Thursday, September 30, 2004


Start reprinting those campaign posters: GOP officially announces “A vote for us is a vote for torture”
The Republican leadership of Congress is attempting to legalize extraordinary rendition. "Extraordinary rendition" is the euphemism we use for sending terrorism suspects to countries that practice torture for interrogation. As one intelligence official described it in the Washington Post, "We don't kick the sh*t out of them. We send them to other countries so they can kick the sh*t out of them.”…As it stands now, "extraordinary rendition" is a clear violation of international law--specifically, the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Degrading and Inhuman Treatment. U.S. law is less clear. We signed and ratified the Convention Against Torture, but we ratified it with some reservations. They might create a loophole that allows us to send a prisoner to Egypt or Syria or Jordan if we get "assurances" that they will not torture a prisoner--even if these assurances are false and we know they are false.

Last month Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Congressman, introduced a bill that would clearly outlaw extraordinary rendition. But Markey only has 22 cosponsors, and now the House leadership is trying to legalize torture outsourcing--and hide it in the bill implementing the 9/11 Commission Report.

These are excerpts from a press release one of Markey's staffers just emailed me:

The provision Rep. Markey referred to is contained in Section 3032 and 3033 of H.R. 10, the "9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act of 2004," introduced by House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL). The provision would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to issue new regulations to exclude from the protection of the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, any suspected terrorist - thereby allowing them to be deported or transferred to a country that may engage in torture.

[Outraged commentary:]

WH finally responds to AP subpoena on National Guard records, turns over yet ANOTHER newly discovered document (after claiming everything was released a long time ago): the long-sought Bush resignation letter,1,736945.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed
The new document was a copy of Bush's resignation in 1974 declaring he was leaving the Guard because of "inadequate time to fulfill possible future commitments."

[NB: Uh-huh. The rest of their “response” was a series of emailed denials. Will this crap withstand scrutiny? I hope not.]

Stunning series of reports on Pentagon spending, mismanagement
To find the answers, the Center began in early 2004 to investigate the patterns of Defense Department contracting. Our prime source was the Pentagon's own procurement databases—public information that had been posted for years on an obscure Defense Department Web site.

The Center examined more than 2.2 million contract actions totaling $900 billion in authorized expenditures over the six-year period from fiscal year 1998 through fiscal 2003 (Oct. 1, 1997-Sept. 30, 2003). Most of the research was focused on the biggest contractors, those that won at least $100 million in prime contracts over the period studied. Some 737 prime contractors, mainly but not exclusively for-profit corporations, fit that criteria, along with several thousand of their subsidiaries and affiliates.

After nine months of research, the Center has found:

• Half of all the Defense Department's budget goes out the door of the Pentagon to private contractors…

• Only 40 percent of Pentagon contracts were conducted under what it terms "full and open competition." (That percentage drops to 36 percent if you deduct those "full and open" contracts that attracted only a single bidder)…

• Larger contractors were also more likely to win favorable terms on their contracts. One-third of the dollars awarded to the top 737 contractors came in cost-plus contracts that offer little incentive for keeping costs under control…

• While most of the top 737 Pentagon contractors were American corporations, nearly 100 were foreign-owned…

• Political influence, as measured through lobbying expenses and campaign contributions, was a major undertaking by many of the largest Pentagon contractors…Overall, the top contractors gave nearly $214 million in campaign contributions, two-thirds to Republicans.

• The story was much the same in lobbying expenditures, though the dollar amounts were far higher…

• The accuracy of the Defense Department's records—particularly regarding the corporate ownership of its largest contractors—leaves much to be desired…

Impending Plame, Franklin arrests put off until after the election
[Juan Cole] The FBI could well be ready to move in the case. But I have been told that it has orders from the White House to back off until later this fall.

Federal judge blocks key portion of the Patriot Act
"This is a wholesale refutation of the administration's use of excessive secrecy and unbridled power under the Patriot Act," said Ann Beeson, an ACLU lawyer. "It's a very major ruling, in our opinion."

FINALLY! People start focusing on the consequences of the election for the Supreme Court

Scalia puts in his first audition speech for Chief Justice
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says he believes "abstract moralizing" has led the American judicial system into a quagmire, and that matters such as abortion and assisted suicide are "too fundamental" to be resolved by judges.

"What I am questioning is the propriety, indeed the sanity, of having value-laden decisions such as these made for the entire judges," Scalia said..

[NB: Yeah, we don’t want judges making “value-laden decisions” – let’s just stick to picking Presidents.]

Karen Hughes tries to turn a perfectly legitimate Kerry remark into a ridiculous slander, revealing SO MUCH about the Bush Co outlook in the process
I also liked Karen Hughes's comment about the Kerry interview during a rare visit with the press aboard Air Force One today:

He was asked whether [the Iraq war] was worth it. He said, "It depends on what the outcome is." I guess that means if we win it was worth it, if we don't it wasn't. That's leadership, isn't it?

[NB: So, I guess that means “leadership” for them means sticking to your guns all the way into the face of defeat. But do they have to take the rest of us with them?]

And let there be no doubt about it: we ARE losing
“There’s no obvious way to fix it. The best we can hope for is a semi-failed state hobbling along with terrorists and a succession of weak governments.”

“It’s getting worse. It just seems that there is a lot of pessimism flowing out of the theater now. There are things going on that are unbelievable to me. They have infiltrators conducting attacks in the Green Zone. That was not the case a year ago.”

“They keep telling us that Iraqi security forces are the exit strategy, but from what I hear from the ground is that they aren’t working. There’s a feeling that Iraqi security forces are in cahoots with the insurgents and the general public to get the occupiers out.”

And what pansy liberal defeatist said this?
“And the question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam worth?…And the answer is not very damned many.”


Well, we’ve been hearing for a while from these folks that “dissent is treason” – but who knew that they actually meant it literally?
An Army Reserve staff sergeant who last week wrote a critical analysis of the United States' prospects in Iraq now faces possible disciplinary action for disloyalty and insubordination. If charges are brought and the officer is found guilty, he could face 20 years in prison. It would be the first such disloyalty prosecution since the Vietnam War.

How the WH tries to spin “the worse things are getting in Iraq, the better sign it is”

First comes denial, then comes acceptance…
Put down that newspaper. You'll be interested to know that inside the Mayflower Hotel on Connecticut Avenue, the Iraq war is a smashing success. That's the view of a conference taking place today sponsored by the Committee on the Present Danger, a neoconservative think tank formed to defend the Bush Doctrine. Among the enemies imperiling the Bush Doctrine is reality, so Norman Podhoretz took to the lectern this morning to beat back that threat with every fiber of his being. "Things have gone not badly, not disastrously, but triumphantly in Iraq," Podhoretz insisted. "I believe Prime Minister Allawi when he says things are getting better." I'm not sure that Allawi believes that--his own security officials don't--but it certainly is soothing to hear.

