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

Saturday, October 30, 2004

No Politicizing

Isn't that what Republicans said about this latest bin Laden tape? What's this then?

"We want people to think 'terrorism' for the last four days," said a Bush-Cheney campaign official. "And anything that raises the issue in people's minds is good for us."

A senior GOP strategist added, "anything that makes people nervous about their personal safety helps Bush."

He called it "a little gift," saying it helps the President but doesn't guarantee his reelection.

Crazily enough, the story undercuts its own argument a couple paragraphs earlier by saying:

Bin Laden popping up like a malignant jack-in-the-box four days before the balloting may bolster John Kerry's argument that Bush should have finished wiping out Al Qaeda before turning his attention to Iraq.

Why is the GOP happy that this guy's alive? Why are they happy that they failed to capture or kill him? Why does the appearance of a bin Laden tape equal "happy" to them at all?



Apparently the State Department didn't agree with the media narrative that the bin Laden tape would help Bush. In fact, they tried to block it:

WASHINGTON (AP) - The State Department on Friday urged the government of Qatar, which finances Al-Jazeera, not to broadcast a videotaped speech by Osama bin Laden, a senior State Department official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the State Department spoke to officials in Qatar before Al-Jazeera showed a portion of the tape. In it, the al-Qaida leader said the United States can avoid another attack if it stops threatening the security of Muslims.

Why would the State Department not want the tape shown? Maybe because it proves bin Laden is alive and well? Maybe because people in Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, Florida and Ohio might look at it and say, "That fucker is still alive? What the hell are we doing?"

The truth is the political implications are a great unknown. It could break either way. Rove and company are trying to accuse Kerry of politicizing this by bringing up Tora Bora (which Kerry brought up on a Wisconsin TV station before he knew of the veracity of the tape). But that is only likely to work with the base.

This election is about turnout. I'm headed to Kerry-Edwards HQ in LA to phone bank in a couple hours. What are you doing?


Friday, October 29, 2004

Surprise Time

Well, bin Laden reared his ugly head today. I definitely see it as a premeditated attempt by OBL to grab the spotlight, and the timing plays into that. Which candidate this helps is I think unclear.

Yes, we know the studies that any time the terror alert level rises, Bush goes up in the polls. At the same time, however, bin Laden's appearance after a three-year absence (at least on video) does one very important thing: it proves his existence. I can't tell you how many people on the right that I've spoken to who say "Bin Laden's dead, Bush just can't tell anyone." I always rejected this, especially because the reasoning for why Bush couldn't say anything was absurd to me.

Well, now we have pretty compelling proof that he is alive. He mentions Kerry by name, and other things that suggest this is a contemporary recording. And my gut tells me there'll be more than a few undecideds out there that'll think to themselves, "This guy's still alive? We can't find him? What have we been doing for three years?"

Both Kerry and Bush made similar statements about the tape, safe statements along the lines of the "We will bury you, Osama" variety. Kerry tended to politicize it more, if anything, by repeating the charge that bin Laden was pinned down in Afghanistan before we relented and turned to Iraq. All I know is that Bush went years without even mentioning bin Laden's name. I don't know if he wants the weekend before the election to be all about this guy.

Then again, I could be wrong, the undecideds could go running to their protective father figure upon hearing this news.


Premature confetti ejaculation

Now this is funny:

President Bush pauses as confetti falls from the ceiling before the end of his speech at a campaign rally at Verizon Wireless Arena Friday, Oct. 29, 2004 in Manchester, N.H. The confetti exploded prematurely.

They just showed the video on CNN. It was god damn hilarious. Bush was supposed to say "God bless you" at the end of his speech as a trigger to the confetti. He ad libbed it early, and the confetti exploded from the rafters. Upon hearing the unexpected POP, Bush looked as scared as I've ever seen him. Everyone ducked until they realized what was happening. Then he just stood there while the confetti rained down on him, waiting for it to end so he could get on with his speech.

Is there any better metaphor for the Bush campaign? In the late going, absolutely nothing can go right. They can't even get the confetti to fall at the right time.

p.s. Curt Schilling, who was supposed to appear with Bush, backed out at the last minute because his doctors told him "he shouldn't travel" with his injured ankle. Yeah, not like he was just in St. Louis or anything. He backed out because he felt the heat for his GMA comments, period, end of sentence.

[UPDATE] Here's a link to the video.

