Sunday, October 31, 2004


I understand the tendency to want to instant-analyze a dramatic event like the Bin Laden tape in regards to its impact on electoral prospects – we did that here. But there is a certain tone to the Bush Co. response that is, well, rather unseemly – seeing as this is the murderer of 3000 Americans we’re talking about. And, to me, it captures the essence of their deeply cynical and hypocritical approach to politics. Specific policies and decisions aside, does ANYONE want four more years of this?
"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.
"It's very helpful to the president," contended Bush ally Sen. John McCain
According to the Bush campaign, "anything that makes people nervous about their personal safety helps Bush." Are people who think this way likely to improve, or degrade the personal safety of the American people?…Can a group of people who believe the continued existence of the threat is vital to their political viability be relied upon to eliminate -- or even reduce -- the threat?
That's right. Mr. Bush, having let bin Laden escape from Tora Bora and then having said publicly, and publicly denied saying, that he didn't much care where he was, is now delighted to have bin Laden's assistance in scaring the voters into voting for him…And no one in the mainstream press is going to call him on it, either.
Bush team calls bin Laden's tape a "little gift."…Not to flog a dead horse, but what would be the response if a Kerry campaign advisor made a similar or analogous comment?

Pretzel logic
[Maureen Dowd] The Bushies' campaign pitch follows their usual backward logic: Because we have failed to make you safe, you should re-elect us to make you safer. Because we haven't caught Osama in three years, you need us to catch Osama in the next four years. Because we didn't bother to secure explosives in Iraq, you can count on us to make sure those explosives aren't used against you.

One way to spin this is that Bin Laden WANTS Bush to win: after all, his policies and “Crusade” rhetoric have been a boon to terrorist recruitment and growth around the world
George W. Bush is the single best recruiting tool that Islamic terrorism has ever had. The American media may be too dumb or too insular to know this, but [Bin Laden] certainly does.

Don't take my word for it though. Here's a guy with a few years of expertise on the subject under his belt, Richard Clarke. He agrees with me:

CLARKE: …I think it's obvious he's trying to affect the U.S. Election. This is the second audio/visual tape we've received in the last week from al qaeda, addressed to the american people. And he attacked the president in the way that, I think, is designed to get the american people to move to bush's side. He's a smart guy, osama bin laden, and he knows if he attacks bush that will strengthen bush. Why does he want bush as president? Because Bush, as president, gives him the symbol that gets all these people joining al qaeda. Bush is the symbol that has increased recruitment for al qaeda, and has increased money flow for al qaeda. Bush is the symbol for all of the jihadists throughout the muslim world who hate america.,8599,642825,00.html
If, indeed, there is a connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda, it may not be the kind the Bush campaign is likely to dwell on. The same day the President spoke, the prestigious International Institute for Strategic Studies released its annual survey that found, among other things, that far from dealing a blow to al-Qaeda and making the U.S. and its allies safer, the Iraq invasion has in fact substantially strengthened bin Laden's network and increased the danger of attacks in the West. And the London-based IISS is not some Bush-bashing antiwar think tank; it hosted the president's keynote address during his embattled visit to the British late last year.

The IISS reported that al-Qaeda's recruitment and fundraising efforts had been given a major boost by the U.S. invasion of Iraq. It estimated that bin Laden's network today commands some 18,000 men, of which about 1,000 are currently inside Iraq. After almost three years of President Bush's war on terror, the IISS offered the following assessment of the movement's prospects: "Although half of al-Qaeda's 30 senior leaders and perhaps 2,000 rank-and-file members have been killed or captured, a rump leadership is still intact and more than 18,000 potential terrorists are still at large, with recruitment accelerating on account of Iraq."
Britain’s ambassador to Italy described President Bush as “the best recruiting sergeant” for al-Qaida…Sir Ivor Roberts…was quoted as telling an annual Anglo-Italian gathering in Tuscany, “If anyone is ready to celebrate the eventual re-election of Bush, it’s al-Qaida.”…Roberts also told the meeting of British and Italian policy-makers, “Bush is al-Qaida’s best recruiting sergeant."

Here’s another way to look at it: Bush and Bin Laden’s co-dependency relationship
The two men turn out to be well-matched. Bin Laden pisses people off and drives them into the arms of Bush. Bush pisses people off and drives them into the arms of Bin Laden. Bush keeps Bin Laden in business; Bin Laden keeps Bush in office…Bin Laden has shown up on the eve of our election, full of the same impenetrable self-assurance Pat Robertson noticed in Bush.

Deeper analysis of Bin Laden’s actual statement: Is he trying to refashion himself from terrorist to political figure?,0,3539236.story?coll=la-home-headlines
In fact, what has caught the attention of the U.S. intelligence community is the strangely conciliatory nature of bin Laden's new message, according to some government officials and outside experts…These experts say bin Laden appears to be intensifying his campaign to "re-brand" himself in the minds of Muslims worldwide, and become known more as a political voice than a global terrorist…The U.S. official said "a political spinoff (of al-Qaida) is one of the greatest fears" of U.S. counter-terrorism authorities, in which bin Laden and the terror network follow the path of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Hezbollah and members of the Irish Republican Army. Over the years, those groups evolved from having an emphasis on committing terrorism into broader organizations with influential, widely accepted political wings.
A key visual message of the tape was how it presented bin Laden as an elder statesman, rather than as the leader of a paramilitary organization. That message was communicated by the fact that for the first time in one of his videotaped statements there was no weapon by bin Laden's side. That non-belligerent visual message mirrored what bin Laden said when he made a direct appeal to the American people saying that al Qaeda would suspend its attacks if there was a change in US foreign policy in the Muslim world. This appeal mirrored a similar kind of offer that bin Laden made following the terrorist attacks in Madrid in March when he offered a "truce" to European members of the coalition in Iraq if they followed Spain's lead and withdrew from Iraq. This past year bin Laden has increasingly tried to present himself as a strategically-minded political leader although he stepped on that message somewhat in Friday's tape by directly admitting for the first time his leadership role in the 9/11 attacks.

Voters say: tape “changes nothing”;ei=5090&%2338;partner=rssuserland
[I love this quote!] "It doesn't have anything to do with the election," said Mr. Christene, an aircraft supervisor from Walford, Iowa. "I will stick with Bush."

But guess what, instant-tracking polls right after the tape release show a DROP for Bush (even Fox News)
Stan Greenberg has also released a memo on the stability of this race, and on the trendlines revealing the actual impact of the OBL tapes:

The Saturday respondents (250 interviews) were asked the following question: “I'm going to read you a pair of statements about the release of Bin Laden's videotape. Please tell me which one comes closer to your view.

It makes me think that George Bush took his eye off the ball in Afghanistan and diverted resources to Iraq.

It underscores the importance of George Bush's approach to the war on terrorism.

By 10 points (46 to 36 percent), voters were more likely to think that Bush took his eye off the ball.

