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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

It's all Nixon's fault 

Listening to Arnold tonight, I thought I was listening for the most part to a speech that could have been delivered to a democratic convention, except for the "you may be a redneck" moments.
So as well as giving us that tiresome "--gate" label, we have another thing to thank Richard Nixon for -- turning natural-born-democrat Arnold into a republican.
Now I'm listening to Ben Stein talk about how "everyone" is talking about religion rather than the economy (though not too many of the people he talks to are unemployed, I would think) and how they will elect Bush as a "man of faith".
I just don't get it -- of course, the great divide between Canada and the United States now is a religious one, with America apparently becoming increasingly religious while Canada becomes increasingly secular, but I cannot understand voting for someone based on their religion rather than their policies. Maybe Marx was right - religion is the opiate of the masses.
I thought Laura Bush did a good job with her speech tonight, though her riff about children being safe rang a little hollow when it followed her story about the woman whose three sons are in the military, two of them at Fallaujah -- ah, yes, vote for Bush and your babies will be safe, but they will grow up to go to war.
It will be a religious war, though, so I guess that's OK.

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Hey, Presto! Chango! 

So not only did the Washington Post actually fact-check Guiliani's speech, but they also point out that the latest swifty attack is from a lobbyist whose client received a $40 million federal contract.
When the media flips, they really flip. I guess Mrs. Graham didn't raise any stupid kids, after all.
And I am glad that someone is finally following the money -- the idea that all of the swifties are just sincere, though perhaps misguided, patriots has been a media trope for too long.

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Trust the Republicans 

To be so politically tone-deaf that they come up with a stunt that ridicules wounded soldiers while also demonstrating beyond any denial how the swifties agenda is connected solely to the Bush reelection agenda. RNC Delegates mock wounded soldiers

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Monday, August 30, 2004

Bush may be losing his base as well as his war 

I hope the republican delegates read Paul Krugman's column A No-Win Situation.
Just like they found out yesterday how hundreds of thousands of people hate George Bush -- thus explaining their schizoid reaction of both distraction and hysteria with the McCain and Guiliani speeches tonight -- they would find out reading Krugman's column how the American military is losing in Iraq.
I found it odd, listening to tonight's speeches, how many "crowd" shots showed people yawning, chatting, frowning, staring off into space. I do think they were still a little shellshocked about the demonstration. Sure, they applauded McCain, but it was somewhat perfunctory and mechanical some of the time (particularly compared to the rapt attention and shining eyes shown during the democratic evenings). And the relative silence following his call for unity was deafening. During the 9-ll widow speeches, the hum of conversation was reaching an embarassing level - cue the singer.
They got fired up was when McCain attacked Michael Moore, and when Guiliani attacked the Germans, the Italians and John Kerry. But with all the talk, talk, talk about 9-11 and Bush's leadership, the image which kept popping into my mind - emphasized by McCain's reference to Moore - was Bush flipping through My Pet Goat while Guiliani was staring horror-struck at the people jumping from the 102nd floor.
I wonder how many republicans found themselves thinking about that, too.

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Sunday, August 29, 2004

Yes, the US is losing the war 

I've been saying since June, I think, that the US is losing the war in Iraq and will not admit it.
Gilliard summarizes the American problems in Meanwhile, back in Najaf: "The question is why the US Army cannot force a battle to the conclusion against lightly armed, barely trained guerrillas. The better part of a combined brigade of US heavy armor and Marines could not defeat an insurgency of pissed off ghetto teenagers. Think a pissed off group of bloods and crips with high explosives and religious support. The US could not close and kill with them, even before they got to the Imam Ali shrine. Now, they're back to Sadr City, bloodied but unbowed."
On CNN last Thursday, former UN ambassador Richard Holdbrook said this:
". . . the United States' position in Iraq is getting progressively more difficult to sustain. Fallujah has now become a liberated zone, only 35 miles from Baghdad in which all sorts of the worst people in the world, terrorists, al Qaeda types, other people hostile to U.S. are pouring in. Najaf is now happened the same thing. The United States is in a disastrous situation in Iraq right now . . . I think that Americans really ought to hear from President Bush as to what our policy is in Iraq. He hasn't explained in a long time what's going on. He tells the American public things like, well, we've turned the corner in Iraq or we're bringing democracy to Iraq or he praises Iraq's performance in the Athens Olympics, but he doesn't explain what our policy is, whether there's any exit strategy and our troops have turned into the military wing of the Allawi government and that's a very odd position to be in. . . Any way you cut this, Miles, Najaf is a setback for the United States politically. . . . What is the United States doing, acting as the military force for Allawi, a secular Shiite, in his brutal internal civil war against Muqtada al Sadr, a monstrous and brutal extreme Shiite? . . . Ayatollah Sistani helped us out of a jam today, but anyone who thinks he is our friend has got a lot of learning to do about Islam, Iraq and Shiism."

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No story here, folks - move along, move along 

I posted a comment on Artios this weekend that when one guy passes secrets, its espionage; when a group does it for more than a year, its policy. And it doesn't matter whether the policy is both unannounced and unconscionable.
Washington Monthly describes this as Iran-Contra II, and I wouldn't be surprised if this is true -- another secret foreign policy authorized and run by the Pentagon, outside the purview of the State Department.
It appears that there are even many of the same guys involved, again.
But we'll likely never know unless the democrats are elected -- or unless Washington Monthly keeps going -- because the FBI investigation is being shut down -- back to harassing demonstrators, I guess.
The excuse is that the media publicity made the investigation impossible to pursue -- Officials Say Publicity Derailed Secrets Inquiry Here's the key portion of the story:
"The disclosure of the inquiry late on Friday by CBS News revealed what had been for nearly a year a covert national security investigation conducted by the F.B.I., according to the officials, who said that news reports about the inquiry compromised important investigative steps, like the effort to follow the trail back to the Israelis. As a result, several areas of the case remain murky, the officials said. One main uncertainty is the legal status of Lawrence A. Franklin, the lower-level Pentagon policy analyst who the authorities believe passed the Israelis a draft presidential policy directive related to Iran. No arrest in the case is believed to be imminent, in part because prosecutors have not yet clearly established whether Mr. Franklin broke the law. But the officials said there was evidence that he turned the classified material over to officials at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group. Officials of the group are thought to have then passed the information to Israeli intelligence."
Excuse me -- they have had more than a year to "follow the trail back to the Israelis" -- if they haven't done it by now, its not going to happen. But its pretty damned convenient for the Bush campaign that the story is now being declared officially dead.
And actually, I think it IS all the media's fault for breaking the story -- not because this made the sources dry up, but because this alerted the Bush administration to the situation, thus resulting in immediate kibosh.
UPDATE: Hmmm -- Google News shows 1,400 stories about this spy scandal - its obviously struck quite a chord. So one story in the NYT may not be enough to shut it down after all. It may, in fact, just lead others to same speculation that I have made.

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Turning sauce for the goose into sauce for the gander 

Digby in Projection Politics presents a very interesting thesis:
Rove has developed a campaign of projection in which he tars his opponents with his own candidates' weaknesses and then attacks them. He attacks Kerry for phony heroism thirty years ago when just last year his own candidate had himself filmed in a little costume prancing around on an aircraft carrier pretending he'd won a war that had only begun. But, by tarring Kerry with using war as a PR stunt for his own personal gain, people can process the uncomfortable feelings they are experiencing about Iraq as not really being caused by Junior, but by his rival who is the real shallow opportunist who only pretends to be a man of proven leadership and experience.
He spent 70 million to get people to call Kerry a flip flopper when the truth is that the compassionate-conservative-uniter-not-divider has a very recent proven record of unprecedented ugly partisanship and ruthless bloodlust. He's mananged to convince a large number of Americans that Kerry is unprincipled when the fiscal conservative Bush has just spent the entire surplus and run up the deficit beyond our wildest imaginings just three years ago. That's a pretty good trick. He's projected Bush's weaknesses on to Kerry and then gone after them ruthlessly. It makes it very difficult to then turn the attack back on Bush because it's been co-opted.

