for Change, Molly Ivins says, "When things get this weird, one metaphor just isn't enough" -- "Alice, we're in the Twilight Zone of Wonderland." This is a great "elevator speech" as we say in marketing; i.e., it makes just the right points in a compelling way, but briefly. Share it with your friends.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has some debate questions for George W. Bush.

Bush's hometown newspaper says "Kerry will restore American dignity."

Another Bush National Guard document has been released, this one a letter from Bush while he was at Harvard Business School "resigning" from the Guard because of ""inadequate time to fulfill possible future commitments." Hey, military family of mine -- did you know you could do that?

Well, well. Atrios tells us that MSNBC won't be using GOP operative and sometime-pollster Frank Luntz after the debate tonight.

The Washington Post has a primer on the debate that that says, "Both Bush and Kerry Have Set the Stage With Some Misleading Claims," and debunks some of them.

Wednesday, September 29

So sorry

If George W. Bush is re-(s)elected as pResident of the United States, I will forego watching television news broadcasts until some reason to resume. I will confine myself to print and Internet news.

This is a pledge.

I may make an exception of Lou Dobbs, who has in the past several months given the most un-partisan reports, unless or until he reverts to type.


Lead Balloons at Bad Attitudes on The Man Who Will Not Die:

In the 17 three-way trial heats released since 9/12 by polling organizations whose names are not “Gallup”, Bush is averaging just a 3 point lead.

Shaky incumbent clinging to a negligible lead over a challenger who has failed to close the deal with many voters — the shades of 1980 are getting stronger by the day.

Moreover, given that Kerry just will not fade, the frustration level of the Bush campaign at their failure to shake Kerry must be monumental. And, given that Shifty George himself is at his worst under any sort of pressure or challenge and that he in fact organizes his life to avoid pressure — the former cheerleader who didn’t want to compete to be on the team, who brings his own pillow on the road, who spent the first week after the 2000 vote whining about Gore’s withdrawal of his concession, and who abdicated his office and ran like a rabbit on 9/11 and 9/12 while Rummy and Giuliani held the nation together with baling wire and chewing gum — he must be especially unpleasant and nasty to be around right now.

It’s a “Jason” situation: no matter how many times they kill Kerry, wherever they go, whatever closet, mirror, drawer they open, whatever room they walk into, whatever face in the crowd they glimpse from the limo — it’s Him. He’s just there, and you can’t get away from Him.

I’ve noted this creepy, snake-like, patient, omnipresent, waiting, quality of Kerry's before. And it makes his opponents make mistakes. Just ask Howard Dean or Richard Gephardt.

This has not been the September Karl Rove planned, and it won’t be the October or the November, either.


Re my post yesterday, "Ask the professionals who they'd trust to make us safer," today's Washington Post weighs in on the same issue:

Growing Pessimism on Iraq
Doubts Increase Within U.S. Security Agencies

By Dana Priest and Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, September 29, 2004; Page A01

A growing number of career professionals within national security agencies believe that the situation in Iraq is much worse, and the path to success much more tenuous, than is being expressed in public by top Bush administration officials, according to former and current government officials and assessments over the past year by intelligence officials at the CIA and the departments of State and Defense.

While President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and others have delivered optimistic public appraisals, officials who fight the Iraqi insurgency and study it at the CIA and the State Department and within the Army officer corps believe the rebellion is deeper and more widespread than is being publicly acknowledged, officials say.

Bush supporters are living in a dream world, and if they don't wake up soon, we'll all die in it.


Wow! This is BIG. Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower's son endorses John Kerry.

I find it significant that the sons of the two most popular Republican presidents in the last century have both shed their Republican mantles and now support John Kerry.

THE Presidential election to be held this coming Nov. 2 will be one of extraordinary importance to the future of our nation. The outcome will determine whether this country will continue on the same path it has followed for the last 31⁄2 years or whether it will return to a set of core domestic and foreign policy values that have been at the heart of what has made this country great.

Now more than ever, we voters will have to make cool judgments, unencumbered by habits of the past. Experts tell us that we tend to vote as our parents did or as we “always have.” We remained loyal to party labels. We cannot afford that luxury in the election of 2004. There are times when we must break with the past, and I believe this is one of them.