And the key number across almost all the polls: Bush can’t break 48% (very bad news for an incumbent)

Except: Newsweek poll (6 point Bush lead), which follows Gallup’s methodology of oversampling Republicans

Labor Dept (using government funds for campaign purposes – press yawns) generates a laughable prediction on the election outcome (Bush: 57.5%) – which turns out to be as reliable and nonpartisan as all their other economic and employment numbers (thanks to Josh Marshall for the link)

Electoral College summary
According to the polls, it's still a statistical dead heat, but now that Sen. John Kerry has the lead in elector-rich Pennsylvania, the campaigns have focused with furious intensity on Florida and Ohio. If either candidate carries both of those states, he wins. But if Bush takes Florida and Kerry takes Ohio, as is more likely, then the conventional wisdom has the winner carrying two of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa.

Senate and House prospects looking questionable
Democratic hopes of overturning the Republicans' shaky 51-vote majority in the Senate are unlikely to be realized. Democratic candidates would have to win all four tossup races and defeat one favored Republican to emerge with 50 seats and a tie that John Edwards could break if he and Kerry win. Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D) is fighting for his political life in South Dakota against former representative John Thune (R), a race that both sides expect to be won or lost by fewer than 2,000 votes…In the House, few analysts see Republicans losing more than three seats net from their 24-seat majority or adding more than that number.

Voter suppression: Wisconsin edition

US generals in Iraq (perhaps this should have been the lead story): situation on the ground is worse than you’ve been told
Senior American military commanders and civilian officials in Iraq are speaking more candidly about the hurdles that could jeopardize their plans to defeat an adaptive and tenacious insurgency and hold elections in January.

Outwardly, they give an upbeat assessment that the counterinsurgency is winnable. But in interviews with 15 of the top American generals, admirals and embassy officials conducted in Iraq in late October, many described risks that could worsen the security situation and derail the political process that they are counting on to help quell the insurgency.

Commanders voiced fears that many of Iraq's expanding security forces, soon to be led by largely untested generals, have been penetrated by spies for the insurgents. Reconstruction aid is finally flowing into formerly rebel-held cities like Samarra and other areas, but some officers fear that bureaucratic delays could undermine the aid's calming effects. They also spoke of new American intelligence assessments that show that the insurgents have significantly more fighters - 8,000 to 12,000 hard-core militants - and far greater financial resources than previously estimated.

Perhaps most disturbing, they said, is the militants' campaign of intimidation to silence thousands of Iraqis and undermine the government through assassinations, kidnappings, beheadings and car bombings. New gangs specializing in hostage-taking are entering Iraq, intelligence reports indicate...

In some cases, senior officers say, their goals could inadvertently act at cross purposes. For example, Iraq cannot hold meaningful national elections if militants still control major Sunni cities like Falluja. Negotiations there have broken down and many officers predict a military offensive. But hard-line Sunni clerics say they will call for an election boycott if American troops use force to put down the insurrection.

[As Joyce Atkinson points out, the real news here is not just the story, but why military leaders are giving comments like this on the eve of the election, knowing the damage it will do to Bush]

Nine Marines killed, worst day since May

Why Al Qaqaa shouldn’t really have been much of a surprise
After all, almost all of Iraq's nuclear facilities -- containing both equipment of use to nuclear programs, partially enriched uranium, and other goodies for baddies -- were similarly looted at around the same time.,1,6065314.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions
[Jon Lee Anderson] It now seems highly likely that a group of well-organized looters made off with the missing cache of 380 tons of powerful explosives at Iraq's Al Qaqaa military site after it was visited by invading U.S. troops in early April 2003.

For myself and other reporters who were on the ground in Baghdad during those days, this oversight does not seem surprising. Coinciding with the arrival of the Americans, Baghdad succumbed to an orgy of looting and, eventually, to wholesale sabotage, all of which took place under the tolerant and overwhelmed gaze of the newly arrived U.S. soldiers. That U.S. troops could have visited Al Qaqaa, inspected the explosives and then moved on without securing them — evidently unaware of the high-level importance of the site — seems completely in keeping with the extraordinary lack of coordination between senior commanders and their troops in the field that we witnessed on a daily basis.

[NB: Makes you wonder, doesn't it, with all those embedded journalists running around with the troops, why we didn't hear more about this at the time?]
[Eleanor Clift] The failure to guard the aptly named Al Qaqaa is emblematic of everything Bush is doing wrong. The administration clearly didn't send enough troops, and now 380 tons of the most dangerous munitions are out there for possible use against U.S. troops.

The Bush team’s response is also emblematic. First, they deny a charge that is undeniably true, that they went into Iraq with insufficient forces. Second, they slime the person telling the truth. Kerry wasn’t faulting U.S. troops for not finding and securing the missing weapons, as Bush asserted. Kerry was attacking the chicken-hawk civilians who brushed aside pleas from the military for more manpower. Third, Bush falls back on the tried and true, pointing to evidence of a cache of deadly explosives to say this proves Saddam really was dangerous. It’s still heresy to say it, but Americans were safer when Saddam was in power. He guarded his high-grade-weapons sites, and just days before the U.S. invasion, the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency had monitored the site, warning the Bush administration about the potential danger.

The hunt for Zarqawi begins?
WHY BUSH LET ZARQAWI GET AWAY....What's the real reason that the Bush administration failed to go after Abu Musab al-Zarqawi back in 2002 when it had the chance? We may never know for sure, but Daniel Benjamin, author of The Age of Sacred Terror, suggests that it's yet another example of the Bush circle's outmoded and dangerously blinkered fixation on state-sponsored terrorism…

Bush Co. still stiffing Supreme Court on Guantanamo prisoners
Could there be any more reasons not to vote for George W. Bush Tuesday? Here's another one, as set out in this LA Times editorial today:

Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the 600 foreign terror suspects held at the Guantanamo Bay naval base were entitled to lawyers and the chance to challenge their imprisonment. But in the months since, Pentagon and Justice Department officials have simply acted as if the high court's decision didn't exist, blocking efforts by detainees to meet with their lawyers and insisting on onerous conditions for those meetings.

Last week a federal judge and former federal prosecutor wrote an opinion blasting the Bush administration over its policies at Guantanamo:

The government's foot-dragging, appeals and prevarication, she wrote, are "attempts to erode this bedrock principle" of attorney-client privacy with a "flimsy assemblage" of arguments....The judge scoffed at administration claims that detainees can adequately represent themselves before military tribunals or rely on non-lawyer advisors…

The Times says a constitutional crisis is brewing:

The opening proceedings last summer of the ad hoc military tribunals Bush ginned up to sort out who's dangerous and who's not proved a disaster. The interpreters were incompetent and even commission members were confused about the rules. The Pentagon is now scrambling to reorganize and restaff the panels in a doomed effort to salvage any credibility…As the administration continues to stonewall judges doing what the founding fathers intended — ensuring that the president doesn't overstep his authority — it is not a stretch to say that Americans are witnessing the makings of a constitutional crisis.