Given this thesis, then, if Kerry were to do the same thing he would:
1. attack Bush's speaking style. Too difficult to understand, too accented, too many convoluted sentences and mispronounced words
2. attack Bush's appearance. Too short and slight, mouth too small, ears too big. Alfred E Neuman
3. attack Bush's "signature" accomplishments. Too many announcements without any action. Too many photo opportunities without any real commitment. Too much pandering to the base.
Actually, sounds like a plan to me.

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Saturday, August 28, 2004

Kerry has guts 

Yahoo! News - Kerry Says He's in a 'Fighting Mood'
So Bush doesn't have the guts to go to the NAACP, but Kerry is speaking Wednesday to the American Legion. Some of the veterans will dis him, but I hope they listen. Kerry is the one who wants to support the vets.

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Lots of Random Thoughts (and remember, KERRY IS WINNING) 

Both Blogger and my internet connection are working V-E-R-Y S-L-O-W-L-Y today, so though there is lots going on that I would like to link to, I can't. But here's a few random thoughts:
On the Electoral vote
For the duration, I have added an Electoral Vote Predictor website to my blog.
The frustration I have with national polls is that they do not recognize the reality of the electoral college vote -- it all may come down to a few thousand people in Nevada, for heaven's sake, so it doesn't matter whether extra tens of thousands in, say, New York support Kerry or extra tens of thousands in Texas support Bush. This site takes the state polls and interprets them to develop a projection of where the electoral votes will go.
I had the same frustration during the Canadian election, where the media kept interpreting the polls as predicting a Liberal or Conservative "victory" in a situation where the actual popular vote means nothing -- its the riding-by-riding vote which matters.
And by the way, KERRY IS WINNING.
Lost in Iraq
Following up on my earlier post today, the NYT is now saying that the US has "lost" western Iraq. They also question whether true national elections will be held in January. (My own prediction is that meaningful elections will never be held in Iraq.) The only feasible, reasonable plan for Iraq is Kerry's plan to get the UN in and the US troops out -- maybe, just maybe, this will become clearer once the American death toll passes the 1,000 mark in about two weeks.
And remember, KERRY IS WINNING.
Keep hammering the message - Kerry tells the truth
As I noted in a response on frogsdong's blog earlier today, there are many, many people who are paying very little attention to the play-by-play of the swift boat issue and a lot of the other election slanders, so they come away with erroneous impressions -- even the media who are supposed to be following all this are now getting mixed up about which swiftie did what when.
Therefore the impression gets left with these non-involved people that "Kerry is a liar". Given this reality, I think bloggers and commentators and DNC people appearing on talk shows should be urged to make their message very very clear, speaking in words of one syllable, hammering home a simple message -- "Kerry tells the truth. He is not a liar nor a coward. He knows what he wants to do as president and he has a good plan." Keep spreading the news that KERRY IS WINNING
I want to be a part of it, New York, New York
And finally, I don't understand why the democrats are so so worried about being "associated" with the protests in New York. First, the republicans will keep hammering the connection regardless of what the dems say. And for the most part, the protestors are right -- and there would be millions more people marching in New York this weekend if they could get there. The democrats should embrace them.
Remember, guys, KERRY IS WINNING. BUSH IS LOSING. That's the reality, regardless of what the talking heads are blathering on Fox. The people who are supporting Kerry and against Bush should be SUPPORTED, not denied.

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Kerry tells the truth 

and Bush does not. This column wraps it up: Yahoo! News - THE REAL ISSUE: BUSH IS INCOMPETENT

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Still dying in Iraq 

Because Najaf has been virtually the only fight in Iraq that American newspapers have been covering over the last couple of weeks -- they couldn't do more, of course, because they also had to cover a 35-year-old firefight in Vietnam -- it is likely that Americans will think that now that Iraq will be peaceful.
I think they will be disappointed -- by about mid-week, we'll be seeing stories asking how come Americans are still dying in Iraq. Check out Today in Iraq for the latest.
And already, its starting to sink in that Najaf was another American defeat.

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Friday, August 27, 2004

Weird focus to election campaign 

This is getting seriously weird -- read this exchange between Matthews and Pat Buchanan last night regarding Kerry's military record. Every single Navy document and every single personal statement FROM PEOPLE WHO WERE ACTUALLY THERE ON THE BOAT support Kerry's heroism during Vietnam.
But the right wing just will not believe it -- it's like they can not permit themselves to believe it. Not only do they think Kerry lied, they have turned him into the scum of the earth. Now, I don't think Reagan's supporters thought that Carter was a lying, evil scumbag; nor did Bob Dole's supporters think that Clinton was a lying sack of shit (at least, not until after he was elected). But the way the right wing is after Kerry, you would think that he was the most corrupt, evil being ever to inhabit the United States.
Here is the Hardball transcript last night, just part of it, showing how Buchanan is frothing. Then I have an excerpt from later in Hardball, where Matthews interviewed an actual veteran, former Republican congressman. Compare the tone and the content:
"BUCHANAN: . . . This is a tremendously emotional issue for me. I was involved in all that. [Buchanan never went to Vietnam, though you would think he had from the way he is talking.] And we‘re caught up in it. We‘re intoxicated with it. It is the hottest issue going. And you look at that poll out in California. Kerry now only gets 3 percent of Republicans.
This is driving Republicans back to Bush and it is bringing home some Reagan Democrats. There‘s about 15 or 20 percent. They are moving toward Bush. And this for some of us—I know
it may be a minority.
. . . MATTHEWS: Pat, is it character or courage that is pivoting these voters?
BUCHANAN: It is about truthfulness. It is about character. It is about courage.
It is about Vietnam. Did this guy come home and slime all these guys while you have got POWs in North Vietnam who are being tortured to say the things Kerry was saying for free? That‘s the outrage, Chris, that you‘re feeling and you‘re seeing from a lot of folks.
MATTHEWS: OK. I get you. It‘s not the medals. It is the testimony. Let‘s go to...
FINEMAN: Yes, I do think the testimony is the emotional thing here. I was talking to a
Republican strategist very close to the White House. I said, aren‘t you guys just sort of talking to yourselves about this thing, this whole swift boat thing? And he said, what‘s wrong with talking to yourself? That‘s what the aim is here. And that‘s what the effect has been. And in Ohio, where I have spent a lot of time, I know a diner out there on the highway in Canton in the swing county of Stark. Those guys and those women are talking about this issue. No question about
it.
MATTHEWS: So, in other words, Bush ain‘t no great shakes, but he is not no lying, medal-gabbing, rat fink, like this other guy is.
FINEMAN: Right. This is all about, as an independent or not, making Kerry unacceptable. That‘s what it is all about.
MATTHEWS: To change the focus of a reelection campaign from the usual focus on the
incumbent, Marie, to the challenger. Brilliant move.
COCCO: Well, if I were George Bush and I had 61 percent of the people in your poll saying that the economy is not getting better for the middle class, I would want to change the subject, too.
I think what Kerry has to do after all of this talk and chatter—every piece of allegation against him is disproved by the actual Naval records. I think what Kerry ought to do is say over
and over again, this isn‘t my story. This is the U.S. Navy‘s story.
MATTHEWS: Right.
COCCO: Mr. President, do you not believe the U.S. Navy?
(CROSSTALK)
MATTHEWS: I think the only way he is going to change this story is to say he‘s gay . . . Changing
the subject now is going to have to be a full McGreevey. "