Bush: “Taliban no longer in existence”


[NB: Okay, now it’s time to interject something I’ve been wondering for weeks. The current analysis is that Bush is caught in a fantasy world of spin, out of touch with the facts, and so on. He doesn’t read the papers, ignores what “the filter” has to say, considers his own advisers more reliable sources of information. But here’s another explanation: it was well-known that Reagan’s advisers KEPT bad news from him, partly not to confuse him, partly not to interfere with the sunny, confident outlook which he projected so well. Do we have a President now who truly believes his lies, who is told to discount unfavorable reports as “just guesses” – if they make it through to him at all, or don’t get watered down before they make it to the Oval Office? We’ve had a number of stories about this sort of thing in recent weeks; it even fits the Abu Ghraib story (remember how upset he was that Rumsfeld hadn’t even told him there was a problem). What if this is a more general m.o.? Could he really BELIEVE the Taliban are gone, that the opposition in Iraq is just a few isolated dead-enders, etc? Is this what aides are telling him? How else could he say something so blatantly and obviously wrong? (People are comparing it to Ford's "there is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe" comment.)]

This is SO sad
On Sept. 13, Sgt. Ben Isenberg was riding through Taji, Iraq, when his Humvee struck a roadside bomb. He was killed…"This war is not about Iraqis and Americans, [or] oil," said Robert Isenberg, Ben's father. "This is a spiritual war, and the people who don't understand that, they just need to dig into their bible and read about it. It's predicted, it's predestined."…Isenberg's father also told NPR that criticism of the war and its costs bothered his son, "because Benjamin understood that this was a spiritual war, and he understands that our current serving president is a very devout Christian also. Ben understood the calling was to go because the president had the knowledge and understood what was going on, and it's far deeper than we as a people will ever really know. We don't get the information that the president gets."

[NB: Looks like the PRESIDENT doesn’t get the information the President gets, either]

“We don’t negotiate with terrorists” (well, we don’t, but our allies are starting to)

Yet another attempt to revive the comatose “coalition of the willing” – with no better prospects than before
Bogged down in the Iraq quagmire, the Bush administration is promoting a grand international conference to help it get unstuck.

On the ill-conceived Bush plan to secretly manipulate the Iraqi elections

And how are those Afghan elections coming along?

Bonus items: Election resources

A debate primer

Ten tough questions

More on the “rules”

[The entire text:,1,2176829.acrobat?coll=la-home-headlines]

Tilting the expectations game against Kerry

A win for the good guys: Frank Luntz, GOP pollster and spinmeister, dropped by MSNBC as “impartial” poll commentator

Well, we KNOW this, but it’s nice to have it confirmed
As the nation prepares to watch the presidential candidates debate foreign policy issues, a new PIPA-Knowledge Networks poll finds that Americans who plan to vote for President Bush have many incorrect assumptions about his foreign policy positions…The uncommitted also tend to misperceive Bush's positions, though to a smaller extent than Bush supporters…

Ohio Sect’y of State Blackwell seems to back down on foolish attempt to block voter registration, but sows the seeds of greater confusion in the process

[Now Colorado too:]

International observers monitoring U.S. elections (remember when this was what you had to do with tin-pot third-world oligarchies?) -- and already the news is bad

***If you enjoy PBD and believe in what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can, especially leading up to the election. I persist in believing that this campaign will still be decided by people knowing the stakes of the choice between Kerry and Bush. I think those stakes are monumental.***

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


Thank you Juan Cole! The simple question nobody is asking: what’s so bloody wrong about changing your mind? (When did this become “flip-flopping,” and is it really better to brag about NOT changing your mind when things go wrong?)

Speaking of changing your mind: Blair distancing himself from Bush

Don’t buy into the Bush myth of inevitability!
Sunday's Washington Post made me suspect that the Bush campaign really does think things are going poorly right now. Why? Because Republicans are starting to make preposterously overconfident predictions of a Bush landslide…It's well-known that Karl Rove believes that swing voters like to vote for the winner. Therefore, one of the central political strategies for Bush has been to create an "aura of inevitability" that, theoretically, will bring people to his side. If everyone believes you're a political juggernaut, the theory goes, then you will become a political juggernaut.

Latest CNN/Gallup poll shows 8% Bush margin – it was 13% two weeks ago

Why is this good news? Because in order to get this margin, Gallup had to increase even more outrageously their “projection” that more Republicans than Democrats are “likely voters” (inflated from a 7% to a 12% difference)

Let the Gallup-trashing begin!

The NIC report that predicted just what a mess Iraq would turn out to be
Paul Pillar, the CIA’s Middle East officer at the National Intelligence Council…is telling people that the CIA provided “secret, unheeded warnings about going to war in Iraq,” and the “the president of the United States and the Central Intelligence Agency are at war with each other.”…The CIA told Bush that it would be a mess, and specifically that invading Iraq would lead to an increase in the power of “political Islam.”


“Growing pessimism” on Iraq

Good pre-debate analysis
Paul Krugman today touches on a crucially important point about Thursday night's presidential debate. If 2000 was any indication -- and there's every reason to think it is -- the winner of the debate won't be determined during the 90 minute encounter itself but during the spin war that will follow it. And with the advantage the Republicans have on the cable nets, talk radio and chat TV shows, the odds are stacked in their favor.

(As Krugman alludes to, the initial public reactions to the first Bush/Gore debate had the then-veep coming out on top, if narrowly. It was only after several days of pundit churn that Bush became the winner. The Bush team won the post-debate debate.)

More than just these built-in advantages, though, Democrats, I think, have seldom really appreciated that there is such a thing as a post-debate debate. I don't mean that they don't know about putting out surrogates or trying to spin the results. Of course, they do. But in 2000 at least (a certainly in analogous situations in this cycle) the effort was very reactive and scattershot. And that inevitably leaves the Democrats trying to parry or deconstruct the ways that Republicans are trying to define what happened. In that way, they're fighting at best for a draw.

Republicans are already leaking hints and taunts about whether Kerry will sweat profusely under the lights, whether he's too tanned and other similar nonsense. But the antic nature of these taunts doesn't mean they won't be effective. They're meant to throw the other side off balance and, in a related manner, to provide grist for a catty and frivolous press corps.

So what's the Democrats' plan going into this debate? You can see what the other side is planning from visiting Drudge or listening to the GOP surrogates on the chat shows.

But what do the Dems have in mind?

It's easy to predict that there will be several exchanges in the debate where the president will describe the situation in Iraq in ways that are entirely belied by the reality of the situation. Perhaps he'll mention the situation in Fallujah where his intervention in the battle planning had such disastrous and feckless results. Will the pundits and talking heads be primed for those moments? Or only for Kerry's moments of over-fancy rhetoric?