Also, a reader tells me that Schilling was not only in St. Louis on Wednesday, but Disney World in Orlando on Thursday. But he can't travel, BY CAR, to be with the President in New Hampshire.


Let's Go Packers!

If you're superstitious (and I am), you will reluctantly have to turn your eyes to the NFL this weekend, where the Green Bay Packers visit the Washington Redskins. How the Redskins fare in their final home game before the Presidential election has been a perfect predictor of the outcome since their inception, in 1933. If the 'Skins win, the incumbent wins. If the 'Skins lose, the incumbent loses.

Even the players seem to know about this:

This election season, Washington Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot has a predicament: For Kerry to win, the Redskins have to lose on Sunday — at least according to a bizarre statistical correlation that's been accurate for seven decades.
"We've got to win this game no doubt, but I'm hoping John Kerry can kind of reverse the curse," Smoot said. "I'm wishing him luck, man. This is the millennium for all trends to be broken."

Now time for a scouting report. The Packers are better. The Redskins are pretty awful. But they're at home. Time for everyone to be a Green Bay fan. Go Packers!


Thursday, October 28, 2004

Gettin' Mucky in Kentucky

You would have laid odds that the most entertaining Senate race this cycle would have been the Barack Obama/Alan Keyes contest in Illinois. But with Obama so far ahead (I think Keyes himself is "leaning Obama" at this point) that he's mostly campaigned in other states, the sizzle there has gone out.

Actually, the most entertaining race has been the one in Kentucky, where wingnut and former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Jim Bunning is up for re-election against State Senator Daniel Mongiardo. This wouldn't even have been a race at all, except for a series of startling gaffes by Bunning, which called into question his sanity. First he said Mongiardo, who is darkly complected, "looks like one of Saddam Hussein's kids." He falsely claimed that he was endorsed by a union that endorsed his opponent. He started using police escorts wherever he went, and when asked why, answered that “there may be strangers among us.” Then he refused to appear in a Louisville TV studio for a debate, instead doing it via satellite from an RNC bunker. During the debate he obviously was reading from a Teleprompter. After the debate Bunning accused his opponent's staff of beating up his wife in Kentucky last summer, leaving her "black and blue". People began to wonder whether Bunning had some kind of dementia. Suddenly, we had a race in a Republican stronghold. Last week, Bunning told reporters: "Let me explain something: I don't watch the national news, and I don't read the paper."

Fearing an upset, Bunning's cadre of supporters have decided to roll out the big guns: calling their opponent gay.

OWENSBORO - A top state Republican called Demo-cratic U.S. Senate candidate Dan Mongiardo "limp-wristed," and another GOP state legislator said she questions whether "the word 'man' applies to him" in speeches during Sen. Jim Bunning's campaign bus tour yesterday.

Williams began using the term "limp-wristed" at the start of the tour on Monday, when he also described Mongiardo as a "switch hitter who doesn't know whether he's on left or right." When asked what he meant then, he said,"there's no sexual connotation."

Both state Senate President David Williams of Burkesville and state Sen. Elizabeth Tori of Radcliff denied they intended to raise questions about Mongiardo's sexual orientation -- though Tori later said that if any listeners thought she was referring to his sexuality, "so be it."

That's the way to get the base fired up, I guess. This is the part that kills me:

"Besides, I don't understand the Democrats on this one," Williams added. "I'm not saying anything about anyone's sexual orientation. But if I were -- are they saying that's pejorative, that it's bad to be homosexual? I don't think they would say that, but how can they have it both ways?"

Recently, Williams had criticized candidates in an Eastern Kentucky state Senate race for trying to play "the homosexual card" by raising questions about each other's sexual orientation.

Mr. Williams, you've actually rated a perfect 10 on the naked transparency chart for that remark.

By the way, they still let Bunning speak at these events, although that may have to stop:

Bunning may have given Democrats more fodder yesterday. At St. Catharine College in Springfield, he referred to "November the 11th" while speaking about the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

I never thought I'd be paying so much attention to Kentucky politics, but this is fun. Plus, you know, it could determine the majority of the Senate.


