Tuesday, August 31, 2004


Sorry I can't let this go, but I truly am perplexed at the remarkably low standards people have for a president when they are able to dismiss Bush's comment yesterday that he doesn't believe that the war on terror is winnable with a casual "ohh, he misspoke." Are Republicans so desperate to hold onto power that they will accept a president whose words have become meaningless and whose meaning is of their own invention? "I know what he meant" said my Republican father as he went about explaining his president away, something hours earlier his surrogates did as well on various news programs. When did it become too much to ask of the president to say what he means? Why has it become OK to brush off the words of the leader of the free world and insert our own meaning as if he's a walking talking Mad Libs? Or perhaps a more appropos children's toy that he resembles would be Etch-A-Sketch -- you don't like what he says, you can erase it and re-write it the very next day as if the original words had never been spoken. I am heartened by online media that won't erase the story from their memory: WashingtonPost.com says Bush "Backtracks On Terrorism Remark" and NYTimes.com said Bush "Recants," which has been downgraded now to "Is In Retreat." There's at least some semblance of accountability.

I can't help but be reminded of a line from Broadcast News, when the somewhat dorky but sharp Albert Brooks bemoans the fact that the slick, handsome and quite dim William Hurt has not only gotten the job but he's also gotten the girl, he says:

Don't get me wrong when I tell you that Tom, while being a very nice guy, is the devil...What do you think the Devil is going to look like if he's around? Nobody is going to be taken in if he has a long, red, pointy tail. No. I'm semi-serious here. He will look attractive and he will be nice and helpful and he will get a job where he influences a great God-fearing nation and he will never do an evil thing...he will just bit by little bit lower standards where they are important. Just coax along flash over substance... Just a tiny bit.

Not that I'm saying Bush is the devil, really, hold up those letters to the editor, I'm just saying, it's an interesting parallel...James L Brooks may have been onto something. If we extend the metaphor, could we possibly predict the outcome in November? That's not so easy. The girl gets neither guy in the end but Albert Brooks's integrity is intact while William Hurt is revealed to be a dishonest prick. But guess who gets the job? Brooks quits his job at the Washington newsroom and takes a much more rewarding job in the less flashy Portland and Hurt is promoted, unbeknownst to him, to London and eventually gets the network anchor slot.

Bush got the job in 2000. Here's hoping this time, substance wins over flash.

Guru Charlie Cook On The Race

Conventional wisdom has it that Kerry was ahead and now he's not. At best he's tied, at worst he's a point or so behind Bush. National Journal's Charlie Cook has an interesting take on the state of the race right now:

Bush campaign operatives argue that one cause of this small shift from Kerry to Bush was Kerry's statement that he would have attacked Iraq. My own view is that Kerry has been dinged by the questions raised about his record in Vietnam. Plus, the swift-boat controversy dominated the political news coverage, suppressing other issues. A week when the focus is on the economy and jobs, or on Iraq and casualties, the management of the war, and weapons of mass destruction is a good week for Kerry and a bad week for Bush. When the focus is on almost anything else, it's very likely to be a good week for Bush and a bad week for Kerry.

The point is that in the absence of some major external event or a monumental screw up by Bush or Kerry in this fall's presidential debates, neither candidate is likely to build a significant, sustainable lead. One can look at all the relevant factors in the race and shade it in one direction or the other.

For example, I put great weight in the enormous levels of pessimism among undecided voters and their apparently low opinion of Bush. I think the president's climb is still a bit uphill. My experience tells me that undecided voters invariably break against well-known, well-defined incumbents. Bush strategists acknowledge that the undecided voters are a tough nut to crack. But they argue that the campaign can offset the undecided voters who will break for Kerry by turning out a pool of conservative and Republican-leaning infrequent voters. Given the experience of 2002, when Republicans were able to elevate voter turnout far above normal in their strong areas, this is a plausible tactic, although it's obviously harder to do in a presidential election when turnout is going to be higher anyway.

Kick into gear Johnny K. (Now)

Yo Johnny K.,

It wasn't just you who thought that Bush and the Swiftettes couldn't get traction going after your war record - but now we all know better. But I hope you've also learned by now there's no way to ice down your base quite like letting Dubya bait you into validating his foreign policy, especially when that policy involves certain extraneous invasions of hostile Arab countries.