And here is the section from later in the show, when Matthews interviews a Republican congressman who actually DID go to Vietnam. Like historian Sydney Karnow, McCloskey supports not only Kerry's service but also Kerry's testimony:

"MATTHEWS: . . . The controversy over John Kerry‘s service in Vietnam and his subsequent anti-war protests have stirred emotions on both sides of the debate, particularly with the Vietnam veterans themselves. Yesterday, I spoke with former Republican Congressman Pete McCloskey, a highly decorated Marine who served in Korea, earning the Navy Cross, a Silver Star and two Purple Hearts. He testified before Congress that Americans had committed war crimes in Vietnam. He also marched with John Kerry in the 1971 peace march. I started with Pete McCloskey by asking him why the Vietnam War is still an issue here in 2004.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
PETE MCCLOSKEY, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Well, there is still a division between the
people who fought honorably there and are angry because they were criticized.But we were pursuing policies there that were war crimes. We were burning down villages that harbored terrorists or harbored Viet Cong. We had executed General Yodel (ph) after Nuremberg for doing that very thing. We knew it was a war crime, burning those villages down. Kerry had the guts to come back. He testified I think the same day as I did in front of Kennedy‘s or Fulbright‘s subcommittee about the same things. It wasn‘t about cutting off heads or arms. It was about
deliberately burning down villages in a war we were trying to (CROSSTALK)
MATTHEWS: But he did say in his testimony, we were people cutting off ears and cutting off heads.
MCCLOSKEY: Well, there were people that said that. And I...
MATTHEWS: He did, too.
MCCLOSKEY: Well, I‘ll tell you, we ran across General Patton‘s son, a colonel, who was
flying around in a helicopter collecting ears of Viet Cong, cutting off ears, shooting at them with his pistol out of a helicopter. But that was the exception. Most of the men served honorably. And Vietnam veterans ought to be treated better than most veterans, because they fought in a
war that was unpopular at a time. But I think these men have been so carried away by their anger over that testimony that he gave that I think they have forgotten the truth. The men that served with him knew him as a leader and as a war hero. I knew him as a principled, probably idealistic young man. It took courage to speak out in ‘71 against a war. We had Marines fighting over there. I had friends fighting over there. But the war was wrong. It‘s just like Iraq today. You can support the troops, but you don‘t necessarily need to support the policy that put them there or keeps them there.
MATTHEWS: Why are we arguing about one man‘s war record in terms of the medals he‘s won? What is that strategy about? Why are we doing that right now?
MCCLOSKEY: Well, the other guy...
MATTHEWS: You got a number of medals. You got the Navy Cross, which is a much higher distinction. Do people usually go back and question the Navy‘s decision in awarding these medals?
MCCLOSKEY: I‘ve never known a man to get a Silver Star that didn‘t earn it. A lot of people that earned them didn‘t get them, because there weren‘t people around to tell about them. But don‘t give the Silver Star lightly. That‘s a medal for heroism. And it‘s shameful that they‘ve made this attack, I think.
MATTHEWS: Because there‘s a foolproof system for awarding it?
MCCLOSKEY: It‘s not foolproof, but when a junior officer, an enlisted man got a Silver Star, it was earned. Sometimes, colonels and generals gave themselves. Lyndon Johnson I think had a Silver Star for flying over a Japanese island when he was in Congress. But, at that level,
a junior whose men respect him, he can‘t get a Bronze Star or Silver Star without their support.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about national policy.We‘re at war now in the country of Iraq. We are still fighting a war of resistance over there. And certainly in Najaf and places like that, we‘re facing local militia, lots of resistance still. We will probably lose by the Election Day, there‘s probably to count it, 1,000 people in combat, maybe 7,000 seriously wounded now.
Is that why this scab has been ripped off, that we‘re at war now and people question it just about 50/50 whether we should be there?
MCCLOSKEY: No. I‘m afraid it‘s because Bush joined the National Guard at a time when you joined the Guard only to avoid combat. Kerry volunteered for combat. That‘s the issue. And the issue is—it‘s a fair issue as to who can best lead this country. And my experience has been that the presidents who are most likely not to go to war are like Jack Kennedy and George Bush Sr., who were shot at when they were young. People that have been combat don‘t want to do it again unless they have to. The people that want to make war, prove their manhood and how tough they are
(CROSSTALK)
MATTHEWS: Right. Is that what Cheney‘s up to?
MCCLOSKEY: I don‘t know. I liked Dick when I was in the House with him.
MATTHEWS: What happened to him and Rumsfeld? Why did they become—well, I always thought Cheney was a tough customer. When I worked on the Hill for Tip O‘Neill, I knew he was a tough customer politically, but the hard-nosed attitude about war, about not really being against war, what‘s that about? I always thought Rumsfeld was a moderate Republican. What happened to him?
MCCLOSKEY: I couldn‘t tell you. I like Don. Bob Dole is one of my favorite Republicans. We had marvelous Republican leadership. George Bush Sr. would not be doing what his son is doing today, in my judgment. He would not have gone to war without U.N. support. He wouldn‘t have gone to war unless he had to. And that‘s the way I think. In this election, where the choice is between a man who dodged combat, two men who dodged combat when they were young, against a man who volunteered for it, we‘re safer in the hands of the person who has been shot at . . . my old rifle company is outside Fallujah right now. And they‘re superb young Marines, well officered. The commanding general of the Marine division said don‘t hurt anybody you don‘t have to, marvelous kind of a humanitarian, but they‘re an occupying force. And I don‘t think we‘re going to be loved in Iraq or any country.
. . . MATTHEWS: . . . Do you think this election is going to turn on this war?
MCCLOSKEY: I don‘t know. I think it‘s so close.
MATTHEWS: Will it turn on John Kerry‘s war record?
MCCLOSKEY: I think he‘s been hurt by these attacks and I think the attacks were leveled because they knew it would hurt him. And I know how these guys feel.
(CROSSTALK)
MATTHEWS: How come they‘re angrier at him, Pete, than they are at the guy who didn‘t serve, the president?
MCCLOSKEY: They‘re angry because they feel he betrayed their honorable service by coming back and testifying in front of the Senate of the war crimes. And we were committing war
crimes.
(CROSSTALK)
MATTHEWS: Did contribute—my sister-in-law e-mailed me the other day, said that he contributed, John Kerry, to the atmosphere for returning veterans, like my brother, who was a Naval officer in Vietnam, along the coast—he was in that same kind of coastal Naval
service. The way they were treated when they came back, that John Kerry contributed to that sort of spirit of blaming the soldiers for the war.
MCCLOSKEY: I don‘t think so. Kerry never sought to blame the soldiers. They were individuals or
(CROSSTALK)
MATTHEWS: Well, they took it that way.
MCCLOSKEY: They shouldn‘t have. "





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Thursday, August 26, 2004

What will they do? 

There comes a time when you have to choose.
The Log Cabin Republicans, the Republican Youth Majority, and the Republicans for Choice want to have it both ways -- they support the Republican Party, so they think the Republican Party should respect them.
Sorry -- ain't gonna happen.
Their "unity plank" was a valiant effort. But the Bush republicans have never listened to anyone's contrary opinion for the last four years, so why would they start now?
You know, in Canada, when provincial courts began giving gay couples the right to marry, it wasn't a frivolous or unreasonable ruling, nor was it judicial activism. The rulings were based firmly on the Canadian Charter of Rights, that gays should be treated equally. Then Chretien and Martin did what real leaders should do -- they took on the task of leading Canadians to accept the basic fairness of those rulings.
Bush could have done the same, he could have famed the issue not as a gay issue but as a rights issue.
He chose not to do that.
Now Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Pataki, and Dick Cheney have a choice to make -- are they going to speak to this convention, or not? Speaking to the convention means they are endorsing the RNC's extremist platform. So are they just 'girlie-men' who will pander to the religious right?
And millions of republicans have a choice to make, too.