Cult Leader

Maybe this is in Paul Krugman's book The Great Unraveling, but I hadn't read it before:

I actually went to check and looked at a budget from the Clinton years. It’s a rather dry-looking thing with charts and tables. The [2005] Bush budget is very much short on charts and tables–it’s better not to think about what would be in them. But it has these themes, uplifting themes of various kinds and each of them is illustrated with multiple glossy color photos of Bush doing presidential-type things. Obviously you see him standing in front of a giant American flag talking about homeland security, but you also see him hiking along a mountain trail, comforting the elderly, helping children learn how to read. It really does look like something from a Communist country. You know, I joked when I wrote about it that they forgot the photo of him swimming the Yangtze River. It’s very un-American, but it fits in with Operation Flight Suit—that kind of stagecraft, that glorification of the individual leader.

Don't you see this as the kind of thing Qaddafi would do in his budget? Or Saddam Huseein? It's a little thing, but a really really scary one. The good leaders aren't usually the ones dressed up in military gear (Qaddafi, Saddam, Castro, Arafat), by the way.

Do what you can to help Get Out the Vote, will ya?


Fakin' It

So the final Bush campaign ad features a doctored photo, multiplying a series of soldiers to cover up Bush at a podium.

At first the campaign denied it. Then CNN's Inside Politics ran the story. The campaign reversed themselves and acknowledged it. Then they said that it was the fault of an editor, who did this without the authorization of the campaign. They say he was supposed to simply crop the picture, not doctor it.

I am an editor. That simply wouldn't happen. The producer (in this case Mark McKinnon) would see the ad in full before approving it. He would not just let an editor photoshop a picture. It's bull.

Another fine case of buck-passing from the buck-passing Administration.



Who would've thought that a local news station may have provided the key to the unfolding story of missing explosives at Al Qaqaa.

A 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew in Iraq shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein was in the area where tons of explosives disappeared, and may have videotaped some of those weapons.

Using GPS technology and talking with members of the 101st Airborne Division, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has determined the crew embedded with the troops may have been on the southern edge of the Al Qaqaa installation, where the ammunition disappeared. The news crew was based just south of Al Qaqaa, and drove two or three miles north of there with soldiers on April 18, 2003.

During that trip, members of the 101st Airborne Division showed the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS news crew bunker after bunker of material labelled "explosives." Usually it took just the snap of a bolt cutter to get into the bunkers and see the material identified by the 101st as detonation cords.

There's video of it on their site too. One of the images clearly shows an orange label marked "1.1 D." According to this UN explosive classification order, that label is consistent with RDX, the missing explosives in question.

Meanwhile, Chief Hackenstein himself, Rudy Giuliani, tried to blame the troops for this mess on the "Today" show:

No matter how you try to blame it on the president the actual responsibility for it really would be for the troops that were there. Did they search carefully enough? Didn't they search carefully enough?

It's clear that in this Adminstration, the buck stops here... if by "here" you mean a series of bunkers in Baghdad.


Wednesday, October 27, 2004


RNC head Ed Gillespie was just on CNN's Inside Politics, in front of a backdrop. What did the backdrop say? George W. Bush? A Reformer With Results? Strong Leadership in Dangerous Times? Vote Bush-Cheney in '04?


Now that shows confidence.

They're going down in flames. Negative attack flames.


Leave Him Alone

President Bush is walking through a rope line yesterday, and a CNN reporter asks him about the 380 tons of missing explosives in Iraq. Bush just glares at him and moves on. Then you hear a woman in the audience, yelling at the reporter, "Leave him alone!"

Here's a Quicktime.

Are you friggin' joking? Leave him alone? Leave the King alone, he shouldn't have to answer the commoner's questions? That's not how it works in the good ol' U.S. of A.

Might I add that I have seen more than a few instances were Kerry is bombarded by negative questions, and what he'll do is this amazing little thing... he'll answer them. And nobody tells the questioner to "leave him alone."


Stern v. Powell

There are actually a few other issues besides Iraq and terror in this country, and I would say that media consolidation and censorship is a biggie. As you might know, FCC Chairman Michael Powell was on KGO Radio in San Francisco yesterday, and when they opened up the phone lines for questions, they received a call from a unique "first-time caller, long-time listener": Howard Stern.

I heard the exchange on Stern today, and despite what I think was a missed opportunity by Stern for pushing the nepotism angle (which is just too easy for Powell to deflect in a he said/she said manner), I thought he really nailed Powell to the wall. What infuriated me most was when Powell was talking about the recent Janet Jackson fine, which was delivered to the affiliates of the Owned & Operated Viacom stations. Ronn Owens (the host of the show) made the good point of "Why are you fining KPIX (the San Francisco CBS affiliate)? What did they have to do with Janet Jackson?" Powell countered that they only fined the O&Os. Owens then said, "Yeah, and KPIX IS an O&O."

