As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, October 08, 2004

Debate Blogging

Before the debate, I thought it was clear that the focus would be on the President. He lost the other debate, and the narratve would be "Can Bush come back?" Therefore it mattered little what Kerry did here. As long as Bush didn't fall off his chair, club Kerry with the mike, or jump up and down on the floor while crying, he was going to be viewed as having done better, which with the media horserace machine is all he needed to do to "win".

Well, he didn't do any of that. I thought he was pretty angry and overly loud in the way that your embarrassing uncle is loud at a family function. But he was measurably better than in debate #1. The substance remained unchanged, however, and while I thought Kerry didn't hit as hard as he did last time, he got in enough jabs to create doubt over the direction we're headed.

Strangely enough, I thought Kerry was at his best on the social issues portion of the debate. His answers on Supreme Court appointments, stem cell research and abortion were excellent, and really heartfelt IMO. Even Insta-idiot was giving Kerry his props on that score. Bush's answers on this were ludicrous, particularly his invocation of the Dred Scott decision. Hey, way to go out on a limb there, buddy, and assert yourself as AGAINST slavery. Thanks for creating such a clear choice. "You're either against slavery, or you're with the terrorists!"

The timber question may be the one that takes on a life of its own. Kerry mentioned that Bush qualified for small business status by earning $84 as part of minority interest in a timber company. Bush feigned ignorance ("I didn't know I owned a timber company!"), and he may actually BE ignorant of it; it sounds like one of those "accounting tricks" that "rich people" use to "get out of paying their taxes" (not that the President thinks he can do ANYTHING about it). But he actually did do this. Here's the release:


KERRY: The President got $84 from a timber company that he owns that he's counted as a small business...

BUSH: I own a timber company? That's news to me.

REALITY: "President Bush himself would have qualified as a 'small business owner' under the Republican definition, based on his 2001 federal income tax returns. He reported $84 of business income from his part ownership of a timber-growing enterprise. However, 99.99 percent of Bush's total income came from other sources that year. (Bush also qualified as a "small business owner" in 2000 based on $314 of "business income," but not in 2002 and 2003 when he reported his timber income as "royalties" on a different tax schedule.)" (; 9/23/04)

In no way do I think the President sat down and did his own taxes. The point is that, while fearmongering that Kerry's rollback of taxes on the wealthy will hurt small businesses, he left himself open to the point that the bush campaign skewers the facts to amp up the fear. I'm glad is out there to present the record, since the media frequently puts these points down the memory hole.

Anyway, I thought Kerry won (thanks to a big edge on substance), but not by much, and that this won't move a whole lot of polls. Honestly, I can't imagine anyone still being undecided. I don't know how they get up in the morning.


More Boogeymen

With the trends clearly in John Kerry's direction, it's apparently time to scare everybody. So today we get this:

School districts notified of computer disk found in Iraq
WASHINGTON -- Federal law enforcement authorities notified school districts in six states last month that a computer disk found in Iraq contained photos, floor plans and other information about their schools, two U.S. officials said Thursday.

The downloaded data found by the U.S. military in July -- all available on the Internet -- included an Education Department report guiding schools on how to prepare and respond to a crisis, said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The districts mentioned are in Georgia, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon and California. The officials said last month that FBI agents in charge of those areas alerted local education and law enforcement officials.
Officials did not give the districts' names. But Salem (Ore.) Superintendent Kay Baker confirmed her district was among them.

Except that, upon analysis, it becomes clear that this is not terrorism at all:

WASHINGTON (AP) Federal officials said Friday there is no terrorist connection to a computer disk found in Iraq that contained information about schools in six states.

The disk was made by an unidentified Iraqi man who was doing research and had no connections to al-Qaida or the Iraqi insurgents battling U.S. forces, according to the FBI. The man did have links to the Baath Party that ruled Iraq under Saddam Hussein, but that's true of many former government officials and community leaders.

Some material on the disk appeared to be randomly downloaded from a publicly accessible Education Department Web site and included such things as manuals on workplace safety, crisis management studies, student codes of conduct and building security diagrams. It also contained an Education Department report on school crisis planning that was published in May 2003.

''It's not about schools, it's about policy,'' said FBI Agent William Evanina, spokesman for the FBI field office in Newark, N.J. ''There's no terrorism threat to these schools.''

Of course, the correction is deeper in the paper than the initial threat, I gather.

Gee, I wonder why anyone in Iraq would want plans about school buildings? It wouldn't be because they're... building schools there, would it?