Bush has lately taken to quoting Tommy Franks (who has his own reasons for saying so) to the effect that Iraq advance planning had nothing to do with the mishandling of Tora Bora which resulted in Bin Laden’s escape. Here is why the Web is such an incredible place: someone (unlike the mainstream media) has gone to the trouble of reconstructing the actual sequence of events (thanks to Josh Marshall for the link)

Going in exactly the opposite direction of the 9-11 Commission’s recommendation, the Dept of Defense continues to expand its independent intelligence and clandestine operations, separate from the CIA and unified oversight,1,7841621.story?coll=la-headlines-nation

Pentagon geniuses develop a new long-term “plan” for Iraq, which as near as I can tell translates into: “foment civil war” (Given their track record, this should be a roaring success too)

Why the Intelligence Bill failed

Blair, anticipating election results, makes overtures to the Kerry camp (thanks to Blog Left for the link)

Follow-up on the story of Young Republicans scamming money out of retirees

Small print in new GOP bill would ban voter registration, recruitment, canvassing, etc, in public housing (hmm… who lives in public housing?) (Thanks to Jessica Wilson for the link)

Good question: does Jeb have an early readout of e-voting trends in Florida?

Bonus item: site with free downloads of recent documentaries, including “Fahrenheit 9-11,” “Control Room,” “Outfoxed,” “Bush’s Brain,” PBS videos – send a copy to someone you think needs to watch it

[I HOPE this is legal and legit – the info given was a bit ambiguous about that]

***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.***

Saturday, October 30, 2004


Well, silly me for thinking the KSTP video, showing HMX and RDX at the Al Qaqaa site, in bunkers still sealed by IAEA tags (and dated April 18), settled the question of whether these deadly explosives were still there after the US took over in Iraq, and would stop the lies of Bush Co. And no one still has addressed the question of what happened to THEM. Instead, the Pentagon finds a soldier to claim that his team destroyed a couple hundred tons of “munitions” at the Al Qaqaa site (a huge site) on April 13, which is good to know BUT WHICH HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE STUFF THAT WAS STILL THERE FIVE DAYS LATER!
There is a big difference between "explosives" and "munitions." Comparing the weights of the two is a meaningless exercise
At a few minutes after noon, I'm watching Mr. Di Rita giving yet another round of spin about al Qaqaa. Uncharacteristically, he looked like he was on the verge of a panic attack through most of his introductory remarks. And with what followed, it's not hard to see why. The line Di Rita led off with (and I just jotted this down from hearing it once over the air, so perhaps I've got a word or two wrong) was this: "It has not been our desire to tell a particular story, only to tell the facts."

Please…I believe this man protests too much.

The only thing accurate about this claim is that it's true that Di Rita has not been intent on telling a particular story. He's been willing to tell any story -- and has -- so long as it's a story that exonerates the White House. Even if it's a different story every day.

It's…time for someone to start making the point that the Pentagon Public Affairs office isn't supposed to be used as a formal arm of the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign. And for that matter if Di Rita's going to use it that way, he should at least be doing a better job of it.

Today Di Rita brought out an Army major who says his unit removed and destroyed roughly 250 tons of equipment, ammunition and explosives from somewhere in the al Qaqaa facility in early April 2003 -- that would be after the first US troops arrived but prior to the arrival of the news crew that apparently filmed much of the explosives on April 18th.

Was it the stuff in question? Di Rita kept trying to answer the questions on the major's behalf. But the major made clear that he had no idea. Did he see any IAEA seals? No, he said, he didn't…

The other reporters on hand, apparently weary of being lied to all week, preferred to put their questions to the major directly, rather than to Di Rita. And he, the major, was straightforward enough to say that all he knew was that he had taken stuff from somewhere at al Qaqaa and destroyed it.

What does that mean? Almost nothing.

This was an unfortunate stunt, put on by Di Rita and the politicals at DOD Public Affairs. And given how it turned out, I suspect it's one they quickly regretted.

And don't trust media reports, like this one, that don't tell you the crucial five-day difference in dates until the very end

More comment

And this incredible aspect of the story. The US was told well in advance how dangerous the stuff at Al Qaqaa was, but they didn’t allocate guards to protect it. Why?
In a new disclosure, the senior U.S. military officer and another U.S. official, who also spoke on condition he not be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter, said that an Iraqi working for U.S. intelligence alerted U.S. troops stationed near the al Qaqaa weapons facility that the installation was being looted shortly after the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003…But, they said, the troops took no apparent action to halt the pillaging…"That was one of numerous times when Iraqis warned us that ammo dumps and other places were being looted and we weren't able to respond because we didn't have anyone to send," said a senior U.S. military officer who served in Iraq…

Al Qaqaa was on a classified list of Iraqi weapons facilities that the CIA provided to Pentagon and military officials before the invasion, said the U.S. intelligence official…But when the Pentagon and U.S. Central Command produced their own list of sites that a limited number of U.S. "exploitation teams" should search, priority was given to those identified by exiled Iraqi opposition groups, he said. Al Qaqaa wasn't one of them.

[Chalabi strikes again -- with a big assist from his credulous allies in the DoD]

But, anyway, none of that matters any more: HEEEERES SAMMY!

The new Bin Laden tape. All that matters is the race to “frame” it and give it meaning. Clearly you could play it either way
Round 1 in the bin Laden spin game goes to the Kerry camp. Immediately after CNN aired the new video, showing the remarkably composed, healthy-looking, and elegantly robed al-Qaida leader sticking it one more time in Bush's eye, Kerry foreign policy advisor Richard Holbrooke stuck it in the president's other eye. The video, Holbrooke told Wolf Blitzer, "raises the troubling question about why this grotesque mass murderer is still out there" thumbing his nose at America. As Blitzer tried to counter by pointing out that polls show most Americans think Bush will do a better job of protecting them against terrorism, Holbrooke quickly shot back, "If Bush is so much more effective, why is bin Laden still on the loose?"…

For a response from the Bush camp, Blitzer turned to the AEI's Danielle Pletka, who seemed overwrought and unable to look directly at the camera. The Bush advisor took immediate exception to bin Laden's hurtful taunt that the president had spent a bit too long listening to the story of the pet goat on the morning of Sept. 11. "I'm glad to hear that Michael Moore is giving aid and comfort to the enemy," she snapped, her eyes darting everywhere but at the camera. Pletka, in keeping with the frenzied, final-days tone of the Bush campaign, then ripped into Holbrooke for trying to "exploit" the tape for political gain. "It's a lie we had bin Laden in our clutches and let him get away. And it's a lie that once we have him, the war on terror will be over."…

[NB: Need I point out that (a) you didn’t need Michael Moore to know about the infamous “Pet Goat” video – which is a matter of public record and has been ever since it was recorded; and (b) insofar as Moore did report this, he was doing nothing more than reveal what actually happened in those first fateful minutes, and if it was a damning disclosure for Bush – which it was – you can’t blame Moore for that. But we all know the “aid and comfort” line is an old standby for governments who don’t want inconvenient information to get out to the American people.]
[Danni Pletka] was new to me, but let me say that she is truly a wonderfully brilliant spokesperson and I hope the Bush administration puts her out there every possible minute
Regardless of what a shoddy Reuters story may say, there is no way it helps Bush for the American voters to be reminded that Bin Laden is still on the loose. Those voters who are already voting for Bush may be all atwitter because of this tape, but the cynics who don't much like either candidate--and these folks are disproportionately included in the shrinking pool of undecided voters--won't be convinced that we should reelect George Bush because he's the guy who's been President for the last three years of our failure to capture Bin Laden.

The Bin Laden tape does not help Bush. It probably has no significant effect, but if it does, that effect is probably negative toward Bush. The Bin Laden tape does not present any reason for us to be concerned in terms of the election. Our concern should be that Osama Bin Laden is still on the loose, and we need to elect a President who will make it a priority to capture Bin Laden.