Michael Powell's entire job is dealing with media, he's in San Francisco, and he doesn't know that KPIX is owned by Viacom? I'm sorry, that's his job, and that's gross negligence on his part. It just shows you how uninformed these government flacks are. That's supposed to be his area of expertise, for crying out loud!

Apparently, Powell had to be talked into taking calls in the first place. If the Federal COMMUNICATIONS Commission head is hesitant to communicate with his constituents, we've got a problem in America.


Release the Tiger!

Cheney unleashed!

PENSACOLA, Fla. — Accusing Sen. John Kerry of playing an "armchair general," Vice President Dick Cheney yesterday rejected the Democrat's criticism of the loss of 380 tons of explosives in Iraq, saying toppling Saddam Hussein took thousands of times that amount of potentially dangerous material out of the former dictator's hands.

An armchair general? It seems to me that "guarding the explosives" is not a military tactic. It's not up for debate, it's just something you do. My military experience consists of playing Risk, and I know to do that one.

Also, the debate has shifted now from "they weren't there when we got there" (which has been totally discredited) to "we got most of them," which, I don't know, doesn't make me feel exactly safe. Plus, there's the fact that these were under lock and key, under IAEA seal, before we invaded. When is the right going to thank the UN for disarming Saddam Hussein?


Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Welcome Little Green Footballers!

Apparently my friend wordwarp posted my post on the Al Qaqaa controversy on LGF's weblog. Hello Republicans of all stripes! Thank you for indulging.

Interesting that wordwarp's "fisking" of my argument sidesteps the notion that the 101st Airborne Division that "first" visited the area didn't do any searching for weapons. That's now been confirmed again by commanders on the ground, per a CBS press release:

The commander of the first unit into the area told CBS he did not search it for explosives or secure it from looters. "We were still in a fight," he said. "our focus was killing bad guys." He added he would have needed four times more troops to search and secure all the ammo dumps he came across.

And by NBC's Jim Miklaszewski:

Military officials tell NBC News that on April 10, 2003, when the Second Brigade of the 101st Airborne entered the Al QaQaa weapons facility, south of Baghdad, that those troops were actually on their way to Baghdad, that they were not actively involved in the search for any weapons, including the high explosives, HMX and RDX. The troops did observe stock piles of conventional weapons but no HMX or RDX. And because the Al Qaqaa facility is so huge, it's not clear that those troops from the 101st were actually anywhere near the bunkers that reportedly contained the HMX and RDX.

U.S. troops and members of the Iraq Survey Group did arrive at the Al QaQaa compound on May 27. And when they did, they found no HMX or RDX or any other weapons under seal at the time. Now, the Iraqi government has officially said that the high explosives were stolen by looters.

As I mentioned earlier, the 101st Airborne wasn't the first group on the ground at Al Qaqaa. As for the April 4th revelation of explosives at the site, wordwarp claims that:

The holes (in the argument) appear to be that the "explosives" (in the form of white powder in vials) described in the globalsecurity doc, do not appear to be the RDX/HMX that the IAEA had labeled.

That's the only point of contention. But we know that the IAEA saw the RDX and HMX, under seal, as recently as March 9. And if you find explosives in the site, whatever they are, and this is a known large weapons cache, with 380 tons of IAEA-sealed material in it, wouldn't you, you know, guard the place? Well, the LA Times reports:

Asked if U.S. troops were ever ordered to guard the facility, where Hussein built conventional warheads and the IAEA dismantled parts of his nuclear program after the Gulf War, a Defense official responded, "Not that I'm aware of."

David Kay, the CIA's former chief weapons hunter in Iraq, believes that the material was looted in the immediate aftermath of the war.

He said he saw the facility in May 2003, "and it was heavily looted at that time. Sometime between April and May, most of the stuff was carried off. The site was in total disarray, just like a lot of the Iraqi sites."

Kay said that HMX and RDX were "superb explosives for terrorists" because they were stable compounds that could be transported safely and used for large-scale attacks.

Both types of material "would be good for a car bomb or a truck bomb," Kay said. "Just pack it together with a detonator."