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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Stunts 

Great -- the democrats have finally learned how to pull a political stunt with good visuals which will get coverage particularly on TV news.
Sounds to me like they have read and understood Liberal Oasis:
If there's one lesson the Kerry campaign and the rest of us should take from this sorry Swift Boat Liar episode is how lame the media will be this election season. The inability to cut off media oxygen to people who are clearly discredited shows how the media hasn't learned any lessons following its vapid 2000 coverage and its embarrassing Iraq war coverage . . . OK, so the media sucks. Does that mean Kerry's doomed? No. It just means the campaign strategy has to take the media's lameness into account. When the media is almost nothing but a conduit for attacks, and when it levies almost no penalties to attackers, the guy who initiates attacks will get more media love. And it's a hell of a lot better to be regularly delivering attacks to the media, than regularly explaining away attacks. If Kerry tries to just drill messages about jobs, health care and Halliburton, he won't be able to. He'll just be knocked off message over and over. Unless he's applying pressure to Bush by spooling out his own attacks. (Of course, Kerry can distinguish himself by basing his attacks on facts and not distortions.)
Bring it on.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Its's not that difficult, folks 

So Atrios points out that some news people are somewhat miffed that Kerry has chosen The Daily Show for an extended interview tonight. He won the TV Critics Association's award as the year's best news and information program, which WP critic Lisa de Moraes reported this way: "We think Stewart was given the TCA Award because his Comedy Central show was the only one early on to ask the tough questions about the decision to invade Iraq . . . Stewart was somewhat baffled by the award -- his show won a TCA award last year for best comedy program. In his taped acceptance speech, he pointed out that his newscast is "fake," "illegitimate" and "unprofessional." Stewart insisted it must be some sort of mistake and said that if his show had an actual fact-checking apparatus, like an real news program, they would check it out."
Actually, its not that difficult to run a professional TV news program -- just be knowledgeable about the background material, anticipate what your guests are likely to say, and be ready to challenge them if need be. Stewart actually does this with just about every guest he had on, even the softball TV-star/movie-star/author-of-the-week interviews. And his gang of "special correspondents" do it too.
And they demand truth, even when their stories are about gay penguins. Thus they invariably pinpoint any stupidities, inconsistencies, evasions and lies which they find in the news stories of the day. Just how hard it is to do that, these days?

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More Abu Ghraib 

I have tried to think of something clever or insightful to say about this, but I cannot. I guess it stands on its own.
This Washington Post story is truly disgusting --"MPs were using their animals to make juveniles -- as young as 15 years old -- urinate on themselves as part of a competition" and "military intelligence soldiers kept multiple detainees off the record books and hid them from international humanitarian organizations " and "at least one male detainee was sodomized by one of his captors at Abu Ghraib".

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Sunday, August 22, 2004

Still crazy after all these years 

During the Vietnam war, I remember some people, particularly military types, promoting the idea that it was the war protestors who caused America's defeat.
Now, I am not a military historian, but I lived through this war and I do know that's ridiculous -- America could NEVER have won in Vietnam (the French couldn't win it, either). The idea that any combination of firepower and tactics could have defeated North Vietnam is like thinking that Napolean could ever have defeated Russia in the War of 1812, or that Japan could ever have defeated the United States in World War II (I'm sure a real military historian could think of many more apt and perhaps more accurate examples.) History has many examples of wars which could have gone either way -- Germany came incredibly close to taking over all of Europe before the US entered that war, for example -- but Vietnam isn't one of them.
But I have gone through the last 30 years thinking that this blame-the-protestors idea had been completely discredited as last self-serving gasp of an archaic military culture which had afterwards learned to face reality. In fact, it was the war protestors who saw, much sooner than the military, that the Vietnam War was both unwinnable and immoral. They saved thousands of American and Vietnamese lives by getting the war stopped before the military could adopt a desperate and despicable tactic like using an atomic bomb on Hanoi (and even doing that would not have "won" the war).
Seeing the anger emerging now about Kerry's war protests, however, makes me realize that the blame-the protestors revisionism may have been festering all these years, and now infecting a younger generation who don't know what really happened. And if this is so, then it must be addressed.
All the thousands and thousands of Americans who protested that war will need to open the wound again, to speak out again, just like William Rood has now done, to set the record straight and to educate their children and their grandchildren about what really happened over there and also in America.
Oh, that goddammed war.

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Saturday, August 21, 2004

Cheez Whiz Lovers for Truth 

I wonder if a Canadian could form a new group, the Cheez Whiz Lovers for Truth (CWLT). We're going to blast George Bush for the outright lies he keeps telling to the American people.
Here's the proof -- a Philadelphia newspaper now reports that Bush likes his Philly Cheese Steak sandwich WITHOUT CHEEZ WHIZ, when he distinctly told a Pennsylvania group last week "This is the 32nd time I’ve been to your state of Pennsylvania, and, you all know the reason why, don’t you? It’s because I like my cheesesteaks Whiz With."
This bald-faced lie demonstrates Bush's unfitness to lead -- his base appetites are demonstrably unpleasant, unAmerican (though what else would you expect from an alcoholic Yale graduate) and then he lies about it, openly, without shame, just to curry favour with a group of defense-industry workers. And the implications may be even wider -- does he take Cheez Whiz on his broccoli? DOES HE EVEN EAT BROCCOLI? Or does he follow the same disgusting, unhealthy lifestyle as his father, that broccoli-denyer? Clearly, all this needs detailed examination by the major media.
The Columbia Journalism Review has already picked up on it, and Matthew Yglesias is promoting this cause. He writes "Can we all agree to talk about nothing besides why the president lies about cheese and why the media won't cover it for days and days and days until his campaign is finally forced to admit that, yes, the president of the United States is so desperate to be loved that he will lie about cheese and then we can all scream -- "see, he admitted it, he's a liar, a damn dirty cheese-eating liar!" I mean, really, who lies about cheese? Can you trust this man?"
And Americans thought the French were "cheese-eating surrender monkeys".
UPDATE: Cheez Whiz spelling corrected - sorry. I keep trying to spell it with a terminal E - how French is that?