Debate Predictions

In response to a question about health care, Bush will start saying, "It's gettin' hot in herre, so take off all yer clothes," then he'll realize the radio receiver in his ear is picking up the local hip-hop station, then Milli Vanilli will jump on stage, leaping to his defense, and Kerry will be forced into a Spears/Timberlake-style dance-off.

(In case you don't know what I'm talking about with the Bush earpiece, go over here. A word on this controversy, which has migrated from the Web to Salon and MSNBC: If Bush cheated by using a radio transmitter in that first debate, that has to be the worst instance of cheating in the history of cheating.)


I think Kerry will be ready for the "no wonder I made a face" line Bush tested out in PA earlier this week, and he'll have a stone-cold zinger for it. Something like "Do you want to make a face, or do you want to face reality?"

Kerry's been more prepared for this kind of no-holds-barred town-hall format; he's held dozens of them, and the questions were not at all reverential. Whereas the "Kiss the Hem of the President's Garment" events usually end up with such hard hitting questions as "I just want to thank you for everything you've done." And, we've all seen how bent out of shape the Prez got when his opponent dared to question his policies. What'll happen when somebody from the rabble does it?

We shall soon find out.


My Brush With Fame

Wow, I never expected to post that "At This Hour" story and actually get the site taken down. But that's just what happened, and in their correction, WBAY-TV cited "a discussion forum on Daily Kos" (where I cross-posted the story) for them realizing their mistake. Wow.

I'm swamped with work, so I apologize for the light posting the last couple days. I've noticed the traffic is slightly improving, so I want to provide as much as possible. I'll get a couple things up this afternoon.


Thursday, October 07, 2004

"At This Hour"

Take a look at this:

At this hour, President Bush has won re-election as president by a 47 percent to 43 percent margin in the popular vote nationwide. Ralph Nader has 1 percent of the vote nationwide. That's with 51 percent of the precincts reporting.
Bush has won 324 electoral votes in 33 states. He is leading in 4 states for a total of 43 more electoral votes.

Yes, at THIS hour.  You know, 624 hours before the election.

Here's the rest of the "article":

Kerry has won 105 electoral votes in 8 states and the District of Columbia. He is leading in 5 states for a total of 48 more electoral votes.

Nader has not won any state and is not currently leading in any state.

In the 435 U.S. House races, the Republicans have won 173 seats and are leading in the races for 56 seats. The Democrats have won 145 seats and are leading in the races for 56 seats. Independent and other party candidates have won or are leading for 3 seats. If these trends continue, the Republicans will retain control of the House.

In the 34 races for the U.S. Senate, the Republicans have won 14 seats and are leading in the races for 4 seats. The Democrats have won 13 seats and are leading in the races for 3 seats. Independent and other party candidates have won or are leading for 1 seat. If these trends continue, the Republicans will retain control of the Senate and will gain 3 seats.

This is an AP story on a the website of a Wisconsin ABC affiliate.  You have GOT to be kidding me.  How does this keep happening?

UPDATE: from chicagoprogressive over at Kos:

I am on the phone now with Ted Miller at WBAY in Green Bay - he is the webmaster. He said it is a TOTAL MISTAKE and that AP was testing its shit and that this got out on accident. He is really upset about this.

WBAY is a good station in Greenbay so lets not kill them.

How do these things keep getting out by mistake? There's a hell of a lot of ways to pre-empt things from going live on the Web.


Wednesday, October 06, 2004


The verdicts are coming in on Vice President Cheney's rondelet of lies last night (Atrios sums it up), but there's another debate happening tonight. It's at Cornell University in New York, and it's amongst four "third-party" candidates for President: Michael Badnarik of the Libertarian Party, Walt Brown of the Socialist Party, David Cobb of the Green Party, and Michael Peroutka of the Constitution Party.

Where's Ralph Nader, do you ask? According to the Cornell website, "Independent candidate Ralph Nader declined the Mock Election group's invitation."

Here's a guy who does nothing but whine that he should be included in the major party debate on free speech grounds, and then turns around and declines to participate in a free speech debate with other Presidential candidates that don't pass his muster. What a loser.


Tuesday, October 05, 2004

"I've never met you."

Debate thoughts later, short version is I basically thought it was a draw, but when Cheney did that "I've never met you, sir" thing to Edwards, I was audibly wondering, "Gee, could that be true?"

Well, what would you call this?

This is exactly the type of "Gotcha!" thing our lazy media plays into all the time. But substantively, it does reinforce the notion that this Administration plays it fast and loose with the facts... in fact, they disregard them.