I believe the chief weapons inspector in Iraq would have as full a list of information as anyone about this situation. Also, there's this from the Chicago Tribune, September 30, 2004:

The insurgents probably are using weapons and ammunition looted from the nearby Qa-Qaa complex, a 3-mile by 3-mile weapons-storage site about 25 miles southwest of Baghdad, said Maj. Brian Neil, operations officer for the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, which initially patrolled the area.

The site was bombed during last year's invasion and then left unguarded, Neil said.

"There's definitely no shortage of weapons around here," he said.

Again, a Marine major who patrolled the area probably knows what's going on.

But really, LGFers, thanks for coming, and I hope you stay and look around.


SoCal Alert!!

I'm part of a sketch comedy/variety show on Saturday, where I'll be giving Bush's concession speech. (ah, the power of positive thinking!)  I'd give the text here, but that'd ruin the surprise, wouldn't it?  I'll probably drop the text on Monday.  At any rate, it should be a lot of fun.  Here are the details, in case anyone would like to attend.

LIME comedy show
Saturday, October 30th
Comedy Underground

320 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica
in the alley between 3rd & 4th
free street parking if you go to the meters just north of Wilshire on 3rd, 4th, & 5th, or $3.00 public parking structures all around
FREE SNACKS & BEER if you get there early


Some Dissembling Required

The Pentagon and the White House are desperately trying to spin this Al Qaqaa explosive burglary story away, with little result. I heard Rush this morning bloviate that "the only difference between this story and the Bush National Guard story is Bill Burkett!" Their claim seems to be that the weapons cache under IAEA seal was not there when the US forces arrived at Al Qaqaa. This was Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita's suggestion yesterday:

This is a first report. We do not know when -- if those weapons did exist at that facility -- they were last seen, and under whose control they were last in... It's very possible -- certainly it's plausible -- that it was the Saddam Hussein regime that last had control of these things," he told AFP.

Well, we know that the IAEA made a report on the weapons in January 2003, and that, according to Josh Marshall and others, they returned to the site and saw that the seals were in place on March 8, just a week before the war started. So that would give Saddam a week or so to remove all 380 tons of explosives. And we had practically the entire country under surveillance at that time. Do you really think we wouldn't have seen 40 semi trucks rolling across the desert away from a known weapons cache 40 miles south of Baghdad?

Then, NBC News decided to step up and say that a news crew embedded with the 101st Airborne division did a spot check of the Al Qaqaa facility, and saw no weapons. This implies that the explosives were gone before the military arrived. How, then, do you explain this?

Col. John Peabody, engineer brigade commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, said troops found thousands of five-centimetre by 12-centimetre boxes, each containing three vials of white powder, together with documents written in Arabic that dealt with how to engage in chemical warfare.

A senior U.S. official familiar with initial testing said the powder was believed to be explosives. The finding would be consistent with the plant's stated production capabilities in the field of basic raw materials for explosives and propellants.

This report is dated April 5, 2003, a week before the NBC News crew got to Al Qaqaa. So they were there at that time. Also, the notion that an NBC News crew is equipped to do an explosive search in a massive complex full of bunkers is highly dubious (and the same with the 101st Airborne, who is not trained in such matters). Plus, listen to the NBC News reporter, Lai Ling Jew, and her version of events:

"There wasn't a search. The mission that the brigade had was to get to Baghdad. That was more of a pit stop there for us. And, you know, the searching, I mean certainly some of the soldiers head off on their own, looked through the bunkers just to look at the vast amount of ordnance lying around."

So the Republican argument is that the explosives weren't there when we got there, even though there wasn't a search for explosives at all, and there were explosives when we got there a week earlier. How stupid do they think we are?


Monday, October 25, 2004

This Bush-Cheney sign was stolen by communists.

That was the statement written on about four signs in Durham, North Carolina, according to a friend who's in the state this week. He saw them all within the space of about four miles.

I guess when "liberals" isn't enough of a pejorative to sway undecideds, "communists" will do. Is there a Red Scare II on the way, 50 years after the fact? I wasn't aware of it.

This yard sign stealing thing really gets people mad, on both sides. But the GOP is really pushing this, that Dems will stop at nothing to suppress them this time around. I don't know, I think adding up the numbers of yard signs stolen is an exercise in futility (although we know who's more likely to go to the media to whine about it), but for me, the funniest revelation this cycle was that Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) himself, not a staffer, not an operative, but A SITTING MEMBER OF CONGRESS, was caught stealing his opponent's yard signs. Now that shows some drive. Why leave it up to your thugs to steal them when you can do it yourself, and know it's getting done?