Will the Dems be ready to hit on these issues and focus the post-debate debate on the president's recklessness, lack of a plan and inability to level with the public about what's happening in Iraq?

There are many other possible examples. But the point is that we have a pretty good idea what the president is going to say. And what he'll almost certainly say will open up a number of solid lines of attack. But if the Democrats don't hit the ground running with a plan in mind they'll be overwhelmed by the GOP spin machine -- no matter how many fibs the president tells or how many times he says up is down.


16 questions Bush doesn’t want to hear

Those debate “rules”
Still, officials of the debate commission said they were agreeing primarily to those things Mr. Bush's aides had emphasized as especially important to them: a strict time limit on candidate responses, an electronic warning when candidates exceed their speaking time that can be seen and heard by viewers at home, and a prohibition against the candidates' directly posing questions to each other.
Specifically, the networks object to provisions in the agreement that place limits on their cameras, including prohibitions on shots of one candidate while the other is answering questions.

Bush betrays National Guard AGAIN
[Mark Goldberg] All full-time military personnel are eligible for the military's TRICARE health plan, as are reservists called up for active duty. After reservists are deactivated, however, they generally lose their TRICARE coverage following a short, transitional grace period. Having the option to buy into the military's the military's TRICARE coverage would be attractive to many reservists and their families. as it offers comprehensive policies at very low cost…In 2002, a General Accounting Office report found that as many as one-fifth of the nation's 1.2 million part-time soldiers lacked health insurance. This startled many lawmakers into action, and, in May 2003, Senators Tom Daschle and Lindsay Graham successfully pushed for an amendment to the Senate's version of the fiscal year 2004 Defense Authorization bill that would protect reservists from going uninsured by allowing them to buy into TRICARE when not on active duty…Though the "Graham-Daschle amendment" had overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate, the administration sought to scuttle the proposal as it moved to the House. That June, in a letter to Representative Duncan Hunter, the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld called the Senate's efforts to expand TRICARE a "troubling provision" because the amendment amounted to an unfunded entitlement that would drain resources from other, presumably more important Department of Defense activities.

Pre-emptive war, stop-loss orders, and the draft

LA Times calls Bush a “coward” (Consider the source, of course – but doesn’t it reflect something when this can be written in a serious editorial today? Would it have been written six months ago?),1,684193.story
The suggestion that terrorists support Sen. John F. Kerry for president is ugly, but basically silly. The suggestion that Kerry supports the terrorists is flat-out disgusting. President Bush has allowed surrogates to spread the former idea, but he himself has helped to promote the latter. Last week, Bush declared that Kerry's criticism of him and his Iraq policy "can embolden an enemy" and called Kerry "destructive" to the war on terror.

Since election day 2000 and through his first term, Bush has talked a better game of democratic values than he has played. And he is not one for nuances in any event. But the point here is not subtle: The right to criticize the policies of those in power is not just one of democracy's fringe benefits; it is essential to making the democratic machinery work…Bush's own campaign strategy has put the events of 9/11 and their aftermath at the center of this election. The president asks to be reelected based on the claim that his response to that event has been a success. It would be convenient for him if any challenge to this notion were considered beyond the pale. Increasingly convenient, in fact, as the word "success" seems less and less applicable. But Bush's convenience is not what this election is about...

Kerry's position on Iraq is not a model of clarity and consistency. His critique of the Bush policy has the tang of opportunism. But he is more right than wrong, certainly more right than Bush, and in any event more within his rights to make the argument than Bush is in trying to suppress it…

Compared with Kerry, George W. Bush is a coward. This is not a reference to their respective activities during Vietnam. It refers to the current election campaign. Bush happily benefits from the slime his supporters are spreading but refuses to take responsibility for it or to call point-blank for it to stop. He got away with this when the prime mover was the shadowy Swift boats group. Will he get away with it?…The answer is yes: Based on recent experience, he probably will get away with it.

Bush’s attack on democracy
Our political system is starting to resemble the kind of banana republic authoritarianism we claim to despise. The only things missing are government-sponsored mural portraits of George W. Bush splashed on sides of buildings and state-run television.

Speaking of which: more on electronic voting
I live in the ur-swing state. [Florida] I’d like my vote to count. I’ll be voting on an electronic voting machine with no paper trail. I don’t trust it. Not at all…The most amazing thing about this to me as a person clinging to an increasingly sorely tested belief in the rule of law, is that the plain, plain, plain meaning of the relevant Florida statute says that a machine with no backup records is illegal. Florida law demands the ability to do recounts in close elections.

And more on discouraging (nonmilitary) overseas voters

The utter failure of the Bush North Korea policy

The utter failure of the Bush Medicare plan
The Bush administration not only passed a Medicare bill that was a handout to special interests; they stacked the deck in favor of PPOs in the vain hope that, by allowing the PPOs to (wrongly) restrict patient choice and bribing them to cover more seniors, the companies would have some chance of being more effective and efficient than Medicare. But even that didn't work…Here's the reality: Medicare needs some tweaking so it doesn't overwhelm the federal budget in a few decades, but it's in general a very good government program that works. The GOP doesn't want to believe government can ever be more efficacious than private industry, even when that "private" industry isn't really very private in the first place. (PPOs are basically big bureaucracies that waste lots of money on advertising, marketing, and executive salaries, which Medicare doesn't. That's why they can't beat Medicare.) Instead of simply admitting this and moving towards a policy solution that would work, the administration buries its head in the sand.


Who wrote Allawi’s speech?

Department of Mixed Feelings: Justice Dept subpoenas reporters’ phone records in Plame investigation. Is this becoming less about finding the guilty parties than about laying out a number of disturbing precedents for inquiries into future leaks (that is, the ones the Bush cartel DOESN’T approve)?

Democrats’ chances in the Senate improving (think about it; this might not be such a bad outcome – Bush in the WH, dealing with the consequences of his own awful decisions, and the Senate holding his feet to the fire)

Bonus item: Crawford, TX paper endorses Kerry (it endorsed Bush in 2000). And, we ask for the umpteenth time, what sort of play would this story be getting if it were about Kerry?

***If you enjoy PBD and believe in what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can, especially leading up to the election. I persist in believing that this campaign will still be decided by people knowing the stakes of the choice between Kerry and Bush. I think those stakes are monumental.***

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


Here is the current terrain, I think. The Bush people, with a big assist from the media, a pliant Congress, and the Justice dept, have managed to put off until after the election all the really bad news ahead.