As son of a Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, it is automatically expected by many that I am a Republican. For 50 years, through the election of 2000, I was. With the current administration’s decision to invade Iraq unilaterally, however, I changed my voter registration to independent, and barring some utterly unforeseen development, I intend to vote for the Democratic Presidential candidate, Sen. John Kerry.
Today many people are rightly concerned about our precious individual freedoms, our privacy, the basis of our democracy. Of course we must fight terrorism, but have we irresponsibly gone overboard in doing so? I wonder. In 1960, President Eisenhower told the Republican convention, “If ever we put any other value above (our) liberty, and above principle, we shall lose both.” I would appreciate hearing such warnings from the Republican Party of today.

The Republican Party I used to know placed heavy emphasis on fiscal responsibility, which included balancing the budget whenever the state of the economy allowed it to do so. The Eisenhower administration accomplished that difficult task three times during its eight years in office. It did not attain that remarkable achievement by cutting taxes for the rich. Republicans disliked taxes, of course, but the party accepted them as a necessary means of keep the nation’s financial structure sound.

The Republicans used to be deeply concerned for the middle class and small business. Today’s Republican leadership, while not solely accountable for the loss of American jobs, encourages it with its tax code and heads us in the direction of a society of very rich and very poor.

Sen. Kerry, in whom I am willing to place my trust, has demonstrated that he is courageous, sober, competent, and concerned with fighting the dangers associated with the widening socio-economic gap in this country. I will vote for him enthusiastically.

I celebrate, along with other Americans, the diversity of opinion in this country. But let it be based on careful thought. 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.

John Eisenhower, son of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, served on the White House staff between October 1958 and the end of the Eisenhower administration. From 1961 to 1964 he assisted his father in writing “The White House Years,” his Presidential memoirs. He served as American ambassador to Belgium between 1969 and 1971. He is the author of nine books, largely on military subjects.

The fact is that today’s “Republican” Party is one with which I am totally unfamiliar. To me, the word “Republican” has always been synonymous with the word “responsibility,” which has meant limiting our governmental obligations to those we can afford in human and financial terms. Today’s whopping budget deficit of some $440 billion does not meet that criterion.

Responsibility used to be observed in foreign affairs. That has meant respect for others. America, though recognized as the leader of the community of nations, has always acted as a part of it, not as a maverick separate from that community and at times insulting towards it. Leadership involves setting a direction and building consensus, not viewing other countries as practically devoid of significance. Recent developments indicate that the current Republican Party leadership has confused confident leadership with hubris and arrogance.


Harold Meyerson has a great op-ed piece in today's Washington Post:

This time around, Democrats don't even have to vote against the measure for Republicans to make hay with it. If House Republicans can muster the votes to send the Hastert bill to conference (and they surely can), and then the Senate refuses to incorporate their lax and demagogic provisions, Republicans can still blame Senate Democrats -- most particularly, Democratic leader Tom Daschle, who is caught up in a tight election battle, for weakening security.

The definition of security, I suppose, can depend on who you think poses the greatest threat to the nation. In the age of Bush, Republicans (with a few notable exceptions) surely don't believe it's al Qaeda, from which they diverted our forces to fight in Iraq. Nor do they believe it's now our enemies in Iraq, against whom they did not prepare so much as a battle plan. Only if you believe the greatest threat to Republicans -- excuse me, to America -- is the Democrats, that it's worth blowing off the danger from Osama bin Laden to eliminate the peril posed by Daschle, does the Republicans' security policy make any sense at all.

This is not a new tactic for the Repugs. Looking at recent conservative book titles, it's clear that the wackos consider Democrats (or liberals) to be as dangerous to the nation and the world as terrorists: Treason, Deliver Us From Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism and Liberalism, Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Liberty Over Liberalism.

You know, I don't know any Democrats who think their fellow Americans are evil or traitorous just because they're Bush supporters (we just don't get it); this new McCarthyism is strictly a Repug device. Party of division, proponents of corporate cronyism and concentration of wealth in a few, well-connected hands, suspicious of science, and believers in "the end justifies the means," war-solves-everything/might-makes-right -- that's our opposition.