Does that mean Sessions is a communist?

Also, wouldn't communists be more likely to simply distribute the signs to be seen and used by the greatest number of people?


Let the Big Dog Eat!

Bill Clinton was in my hometown today, and he'll be in his own soon. And that could make a big difference in this race.


Clinton planned to head to Florida later on Monday. Later in the week he was expected to visit Nevada and New Mexico before traveling to his home state of Arkansas on Sunday, the Kerry campaign said.

"This is the only event they will do together," Mike McCurry, said a senior adviser to Kerry who served as White House spokesman under the former president.

Three days of Clinton in Arkansas can certainly shift those 6 electoral votes blue, given the state of the race right now:

LITTLE ROCK - Sen. John Kerry has pulled even with President Bush in Arkansas after being down 9 points, according to a new poll for the Arkansas News Bureau and Stephens Media Group.

Kerry, a Democrat, and the Republican Bush each received 48 percent support from likely voters surveyed Monday through Wednesday by Opinion Research Associates of Little Rock. A poll two weeks earlier gave Bush a 52 percent to 43 percent lead, just within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

I usually never post polls, because I tend not to believe in them one bit. But the trend lines in this one point toward a big Kerry comeback, and now the Comeback Kid's coming to town.


Sunday, October 24, 2004

60 Minutes Spiking This One Too?

The articles that have come out about the 380 tons of explosives gone walkin' from the Al Qaqaa (boy, is Jon Stewart gonna have fun with that name) site in Iraq speak teasingly of a 60 Minutes report on the topic. Right at the top, the New York Times article mentions:

This article was reported in cooperation with the CBS News program "60 Minutes.'' "60 Minutes" first obtained information on the missing explosives.

It also notes that:

American officials have never publicly announced the disappearance, but beginning last week they answered questions about it posed by The New York Times and the CBS News program "60 Minutes."

The Iraqi Technology Minister, Rashad M. Omar, is also cited as being interviewed by 60 Minutes.

In one of Josh Marshall's posts on the subject, there's a line that quotes The Nelson Report:

1. The Summary gives you the sum total of what we have been told, starting Friday, by informed observers and directly involved officials. There was an expectation of a major newspaper story on it this morning, and perhaps also a segment on tonight’s 60 Minutes, on CBS Television.

Well, it wasn't on CBS Television tonight. The stories were a two-parter about Emmett Till, and a Jon Stewart interview.

There are only two more 60 Minutes episodes before the election. If, as the Times blurb says, they were the ones who "first obtained information" on the missing explosives, doesn't it stand to reason that they'd be the ones to break it? Given that we already know that 60 Minutes has publicly spiked an Ed Bradley piece about Niger and yellowcake until after the election, it's fair to ask the question of whether or not they're spiking this story as well.

And I think it matters if they are, personally. A lot more people watch 60 Minutes than read The New York Times. Time to get out the Rolodexes and call CBS again...


(Unguarded) Bombshell

So The New York Times reports today, on their front page, that "nearly 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives - used to demolish buildings, make missile warheads and detonate nuclear weapons - are missing from one of Iraq's most sensitive former military installations."

Before you start saying "Hey, that means Iraq DID have WMD," note that these explosives were kept under IAEA seal, meaning they were locked down and used only in construction and other duties that require explosives for nonmilitary purposes. El Baradei and the inspectors knew about these explosives, chronicled them, even gave a report to the UN Security Council about them in January 2003. The only people, it seems, that didn't know about them were the US military, who left them either unguarded or loosely guarded after the fall of Baghdad, allowing anyone to run off with them. A choice quote:

After the invasion, when widespread looting began in Iraq, the international weapons experts grew concerned that the Qaqaa stockpile could fall into unfriendly hands. In May, an internal I.A.E.A. memorandum warned that terrorists might be helping "themselves to the greatest explosives bonanza in history."

Earlier this month, in a letter to the I.A.E.A. in Vienna, a senior official from Iraq's Ministry of Science and Technology wrote that the stockpile disappeared after early April 2003 because of "the theft and looting of the governmental installations due to lack of security."

This is literally a limitless supply. For context, the Times lets you know that "the bomb that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 used less than a pound of the same type of material." We're talking about 380 TONS.