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Terrorism scares 

Doug Saunders writes a terrific column in today's Globe. He asks "If we won the war on terror, would anyone tell us?"
He describes how terrified people are about terrorism, and for how little reason, as recent research has shown. ". . . terrorism (defined as attacks against civilians by non-state organizations) reached its peak in 1988, and has been on a more or less steady decline since then. . . . Even including those 4,000 deaths [from 9/11], 2001 had a lower terrorist death toll than 1998, or almost any year in the 1980s. If another attack on that scale were to occur later this year, we would still all be safer from terrorism than we have been for much of the past two decades. . . it's clear that the attention from media and governments is working: Terrorism has almost disappeared as a tactic. Former menaces such as Ireland's IRA or Spain's ETA or America's survivalists have been put out of business, through diplomacy or policing or both. The war on terrorism has succeeded.
But we're all scared. "
This rang a chord. Yesterday I was chatting with a co-worker who spent part of her summer holiday in New York. She was visiting family just outside the city during the most recent "orange alert" scare. I was on the verge of saying something about how stupid it was when she began to describe how frightened she and her family had all been, how closely they had been following the news, and how the family debated long and hard about whether she should even go into Manhattan at all -- they all had the impression that they risked imminent death with every minute in the city. In the end, I had the impression that she felt she was lucky to be alive to tell about the experience.
So, of course, I did not make any snarky remarks to her. But her story could have been an example for Saunder's column:
"What is dangerous about these times, in truth, is our fear: Much as hypochondriacs often worry themselves sick, our culture's mass delusion of imminent danger may actually be more damaging than terrorism or murder . . . It is a global version of a well-established municipal phenomenon, known for decades as the crime scare . . . For the past couple of years, [Toronto] newspapers have been filled with front-page stories about "Jamaican crime sprees" and deadly Vietnamese gangs, and TV newscasts have led nightly with endless details about grisly child abductions. It was not hard for many citizens, myself included, to become fearful . . . And then, three weeks ago, a news item appeared, for precisely one day, on the deep inside pages of most newspapers: The violent crime rate in Canada has fallen to its lowest point in 37 years. Canadians have not been this safe since 1967, and in no major city are people safer than in Toronto. There, your chances of being murdered have fallen to 1.9 in 100,000, making it one of the least dangerous cities in the world. . . . Police, ever mindful of budgets, encourage people to believe that . . . extremely rare incidents are part of a growing trend. The people of Toronto recently made the wise decision to sack their police chief, who among other things spent considerable energy trying to persuade people that menaces lurked on every corner. The reality, that violent crime had virtually been wiped out and that the city was probably over-policed, was an unmentionable budgetary taboo. We should consider doing the same for a good number of cabinet ministers, national-police chiefs, intelligence-agency heads and directors of homeland security around the world. They have learned the old crime-scare trick, and are playing it to the hilt, with help from glorified cop-shop hacks often known as national-security reporters. "



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And the beat goes on 

The press finally appears to be reaching the conclusion that all the emphasis on Vietnam is meant to divert attention away from what is happening in Iraq.
So what IS happening in Iraq? Most of the media are focusing only on the Najaf confrontation, as though the rest of the country is quiet. But Today in Iraq continues to document the chaos, now a year after the UN headquarters bombing.
Here is the list of mayhem and destruction for just the last two days, August 20 and 21 -
Two US Marines killed in fighting in al-Anbar province.
Two US soldiers killed, three wounded by roadside bomb ambush near Samarra.
Two Iraqis killed, four wounded in ambush of US convoy near Baquba.
Thirteen Iraqis killed, 107 wounded in fighting in Baghdad during last 24 hours.
Seventy-seven Iraqis killed, 70 wounded in fighting in Najaf during last 24 hours.
Heavy fighting reported in Kufa.
Dutch patrol ambushed in Samawah; two Iraqis killed.
US Army patrol ambushed near Khalis.
One Polish soldier killed, six wounded by car bomb near Hilla.
Pipeline sabotaged near Kirkuk. Pipeline sabotaged near Amarah.
One US soldier killed, two wounded in Baghdad RPG ambush.
Senior Iraqi police official assassinated near Ramadi.
Bulgarian troops shelled near Karbala.
Three Iraqi policemen killed in bombing at Nasiriyah police station.
Two Polish soldiers killed, five wounded in ambush near Hilla.
Two Iraqis killed, eleven wounded in two US air strikes in Fallujah.



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Rood steps up 

This is great. A real Swift Boat Captain actually speaks the Truth.
William Rood writes:
The approach of the noisy 50-foot aluminum boats, each driven by two huge 12-cylinder diesels and loaded down with six crew members, troops and gear, was no secret. Ambushes were a virtual certainty, and that day was no exception. The difference was that Kerry, who had tactical command of that particular operation, had talked to Droz and me beforehand about not responding the way the boats usually did to an ambush. We agreed that if we were not crippled by the initial volley and had a clear fix on the location of the ambush, we would turn directly into it, focusing the boats' twin .50-caliber machine guns on the attackers and beaching the boats. We told our crews about the plan. The Viet Cong in the area had come to expect that the heavily loaded boats would lumber on past an ambush, firing at the entrenched attackers, beaching upstream and putting troops ashore to sweep back down on the ambush site. Often, they were long gone by the time the troops got there. The first time we took fire—the usual rockets and automatic weapons—Kerry ordered a "turn 90" and the three boats roared in on the ambush. It worked. We routed the ambush, killing three of the attackers. The troops, led by an Army adviser, jumped off the boats and began a sweep, which killed another half dozen VC, rounded or captured others and found weapons, blast masks and other supplies used to stage ambushes.Meanwhile, Kerry ordered our boat to head upstream with his, leaving Droz's boat at the first site. It happened again, another ambush. And again, Kerry ordered the turn maneuver, and again it worked. As we headed for the riverbank, I remember seeing a loaded B-40 launcher pointed at the boats. It wasn't fired as two men jumped up from their spider holes. We called Droz's boat up to assist us, and Kerry, followed by one member of his crew, jumped ashore and chased a VC behind a hooch—a thatched hut—maybe 15 yards inland from the ambush site. Some who were there that day recall the man being wounded as he ran. Neither I nor Jerry Leeds, our boat's leading petty officer with whom I've checked my recollection of all these events, recalls that, which is no surprise. Recollections of those who go through experiences like that frequently differ.With our troops involved in the sweep of the first ambush site, Richard Lamberson, a member of my crew, and I also went ashore to search the area. I was checking out the inside of the hooch when I heard gunfire nearby. Not long after that, Kerry returned, reporting that he had killed the man he chased behind the hooch. He also had picked up a loaded B-40 rocket launcher, which we took back to our base in An Thoi after the operation. John O'Neill, author of a highly critical account of Kerry's Vietnam service, describes the man Kerry chased as a "teenager" in a "loincloth." I have no idea how old the gunner Kerry chased that day was, but both Leeds and I recall that he was a grown man, dressed in the kind of garb the VC sually wore. The man Kerry chased was not the "lone" attacker at that site, as O'Neill suggests. There were others who fled. There was also firing from the tree line well behind the spider holes and at one point, from the opposite riverbank as well. It was not the work of just one attacker.



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South Korea will win it in the end 

This is bullshit. The story claims that judging marks cannot be changed or protested. But Sylivia Frechette from Canada was awarded the gold retroactively, following a judging error in the Barcelona games. It took a year before that medal was awarded, and the American who "won" the gold was allowed to keep her medal, too.

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Friday, August 20, 2004

Vietnam 

People who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it.
No one younger than I am -- 55 -- actually remembers the Vietnam War -- or, as one of my American professors called it, "That goddamn war".
It was not the neat war of fronts and uniformed enemies nor was it a moral war of evil enemies and innocent civilians. It was a quagmire from the beginning, and it just got worse the longer the Americans stayed.
John Kerry was absolutely right to tell Congress that Vietnam was turning too many young Americans into murderous torturers and killers -- which is exactly what Iraq has been doing to American soldiers, too.
Perhaps the soldiers who left Vietnam in the mid-60s did not see as much of this as the soldiers there later -- but as things deteriorated, more and more South Vietnamese people embraced the cause of the North and became insurgents, and the conditions under which Americans were serving became truly vile.
Yale University psychologist Robert Lipton described it this way in The Winter Soldier Investigation of 1971

There's a quality of atrocity in this war that goes beyond that of other wars in that the war itself is fought as a series of atrocities. There is no distinction between an enemy whom one can justifiably fire at and people whom one murders in less than military situations. It's all thrown together so that every day the distinction between every day activities and atrocities is almost nil. Now if one carries this sense of atrocity with one, one carries the sense of descent into evil. This is very strong in Vietnam vets. It's also strong in the rest of society, and this is what we mean by the primitive or brutalized behavior that there has been so much talk about. I think that this brutalization and the patterns that occur in the war again have to do with the nature of the
war we are fighting and the people we've chosen to make our enemies.
This has to do with the atrocities characterizing the war, as often happens in a counterinsurgency of war, we intervene in a civil war or in a revolution in a far-away alien place that you don't understand historically or psychologically, but also with the technological disparity. It's of great psychological significance that Americans go around with such enormous fire power in a technologically under-developed country and develop a kind of uneasy sense of power around their technological fire power, which they then use very loosely, and often with the spirit of a hunter, as we've again heard much about. In all this way, I would stress very strongly, the GI in Vietnam becomes both victim and executioner.