While you were inches ahead and Bush was foundering under real criticism from Abu Ghraib and Richard Clark - the press called the race what it was, neck and neck. Now that Bush is inching ahead after you've slid from the vicious lies of these Boaty Babies - the press is ready to say Dubya is running away with it and call the thing.

You can't let this happen, Johnny. For the billions of people on this earth who need you to win this - you need to pull the Al Gore pole out of your ass and fight like you're back in the MeKong. You need to be bold. You need to get down and dirty. You don't need to play fair and you don't need to play nice. You need to win. No more mumbling. No more softness. Shake up your staff if you need to. But get this thing done before it's too late.

So Johnny, forget about this vacation of yours and start raising hell, pronto. If there's one thing Dubya has proven, it's that there's plenty of opportunity for vacationing once you're president.

RNC Agenda - "People Of Compassion"

Why, when Republicans talk of compassion, do they suddenly trot out their United Colors of Benneton parade, as if compassion and diversity are somehow one and the same. We know that being compassionate and being diverse are both things the Republican Party has to try very hard to be, but someone should tell them it doesn't mean they're the same thing.

Tonight's theme at the convention was "People of Compassion" and it's no coincidence that on this night, the list of speakers from 7pm-11pm included several women, from elected officials such as Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, and Representative Anne Northup of Kentucky, to TV personality Elisabeth Hasselbeck from Survivor and The View, to a wide ranging multiracial coalition including George W. Bush's own Mexican-American nephew George P., the lovely and bi-racial Miss America 2003 Erika Harold, African American Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele of Maryland, and a slew of Latin Americans such as Carmen Bermúdez of Tucson who led in the Pledge Of Allegiance, Bonnie Garcia, the Assistant Secretary of the Convention, and music by Jaci Velasquez. And that's not even including immigrant and new Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger or the beautiful Bush women, who finished off the night.

This conflation of diversity and compassion isn't anything new for the Bush campaign, of course. A look at the President's own campaign website, www.georgewbush.com, reveals a "compassion" link that leads to a virtual schmorgasbord of diversity. The top of the page shows Bush sitting and laughing with two young African-American women sitting to his left, the two apparently white figures to his right obscured by large text. In addition, the headlines on the right side of the page include the following:
  • Laura Bush Dedicates the National Underground Railroad Center
  • President Bush Promotes Values That Span Cultures
  • President Bush Signs African Growth And Opportunity Act

This idea that reaching out to those that are not white is by definition compassion speaks volumes about the difference between the parties. You need only look at the racial make-up of the delegates at the two conventions to see that to Democrats, reaching out to an African-American is more likely to be a daily activity, while to a Republican, it's community service.

Bush Reverses Position on War On Terror...Again

Thank you, Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo and kos of dailykos for links:

"This battle will take time and resolve. But make no mistake about it: we will win."
-- George W. Bush, September 12, 2001

"I don’t think you can win it (i.e., the war on terror). But I think you can create conditions so that the — those who use terror as a tool are — less acceptable in parts of the world."
-- George W. Bush, August 28th, 2004

"We meet today in a time of war for our country, a war (i.e., the war on terror) we did not start yet one that we will win."
-- George W. Bush, August 31st, 2004

They can nuance their way out of what he said all they want, but the fact is that he has exhibited a clear lack of resolve on the subject that is supposed to be his strong suit.

For a nice top 10 list of Bush's other major flip flops as president, check out the DNC's own blog, Kicking Ass HERE.

Best Blogs Contest

WashingtonPost.com has a Best Blogs contest, so we're asking you to register if you haven't already and nominate us in the Best Democratic Party Coverage category. Go to the link HERE.

And for easy use, copy and paste our URL right here:


Nominations end on Friday so would be great if you could take a minute and nominate us before then.


Michael Moore On Republicans

USA Today is running a daily column by Michael Moore on his experience in New York. Today he talks about Republicans he's met, a large number of which are voting for an administration that does not represent its values, which is out of touch with most Americans:

Hanging out around the convention, I've encountered a number of the Republican faithful who aren't delegates. They warm up to me when they don't find horns or a tail. Talking to them, I discover they're like many people who call themselves Republicans but aren't really Republicans. At least not in the radical-right way that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft and Co. have defined Republicans.

I asked one man who told me he was a "proud Republican," "Do you think we need strong laws to protect our air and water?"