Hi, Vice President!

CNN has reported that the Kerry campaign has invited Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to be in attendance at tonight's VIce-Presidential Debate in Cleveland. In fact, he'll be sitting in the second row.

Why is that significant?

Leahy's the guy that had the little incident with Dick Cheney on the Senate floor a few months back. Cheney reportedly yelled "Go fuck yourself" at him.

This is the best thing James Carville has ever done.

Also, Salon's War Room is posting this:

Just a few minutes ago, the Democratic National Committee distributed Halliburton hospitality bags to the press corps. The contents included a small box of Tide -- a reminder of how a Halliburton subsidiary charged the military $100 for a 15-pound bag of laundry -- and "your very own no-bid contract."

I thought Democrats were "humorless," though? Guess not. The gloves are really coming off, aren't they?


two faces of bush

Everyone should take a look at this.



Harry Shearer had this Sunday on his wonderful Le Show program, and now Digby is picking it up too. Among the many bewildering lines coming out of last week's Presidential debate ("You forgot Poland," "I don't know how he's going to pay" for homeland security, "I know bin Laden attacked us! I know that!") was this claim that "The A.Q. Khan network has been brought to justice." Even Wolf Blitzer was roused from his slumber to question Condi Rice on this one:

BLITZER: To justice? The guy has been -- Khan has been freed. He's been pardoned by President Musharraf... Khan himself lives in a villa. And the IAEA would like to question him, and the Pakistani government doesn't even allow that to happen.

RICE: I think we all know that A.Q. Khan was a particular kind of figure in Pakistani lore, a national hero... if you don't think that his national humiliation is justice for what he did, I think it is. He's nationally humiliated.

That's what you get for selling nuclear secrets to North Korea, Iran, and any other rogue state on the international terrorist watch list?  You get humiliation?  What, did he have to walk around with a "I sold nuclear secrets" sandwich sign like Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm?

Humiliation is the ultimate justice, didn't you know? That's why we laughed and pointed at the last bin Laden video, and made fun of his turban! We were bringing him to justice! The Justice Department ought to be renamed "The Humiliation Department."

Thank you, Letterman, Conan, and Jon Stewart for bringing people to justice every day!


I Didn't Know This Mike Was On

There's this new trend among the Bush Administration. I believe it's called "flip-flopping." See, that's when you make one statement, and then later on you say the exact opposite, or (better) say you didn't say it. And for a group of strong and resolute Republicans, they sure are getting good at it!

First we have Donald Rumsfeld, being fitted for his muzzle until November 3rd presently:

Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld yesterday reversed his pre-war claim that Saddam's regime had a relationship with al-Qa'ida, which was one of the key stated reasons for the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Before the war, Mr Rumsfeld spoke of direct contact between the two groups as well as "credible evidence" that the terror network had sought to co-operate with Iraq over acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

Quizzed at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York yesterday, Mr Rumsfeld said: "To my knowledge, I have not seen any strong, hard evidence that links the two."

Then, after getting a barrage of "What were you thinking?" emails from Ken Mehlman and Matthew Dowd all day, Rummy penned his midnight confession:

A question I answered today at an appearance before the Council on Foreign Relations regarding ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq regrettably was misunderstood.

I have acknowledged since September 2002 that there were ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq.

This assessment was based upon points provided to me by then CIA Director George Tenet to describe the CIA's understanding of the Al Qaeda-Iraq relationship.

How exactly do you misunderstand "I have not seen any evidence linking the two?" And how do you then describe a bunch of strong, hard evidence linking the two?

But Rumsfeld's donning of the sandals is nothing compared to Paul Bremer, former US proconsul in Iraq.

L. Paul Bremer, speaking Monday at an insurance conference in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, said "horrid" looting was occurring when he arrived to head the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad on May 6, 2003.

"We paid a big price for not stopping it because it established an atmosphere of lawlessness," Bremer said. "We never had enough troops on the ground."

When questioned about it, Bremer indicated that he "didn't know the remarks would be made public." Yeah, and I didn't know when I was talking that words would come out of my mouth.

This appears to be an end to Bremer's quest to head the State Department. A devastating Salon article out today mentions that Bremer has been trying to position himself as Secretary of State should Colin Powell step down should President Bush get a second term (perish the thought). Read the article, it basically makes the case that the neocons are trying to seep into Foggy Bottom as well as the Pentagon. Written by an anonymous foreign service officer, too.