What can we anticipate in the first six months after November 2, if Bush wins? Sending thousands of more troops to Iraq, and breaking more promises to the troops who are there; a major new offensive, with a sharp rise in US casualties, and miserable prospects for success; “elections” that must either be partial and illegitimate, or must be postponed, either way to outrage in Iraq. More withdrawals from the “coalition,” including a partial withdrawal from Britain. The recognition that the deficit is out of control, and a massive restructuring of domestic spending and social programs to accommodate it. Rampant oil prices, just in time for the winter heating season, that will strangle the economy and many household budgets. Health care costs that will continue to skyrocket, with more and more people uninsured. Breaking scandals, from Plame to Franklin, that indicate either a rogue foreign policy cabal and actual espionage, or stunning stupidity and gullibility within the Rumsfeld/Cheney nexus. Revelations from the Abu Ghraib trials that will require one or more commanders in the region to resign — and which may reopen the question of overt or implicit approval from the WH. And beyond that first window, as many as three openings on the Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice, to fill.

One of the prime questions that will drive this election is, will people be informed about the actual consequences of returning these people to power?

From a former CENTCOM military analyst
“If Bush is re-elected, there are only two possible outcomes in Iraq:
• Four years from now, America will have 5,000 dead servicemen and women and an untold number of dead Iraqis at a cost of about $1 trillion, yet still be no closer to success than we are right now, or
• The U.S. will be gone, and we will witness the birth of a violent breeding ground for Shiite terrorists posing a far greater threat to Americans than a contained Saddam.”

And more
“From a purely military standpoint, the war in Iraq is an unmitigated disaster. This administration failed to make even a cursory effort at adequately defining the political end state they sought to achieve by removing Saddam Hussein, making it impossible to precisely define long-term military success. That, in turn, makes it impossible to lay out a rational exit strategy for U.S. troops. Like Vietnam, the military is again being asked to clean up the detritus of a failed foreign policy. We are nose-deep in a protracted insurgency, an occupying Christian power in an oil-rich, Arab country. That country is not now and has never been a single nation. A single, unified, democratic Iraq comprised of Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis is a willfully ignorant illusion at best.”

Why the proposed elections in Iraq CAN’T succeed
Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani continues to be concerned as to whether elections will be held in January in Iraq, and whether the outcome will reflect the Shi'ite majority in Iraq. He is worried that the system adopted, of nationwide party lists, favors a small set of parties, mainly expatriate. Since the six major parties listed include the two (Sunni) Kurdish parties and the largely Sunni Iraqi National Accord (primarily ex-Ba'athists) led by Iyad Allawi, as well as the mixed Iraqi National Congress, I think Sistani is afraid that the al-Da`wa and the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq – the two main Shi'ite parties – could end up with a minority in parliament.
Rebel Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr will not take part in elections scheduled for January as long as US forces remain in the country, an aide said today…“We as Sadr’s movement will not take part in the elections held under the shadow of occupation,” Sheikh Abdul Hadi al-Daraji said. “Sadr movement will not nominate any candidates,” he added.
"The way things are going, the fact that the U.N. has not come forward with its support means we may have to settle for the spring," said a State Department official who declined to be named…The official indicated that initial timetables had called for thousands of United Nations election workers to be deployed around the country by this time, registering voters, setting up polling stations and training Iraqis to staff them…Friday, a U.N. spokesman in New York said just eight non-Iraqi staff members were in the country preparing for the balloting and that no significant buildup would begin until a military force assigned to protect election workers was in place.
Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani and the two largest Shia political parties. The newspaper of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, Al Adala, editorializes that "postponement would weaken the government's credibility with the people." Al Bayan, published by Al Da'wa, ran an editorial four days ago headlined, "Everyone Wants Elections On Time." In short, postponement will mean enraging the Shia majority.

A nice pick-up from Mark Kleiman: if that Iraqi commander was a renegade, why was the U.S. arresting him? Isn’t this supposed to be the Iraqis’ jurisdiction now?

Bush claims to the contrary, the number of trained Iraqi security forces is…actually…dropping (because of desertions and firings)

And, on that note, up to a third of reactivated US troops…aren’t…showing…up

Rumsfeld vs the US military (fascinating)

Kerry learning: personal attacks work (the success of the “Fortunate Son” strategy)

No, there isn’t any danger of the Democrats becoming just like the Republicans in dirty tricks: no one else could do the things Rove has done (read this)

Is the GOP getting worried?

In Florida and Ohio, they will clearly do anything to win
[Jimmy Carter] “After the debacle in Florida four years ago, former president Gerald Ford and I were asked to lead a blue-ribbon commission to recommend changes in the American electoral process. After months of concerted effort by a dedicated and bipartisan group of experts, we presented unanimous recommendations to the president and Congress. The government responded with the Help America Vote Act of October 2002. Unfortunately, however, many of the act's key provisions have not been implemented because of inadequate funding or political disputes…The disturbing fact is that a repetition of the problems of 2000 now seems likely, even as many other nations are conducting elections that are internationally certified to be transparent, honest and fair…It is unconscionable to perpetuate fraudulent or biased electoral practices in any nation. It is especially objectionable among us Americans, who have prided ourselves on setting a global example for pure democracy. With reforms unlikely at this late stage of the election, perhaps the only recourse will be to focus maximum public scrutiny on the suspicious process in Florida.”
Remember that story over the weekend on how Democrats are crushing Republicans in new voter registration in Florida and Ohio? Well, in a move that would make a Mississippi election board from the 1950's proud, Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell is attempting to block thousands of those new registrations because of paper stock.

Learning from the 2000 mess: a stunning account of judicial partisanship (and yes, it could happen all over again). Read this

You’ve heard all about 527’s, but how about 501(c)’s?
For all the crap we’ve heard about 527s, the real stealth campaign is happening with 501(c) groups that are engaging in virtually the same electioneering with none of the disclosure requirements.

The British put it politely, but the facts are unquestionable: Bush is a serial liar;jsessionid=AGPY4CUYUOCLQCRBAELCFEY?type=topNews&storyID=6334619

Putting off more bad news
Agencies Postpone Issuing New Rules Until After Election
Higher Costs, Less Care: Data Show Crisis In Health Insurance

A hot issue for Kerry: outsourcing of US jobs, and Bush tax breaks to encourage it – and now, just in time for the debates, this

Ditto: corporations using foreign havens to duck US taxes;ei=5090&%2338;partner=rssuserland
America's biggest corporations are increasingly funneling profits earned in the United States to tax havens around the globe, depriving the United States Treasury of anywhere from $10 billion to $20 billion in lost tax revenue each year, according to a new study…The study, to be published today in the trade journal Tax Notes, says that United States multinational corporations shifted $75 billion in domestic profits last year to no-tax and low-tax foreign havens like Bermuda and Ireland.