What's notable about the article is that most of the official Administration replies fall along the lines of "We don't know what happened." Here are some examples:

"We don't know what happened." - Rashad M. Omar, science and technology minister in Iraq
"Officials in Washington said they had no answers to that question."
"Administration officials say they cannot explain why the explosives were not safeguarded."
"It's not an excuse," said one senior administration official. "But a lot of things went by the boards."
Glenn Earhart, manager of an Army Corps of Engineers program that is in charge of rounding up and destroying lost Iraqi munitions, said he and his colleagues knew nothing of the whereabouts of the Qaqaa stockpile.

So, um, they don't know, is what they're saying. But one thing we do know, from Josh Marshall, is that:

There was a much more concerted effort to keep hidden what had happened here, including pressure on Iraqi officials not to report the disappearance of these materials to the IAEA.

According to Josh (who oughta know), the administration has likely known about this for at least a year. And they've known that the story was going to break for a couple weeks. And they've very deliberately tried to hold back the story until after the election. Well, the dam burst. Sorry.

This is absolutely enormous, especially when you consider this quote (from TPM):

One administration official told Nelson, "This is the stuff the bad guys have been using to kill our troops, so you can’t ignore the political implications of this, and you would be correct to suspect that politics, or the fear of politics, played a major role in delaying the release of this information."

Thing is, Kerry has been all over this since BEFORE its release. In the first debate, he made sure to mention that the only building in Iraq that was closely guarded immediately after the fall of Baghdad was the Oil Ministry. With this group of Keystone Kops in the White House, suspicion is typically reality, what you see is what you get: incompetence, followed by dishonesty. Here's some more of the same for y'all.


American Taliban, Part MCMXXXVIII

Jerry Falwell today, on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer":

"Let's go over there to the Middle East, even if it takes over 10 years, and blow up those barbarians in the name of the Lord."

It occurs to me that a lot of Republicans, including a lot of Christians, have no problem with this kind of racism. The answer is always something like "They're the scum, not us. WE have to kill them first!" I'm sure the janjaweed in Sudan do the same kind of rationalizing technique before their butchery of Christian Africans.

Of course, the rank hypocrisy of such statements from the "soldiers of mercy" has been known since at least 1975, release date of Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

Then did he raise on high the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, saying, "Bless this, O Lord, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy." And the people did rejoice and did feast upon the lambs and toads and tree-sloths and fruit-bats and orangutans and breakfast cereals ... Now did the Lord say, "First thou pullest the Holy Pin. Then thou must count to three. Three shall be the number of the counting and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither shalt thou count two, excepting that thou then proceedeth to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the number of the counting, be reached, then lobbest thou the Holy Hand Grenade in the direction of thine foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it."


Cartoon Characters Endorse Kerry!

On today's MTP, Ed Gillespie started throwing out a bunch of examples of voter fraud issues, talking about people registered multiple times, people registered in different states, etc. (notice how the Repubican cries of voter fraud is always anecdotal, while Democratic charges are systematic). One of his anecdotes was "In one state, we saw people with fake names, Dick Tracy and Mary Poppins registered. And I can tell you this, Dick Tracy and Mary Poppins are voting for John Kerry."

Wow! We got the life-lesson-teaching nanny and the two-way-wristwatch-wearing crimefighter vote! I wonder where Clutch Cargo and The Tick stand, or the train from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?

Seriously, the surety with which Gillespie said "I know Dick Tracy's voting for Kerry" set off my BS detector. When you can point to thousands of registration forms ripped up in a garbage can, talking about one or two voters has little effect. In addition, Republicans always seem to talk about voting problems that occur before the election, and never the problems that clearly occur on Election Day. It's the difference between voter access and voter integrity. And clearly the GOP wants to limit access, bringing up anecdotal information as a means to cover the whole election with a blanket, creating purge lists, intimidating voters who may have made honest mistakes (like being registered in two states, which may be the county election board's fault), etc. They don't care about voter integrity, just access.

By the way, I thought McAuliffe was actually pretty good today.

[UPDATE]Here's a great catch by Daily Kos member croatoan:

Here are 6 people in the phone book named Dick Tracy, in Ohio alone. with=1&name=tracy&city_zip=&state_id=OH

And 2 women named Mary Poppins: city_zip=&state_id=

Ed, are these all fake phone book entries?