More comment: help or hurt? or no big difference at all?

Wonkette gives the best analysis (with a nod to The Princess Bride)
Ooops: He's alive. And he's condemning Bush. Which of course means that he wants Kerry to win. Unless he really wants Bush to win and is just by default endorsing Kerry in order to get people to vote for Bush out of spite. But then again, if we're smart enough to figure that out, then maybe Osama knows that, too and he really wants Kerry to win, and is endorsing Kerry so that people will at first learn toward voting for Bush but then think that's what Osama wants. . . So confusing. Clearly, we've fallen for one of the classic blunders, the most famous of which is: "Never get involved in a land war in Asia"; but only slightly less well known is this: "Do not read about goats when death is on the line."

Unfortunately, this is a classic example of the media saying “this helps Bush if we say it does” (which, itself, of course, DOES help Bush). Perhaps this is their attempt at retroactive balance after giving the Al Qaqaa business such prominent play

Bush plays the age-old game of “we’re going to politicize this by accusing you of politicizing this” – and the media plays along
This is interesting. The State Department Tried to Stop Airing of Bin Laden Tape...Bush knew about this tape for a while and they obviously were not sure quite how to deal with it. They know that it can break either way for them…It appears that they have decided on a modified "Mary Cheney" --- shock and outrage that Kerry allegedly politicized the issue, when he actually didn't.

[The State Dept story:â„‘=tbologo80x60.jpg]
Speaking to reporters outside the campaign rally here, White House communications director Dan Bartlett said that the tape should not affect the way Bush campaigns but that Kerry should have marked a 12-hour truce.

"You would think that there would be a, maybe, 12 hours to let the American absorb what has just happened today," he said.

Prodded on why, if the tape ought not to affect the campaign, Kerry should have stopped criticizing the president, Bartlett revised his statement, saying that the problem was that Kerry's attack had been "discredited."

There's nothing, it seems, they won't game.
John Kerry's campaign on Bush's use of the Osama tape as an occasion to make a mean spirited, partisan political attack on John Kerry:

This is a serious issue, and it’s disturbing that the White House seems intent on making it a political issue. The president was briefed on the tape before he delivered one of his most negative and divisive attacks of this campaign.

“America deserves a national security debate on the merits rather, than a president who desperately resorts to distortions, falsehoods and untruths on a regular basis.

“John Kerry was very clear tonight that we will stop at nothing to hunt down and kill the terrorists and that all Americans - Republicans and Democrats - are united in the war on terror. George Bush wasted no time in dividing us again.”;ei=5090&%2338;partner=rssuserland
For Mr. Bush, who started his day with a speech in which he made his response to the Sept. 11 attacks the central theme of his appeal for another term, the videotape assured that terrorism would dominate the closing days of the campaign.

And, finally, speculation that this tape and its timed release was a Rove operation

Read this. Bush in 1999, talking about how useful starting a war can be in getting your domestic agenda enacted (no, I’m not kidding). Thanks to Susan of Suburban Guerilla for the link
“He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999,” said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. “It was on his mind. He said to me: ‘One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.’ And he said, ‘My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.’ He said, ‘If I have a chance to invade….if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it. I’m going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I’m going to have a successful presidency.”

[“If I have a chance…”]

Running the gauntlet in Ohio
Republicans have proven themselves to just be a pack of disgusting thugs. I hope some of them go to jail for this…I sure as hell wouldn't accept a registered letter from the Republican party, and I definitely wouldn't bother to stand in line for an hour at my post office to pick it up if I wasn't home to get it…

When Catherine Herold received mail from the Ohio Republican Party earlier this year, she refused it.

The longtime Barberton Democrat wanted no part of the mailing and figured that by refusing it, the GOP would have to pay the return postage.

What she didn't count on was the returned mail being used to challenge the validity of her voter registration.

Herold, who is assistant to the senior vice president and provost at the University of Akron, was one of 976 Summit County voters whose registrations were challenged last week by local Republicans on behalf of the state party…

The challengers, all older longtime Republicans -- Barbara Miller, Howard Calhoun, Madge Doerler and Louis Wray -- were subpoenaed by the elections board and were present at the hearings. Akron attorney Jack Morrison, a Republican, volunteered to represent the four.

Democratic board member Russ Pry suggested that the four could be subject to criminal prosecution for essentially making false claims on the challenge forms. The form states that making a false claim is subject to prosecution as a fifth-degree felony.

...The angry voters had the Republicans on the defensive.

“Why'd you do it?'' one challenged voter shouted out at Calhoun. “Who the hell are you?'' the man asked.

“What the hell do you care?'' replied Calhoun, an attorney.

What the hell do you care? What a monster.
What is it about this particular story that is so inflammatory?…After taking a few deep breaths I think I have figured it out. It's that the Republican Party's corruption has extended far into the grassroots. It's not longer just the Nixonian Roger Stones or the Rovian Nathan Sproul's, it's average, everyday, pillars of the community who have joined in doing the sickening dirty work of a party that cannot win a majority legitimately. These weren't operative sharpies. They were older Republicans willing to do the bidding of their corrupt party and they didn't seem to care even when confronted with proof that their scheme was entirely unethical.

"It is an outright case of election fraud in Lake County. The phony letter says newly registered voters signed up by the Kerry or Capri Cafaro campaigns or the NAACP, their registrations are illegal and they will not be able to vote…"'That was not authorized by the Board of Elections,' said Elections Director Jan Clair. 'It was not mailed by the Lake County Board of Elections.'…"Sheriff Dan Dunlap is investigating. 'It will be a federal offense because you have interfered with the constitutionally protected right to vote,' he said.
[L]ots of people in Pittsburgh have just discovered that they're not registered - assholes were registering people around campus and in the studenty hangout places, and none of those registrations ever showed up. More bizarrely, lots of people signed petitions to legalize medical marijuana and ended up having their registration switched to republican and their polling places changed! They can still vote, of course, but only if they find out where to go ahead of time....

The ugly IRS attack on the NAACP
I've never been able to make up my mind whether Bushco is more incompetent than arrogant or arrogant than incompetent. Are they arrogantly incompetent or incompetently arrogant? In any case, why would you want to energize a voting base whose vote you are energetically trying to suppress?

But the scary part is this: if they are this eager to punish w's critics before he's won the election, consider what they'll do if he wins.

A weird story (ex-boyfriend threatens to kill ex-girlfriend for supporting Kerry), and it’s unfair to hold Bush directly responsible for this, but it does make you reflect on the kind of campaign they’ve run (if you support Kerry you hate America, you are a traitor to patriotism, you are aiding and abetting the enemy, etc.)

Four years ago, the latest Gallup tracking poll going into the election: Bush 52, Gore 39

Ugh. More on the morning after

The mood in the Bush campaign
President Bush gave a brief interview to USA Today on Air Force One …"This campaign boils down to a matter of trust: Who has earned the trust of the American people? Who do they believe in? Who do they believe can fight and win the war on terror and keep America secure?" he told Judy Keen.