Plame leak investigation: the suspicious disappearance of Robert Novak

The House Ethics Committee keeps looking for some way to avoid tagging DeLay

[Pelosi getting involved:]

Bonus item: Friday morning’s post-debate headlines -- get them here and now

More headline mischief
• Saturday, September 25, 4:36 a.m.: "Bush Twists Kerry's Words on Iraq"
• Saturday, September 25, 12:53 p.m.: "Bush, Kerry Twisting Each Other's Words"

Same story, very different headlines.

And more (headlining the political moves, not the substance)
On page one, the Post ran this headline:

"Election May Hinge on Debates; Bush, Kerry Bring Different Strengths"

Skip to page 3, however, and one finds this:

"Poverty Up as Welfare Enrollment Declines; Nation's Social Safety Net in Tatters As More People Lose Their Jobs"

Monday, September 27, 2004


More Bush 101: Never admit, never apologize – Bush crows “Mission Accomplished,” and almost 1000 deaths later, he has no regrets about it
When asked by Fox News if he still would have put on a flight suit to declare major combat operations in Iraq over, Bush replied, "Absolutely."
[Matt Yglesias] Truly the man is immune to self-doubt, introspection, and minor concepts like letting his thinking be influenced by reality or learning from experience. And things will only get worse if his mismanagement is ratified by the electorate…It dawns on me that someone really badly needs to ask Bush if he has any regrets about challenging the insurgents to "bring it on" and kill hundreds of additional US troops and significantly more Iraqi civilians. Talk about emboldening America's enemies. I'm sure the relatives of our dead soldiers really appreciate the president's armchair machismo.
Kerry, arriving in Madison, Wisconsin for debate preparations, called the statement "unbelievable."…"I will never be a president who just says mission accomplished. I will get the mission accomplished," said the Massachusetts senator. "That's the difference."
“The man may have just signed his political death warrant, IF the Dems pounce on this now, and I think they will. Kerry - the new Kerry - has been fast and furious, jumping quickly on every gaffe Bush has made over the past two weeks. But on this one, Bush may have just handed Kerry the keys to the White House. The Bush campaign has been quite adept at making Kerry squirm for his past support of the war resolution, but now it's Kerry's turn to put the screws to Bush. Does Bush still think that 150 deaths at the time he said Mission Accomplished, as compared to over 1,000 deaths today, still somehow marked the end of the war? Is he absolutely out of his mind?…And oh wouldn't it be juicy if FOX News helped him do it. His arrogance, his bravado, his stupidity, and his stubbornness is going to get us all killed.”

Powell: Things are getting worse in Iraq
In a further twist to the confusion surrounding the future of Iraqi politics, US Secretary of State Colin Powell has cautioned that holding elections in January will prove difficult because of spiralling violence in the country…"Yes, it's getting worse," Powell told ABC Television on Sunday.

[The sad journey of Colin Powell:]

Another devastating impartial assessment of the state of things over there

No real end game either

Likely result: Declare victory and run,1,2359615.story?coll=la-home-headlines
[B]ehind the unwavering public posture, there is evidence that the Bush administration has altered its approach. It has lowered its hopes for the type of democracy that can be achieved, changed course on its plans to privatize Iraq's economy and reordered its priorities by devoting more money to improving security as fast as possible.

Gone — at least for now — is the lofty ideal of Iraq serving as a free-market democratic model that would ignite the forces of change throughout the Middle East and lay the seeds of a settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said administration officials have told him privately that they have lowered their expectations. "They've definitely recalibrated their goals," he said. "One of them told me: 'When we went in there, I thought we would build American-style democracy. Hell, I'd be happy with Romanian-style democracy now.' "

"It doesn't mean you abandon" the Iraqis, Kolbe added. "It reflects what is realistic, what is doable." Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld echoed that sentiment Friday, when asked what it would take for the United States to declare victory and begin to withdraw.

"Any implication that that place has to be peaceful and perfect before we can reduce coalition and U.S. forces I think would obviously be unwise because it's never been peaceful and perfect and it isn't likely to be," he said. National security advisor Condoleezza Rice this month defined success in more modest terms than the administration used in the war's early stages. "Success will be an Iraqi government that has gone through the legitimacy process of being elected and an Iraqi government that can defend itself," she said.

Many experts believe the administration will be hard-pressed even to pull that off.

Chaotic security conditions in large parts of the country and delays in preparation are jeopardizing plans to hold national elections in January, according to administration officials and independent experts…Early last week, opinions within the administration appeared to be divided, with some privately suggesting that election day should slip into the spring while others argued for keeping to the current timetable, even if the balloting is incomplete. The administration now appears to be willing to risk holding an election marred by violence and, quite possibly, incomplete balloting to keep to its schedule.

Still spinning the “partial election” line
Secretary of State Colin Powell said Iraqi elections, scheduled for January, will go forward even if militants block some voters from casting ballots…Isolated attacks by insurgents on polling stations or other attempts to disrupt balloting wouldn't invalidate Iraq's first democratic election as long as the voting is held nationwide, Powell said on the ``Fox News Sunday'' program…”It has to be throughout the country,'' Powell said. “We don't need 100 percent turnout.''


[NB: This continual lowering of the threshold of what constitutes a “free and fair election” brings to mind the question, “Is an election that excludes a significant part of the voters, heavily tilted toward one political party, a free and fair election?” And then you realize, “Hey, these are the people running Florida.”]

US denies covert involvement in the election (I love it when the govt denies covert involvement: hey, if it’s COVERT, they ain’t gonna tell you about it anyway)
[Newsweek] The White House says it considered secretly backing pro-U.S. candidates in the upcoming Iraqi election, but decided against it even though the Bush administration suspects other nations are working to influence the voting.

But boy do they WANT to…
[Time] U.S. officials tell TIME that the Bush team ran into trouble with [a] plan involving [the] elections--a secret 'finding' written several months ago proposing a covert CIA operation to aid candidates favored by Washington. A source says the idea was to help such candidates--whose opponents might be receiving covert backing from other countries, like Iran--but not necessarily to go so far as to rig the elections…But lawmakers from both parties raised questions about the idea when it was sent to Capitol Hill. In particular, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi "came unglued" when she learned about what a source described as a plan for "the cia to put an operation in place to affect the outcome of the elections."…A senior U.S. official hinted that, under pressure from the Hill, the Administration scaled back its original plans. "This was a tough call. We went back and forth on it in the U.S. government. We consulted the Hill on this question...Our embassy in Baghdad will run a number of overt programs to support the democratic electoral process," as the U.S. does elsewhere in the world."

[NB: I don’t believe for a second that they won’t move heaven and earth to get the outcome they want – hasn’t anyone learned ANYTHING about these people? For that matter, has anyone asked Bush, “What happens if our boy Allawi loses and an Islamist radical wins?”]