"Well, sure," he said. "Who doesn't?"

I asked whether women should have equal rights, including the same pay as men.

"Absolutely," he replied.

"Would you discriminate against someone because he or she is gay?"

"Um, no." The pause — I get that a lot when I ask this question — is usually because the average good-hearted person instantly thinks about a gay family member or friend.

I've often found that if I go down the list of "liberal" issues with people who say they're Republican, they are quite liberal and not in sync with the Republicans who run the country. Most don't want America to be the world's police officer and prefer peace to war. They applaud civil rights, believe all Americans should have health insurance and think assault weapons should be banned. Though they may personally oppose abortion, they usually don't think the government has the right to tell a women what to do with her body.

There's a name for these Republicans: RINOs or Republican In Name Only. They possess a liberal, open mind and don't believe in creating a worse life for anyone else.

So why do they use the same label as those who back a status quo of women earning 75 cents to every dollar a man earns, 45 million people without health coverage and a president who has two more countries left on his axis-of-evil-regime-change list?

I asked my friend on the street. He said what I hear from all RINOs: "I don't want the government taking my hard-earned money and taxing me to death. That's what the Democrats do."

Money. That's what it comes down to for the RINOs. They do work hard and have been squeezed even harder to make ends meet. They blame Democrats for wanting to take their money. Never mind that it's Republican tax cuts for the rich and billions spent on the Iraq war that have created the largest deficits in
history and will put all of us in hock for years to come.

Monday, August 30, 2004

RNC Delegates Mock War Wounded

In obvious mockery of John Kerry, some GOP delegates in New York have taken to wearing bandaids marked with a purple heart, taking Bob Dole's anecdote about his own Purple Heart award to the offensive extreme:

As we approached the enemy, there was a brief exchange of gunfire. I took a grenade in hand, pulled the pin, and tossed it in the direction of the farmhouse. It wasn't a very good pitch (remember, I was used to catching passes, not throwing them). In the darkness, the grenade must have struck a tree and bounced off. It exploded nearby, sending a sliver of metal into my leg--the sort of injury the Army patched up ith Mercurochrome and a Purple Heart.

Apparently, "band-aid purple heart" is a derogatory term used in the military to describe someone who should not have received a Purple Heart citation, one of the claims that the Swift Boat Veterans have made about John Kerry. Clearly, however, this protest, or whatever they would call it, doesn't merely mock John Kerry's service and the wounds he received during war time, but, it trivializes that of all those who have been wounded in combat. As Terry McCauliffe pointed out earlier tonight:

Our service men and women put their lives on the line every day. If they are wounded in the line of duty it is because they are fighting on the frontlines for freedom. Anything but complete respect for their service is unacceptable. Mindful of the fact that over 3,700 purple hearts have been issued during the Iraq war so far and none of us know how high that number will climb, I call on John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, before they speak, to tell their delegates to disavow these tactics. I call on these two men to use the power of their positions to tell their delegates that service matters, sacrifice matters, and that no Republican delegate should ever mock the service of our soldiers.

See a picture of a delegate wearing one of these band-aids on her chin HERE:

Is this what they call "supporting the troops?" Can you imagine how up in arms they would be if the Democratic delegates had done something comparable?

Post Mortem Night One

Tonight John McCain and Rudy Giuliani gave 2 very different speeches. John McCain was conciliatory toward Democrats and resisted attacking John Kerry directly; Rudy Giuliani was less diplomat and more attack dog. John McCain's speech was a snoozer that awoke the delegates only when he mentioned Michael Moore, calling him "disingenuous", leading the delegates, somehow clued in to his presence in the hall (as was the TV camera although McCain claimed later not to have known he was there) to turn and boo Moore to his face; on the other hand, Rudy Giuliani's speech was a rousing fist pumper (if a bit longwinded.) But they both did one important thing: they connected 9/11 to Iraq by reasserting the ruse that by going after Iraq we somehow went after the terrorists that attacked us. For example, Giuliani said that on 9/14, when President Bush stood on the rubble of the World Trade Center, he announced that "the barbaric terrorists that attacked us would hear from us." And according to Giuliani, they did hear from us in Afghanistan, Iraq and even Libya. Bull. Shit. What's ingenious about this argument, though, is how it basically distills in one line the basic division between Democrats and Republicans.