Of course for Bush, working from talking points on a small white notepad, the answer to those questions was self-evident…"I have shown the American people I can do the job in tough times. I have shown the American people I have a vision, and I have shown the American people I am consistent and true to what I believe," he said.

Keen describes a somewhat tense atmosphere in the flying Oval Office: "His mood wasn't jocular, as it often is in encounters with reporters, nor was he particularly reflective. There was an audience of staffers: longtime adviser Karen Hughes, perched on the arm of a sofa, campaign communications director Nicolle Devenish, White House spokesman Scott McClellan and press aide Josh Deckard."…

Keen also writes: "Asked to compare this campaign to the 2000 race, which ended with the outcome undecided for 36 days, Bush asked, 'Refresh my memory -- how was I feeling four years ago?' Told that he was confident, then reminded of what happened, he said a little testily, 'What did happen is I won.' "

Bob Smith (hyperconservative Republican senator from NH), a “maverick” if there ever was one, endorses Kerry

Of all the Bush endorsement switches (2000/2004), this may be the most revealing and significant: The Economist

How Bush has helped revitalize progressive popular culture

David Sirota, Mr. Reliable, charts the increasingly blurred lines between corporate and political leadership in this country – just in case you thought it couldn’t get any worse

He also traces Kerry’s agenda for the first days after taking office

Bonus item: A new perspective on Bush v. Gore (2000) -- Rehnquist and the Supremes liked to run betting pools on the outcome of elections (no joke)
During an election night party in 2000, Justice O’Connor apparently became upset when CBS anchor Dan Rather called Florida for Vice President Gore, She exclaimed “This is terrible!” and then proceeded, “with an air of obvious disgust,” to walk off to get a plate of food…

Extra bonus: an entirely spontaneous, unscripted online chat with the Bush twins

***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.***

Friday, October 29, 2004


Desperately trying to get on top of the missing explosives story, the Pentagon released a satellite photo from March 2003, which shows two trucks parked outside one of the Al Qaqaa buildings — trucks that could be picking up or delivering, could be there for a thousand reasons or no reason at all — as “proof” that 400 tons of explosives were probably hauled off before the war was over.,2933,136897,00.html

[One little problem: where this photo was taken wasn’t where the explosives were stored! (thanks to Josh Marshall for the link)]

There was also an amusing tete a tete as a Dept of Defense Under Secretary volunteered the notion that maybe the Russians, who had probably SOLD these weapons to Iraq, possibly in violation of international sanctions, had smuggled them out so they wouldn’t be found. You can imagine the phone call that “Pooty-poot” must have made to his friend George, then suddenly other folks at DoD were denying the story like crazy

These hot stories lasted all of a few hours, before modest little KSTP of Minneapolis blew everything out of the water by releasing a video of their news crew, with embedded troops, AFTER the US takeover, going to Al Qaqaa, cutting through the UNOPENED IAEA seals, and revealing hundreds of boxes, all marked EXPLOSIVES. David Kay (US arms inspector), just interviewed on CNN, said they were definitely containers of HMX and RDX, and that only facilities containing those explosives carried the IAEA seals. Boys and girls, wrap up this story, the excuses and lies are all over now

Aaron Brown closes out the debate with a great segment featuring U.S. weapons inspector David Kay
DAVID KAY, FMR. U.S. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Good to be with you, Aaron.

BROWN: I don't know how better to do this than to show you some pictures, have you explain to me what they are or are not, OK? First, I'll just call it the seal and tell me if this is an IAEA seal on that bunker at that munitions dump.

KAY: Aaron, as about as certain as I can be looking at a picture, not physically holding it, which obviously I would have preferred to have been there, that's an IAEA seal. I've never seen anything else in Iraq in about 15 years of being in Iraq and around Iraq that was other than an IAEA seal of that shape.

BROWN: And was there anything else at the facility that would have been under IAEA seal?

KAY: Absolutely nothing. It was the HMX, RDX, the two high explosives.

BROWN: OK. Now, I want to take a look at the barrels here for a second and you can tell me what they tell you. They obviously to us just show us a bunch of barrels. You'll see it somewhat differently.

KAY: Well, it's interesting. There were three foreign suppliers to Iraq of this explosive in the 1980s. One of them used barrels like this and inside the barrel is a bag. HMX is in powdered form because you actually use it to shape a spherical lens that is used to create the triggering device for nuclear weapons.

And, particularly on the videotape, which is actually better than the still photos, as the soldier dips into it that's either HMX or RDX. I don't know of anything else in al Qa Qaa that was in that form.

BROWN: Let me ask you then, David, the question I asked Jamie. In regard to the dispute about whether that stuff was there when the Americans arrived, is it game, set, match? Is that part of the argument now over?

KAY: Well, at least with regard to this one bunker and the film shows one seal, one bunker, one group of soldiers going through and there were others there that were sealed, with this one, I think it is game, set and match.

There was HMX, RDX in there. The seal was broken and quite frankly to me the most frightening thing is not only is the seal broken and the lock broken but the soldiers left after opening it up. I mean to rephrase the so-called Pottery Barn rule if you open an arms bunker, you own it. You have to provide security.

BROWN: That raises a number of questions. Let me throw out one. It suggests that maybe they just didn't know what they had.

KAY: I think quite likely they didn't know they had HMX, which speaks to the lack of intelligence given troops moving through that area but they certainly knew they had explosives.

And to put this in context, I think it's important this loss of 360 tons but Iraq is awash with tens of thousands of tons of explosives right now in the hands of insurgents because we did not provide the security when we took over the country.

BROWN: Could you -- I'm trying to stay out of the realm of politics.

KAY: So am I. BROWN: I'm not sure you can necessarily. I know. It's a little tricky here but is there any reason not to have anticipated the fact that there would be bunkers like this, explosives like this and a need to secure them?

KAY: Absolutely not. For example, al Qa Qaa was a site of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) super gun project. It was a team of mine that discovered the HMX originally in 1991. That was one of the most well documented explosive sites in all of Iraq. The other 80 or so major ammunition storage points were also well documented.

Iraq had, and it's a frightening number, two-thirds of the total conventional explosives that the U.S. has in its entire inventory. The country was an armed camp.
"The photographs are consistent with what I know of Al Qaqaa," said David A. Kay, a former American official who led the recent hunt in Iraq for unconventional weapons and visited the vast site. "The damning thing is the seals. The Iraqis didn't use seals on anything. So I'm absolutely sure that's an I.A.E.A. seal."
[L]ook at what one of the reporters who was there when the video was shot said earlier Thursday evening on Paula Zahn's show ...

All I can say with certainty is that, on that day, there were bunker after bunker after bunker of explosives, tons of them, that were unguarded. We went in and looked at some of them. I don't have the sort of expertise to tell you whether or not those were exactly what they're talking about when they say that these -- how many odd tons of explosives went missing.

So, apparently, there was bunker after bunker with the same stuff Kay was sure about in the one bunker he saw video of.

Infuriating. This morning, CNN is still posting a story presenting the Pentagon photo and the video as two equivalent, counterbalancing stories. What’s WRONG with these people?