More on Bush Co’s ambivalent commitment to democracy (domestic edition)
President Bush and his surrogates are taking their re-election campaign into dangerous territory. Mr. Bush is running as the man best equipped to keep America safe from terrorists - that was to be expected. We did not, however, anticipate that those on the Bush team would dare to argue that a vote for John Kerry would be a vote for Al Qaeda. Yet that is the message they are delivering - with a repetition that makes it clear this is an organized effort to paint the Democratic candidate as a friend to terrorists…

This is despicable politics. It's not just polarizing - it also undermines the efforts of the Justice Department and the Central Intelligence Agency to combat terrorists in America. Every time a member of the Bush administration suggests that Islamic extremists want to stage an attack before the election to sway the results in November, it causes patriotic Americans who do not intend to vote for the president to wonder whether the entire antiterrorism effort has been kidnapped and turned into part of the Bush re-election campaign. The people running the government clearly regard keeping Mr. Bush in office as more important than maintaining a united front on the most important threat to the nation.

Mr. Bush has not disassociated himself from any of this, and in his own campaign speeches he makes an argument that is equally divisive and undemocratic. The president has claimed, over and over, that criticism of the way his administration has conducted the war in Iraq and news stories that suggest the war is not going well endanger American troops and give aid and comfort to the enemy…

The general instinct of Americans is to play fair. That is why, even though terrorists struck the United States during President Bush's watch, the Democrats have not run a campaign that blames him for allowing the World Trade Center and the Pentagon to be attacked. And while the war in Iraq has opened up large swaths of the country to terrorist groups for the first time, any effort by Mr. Kerry to describe the president as the man whom Osama bin Laden wants to keep in power would be instantly denounced by the Republicans as unpatriotic.

We think that anyone who attempts to portray sincere critics as dangerous to the safety of the nation is wrong. It reflects badly on the president's character that in this instance, he's putting his own ambition ahead of the national good.
As he often does at campaign events, President Bush got his biggest rise out of the crowd in Bangor Thursday afternoon when he said he was simply paraphrasing Senator John F. Kerry's statements…"Incredibly, this week my opponent said he would prefer the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein to the situation in Iraq today," Bush said at a campaign rally at Bangor International Airport, drawing a round of boos.

There was just one problem: Kerry never said what Bush said he did…

Distorting an opponent's words and selectively using facts and figures is nothing new in politics…But Bush appears to be the worse offender this year, in terms of the number of misleading claims and the consistency of their appearance in his stump speech. A review of Bush's public statements in recent days reveals a number of areas where he is repeatedly using exaggerated claims and incomplete statistics, in an apparent attempt to fit his campaign themes.

And another Bush lie on Iraq
Remember June 28? Here is how PBS' News Hour reported what happened that day: (emp add)

The U.S.-led coalition in Iraq transferred sovereignty to the interim Iraqi government two days ahead of schedule, in an effort to avert possible insurgent attacks…The unexpected handover ceremony came at mid-morning Baghdad time, the middle of the night in the U.S. The event was convened hastily and secretly inside Baghdad's heavily guarded green zone.

Sounds grim, doesn't it? But here is what Bush had to say about it in today's radio address: (emp add)

We're making steady progress in implementing our five-step plan toward the goal we all want: completing the mission so that Iraq is stable and self-governing, and American troops can come home with the honor they have earned…The first step was achieved on June 28th, not only on time, but ahead of schedule, when the coalition transferred full sovereignty to a government of Iraqi citizens.

Senior commander of Iraqi National Guard turns out to be a turncoat (and do you think he’s the only one?)
It raises questions about whether, in the haste to stand up a legitimate Iraqi force that now includes former senior Baath Party officials, the Americans have signed on officers with questionable loyalties and abilities.

The Army’s intractable dilemma on tours of duty

And still the talk about future invasions of Iran and Syria won’t go away

More compassion: Bush takes back funds to pay for children’s health insurance (and breaks a promise in doing so)

On Bush’s stewardship of the environment

Hanging in the balance of the election: the future of the Supreme Court (can we TALK about this, please?)

Bush’s greatest achievement
During his first term, George W. Bush has inflicted more damage on the nation's people than any other president in the post-World War II era. Not only has the Bush administration failed, it has been far and away the most dangerous presidency in this period…No other administration has seen itself above the law or so disregarded the Constitution by attacking the venerable institutions created to uphold democracy. In addition, the Bush presidency pushed through its policies by employing a calculated lawlessness that featured both deception and secrecy. A couple of examples help illustrate the administration's use of subterfuge…

Good news: Dems are substantially out-registering GOP

You can help: ACT now

A little bit of cathartic nastiness
It was, however, Bush's towering lack of intellect that defined him. "That (Bush) coasted on his family name was understandable," said Yale frat brother Tom Wilner. "Lots of guys do that. But Georgie, as we called him then, has absolutely no intellectual curiosity about anything. He wasn't interested in ideas or books or causes. He didn't travel; he didn't read the newspapers; he didn't watch the news ... How he got out of Yale without developing some interest in the world besides booze and sports stuns me."

Bonus item: The catch of the year -- a priceless Calvin and Hobbes cartoon that expresses Bush’s philosophy of everything

Sunday, September 26, 2004


First time I’ve used that cliché, but today it fits: people are starting to get the news about how bad things actually are in Iraq
“Less than four months before planned national elections in Iraq, attacks against U.S. troops, Iraqi security forces and private contractors number in the dozens each day and have spread to parts of the country that had been relatively peaceful, according to statistics compiled by a private security firm working for the U.S. government…Attacks over the past two weeks have killed more than 250 Iraqis and 29 U.S. military personnel, according to figures released by Iraq's Health Ministry and the Pentagon. A sampling of daily reports produced during that period by Kroll Security International for the U.S. Agency for International Development shows that such attacks typically number about 70 each day. In contrast, 40 to 50 hostile incidents occurred daily during the weeks preceding the handover of political authority to an interim Iraqi government on June 28, according to military officials.”

As Akron goes, so goes the country: “Untold Tragedy of Iraq”

Where Iraq “reconstruction” money is going (less than 30% actually reaches the Iraqi people)

More on the reconstruction fiasco: a stunning new Harper’s expose
The great historical irony of the catastrophe unfolding in Iraq is that the shock-therapy reforms that were supposed to create an economic boom that would rebuild the country have instead fueled a resistance that ultimately made reconstruction impossible. Bremer’s reforms unleashed forces that the neocons neither predicted nor could hope to control, from armed insurrections inside factories to tens of thousands of unemployed young men arming themselves…These forces have transformed Year Zero in Iraq into the mirror opposite of what the neocons envisioned: not a corporate utopia but a ghoulish dystopia, where going to a simple business meeting can get you lynched, burned alive, or beheaded. These dangers are so great that in Iraq global capitalism has retreated, at least for now. For the neocons, this must be a shocking development: their ideological belief in greed turns out to be stronger than greed itself…When facts threaten true believers, they simply close their eyes and pray harder.