On After Hours on MSNBC, Deedee Myers tried to hold down the fort of, um, truth, when, in response to Ron Silver's claim that Iraq is indeed a part of the war on terror, she repeatedly said "which it's not." And when Ron Silver began to claim that there were al qaeda terrorists in Iraq as a defense of the connection, Ron Reagan held his own by responding, and I paraphrase, that there are al qaeda terrorists in this country too, and what about Pakistan, word is that Osama bin Laden is in the mountains of Pakistan but you don't see us going in there and HE actually attacked us.

Sigh. Clearly this is going to be one of the threads that connect all 4 days of the convention and the question is can the Democrats effectively wage the counter argument, such as, well, reality? They'd better. Another common theme in the two speeches was the so-called commitment of George W. Bush to defeat the terrorists. Well, if the speechwriters had been paying attention, they would have learned that in fact George W. Bush announced today that the war on terror is unwinnable and that he has no such commitment. I'm sure they would have edited the speeches to reflect this is they'd had time. Again, the Democrats have to pound this as hard as they can.

If you believe Iraq is the latest battle in the war on terror, you're probably going to vote for Bush; if you think it's a diversion FROM the war on terror (considering it took funds and forces away from going after the people that actually DID attack us...ya know, the terrorists) then you're probably going to vote Democrat. The Republicans have skillfully distilled the race down to its purest form and are making their convention about that issue. Well done. All we can hope for now is that it somehow backfires.

Bush: His Own Worst Enemy

The further we get along in this campaign, the more Bush will be in situations that require him to speak off the cuff. He'll be giving more interviews (where Karl Rove's hand will not be able to be up his ass) and there are those darn debates after all. His incompetence in this arena, of course, is both his blessing and his curse. Apparently, to some, it makes him seem more "like one of us." But it also potentially puts on the record some comments that his handlers would rather never occured to the man, let alone left his mouth in the form of words. Just in the last couple of days there were two doozies. First Bush said that Iraq is a "catastrophic success" and then this morning, in response to the question whether or not we can win the war on terror, he answered "no."

John Kerry's answer to the latter question? "Absolutely" but problem is, he was freakin' windsurfing at the time.

Think about this. George W. Bush, war president, the man who takes the fight to the terrorists, the man who has nothing to run on BUT the war on terror, does not think this is a war we can win!?!?

Ask every Republican you know if this is their position, that the war is unwinnable. Ask why on earth they would vote for someone who is fighting an unwinnable war and how it must make the troops feel to learn that this is what the commander in chief thinks of their efforts. We should shout from the highest mountain that John Kerry will fight and win the war on terror, and that George Bush does not see victory as an option.

You gotta wonder what the dude was thinking. What was Anne Richards's comment about GHW Bush at the 1988 convention? "He was born with a silver foot in his mouth"? Like father like son.

RNC Agenda - "A Nation of Courage"

The networks for some reason have decided to only cover 3 hours of each convention, in other words, 1 hour of 3 out of the 4 nights. The networks chose not to cover the Dems' Tuesday night line-up (Barak Obama and Teresa Heinz Kerry) and this time Monday night gets the shaft. Can't blame them, I guess, since Wednesday and Thursday are Cheney and Bush, respectively, so the networks had one more night to fill and had to choose from between fake hero Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday night and real life heroes John McCain and Rudy Giuliani on Monday night. Hmm, guess which one they chose.

(Sidenote from Time Out New York:

Number of hours NBC covered the Democratic National Convention: 3
Number of hours NBC covered the Olympics: 226)

The official agenda released by the RNC includes speeches by Ed Gillespie, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (IL), actor Ron Silver, Representative Heather Wilson (NM), it-couple Jason Sehorn and Angie Harmon, Senator Lindsey Graham (SC)culminating with Senator John McCain (AZ) and The Honorable Rudy Giuliani Former Mayor of the City of New York.

Perhaps wanting to limit accusations that they are using this convention to exploit 9/11 (what? no, they wouldn't do that...), according to the National Journal:

Although they weren't on the official program released Sunday, three family members of the Sept. 11 victims who are sympathetic to President Bush and Rudy Giuliani will precede the former New York City mayor's speech on Monday night. GOP sources tell National Journal's Convention Daily that the individuals are Debra Burlingame, whose brother Charles was a pilot on American Airlines Flight 77 when it struck the Pentagon; Deena Burnett, whose husband Tom died on United Airlines Flight 93 when it crashed into the Pennsylvania countryside; and Tara Stackpole, whose husband, Capt. Timothy Stackpole, was a firefighter who died at the World Trade Center.