REALLY bad timing. Bush campaign puts out an ad with doctored crowd images to make the event look more crowded than it was, then has to pull the ad, admit it was falsified, and find some poor low-level shmuck to blame for the whole thing (thanks to Peter Suber for the link)

Scary terrorist video, given big play by Drudge, and shown by Fox News BEFORE it could be authenticated, may turn into yet another embarrassment for them
A U.S. official said there were "real questions about its authenticity."

FBI expands inquiry into Halliburton contracts (ah, more partisan witchhunts…errr….uh….well maybe not in this case),0,7146099.story?coll=la-home-headlines

CIA to produce a new report on the question: did the invasion of Iraq make us safer from terror or not? (Just to initiate the project tells you what their answer will be, but too late for this election)

The declining state of troop readiness and morale
He said morale is very low among the troops and that they all want out -- few believe in the war or Bush, and he thinks that many of these troops' negative feelings are being transmitted back to extended family networks that have traditionally been supporters of the Republican Party, like his own family.

It’s really funny. This was the week that Rove had all worked out: there was going to be an Intelligence Bill signing in the WH Rose Garden, Bush would be creating the appearance of inevitable momentum, floating high above controversy like a celestial creature, midway between earth and heaven. Instead, everything has gone to hell, Bush and his people have made unimaginable mistakes, and the entire week has been lost, trying to explain how 400 tons of deadly explosives suddenly showed up missing in Iraq. Look at this list of recent misadventures:

[More from Kos:]

Meanwhile, wonder of wonders, Kerry and the Democratic machine have outperformed the magical spinmeisters of the GOP juggernaut

Bush goes on attack, Kerry turns positive

[Good ad:]

Bush on Kerry: “he’ll say anything to get elected”,2933,136893,00.html

Say anything? Hmmm…
[Kevin Drum] MIRROR, MIRROR....The Bush team has a — what's the right word? — truly Orwellian talent for saying and doing ghastly things and then turning right around and claiming that it's really John Kerry who's guilty of saying and doing those same ghastly things. A few examples:

• Run the biggest deficit in modern history and then complain that Kerry has a "tax gap."

• Have Dick Cheney do everything but tell voters that they'll be forcibly converted to Islam unless they vote for Bush, and then castigate Kerry for "scare mongering."

• Get your surrogates to explain on national TV that the al-Qaqaa fiasco was actually the fault of troops on the ground, not the president, and then get out on the stump and claim that Kerry is the one "denigrating the action of our troops in the field."

• Gain fame even among your own supporters for relentlessly putting ideology and partisanship ahead of facts on the ground, and then give a speech charging that Kerry puts "politics ahead of facts."

You almost have to admire the chutzpah behind this campaign strategy, don't you? Almost.

Bush sorta appeals to Democratic support, but just listen to him and you can tell his heart isn’t in it
Plante uses a soundbite from Bush's speech in Lancaster County, Pa.: "If you're a Democrat and you want America to be strong and confident in our ideals, I would be honored to have your vote."…"Well, here's the thing," Plante says. "There were no Democrats at any of those rallies where the President made that plea. Those are ticketed events for supporters only."

100,000 CIVILIANS dead in Iraq
The troubling thing about these results is that they suggest that the US may soon catch up with Saddam Hussein in the number of civilians killed.

See, and you thought the Dept of Homeland Security was about KEEPING us safe. But it appears that people over there spent a lot more time thinking about how to convince us to FEEL more safe leading up to the election

[NB: On the other hand, for most of the past couple of years, Tom Ridge has been working to convince us to feel LESS safe through terror alerts designed to calibrate the public anxiety level. Either way, it’s about perception management]

They start breedin’ em young over in GOP-land. College Republicans defraud senior citizens and others out of donations with a scam that would make most pyramid schemes look modest by comparison (thanks to David Noreen for the link)

Creepy. The Stepford Campaign
"I want you to stand, raise your right hands," and recite "the Bush Pledge," said Florida state Sen. Ken Pruitt. The assembled mass of about 2,000 in this Treasure Coast town about an hour north of West Palm Beach dutifully rose, arms aloft, and repeated after Pruitt: "I care about freedom and liberty. I care about my family. I care about my country. Because I care, I promise to work hard to re-elect, re-elect George W. Bush as president of the United States."

More diabolical voter suppression strategies (thanks to Megan Boler for the links)

In an astonishing development, Bush decides individuals can’t sue over voting rights (gee, why would they be making this policy change right about now?),1,2443580.story?coll=la-headlines-nation

IRS targets NAACP’s tax-exempt status

Amazing: Nevada is the ONLY state insisting that electronic voting machines produce a backup paper record of votes (for recounts)

[NB: I guess Nevada is one state where they know something about how easily such machines can be jimmied]

I agree with these stories: nothing that has been said by Bush or his people convince me in the slightest that the infamous bulge was anything but a radio receiver. In fact, their “explanations” never rose above ridiculous lies. Nor is there any doubt in my mind that they WOULD do it if they thought they could get away with it. But since the main media seems to have lost interest in this story, we will probably never find out the truth (thanks to Blog Left for the links)

Undecideds breaking for Kerry
On a percentage-point basis, late-deciding swing voters are leaning toward Kerry over Bush by a three to one margin. That could be the most important statistic you see heading into the final weekend of the campaign.

Good news in Florida

Zogby telling everyone that Kerry will win

OK, things are looking pretty good right now. But let me repeat an item I wrote on September 13. It still causes me sleepless nights
[NB] "Now, here is my own nightmare scenario. Revelations over the coming weeks damage Bush’s stature. Ongoing events in Iraq show what a failure his policies have been. Kerry wipes the floor with him during the debates. The public sentiment shifts, and on Election Day, exit polls show a decided Kerry victory. But when all the votes are tabulated, Bush is stunningly re-elected. How did it happen? Read on….
In an election year when just a few thousand votes in a few states could decide the winner, the growing number of voters who cast ballots weeks before Election Day is transforming the landscape for political campaigns…Somewhere between 15 percent and 20 percent of all voters nationwide cast their ballots early, and that number is expected to rise to 25 percent this year…

In other words, imagine 25% of the vote already locked in, now, when Bush’s popularity is peaking – including a heavily pro-Bush military vote"

2003 Nobel Prize winner prohibited from publishing her book in U.S. (thanks to Laura Rozen for the link)

Bonus item: you saw the photo of Bush here yesterday, giving the finger to the camera during a video shoot. It wasn’t doctored, and it certainly wasn’t ambiguous. Look at how that picture was characterized on ABC, and you will understand all you need to know about the sorry state of the news media today
On ABC World News Tonight this evening, in a report on television ads in swing states, Jake Tapper showed this video and said "it is purported to be President Bush making an obscene gesture."

***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.***

Thursday, October 28, 2004



[NB: Ha, ha,…stop…must…not…get…giddy]

Stop the presses! Bush withdraws himself from consideration
Bush on the campaign trail this morning: "A political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not who you want as commander in chief."
[Wesley Clark] Today George W. Bush made a very compelling and thoughtful argument for why he should not be reelected. In his own words, he told the American people that “…a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your Commander in Chief.

President Bush couldn’t be more right. He jumped to conclusions about any connection between Saddam Hussein and 911. He jumped to conclusions about weapons of mass destruction. He jumped to conclusions about the mission being accomplished. He jumped to conclusions about how we had enough troops on the ground to win the peace. And because he jumped to conclusions, terrorists and insurgents in Iraq may very well have their hands on powerful explosives to attack our troops, we are stuck in Iraq without a plan to win the peace, and Americans are less safe both at home and abroad.