[The full story:]

Proof that these people have learned NOTHING from experience
The United States and Iraq are crafting a two-pronged plan to prepare for Iraq's first democratic election in January…

To address deteriorating security, the plan calls for U.S. forces to lead a campaign to clean out insurgents in three key provincial capitals and Fallujah, opening up the cities for Iraqi forces to move in and retain control to prepare for balloting, officials said…The goal is to use U.S. military muscle decisively but briefly, and then leave to avoid becoming targets or fueling further anti-U.S. sentiment, say U.S. and Iraqi officials. While the United States is confident it can win a military battle, the bigger challenge is creating an Iraqi government presence to prevent key areas from reverting into chaos -- a problem after a U.S. offensive in Fallujah last spring.

If you don’t tell us the bad news, then all the news must be good, right?
[George Packer] Earlier this year, the United States Agency for International Development, or U.S.A.I.D., hired a team of independent experts to go to Iraq and evaluate the agency’s programs there The experts came back with a mixed review that included plenty of reason for worry: the reconstruction of Iraq was taking place in an ad-hoc fashion, without a consistent strategy without the meaningful participation or advice of Iraqis, within paralyzing security constraints and amid unrealistic claims of success. But something happened to the report on the way to publication. U.S.A.I.D. kept sending parts of it back for revision, draft after draft, weeding out criticism, until the agency finally approved version for internal use which one member of the team called “a whitewash” of his findings. Another expert said, “It’s so political, everything going on out there. They just didn’t want to hear any bad news.” Pointing out that some of the numbers posted on the agency’ Web site were overly optimistic, he concluded, “They like to make their sausage their way.”

This would be a minor footnote in the history of the Iraq war, if only the entire story didn’t read the same. President Bush has been making the sausage his way from the beginning, and his way is to politicize. He forced a congressional vote on the war just before the 2002 midterm elections. He trumpeted selective and misleading intelligence. He displayed intense devotion to classifying government documents, except when there was political advantage in declassifying them. He fired or sidelined government officials and military officers who told the American public what the Administration didn’t want it to hear. He released forecasts of the war’s cost that quickly became obsolete, and then he ignored the need for massive expenditures until a crucial half year in Iraq had been lost. His communications office in Baghdad issued frequently incredible accounts of the progress of the war and the reconstruction. He staffed the occupation with large numbers of political loyalists who turned out to be incompetent. According to Marine officers and American officials in Iraq, he ordered and then called off critical military operations in Falluja against the wishes of his commanders, with no apparent strategic plan. He made sure that blame for the abuses at Abu Ghraib settled almost entirely on the shoulders of low-ranking troops. And then, in the middle of the election campaign, he changed the subject.

No one can now doubt the effectiveness of the President’s political operation. Here’s one measure: between May and September, the number of Iraq stories that made page 1 of the Times and the Washington Post dropped by more than a third. During the same period, the percentage of Americans who support the President’s handling of the war increased. It’s the mark of a truly brilliant reëlection campaign that these trends at home are occurring against a background of ever-increasing violence and despair in Iraq. The latest reports from mainstream think tanks, such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies, show every indicator of progress moving in the wrong direction. In July, the National Intelligence Council issued a classified and quite gloomy analysis of Iraq which had no effect on the President’s rhetoric or on his policy. After a year and a half of improvising and muddling through, there seems to be no clear way forward and no good way out.

Meanwhile, the Al Qaeda threat is “growing”,1,7252914.story?coll=la-headlines-frontpage

Those Gitmo “military tribunals”? They ain’t working

Where Bush is taking the federal deficit (be afraid, be very very afraid)

How they play it in Texas
“Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff and public relations consultant Michael Scanlon quietly worked with conservative religious activist Ralph Reed to help the state of Texas shut down an Indian tribe's casino in 2002, then the two quickly persuaded the tribe to pay $4.2 million to try to get Congress to reopen it.”

A case study of the Republican spin machine at work: the coordinated diffusion and replication of the “emboldening” virus
My aunt mentioned last night that all of a sudden she was hearing the usually "plainspoken" George W. Bush say some kind of fancy word. "Embolden?" I asked.
The word "embolden" isn't very obscure, but it's hardly a word in ordinary use. I, for one, don't have it in my writing or speaking vocabulary. Most politicians, consistent with their belief that swing voters are ignorant fools, try to keep their remarks at an eighth-grade reading level…So it's surprising to hear a candidate use the word "embolden." It's even more surprising to hear two candidates use the word in the same week.
[W]ho gave the marching orders to use the obscure word "embolden" in Republican speeches? Enquiring minds want to know.

Another way to describe this attack: “dissent is treason”

Oooh, nasty. Allawi as Bush’s “Mini-Me”

How close the election really is,1,4905187.story?coll=la-headlines-frontpage

Bush’s handlers preparing to complain about “unfair” debate rules

Political spin is one thing, flat lies are another. Who will say so?
[Bush] "Iraqi security forces are taking increasing responsibility for their country's security. Nearly 100,000 fully trained and equipped Iraqi soldiers, police officers, and other security personnel are working today. And that total will rise to 125,000 by the end of this year."

[Reuter’s] "Documents obtained by Reuters show that of the nearly 90,000 currently in the police force, only 8,169 have had the full eight-week academy training. And it will be July 2006 before the administration's new goal of 135,000 fully trained police is met."

[WP] “Instead of fielding 12,000 soldiers by June, as the U.S. occupation administrator, L. Paul Bremer, had promised a year earlier, there were about 4,000 soldiers. There are currently about 6,000 in the field.”

Bonus item: More on the postmodern press
[Tom Scocca] Yes, the meaning of stories depends on their context. Yes, neutrality and objectivity are shaky constructs; yes, to write about the failures of the Bush administration is in some sense to declare oneself in favor of a Kerry administration. Yes, yes—and?

Feeling temporarily impotent under the onslaught of the bloggers, the press has decided to pretend it’s unimportant.

Yet the pose of intellectual disengagement, of bemused neutrality, is a position just like any other position. And if it means waiting for Mr. Kerry to step to the fore, perhaps we’d be better off with a different pose—something pre-postmodern, maybe, like pretending to hunger for the truth.

One encouraging sign
[AP] President Bush opened several new scathing lines of attack against Democrat John Kerry, charges that twisted his rival's words on Iraq and made Kerry seem supportive of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein...He stated flatly that Kerry had said earlier in the week "he would prefer the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein to the situation in Iraq today." The line drew gasps of surprise from Bush's audience in a Racine, Wis., park. "I just strongly disagree," the president said…But Kerry never said that.