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Hardblogger 

gets it. This MSNBC project started during the Demcratic convention, and at the time I wondered whether the reporters and commentators contributing to it would actually use it as a blog -- where personal opinions combine with thoughtful analysis to project a uniquely "personal" view -- or just as promos for their upcoming shows.
Well, I think they are getting it. Hardblogger tonight contains the kind of unique perspective from Obermann and Matthews that illuminates their remarkable interviews today. Even the comments are pretty good. Keep it up, guys.

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Thursday, August 19, 2004

Hamsters for Kerry 

I love it -- check it out. And I am adding their link to my list. Thanks, tsuredzuregusa.

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"I voted to support the president and he fucked it up" 

The new Shorter Kerry line -- "I voted to support the president and he fucked it up."
Ah, yes -- and there's the line for all of America.
They tried so hard to support Bush after 9/11, they needed a leader so badly that they made up a leader-myth mirage and cloaked it around Bush.
How easy would it have been for him to win this election? Just a reasonable modicum of competence, that's all the American people wanted -- some focused funding for education and health care, a little effort at job creation, some restraint on greedy tax cuts, maintaining a reasonable level of environmental protection, supporting a few upgraded benefits for the troops, and a foreign policy that worked earnestly and seriously, even if ineffectively, to resolve the Israel-Palestinian mess.
The media has given the republicans this inflated reputation as being super-competent, precision, shock-and-awe campaigners.
But their campaign so far is a joke -- low-turnout events clumsily staged and scripted, cobbled-together "announcements" that do not amount to anything (like the "bringing the troops home" announcement, but not from where people are shooting at them, and its not happening for years, anyway).
Cheney is supposed to be this big-time "attack dog" but his attacks are junior-high juvenile (ooh, ooh, teach -- he said "Sensitive"!) and Bush is supposed to be this "great communicator" but just babbles on and on and uses the same tired jokes over and over (and he doesn't know what "sovereignty" means). And the Swift Boat ads have surpassed even the Willie Horton ads for dishonesty, leaving Bush with no cover for the cowardice of hiw own so-called military career and for his 9/11 freeze frame.
Coming in the fall will be a series of ads showing why republicans are switching to Kerry -- the trickle will, I think, become a deluge.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Those who live by the sword . . .  

. . . die by the sword.
One of the vets who accuses Kerry of lying about the Bronze Star incident himself is lying about what he went through that day. Thurlow now says there was no enemy fire on the day that he and Kerry both won Bronze Stars -- well, the citation for his award says there was lots of enemy fire.
So either everyone was lying about everything 35 years ago -- or Thurlow's 15 minutes are OVER.
UPDATE: A class act -- Kerry has asked MoveOn to stop broadcasting its ads that describe Bush's contribution to the Vietnam War . Kerry said "This should be a campaign of issues, not insults." The only problem for the republicans, though, is that the issues are all against them, so all they have is insults.

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Monday, August 16, 2004

Rally numbers 

Has anyone added up how many people have attended the Kerry/Edwards rallies?
It must be in the hundreds of thousands by now.

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Sunday, August 15, 2004

Not with a bang 

So, the FBI is now protecting America by investigating American protesters.
The New York Times reports F.B.I. Goes Knocking for Political Troublemakers . This activity is authorized, apparently, by a legal opinion from the Justice Department -- you remember them, don't you -- the people who brought you Abu Gharib?
Most chilling is this anecdote:
. . . three young men in Missouri said they were trailed by federal agents for several days and subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury last month, forcing them to cancel their trip to Boston to take part in a protest there that same day . . . All three have taken part in past protests over American foreign policy and in planning meetings for convention demonstrations. [Ms. Lieberman, their lawyer} said two of them were arrested before on misdemeanor charges for what she described as minor civil disobedience at protests. Prosecutors have now informed the men that they are targets of a domestic terrorism investigation, Ms. Lieberman said, but have not disclosed the basis for their suspicions. "They won't tell me," she said.
Its the refrain of the Hollow Men - this is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.


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Dueling deficits? Not really. 

Here's another headline for the Bush Headline Project.
The New York Times headlines its story "Styles similar in Bush and Kerry duel on deficit numbers"
The idea here is to promote the view that Kerry would be no better at handling the economy than Bush has been. So therefore, you might as well vote for Bush because he's so strong on terror.
But lets not actually have a detailed comparison of the numbers and projections, no. Instead, lets just have a series of contradictory and meaningless quotes from the two campaigns.
This is what passes in the US major media these days as 'exploring the issues.'
The head of the Concord Coalition is quoted in the article as saying "It's unclear to me that either candidate is better" but what the coalition also said in July is much more detailed and more critical of Bush: "The President’s budget claims to cut the deficit in half over five years but omits the likely cost of ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, assumes a freeze on non-security appropriations and pretends that relief from the growing alternative minimum tax will be temporary. Moreover, its 5-year window ignores the 10-year revenue loss of making the President’s tax cuts permanent. In Congress, deficit reduction talk has produced actions that only make it more difficult to close the gap. "
The article fails to include this telling detail. What it does say, in paragraph 17 is this: "Compared with Mr. Bush's plans, Mr. Kerry's proposals would amount to an increase in taxes. But the full panoply of Mr. Kerry's proposals would lead to tax cuts totaling $425 billion over 10 years, which would rank him as one of the biggest tax-cutters in history." Without any further explanation, this paragraph doesn't make any sense, particularly in the context of the article and its headline. The media script is that republicans cut taxes while democrats raise them -- so lets not ever have a headline or a story which contradicts that script.

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Saturday, August 14, 2004

They're starting to get it 

Finally, the US media is starting to understand that the Iraq war is unwinnable -- Fred Kaplan's article in Slate entitled "No Way Out. Is there any hope of avoiding catastrophe in Iraq?" will be the first of a series of articles we will see over the next two months.
This is exactly what Dean and Kerry and the left-wing bloggers and the rest of the democrats saw a year ago, even two years ago. For Dean, it made him an anti-war candidate.
Kerry, a more strategic thinkier, realized that the American economic position and interests in the Middle East required a more complicated posture now than the simpler anti-war Vietnam approach of 30 years ago -- see my "Kerry-think" post from last weekend on how he would try to handle this mess.
The US could afford an ignominious end to Vietnam -- the whole idea of that war, remember, was to protect South Vietnam from North Vietnam and hence prevent big bad old China from taking over southeast Asia. But by the time America plucked its last soldier off the embassy roof, it was clear that China had enough trouble just running its own country, never mind Vietnam.
Abandoning Iraq, however, would destabilize both Israel and oil interests. (Yes, I know, I know, they made their bed and maybe they should have to lie in it -- but the world doesn't need another Arab/Israeli war now, particularly with the American army in the middle.)
Kaplan starts with the same dilemna that Kerry saw:
"There might be nothing we can do to build a path to a stable, secure, let alone democratic regime. And there's no way we can just pull out without plunging the country, the region, and possibly beyond into still deeper disaster."
And then Kaplan finds himself going in Kerry's direction:
". . . with the right mix of incentives, Russia and France might be persuaded to send troops. One key would be to play on their commercial ambitions. Give both countries—and any others—favored status to bid on vital contracts. Iraq's oil reserves alone might prove tempting. The other key would be to turn over the occupation, including its military command, to an outside entity: NATO, the European Union, the United Nations, the Arab League—anything, as long as the general in charge is not an American."
Kaplan concludes ". . . the best we can hope for, at this point, is an Iraq that doesn't blow up and take the region with it. The dismaying, frightening thing is how imponderably difficult it will be simply to avoid catastrophe."
Once again, Kerry has been ahead of the curve.