By doing all these things, he broke faith with our men and women in uniform. He has let them down. George W. Bush is unfit to be our Commander in Chief.

Bush: “To criticize me is to criticize the troops” (is this guy ever going to take responsibility for ANYTHING?)
"Now the senator is making wild charges about missing explosives…The senator's denigrating the action of our troops and commanders in the field without knowing the facts," Bush said in Lancaster County, Pa.
Via email from the Kerry campaign, here's what General Merrill McPeak, former chief of staff of the Air Force, has to say about this:

The President seems to think Senator Kerry could not possibly be criticizing him since the President thinks he has never made a mistake. Let’s be perfectly clear: it is the President who dropped the ball. Senator Kerry is being critical of George Bush, not the troops. By embarking on the line of attack, George Bush is deflecting blame from him over to the military. This is beneath contempt.

So, of course now we will hear Bush criticize Giuliani for "blaming the troops," right?
Stunning. Giuliani on the Today Show:

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?

Uh, George, call for you on the line from Iraq…
"It is impossible that these materials could have been taken from this site before the regime's fall," Mohammed al-Sharaa told the AFP. "The officials that were inside this facility (Al-Qaqaa) beforehand confirm that not even a shred of paper left it before the fall and I spoke to them about it and they even issued certified statements to this effect which the US-led coalition was aware of."
Looters stormed the weapons site at Al Qaqaa in the days after American troops swept through the area in early April 2003 on their way to Baghdad…The Iraqis described an orgy of theft so extensive that enterprising residents rented their trucks to looters…

Two witnesses were employees of Al Qaqaa - one a chemical engineer and the other a mechanic - and the third was a former employee, a chemist, who had come back to retrieve his records, determined to keep them out of American hands. The mechanic, Ahmed Saleh Mezher, said employees asked the Americans to protect the site but were told this was not the soldiers' responsibility.

The accounts do not directly address the question of when 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives vanished from the site sometime after early March, the last time international inspectors checked the seals on the bunkers where the material was stored. It is possible that Iraqi forces removed some explosives before the invasion.

But the accounts make clear that what set off much if not all of the looting was the arrival and swift departure of American troops, who did not secure the site after inducing the Iraqi forces to abandon it.

Has the Bush campaign jumped the shark?
President Bush's comments today on the al Qaqaa matter are so telling, disjointed and over-the-top that it's really worth reprinting them in full (with the most rancid or ridiculous passages emphasized courtesy of the TPM editorial staff) ...

Bush promises to “get to the bottom” of the missing explosives story – and we all know what THAT means
The exact timing of the disappearance of the explosives is critical to the political arguments of each campaign.

No, it’s not. The key issue ISN’T when 400 tons of high explosives turned up missing from Al Qaqaa specifically, horrible as that is. It’s the following, of which Al Qaqaa is merely a reminder: (1) thousands of tons of munitions ARE missing from all over Iraq, undoubtedly, because they weren’t guarded; (2) these munitions ARE being used to kill our soldiers and Iraqis, every day; (3) the reason the Bush people have no idea what is missing, from where, or when, is because they were primarily concerned with protecting the OIL WELLS first (which were going to generate the revenue to pay for the war and reconstruction, remember?); (4) the reason it was “impossible” to guard all the sites, to use their excuse, is that they CHOSE not to send enough troops in, because Rumsfeld was determined to make Iraq a showcase for his New Military, and to discredit at all costs Powell, Shinseki, and White, all of whom said he was crazy to try to shortchange the troop numbers; (5) these sites STILL aren’t being guarded or inventoried, even now. Everything else is a snow job, a distraction, from the real failures of Bush and his policies.

One last thing. As I understand it, these sorts of explosives have a “fingerprint” that allows one to test explosions to determine the nature and source of the materials used. One way to infer backwards if these HMX and RDX explosives had gotten into enemy hands would be through tests of the IED’s -- improvised explosive devices – that have been used against our troops. They must do such tests as part of their investigations in every case, don’t they? Oh…hmmm…
In a throwaway sentence, the Boston Globe quotes former weapons inspector David Kay as saying that three major insurgent bombing sites tested positive for HMX or RDX. Is that true? When and where were they? Can these bombings be traced to the Al-Qaqaa stockpile?

Remembering the shame of Abu Ghraib
When the Abu Ghraib prison scandal first broke, the Bush administration struck a pose of righteous indignation. It assured the world that the problem was limited to one block of one prison, that the United States would never condone the atrocities we saw in those terrible photos, that it would punish those responsible for any abuse - regardless of their rank - and that it was committed to defending the Geneva Conventions and the rights of prisoners.

None of this appears to be true.

Let’s see, it’s the FACTS that are drawing Bush’s numbers down, therefore the blame must go to the media that keeps reporting those facts (Why won’t they get with the damn program?!)
Is it all going to be about media bias now?
It's clear from a variety of sources that the hawkosphere is once again busy plotting its stab in the back rationalization of the looming defeat of George W. Bush. The theory here is that rather than losing the election because his policies have made things worse, Bush lost because the press (known as "the mainstream media" to the semi-deranged and "the MSM" to those too far gone to even pray for) made it appear that things had gotten worse by, for example, reporting factual accounts of Bushian blundering
I was switching channels and came across the Fox News chatshow…Diane West, a columnist for, where else, The Washington Times,…was complaining about, what else, liberal bias…The interview concluded with West reiterating that the liberal media could swing the electorate five points to Kerry with their slanted coverage and sarcastic looks.

Are conservatives pre-rationalizing a Bush defeat?…They are taking the first baby steps to denying the legitimacy of a Kerry win, preparing the first batch of sour grapes.

[NB: So, what is going on? First, and always with his group, they’re working the refs, piling on the blame now to cow them into softer coverage in the crucial days leading up to the vote. They certainly aren’t giving up yet. Second, yeah, they want to undermine Kerry’s legitimacy if he wins and attenuate the “honeymoon period” during which he might actually get some things done. But third, and most important, they have a long-term strategy to undermine the mainstream media, whip up resentment among their supporters, and buttress the credibility of “alternative” media sources which they dominate. Why, the next thing you know, they might try going after the bloggers…]

Tom DeLay, in serious trouble himself, responds by casting wild accusations all over the place (including Lyndon LaRouche and the whole paranoid menagerie), and goes out of his way to slander Daily Kos (Markos Moulitsas) one of the True Greats of the blogosphere, and a frequent contributor here, with a completely ridiculous and hateful accusation

BTW, here’s an example of Kos at his best
When speaking in Republican areas:

In fact, I believe my opponent is running away from some of the great traditions of the Democrat Party…The Democrat Party has also a great tradition of defending the defenseless.

When speaking in swing areas:

In fact, I believe my opponent is running away from some of the great traditions of the Democratic Party…The Democratic Party has a great tradition of leading this country with strength and conviction in times of war.