Saturday, September 25, 2004


Can we say this in simple terms, please? Iraq is a disaster, and getting worse
[Charles Peters] Just before we went to war in Iraq, I wrote in this space, "This country has been conned by Karl Rove and the super-hawks. They have succeeded in changing the subject from Bush's failures and embarrassments, putting Iraq first on the national agenda for nearly six months at the expense of more important matters--like finding Osama bin Laden, securing peace between Israel and Palestine, drastically improving the FBI and CIA's ability to deal with terrorism, keeping nuclear weapons from being used by nations that already have them, including North Korea, and engineering economic recovery here at home. If we end up paying practically all the bill for Iraq and subsequent military occupation, that money won't be there for badly needed health and education programs … Once you consider these other higher priorities, the danger from Iraq isn't nearly imminent enough to justify war." I haven't changed my mind.
[U.K.] Iraq is becoming daily more chaotic and murderous, says Richard Beeston. DVDs of beheadings are selling in their thousands. Westerners are hated and live in constant fear Baghdad.

[DVDs!!! They love us]

Why they love us. US, war killing 1000 Iraqis a month, “most of them civilians”

If the Bush people want to trumpet the assessments of regional allies on how well their Iraq adventure is going, maybe they should also include these comments by Pakistan’s Musharraf
Musharraf was less enthusiastic in his support for the U.S. war in Iraq, saying the world is less safe in the wake of the invasion..."I would say that it has ended up bringing more trouble to the world."

When is an election not an election? State Dept contradicts Rumsfeld’s ridiculous statement that 75% democracy is better than nothing;ei=5090&%2338;partner=rssuserland

Allawi contradicts him too

More on free and fair elections: neither Afghanistan nor Iraq will have outside observers (hmmm…I wonder why)

Kerry/Edwards assault on Iraq revealing fractures within Bush Co policies

Press starting to pick up the “spin vs. reality” trope on Bush’s rosy-colored representations of Iraq?

Kerry coming back strong?

Edwards accomplishing a lot “under the radar”?

A debate moment I would love to see
At some point during the first debate next week, Bush will no doubt pull out his "he voted for the war, then voted against the funding" line. What if at that point Kerry turned to Bush and said, "Excuse me, Mr. President. When you asked us to give you the authorization to use force, you said you didn't want to use it - that the vote was, and I quote, "to keep the peace." You just admitted that you wanted war all along. That means you lied to me, you lied to the Congress, and you lied to the American people.

More pearls from Rumsfeld: Iraq no worse than any major American city, troops might leave before peace fully established

[NB: Here’s an aspect of the story no one is talking about. Why exactly are elections in JANUARY so important? Why not wait six months or more if it means a better and fairer election? Apart from the political dimensions – Bush said they would happen in January, so now they must or he loses face — something else is at work that doesn’t seem to be getting enough attention. The US troop rotations will reach a crisis point in the spring. I think Bush Co. want desperately to muddle through something that looks like an election, declare something like success in helping Iraq achieve democracy, then start pulling down troop numbers dramatically. Then the “freely elected government of Iraq” will appeal for international troop support, not the US]

Bush’s howler that we are just fighting a “handful” of resisters
The Federation of American Scientists has posted a very interesting article from Al Zawra, an Iraqi weekly published by the Iraqi Journalists Association, that provides an unprecedented (for me, at least) look at the size and shape of the resistance groups in Iraq. It’s an amazing account, if it’s accurate…First it cites the Iraqi National Islamic Resistance, founded in July 2003, the National Front for the Liberation of Iraq, founded in April 2003 (a coalition of 10 groups), the Iraqi Resistance Islamic Front, a Sunni organization, and then a bunch of smaller ones, with details on each…Then it lists the Baathist groups, including Al Awdah (The Return) and others, which are not Islamist, and describes Shiite groups, including Muqtada Al Sadr’s organization…And finally, it describes about a dozen kidnapping and terrorist organizations, including Zarqawi’s beheaders.

Who did that ridiculous survey (taken BEFORE the fiasco in Najaf) showing that Iraqis think their country is on the “right track”? I think you can guess

Predictable like clockwork, Bush’s coordinated attack machine trashes Kerry: how can you criticize our ally, Allawi (when he is telling the American people what a great job we are doing)?

Kerry blasts Bush for taking his eye off the ball in war on terror
"Let me be as blunt and direct with the American people as I can be,'' the Democratic challenger said at Temple University. "The invasion of Iraq was a profound diversion from the battle against our greatest enemy - Al Qaeda - which killed more than 3,000 people on 9/11 and which still plots our destruction today. And there's just no question about it: the president's misjudgment, miscalculation and mismanagement of the war in Iraq all make the war on terror harder to win…"Iraq is now what it was not before the war - a haven for terrorists. George Bush made Saddam Hussein the priority. I would have made Osama bin Laden the priority. As president, I will finish the job in Iraq and refocus our energies on the real war on terror.''

[And by the way, “thanks for nothing” on the choice of photos]


Ten tips for John Kerry

Why the polls have been useless so far — and some interesting analysis of the “women’s vote”

The artificial construction of the “security mom” voting bloc

Senate Democrats pull together a nice resource on Bush’s many abject failures

The milk of human kindness. USDA official admits manipulating milk prices in order to maximize votes from key midwestern states (amazing story),1,4458486.story

The oil of human kindness. Ditto

Bush’s “indefensible” tax policies

Police state update. House GOP adds domestic police powers to intelligence agency,1,1442049.story?coll=la-headlines-nation

Let’s see, Bill Burkett gives CBS falsified documents, lies to them about where he got them — refuses even now to say where they came from — and now wants to sue CBS for defamation. Gee, maybe he wasn’t such a reliable guy to depend on after all

Another repercussion of Killiangate: CBS now pulls another Bush story, won’t run it before the election -- and the principles of good journalism lose both ways
When CBS rushed the infamous Killian memo story to air two weeks ago, they bumped a story about the forged Niger documents to make room for it. Via Corrente, I just learned that CBS has released a statement saying it has now spiked the story entirely because it would be "inappropriate to air the report so close to the presidential election"…So not only was Dan Rather (with an assist from Bill Burkett) responsible for effectively killing the National Guard story for all time, but the resulting debacle has now convinced CBS that they shouldn't air any negative stories about George Bush for the next six weeks — even if they're true. That's some courageous journalism for you.

Great piece: on the Bush myth that all of the issues surrounding his NG service were already covered in the 2000 election

A Democratic Senate? Yes, it could still happen: stunning news from Oklahoma

NO major nightly news report mentioned the indictment of three DeLay associates

Bonus item: what this election is all about (editorial cartoon)