I think John Kerry could probably learn something from these flip-floppers about how it's really done.

UPDATE: Bremer apparently made a speech at DePauw University in Indiana last month, where he said pretty much the same thing he said in West Virginia:

Earlier, at a student forum this afternoon in Meharry Hall, the ambassador admitted, "The single most important change -- the one thing that would have improved the situation -- would have been having more troops in Iraq at the beginning and throughout... Although I raised this issue a number of times with our government, I should have been even more insistent."

I guess he didn't know people would be listening to him at that one, either.


Monday, October 04, 2004

You in the starfleet uniform... I mean Air Force uniform

Come on with this:

Air Force pursuing antimatter weapons
Program was touted publicly, then came official gag order
- Keay Davidson, Chronicle Science Writer
Monday, October 4, 2004

The U.S. Air Force is quietly spending millions of dollars investigating ways to use a radical power source -- antimatter, the eerie "mirror" of ordinary matter -- in future weapons.

The most powerful potential energy source presently thought to be available to humanity, antimatter is a term normally heard in science-fiction films and TV shows, whose heroes fly "antimatter-powered spaceships" and do battle with "antimatter guns."

I think next up for the Air Force is the Vulcan death lock, as long as it doesn't interfere with the Prime Directive.


The Gotcha Rule

Instead of trying to explain why their candidate looked like a kid who didn't want to be at the mall with his mommy last Thursday night, the GOP has decided to pore through debate transcripts, trying to find any scrap of material that would prove their flip-flopping claim against John Kerry. Here's the thing. Republicans have run a flip-flop Presidential campaign for years and years. Clinton was a waffler, Gore had no convictions. They're always willing to play into the conventional wisdom that politicians are, well, politicians, and use it to their advantage. Why? Because it's easier to go through old opposition speeches and find quotes than create and defend actual policies.

And what it leads to is a kind of willful obfuscation on the part of people smart enough to know the difference. As long as it plays into the narrative, they will collapse time, they will take words literally, they will just decide not to comprehend. There are several examples of this coming out of the debate. This passage, for example:

KERRY: Well, you know, when I talked about the $87 billion, I made a mistake in how I talk about the war. But the President made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse?

I believe that when you know something's going wrong, you make it right. That's what I learned in Vietnam. When I came back from that war I saw that it was wrong. Some people don't like the fact that I stood up to say no, but I did. And that's what I did with that vote. And I'm going to lead those troops to victory.

LEHRER: All right, new question. Two minutes, Senator Kerry. Speaking of Vietnam, you spoke to Congress in 1971, after you came back from Vietnam, and you said, quote, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" Are Americans now dying in Iraq for a mistake?

KERRY: No, and they don't have to, providing we have the leadership that we put -- that I'm offering.

Now, people have taken this bit to say that Kerry first says the war is a mistake, and then he says it isn't. NO HE DOESN'T. It was a mistake to invade, in March 2003. It is not a mistake to remain there, in October 2004. That's what he's saying. And that's been a very consistent stance for Kerry. He's said all along that now that we're in Iraq, we cannot fail, because of the geopolitical implications. That's not inconsistent. Except Republican operatives choose to see it that way.

Another example is this thing about the "global test." It's completely clear what he meant: the universal test of legitimacy. In other words, if you're going to attack another country, you might need proof, lest it become illegitimate. Now, considering this Administration DID attack another country without any proof, maybe it's no surprise they misread the phrase.

I'll let the candidate himself have the last word on this:

Speaking at a town hall meeting on stem cell research in Winnacunnet High School in Hampton New Hampshire, Kerry replied, "This is what they do. It's almost sad. It's certainly pathetic. All they can do is grab a little phrase and scare America."

Alluding to the New York Times' Sunday story on Iraq intelligence, the Democratic nominee insisted, "They misled Americans on intelligence."

Then Kerry returned to the question at hand, continuing, "What I said in the preceding sentence was, "I will not cede America's security to another country." No one gets a veto over our security. No one...I'm never going to allow America's security to be outsourced."

Concluding, Kerry clarified once more, "The test that I was talking about was a test of legitimacy."

This willful obfuscation on the part of the Republicans is so maddening. Anyone with a brain knows exactly what Kerry is talking about here, but BushCo takes it in the completely literal sense. It's like if I took Bush saying "I know bin Laden attacked us!" and taking it to mean "See, he KNEW bin Laden was going to attack!!!"

The reading comprehension from the other side is at about a 3rd-grade level. I'd like to see some SAT verbal scores. I mean really.