And when the “it’s the media’s fault” riff loses steam, there’s always the other reliable wingnut standby: it’s the UN’s fault

My god. Not only did Bush Co. tell the Brits five months in advance that they were planning to invade Iraq (while they were still posturing to the American people about using diplomacy, pursuing all possible alternatives, etc): THEY TOLD THEM THE DATE WHEN IT WOULD START

Minority voter turnout to decide election
Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio has just finished a survey of 12 battleground states and finds Bush and Kerry tied with 47% of the vote apiece. But when he weights for minority turnout based on the 2000 exit polls, Kerry is ahead 49.2%-45.7%. And when he further updates the weighting to take into account the most recent census results, Kerry is ahead 49.9%-44.7%.

As Fabrizio blandly puts it, "It is clear that minority turnout is a wildcard in this race and represents a huge upside for Sen. Kerry and a considerable challenge for the President's campaign." More accurately, if Fabrizio is right — that Kerry is ahead by 5% overall in the battleground states — Kerry is a sure winner on November 2.

Suddenly the Bush campaign's obsession with challenging voters in minority neighborhoods makes a lot of sense, doesn't it? Their own internal polling is probably telling the same thing that Fabrizio's poll says: unless they somehow manage to keep the minority vote down, they're doomed.


Voter suppression: both sides do it, as long as you give a ridiculous meaning to the term “suppression”
[WSJ] Democrats "see suppression efforts in Republicans' well-advertised plans to vigorously check the registrations of those who show up to vote. In their eyes, such efforts are designed to convince voters that trying to cast a ballot will be too much of a hassle."

Republicans "see suppression efforts in Democrats' attempts to sow doubts about Mr. Bush's character and his fealty to social conservatives. They believe Democrats will use the Internet to spread fresh rumors about Mr. Bush's youthful behavior among conservative Christians."

[Kos] So let's review:

A) Republicans are spending untold thousands on lawyer goon squads created with the single purpose of disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of voters, many of whom are first-time voters spurred to participation by Bush's singular failure, and most of whom live in communities that were up until recently subject to statutory disenfranchisement;

B) Democrats are saying nasty, albeit true, things about Bush;

C) Therefore, both sides are engaging in voter suppression.

Even for the WSJ, this is atrocious.

California dumps Diebold machines
The state of California has ordered that 15,000 brand new touch-screen voting machines not be used in next week's presidential election…These electronic machines were manufactured by Diebold Inc., a North Canton, Ohio-based company that also specializes in automated teller machines and electronic security.

California election officials say there are serious flaws with the machines and that Diebold repeatedly misled the state about them…"[Diebold] literally engaged in absolutely deplorable behavior and, to that extent, put the election at risk, jeopardizing the outcome of the election," said California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley.

Some 50 million Americans — about 29 percent of voters in the United States — are expected to use touch-screen electronic voting machines in next week's election…Experts have raised questions about the machines' security features, which some say can be easily defeated, making it possible to manipulate the actual vote count.

"In all of my consulting work and all of my work in industry I've never seen a system that I thought was this vulnerable to abuse," said Avi Rubin, a professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, who, along with other security experts, analyzed Diebold's source code for the electronic voting machines.

Diebold machines used in 37 (now that make 36) states

Will we see Zarqawi paraded around on a leash Monday morning? Looking more and more like a possibility
A series of policy mistakes by the U.S. military and the Bush administration have transformed Fallujah from a shabby, dusty backwater known regionally for mosques and tasty kebabs into a symbol of Arab pride and defiance of the United States throughout the Islamic world.

[NB: Come now, will a military assault on the weekend before the election be represented as anything more than a cynically timed campaign stunt? Given how much everyone has heard about Rove’s “October Surprise,” could it actually backfire?]

Now that Bush won’t be able to use the 9-11 Bill for a pre-election Rose Garden ceremony, and the political benefit is off, GOP conferees no longer consider it very urgent at all to get the bill passed – not that homeland security or safety are sufficient reasons by themselves
Sense of Urgency Disappears

GOP challenges kids’ volunteer efforts for get out the vote activities
Young people in the program organized by the Wisconsin Citizen Action Fund take time from regular classes to go door to door in minority neighborhoods and areas with historically low voter turnout, urging people to cast ballots…

Chris Lato, spokesman for the state Republican Party, called the program "a disgraceful use of taxpayer money."…"To spend this time on a clearly partisan effort when these kids should be in school learning is shocking," Lato said…

The children do not wear any partisan buttons or clothing, and they do not encourage people to vote one way or another…Participation is voluntary, and parents are required to give their approval, he said.

Something for the youthful members of the audience: the political significance of Eminem

Caroline Schlossberg: Mr. President, I KNEW John Kennedy. My father WAS John Kennedy. And Mr. President, you’re no John Kennedy

Welcome to Bizarro World
Drudge's latest really helps to illustrate everything that's wrong with the bizarro media world inhabited by conservatives. ABCNews has a terrorist tape which they haven't yet broadcast. This proves they have a liberal bias, you see, because broadcasting credible threats from al Qaeda terrorists who Bush hasn't managed to catch would be good for Bush. Makes sense to me…They have, however, given it over to US intelligence agencies, who also apparently also have a liberal bias, because they haven't released the videos either. Well, except to Drudge of course.


I just sat down to watch a few minutes of the alternative fact universe that is the Fox News Channel. And it's really quite bracing to see the ridiculousness up close, even from folks who should know better like Mort Kondracke or even Mara Liasson.

I've always been curious what sort of brainwashing they give these otherwise good people before they take up regular gigs at that place.

To hear them tell it, the most likely time the explosives disappeared was before the war started. No one knows otherwise, including the current Iraqi officials, who say they have no way of knowing when the stuff disappeared. For all those reasons, Kerry's in big trouble. And also the NYT-CBS-IAEA anti-Bush conspiracy, did we mention that?

The collapse of the only purported evidence that the explosives were snaked away under Saddam's rule doesn't seem to have gotten their attention. What's more, only a few hours ago former weapons inspector David Kay said he found it highly implausible that the materials could have been carted away in a big fleet of trucks during the brief window of time between the last IAEA inspection and the arrival of American troops less than four weeks later. That's in contrast to the Fox panel that says it's the most likely scenario, despite the absence of any evidence.

Florida poll
The word I hear is that NYT/CBS are not going to release their latest FL survey, because it shows Kerry up by 4 points. Apparently, they [CBS & NYT's] think that is an implausible result, so they are suppressing it. Of course, it's not implausible at all. And imagine the reverse: would they have suppressed a poll showing Bush up 4?

[NB: Let’s see, swing voters, late deciders, first-time voters, minorities, and young voters (undersampled because of cell phone usage) all are breaking decidedly for Kerry:]

One of the benefits of early voting is that it makes clear right from the start just how bad the violations will be…

…and it gives key voting groups a lot of advance warning to get their votes locked in before the nonsense starts
This is where President Bush's governing style (partisan and aggressive) and campaign strategy (turn out the hard-core conservative base) begins to provoke a backlash -- essentially, by motivating his opposition to turn out, hard.


Senate outlook: a tie is a very real possibility (quick, someone get Lincoln Chafee on the speed dial)

Bonus item: Finally, FINALLY, we get an honest answer from Bush in response to the questions about his job performance

[NB: What a guy, what a true prince of a human being he is. I can see why the Christians love him so.]

***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.***