Battleground State Polling Update

According to National Journal's Convention Alert:
Eight More Signs Of A WH Squeaker

New CNN/Gallup/USA Today polling puts President Bush ahead of John Kerry in Wisconsin, 48 percent to 45 percent. In Iowa, Kerry leads 51-45, while there's a 47 percent deadlock in Pennsylvania. The Hotline's Electoral Scoreboard now stands at 274 for Bush, 231 for Kerry, and 33 tied or disputed. On the national front, meanwhile, the new Battleground 2004 poll asks the White House question five different ways -- and every time comes up with a Kerry advantage of one to three percentage points. The president, however, gets a 51 percent job approval rating and a 64 percent personal approval rating.

Bush On Kerry

I think [Kerry] going to Vietnam was more heroic than my flying fighter jets. He was in harm's way and I wasn't. On the other hand, I served my country. Had my unit been called up, I would have gone.

-- President Bush, in a "Today" interview that aired this morning.

The Numbers Game

So just how many people were marching up 7th Avenue yesterday? That question is at the center of a numbers game that both sides play after each one of these protests. The organizer, United For Peace and Justice, had anticipated 250,000 people prior to the event. As a participant in the march, I could have sworn that the number was closer to a trillion, but don't hold me to that. In fact, upon my arrival in Connecticut, I was immediately confronted with nightly news stories that, while generally positive in their coverage of the march, spoke of "tens of thousands" of people attending the event. My protest-happy brother insisted that it was several hundred thousand by the look of the images and reports he'd heard about it from the alternative media.

It was interesting today to see the various reports the day after. The New York Times uses the term "hundreds of thousands," while The Financial Times of London estimates 100,000 and Variety claims between 120,000 and 400,000. A friend also quoted an online news outlet in India that placed the number at 450,000.

So, I repeat, how many people marched yesterday?

I guess the easy answer is that it depends on whom you ask.

My brother: "it was huge, the largest march of its kind, easily 500,000."
My father: "they promised 250,000 but the news said it was only in the 10s of thousands -- pathetic."
Me: "I told you already, a trillion."

Well it sure seemed like a trillion, and on the news it certainly looked like it, so I guess, as with everything else in New York this week, "seems like" is as good a measure of reality as anything, so I'm sticking with it.

Urgent Fundraising Deadline

NOW is the time to donate to the Democratic Party. Up until Tuesday night at midnight, every dollar donated at the following link will be matched (up to $2 million). This means, of course, that a $10 donation is really a $20 donation, so do it NOW!


Ever since accepting his party's nomination, John Kerry has been limited to spending finite federal funds, which means that Bush has had an extra month during which to use his privately raised money and will have one month fewer over which to spread the federal funds once he accepts the Republican nomination on Thursday. This makes it ever more important to contribute to the party and limit the president's considerable fundraising advantage.

Feeding My Inner Protester - part 2

After a night that included a vodka bar in SoHo, a pub in the meat packing district and karaoke in midtown, my hungover and generally disoriented body rallied, as it were, Sunday morning to make it to the United for Peace and Justice anti-war march up 7th Ave. Marchers were urged to gather at 10am for a noon march. From my experience the previous day, I knew there was no real reason to get there at the early end of that range so I arrived in the general vicinity of the march at around 11:25 am. The literature had given a 4 by 4 block area in which to gather and gather people did armed with homemade signs and buttons and stickers galore. Upon exiting the subway, I just sort of followed the throngs. Without any centralization, without any visible leadership, people gathered on 7th Ave. just sort of trusting that this was indeed the march that had been promised.

I ended up on 7th between 15th & 16th and the march would go up 7th to Madison Square Garden, the site of the Republican Convention, at 34th St. For all the bitching about not being allowed to gather in Central Park, I think it's actually pretty impressive that the city allowed the march to take place as close to the actual convention site as it did.