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More up is downism 

No wonder the Bush administration wants more of its judicial appointments to go through -- the courts have been the only place which has stopped its rampant pro-business regulatory changes which have been proceeding at a furious pace and without any particular respect for public input or safety, apparently.
Is anyone surprised?

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Friday, August 13, 2004

Blowing up the money 

One of the problems old-time bank robbers used to have was blowing up the money -- using so much explosive to blow open a safe that they destroyed both the safe and the money in it.
This is what the US is now doing in Iraq -- the fighting in Najaf is a no-win situation for the US military, for Iraq's so-called government, and for the Bush administration.
Half of the new Iraq government just resigned over the US attacks on Najaf and Kut. And, as they did in Fallujah in April, perhaps US commanders in the field are having second thoughts again about the impossible situation their troops are in, with the New York Times reporting they appear to be stopping their advance again
Now Cheney is trying to ridicule Kerry for using the word "sensitive" in describing how he would deal with the war on terror. Well, as the Daily Show demonstrated, Bush himself has also used this word in the past to describe how the US should be acting. Not, of course, that the Pentagon has behaved with any actual sensitivity toward Iraq, so maybe it doesn't count.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Teflon Kerry 

One of the attributes of a winning politician is his ability to fall on both sides of an issue, to the extent that both sides can think he is supporting their view? This ability, properly used, creates a "teflon" politician -- one to whom bad news does not stick. It drives opponents crazy, because there is nothing they can get a handle on. Reagan had it, and so did Clinton. Bush has tried to develop it, but with the usual clumsy incompetence of his administration has too often revealed the ventriloquist behind the curtain.
Well, it looks like John Kerry has developed this ability as well.
Here is arch-right-winger Glenn Reynolds actually supporting Kerry for his Iraq war stance and his stem cell research stance -- its stunning, amazing, that Reynolds would actually think Kerry supports the Iraq war. But its a tribute to how slippery Kerry has become on this issue, refusing to give his opponents a handle for attacks -- Bush was reduced to the ridiculous posture of "blasting" Kerry for a vote which actually supported Bush's own position!
Keep it up, John.


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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The hand is quicker than the eye 

The New York Times nails it in this editorial Sidestepping reform at the CIA By naming a new CIA director now, Bush is trying to pull off a bit of hocus-pocus, whisking the focus of Congress and the country away from the 9.11 commission recommendations. It will be interesting to see whether the commission members and Congress will be bamboozled.



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Cat on board 

This Cat pounces on pilot mid-flight is hilarious.
Though I'm glad I wasn't sitting forward.

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Sunday, August 08, 2004

The Son also rises 

Ron Reagan writes The Case Against George W. Bush in September's Esquire magazine.
Politicians will stretch the truth. They'll exaggerate their accomplishments, paper over their gaffes. Spin has long been the lingua franca of the political realm. But George W. Bush and his administration have taken "normal" mendacity to a startling new level far beyond lies of convenience. On top of the usual massaging of public perception, they traffic in big lies, indulge in any number of symptomatic small lies, and, ultimately, have come to embody dishonesty itself. They are a lie. And people, finally, have started catching on.
Reagan is particularly mad about the constant lying:
All administrations will dissemble, distort, or outright lie when their backs are against the wall, when honesty begins to look like political suicide. But this administration seems to lie reflexively, as if it were simply the easiest option for busy folks with a lot on their minds. While the big lies are more damning and of immeasurably greater import to the nation, it is the small, unnecessary prevarications that may be diagnostic. Who lies when they don't have to? When the simple truth, though perhaps embarrassing in the short run, is nevertheless in one's long-term self-interest? Why would a president whose calling card is his alleged rock-solid integrity waste his chief asset for penny-ante stakes? Habit, perhaps. Or an inability to admit even small mistakes.
The article includes what the democrats should be codifying and calling The List: not just Iraq, but also climate change, energy policies, security failures, no child left behind underfunding, medicare bungling -- and Reagan also notes all of the people now against Bush - scientists, diplomats, generals. Its an impressive list.
I wonder whether anyone at the republican convention will dare to mention Reagan's legacy.

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Saturday, August 07, 2004

Kerry-Think about Iraq 

One of the primary characteristics of the way Bush thinks about issues is the simplistic black/white comparison - you're either for us or against us. The attraction of this kind of thinking is exactly its simplicity -- its easy to grasp, easy to apply to just about any situation.
The media gets sucked into this, as do the rest of us.
I have seen some media stories recently which conclude, because Kerry is not vocally opposed to the Iraq war, that therefore Kerry's position on the war is the same as Bush and there is no difference between them. Sometimes this comes from right-wing commentators who conclude without any evidence that Kerry would have no more success than Bush would in disentangling America from this mess, and I see it also from left-wingers who themselves are opposed to the war and who want Kerry to state some kind of anti-war position.
But its all Bush-Think -- simplistic, easy, wrong.
The Iraq war is too much of a mess now for any more Bush-Think, either by Bush himself or by the media -- or by me. So I looked into what Kerry actually does plan to do in Iraq.
Sure enough, its complicated. It is also uniquely Kerry. Call it Kerry-Think -- complex, challenging, strategic, and goal-oriented.
Kerry's goal is to extricate America from this mess before they actually lose the war, and simultaneously to make America safer by ensuring that Iraq does not descend into anarchy. Talk about complex -- it could be one of those Mission Impossible scripts -- "Your mission, Mr. Kerry, if you chose to accept it, is to get the American troops safely home while also ensuring that the country they leave behind will not be a danger to America or to its neighbours."
And as I am beginning to appreciate what Kerry wants to do, I am beginning to think that perhaps this actually is possible -- maybe Kerry can actually pull this off.
Here is the key part of Kerry's Plan for America:
Having gone to war, we cannot afford to fail at peace. We must take immediate measures to prevent Iraq
from becoming a failed state that inevitably would become a haven for terrorists and a destabilizing force in
the Middle East. We must now forge a new policy based on what we know and on what will be most effective. We still have an opportunity to prevent Iraq from becoming a failed state and a haven for global terrorists and Islamic
extremists. We can still succeed in promoting stability, democracy, protection of minority and women’s rights,
and peace in the region if we construct and follow a realistic path. To accomplish this, America must do the hard work
to get the world’s major political powers to join in this mission. We must build a real coalition of countries to
work together to achieve our mission in Iraq; the international community shares the stakes—they should
share the political and military burdens. To do that, of course, we must share responsibility with those nations
that answer our call, and treat them with respect. We must lead—and we must listen.

Bush and the people around him are incapable of undertaking such a complex task and so will ridicule anyone who would attempt it -- but basically this approach is America's only hope to achieve any kind of success with this misbegotten war, and I think Kerry has both the leadership skills and the international credibility to do it.

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Clumsy incompetents 

So -- the recent terrorist arrests apparently have little to do with protecting the US from terrorism, and a lot to do with protecting terrorist investigations from the ham-handed Bush administration.
See MSNBC's Pakistan: US blew undercover operation story.
When will the media realize how clumsy, incompetent and self-serving this administration is?
Can anyone name ONE THING they have actually handled well in the last four years?