Tuesday, September 28


The next time I hear a right-wing wacko broadcaster, pundit or caller tell the audience how much our troops love George W. Bush, their exalted never-made-a-mistake Commander-In-Chief, or how anxious they are to keep fighting and dying, I'll have this to counter with:

Thirty percent of former U.S. soldiers who have been called back to duty involuntarily to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan have failed to report on time, and eight have been declared AWOL, the Army said Tuesday.

Our voluntary army isn't so keen on volunteering for Iraq. I don't blame them a bit. Way back during the Vietnam conflict, we had an underground network funneling deserters and draft-dodgers to Canada and Europe. Some thought it unpatriotic and treasonous -- we thought they were doing the moral thing. I wonder how long it will take, if Bush gets elected and this disastrous continues on the same basis or, even more likely, spreads to other countries in the Middle East, until a similar network surfaces.

One further thought: American men (it was, mostly, then) didn't shirk their duty to protect their country in WWI or II -- the threat to our nation was clear, the alternative unthinkable, and our people responded. Women sacrificed, (mostly) men bled and died in great numbers, and the four years of WWII required great dedication and unity of our entire populace. So I have no doubt that Americans will rise to the challenge ANY DAY ANY TIME that our way of life, our liberty, our revered institutions are threatened. I mean, truly threatened, not an illusion.


William Saletan:

In 1999, George W. Bush said we needed to cut taxes because the economy was doing so well that the U.S. Treasury was taking in too much money, and we could afford to give some back to the people who earned it. In 2001, Bush said we needed the same tax cuts because the economy was doing poorly, and we had to return the money so that people would spend and invest it.

Bush's arguments made the wisdom of cutting taxes unfalsifiable. In good times, tax cuts were affordable. In bad times, they were necessary. Whatever happened proved that tax cuts were good policy. When Congress approved the tax cuts, Bush said they would revive the economy. You'd know that the tax cuts had worked, because more people would be working. Three years later, more people aren't working. But in Bush's view, that, too, proves he was right. If more people aren't working, we just need more tax cuts.

Now Bush is playing the same game in postwar Iraq. When violence there was subsiding, he said it proved he was on the right track. Now violence is increasing, and Bush says this, too, proves he's on the right track.

On July 23, 2003, three months into the occupation, Bush scoffed that Iraqi insurgents were confined to "a few areas of the country. And wherever they operate, they are being hunted, and they will be defeated. ... Now, more than ever, all Iraqis can know that the former regime is gone and will not be coming back." A week later, he assured reporters, "Conditions in most of Iraq are growing more peaceful. ... As the blanket of fear is lifted, as Iraqis gain confidence that the former regime is gone forever, we will gain more cooperation." Bush warned that failure to stick with his policies "would only invite further and bolder attacks."

A year later, the insurgents are not defeated, conditions are not more peaceful, the blanket of fear is spreading, cooperation is fraying, and attacks on U.S. personnel are growing bolder. Does this prove Bush is failing? No. It proves he's succeeding.
Three months after the handover, the attacks continue to escalate. Fallujah is completely out of control. Is this failure? No, it's success. Things are getting even worse because we're doing even better. Now it's the January 2005 Iraqi elections, not the June 2004 handover, that's supposedly inspiring the enemy's desperation. If we stay the course till January, we'll turn that corner we thought we'd turned in June. "Yes, it's getting worse, and the reason it's getting worse is that they are determined to disrupt the election," Secretary of State Colin Powell insisted Sunday on This Week. "And because it's getting worse, we will have to increase our efforts to defeat it." Bush understands that the resistance is evidence that history is on our side. As he explained Tuesday, the violence is growing "because people are trying to stop the march of freedom."

If the situation in Iraq improves in the coming weeks, Bush will take credit. If it deteriorates, he'll take credit for that, too. "Terrorist violence may well escalate as the January elections draw near," he warned Thursday. "The terrorists know that events in Iraq are reaching a decisive moment. If elections go forward, democracy in Iraq will put down permanent roots, and terrorists will suffer a dramatic defeat." So take heart. We've got 'em right where we want 'em.