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Bad moon rising 

One line I read in some book said there are seven things that can happen when a quarterback drops back to throw a pass, and six of them are bad -- the good one is that the pass is accurately thrown and successfully caught; the bad ones are quarterback sack, interception, quarterback injury, receiver injury, incomplete pass, and fumbled catch.
Anyway, I was reminded of this in relation to the stories I am reading now about Bush's campaign -- Slate's article about the pseudo-religious persona that Bush is using on his campaign stops had an aura of desperation about it in spite of the reporter's own warm fuzzies. Note the description of his audience as "hand-picked Ohioans intended to represent a particular Bush policy". Both Bush and Cheney now seem to prefer to speak only to the previously converted -- and these will become fewer in number as a cascade of bad things happens in the next three months:
- the Afghan election Oct. 9 will likely be a mess.
- the Iraq insurgency will continue to get worse. By the end of October, there will be 1,200 American troops dead.
- US job numbers will continue to tank, the market will continue to fall. The market usually falls anyway from mid-September to the end of October. This year will be worse because of oil prices.
- the Plame inquiry will report and, considering how many of top Bush administration people they have interviewed, its unlikely (though possible, I suppose) that the result will be innocuous.
- chances are that more prisoner abuse photos will emerge.
- and if there is a terrorist attack on US property anywhere in the world, it may not turn out to be a positive for Bush. In fact, it could be a negative, particularly if it concerns some area like chemical plants, about which the Bush administration has been warned but has done nothing to fix (and considering how much has been neglected, the odds are that this will be the case.)
Now, Kerry could blow it somehow, and he will need to present himself well in the debates. We'll have a better idea after the Republican convention how their speaking styles will compare.
But for the most part, the indicators for Bush are pretty bad.
Clinton said in last night's CBC interview that Bush had already lost, and this is certainly the sense I get when I see news coverage of his campaign appearances -- though most of the media are still trying to be "balanced" about it.

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Thursday, August 05, 2004

The choice 

Clinton put it simply and clearly in his CBC interview:
The Bush administration has outsourced the war against Al Quaeda to Pakistan while it went to war against Iraq. If Americans agree with those priorities, they will vote for Bush. If they do not agree with those priorities, they will vote for Kerry.

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Sorry, slowdown in posts for a couple of weeks 

Hi -- well, my laptop has apparently died, and it will take a while to revive it -- in the meantime, I will try to keep up, using my son's computer -- but unfortunately, he likes to use it sometimes too. So expect fewer posts until I can get it fixed.



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Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Alternate realities 

A Record of Recovery
Hmmm -- Reagan's former secretary of state says that the charts show Clinton inherited prosperity and bequeathed recession.
Just as logically, one could say that the charts show the economy tanks during Republican administrations - particularly Bush administrations -- and begins showing signs of life again when the prospect looms of being able to vote them out.

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Laughing while Rome burns, I guess 

Dem pundits plan to lose this race the same way they did in 2000
So it turns out that the republican strategy to make fun of the democratic candidate was also used against Gore in 2000.
I though "everything changed" after 9/11, but I guess not.
And the dems had better react his time, as the Howler points out -- they need their own talking points and they need to get their people to use them.

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Monday, August 02, 2004

Window-dressing with a fall-guy 

Bush Calls for New Intelligence Director
"President Bush urged creation of a national intelligence director Monday to coordinate the war on terrorism but without the sweeping powers for hiring, firing and spending at the CIA, FBI and other agencies as recommended by the Sept. 11 commission . . . Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, questioned Bush's decision. "The power and authority given to these new entities will determine whether these changes actually fix the problem or make it worse," he said. If the new director cannot control the budgets of intelligence agencies, he said, "this new position will be no more than window dressing."
How can newspaper headlines credit Bush for enacting the 9/11 commission recommendations? This is NOT what they said they wanted. This is just a new fall-guy.

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Oh, for crying out loud 

So I just told my husband we should sell any Prudential stock we owned, then this story comes out: Reports That Led to Terror Alert Were Years Old, Officials Say
Key quote: "What we've uncovered is a collection operation as opposed to the launching of an attack" apparently from 2000 and 2001.
But every nameless official referred to in the article says that things could still be dangerous, no one really knows, be ever on your guard.
Gee, they're acting like everything is still exactly the same as it was before 9/11, that general security practices for large office buildings really haven't improved one bit!
The people I feel sorry for are the poor souls who have to continue to show up at these buildings every day -- going to work shouldn't be a death-defying act (though sometimes. of course, it is.)
And I predict the next real estate bust and boom -- an exodus from the big, signature highrise office buildings right downtown; instead businesses will demand lowrise, unobtrusive office buildings sprinkled around the suburbs -- harder to find and easier to protect.

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Never underestimate the republican desire to get their clips onto the Daily Show 

Bush Planning August Attack Against Kerry
"President Bush's campaign plans to use the normally quiet month of August for a vigorous drive to undercut John Kerry by turning attention away from his record in Vietnam to what the campaign described as an undistinguished and left-leaning record in the Senate. Mr. Bush's advisers plan to cap the month at the Republican convention in New York, which they said would feature Mr. Kerry as an object of humor and calculated derision."
Don't worry -- this will blow up in their faces.
While Kerry and Edwards are running around the country talking about the important stuff like health care and the economy and jobs and Iraq -- they wrote a book obout their platform, for heaven's sake -- there will be Bush and Cheney trying to get anyone to care as they carp about 10- or 20-year-old Senate votes and make fun of how Kerry looks.
Teenage boys may like it -- it sounds like a typical teen movie plot -- the adults vs. the teenagers. John Kerry is not Eugene Levy, however. And teenage boys don't vote.
Now, joking their way through a presidential campaign may make some of their base happy (how intense, among democrats, is the desire to take cheap shots at Bush, too).
But "everything" changed after 9/11, including the public's desire to take politics more seriously.
And by the way, how DOES Kerry's four months in Vietnam contrast with Bush's four or five or six months of partying with secretaries and not even showing up for duty?
How DOES Kerry's 20 years of senate work contast with Bush's 20 years of partying and drinking?
And how DOES Kerry's height contrast with Bush's short stature? Side-by-side, Kerry may look like Herman Munster, but Bush looks like a shrimp with a smirk.
And if any of the Bush-Cheney quips do actually get onto the Daily Show, you can bet that Jon Stewart will be asking these questions as well.
UPDATE: Josh Marshall says the dems should mock Bush, too -- I disagree, this will just make them look cheap and it isn't Kerry's style. They took the high road at the convention and they should keep it.

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The Mary Poppins solution 

Iraq confounds, Kerry contorts Shorter John MacArthur (and lots of other columnists): "John Kerry must present a detailed plan for ending the war in Iraq and creating democracy right away, or else he loses credibility to George Bush (who had no plan for Iraq at all)."
I've seen this kind of article all over -- its a republican talking point, nothing more.
First, its ridiculous to expect that someone who is not the president yet to come up with a detailed "answer to Iraq" when the people presently in power are at a complete loss about what to do there.
Second, they're looking for Mary Poppins magic. They cannot accept the fact that there is no "solution" which will enable America to emerge from Iraq, even with "peace with honour" much less with a successful democracy. They will howl derision, however, if a presidential candidate has the temerity to tell them so.
UPDATE: And columnist Richard Reeves agrees with me:
We are going to have to cut and run without appearing to cut and run. We have to execute the most difficult of military maneuvers, retreating under fire, without admitting it, as Richard Nixon did in Vietnam. Certainly Kerry could not admit that last Thursday night; few of us can. The almost criminal incompetence of the occupation cripples us all. But Kerry has to fudge that. For now, on Iraq, he has to mimic Bush. We all do. The final futility is just Vietnamization all over again, turn the country back to the locals, keeping Americans out of harm's way and getting out of there as fast as we can -- or repairing to bases where bullet-proof-vested soldiers, watching videos and eating ice cream, will occasionally venture forth like Romans on punitive missions. But Kerry would be dead politically if he admitted that. So would Bush.

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