The crowd was a wide mixture of factions of the left, ranging from the Communist Party to the anti-war stalwarts to the more mainstream Democrats such as myself for whom this was the first act of anti-war activism. The crowd was enormous, 7th Ave. was full from sidewalk to sidewalk, people standing shoulder to shoulder. Looking both in front and behind me, I could see only people, an amazing site.

The march was to begin at 12 and by 12:30, when we hadn't begun to move, there were grumblings about what exactly was happening. I called my house to see if any news channel was covering the march to see if the front had begun to move but it was nowhere to be found on television, much to my father's glee, I'm sure. A few times, we'd move like 2 steps up and every time we did, the crowd let out a roar, like William Wallace charging in battle, only to be stopped in our tracks the very next moment. I must say that despite the size of the crowd and the close quarters, I never felt unsafe. However, I was startled the first time I heard the roar of the crowd travel like a giant wave up 7th Ave. At first it was a distant rumble and it just sort of rolled closer and closer until it was on top of me and I was yelling with the crowd adding to it propelling it forward up 7th Ave. One of the more memorable images of the day was the Fuji blimp hanging just overhead, ridiculously low for New York. I originally assumed it was being used by a news outlet for footage from above, but as it got closer, the prominent NYPD on the belly of the blimp became more visible.

By 12:45pm, we were moving at a slow walk, and all the while people chanted or sang, waving signs, both homemade and pre-fab. My favorite of the former was one that urged "Make Love Not War" under the image of a Democratic Party red white and blue donkey mounting a Republican Party red white and blue elephant. Another good one was a take on the Mastercard ad campaign condemning Bush for spending $775 billion in Iraq when that money could have been used for new diplomacy efforts ($775 million), securing our ports ($7.5 billion), securing nuclear material ($30.5 billion) and restoring our sense of security (priceless.) And then there was a huge banner that simply stated: "Mission Accompli..."

Once we got moving, it took us probably a solid hour and a half to travel the 17 blocks to Madison Square Garden. Once we got there, people really let out their anger. There were boos, there was hissing, there were cries of "shame!" and "go back to Texas!" My favorite was "a pox on your house" which was spoken in a sort of parody of the real protesters by someone who, like me, was half there as participant and half as curious observer. This whole protesting thing is new to me and while I don't yet feel at one with the whole protest movement, I was surprised that I didn't feel more out of place. I was not overwhelmingly confronted with the paradox exhibited by many on the far left who despise Bush's policies but who refuse to vote for John Kerry in protest of the corrupt 2-party system. I was surrounded by Kerry/Edwards shirts, stickers and signs, which was really nice to see. This was a mainstream march, again, a unified front of all factions of the left who are fed up with the war and decidedly fed up with this president. My experience was nothing but positive -- I saw no violence, no confrontation with police, no nothing. I heard only later that there were arrests and that a papier mache dragon caught fire. And while many planned to head up to Central Park after the march, the march route dutifully diverted southward after we passed MSG in an attempt to dissuade people from turning back toward the north to the park. Some did end up there, of course, but by all accounts it was peaceful and without incident. Here's hoping that the protests in New York remain peaceful and don't mar the image of the left in the eyes of the nation, something that, if it happens, only plays into Karl Rove's hands in the end.

Feeding My Inner Protester - part 1

After arriving into Newark on Saturday morning, I made my way via various forms of public transportation, 2 carry-ons and 1 large bag in tow, to my friend's apartment in Brooklyn. I settled in, got my subway map out and figured out how to get to The Brooklyn Bridge, which would be the site of the March For Women's Lives abortion rights rally and march over the bridge. It would be my first such event.

We were to gather at 11am and march at 12pm. I got there at about 11:20am amid throngs arriving already armed with "I heart pro choice New York" signs. I was handed a sign and a bottle of water and made my way to the far end of Cadman Plaza where the rally was about to begin. Before the march itself, we heard from several speakers, some local elected officials who have helped make New York one of the most fiercely pro-choice states, one local pro-choice minister fed up with the religious right, which he sees as "neither religious nor right," and a female trio called Betty who served up a medley of patriotic songs reworked with a feminist bent. Interspersed were chants that ranged from the issue oriented "what do we want? choice! when do we want it? now!" to the anti-Bush "hey hey ho ho, George Bush has got to go!"

Overall, as you might expect, the rally did morph into an anti-Bush and anti-Republican rally. I had originally wondered if I would see pro-choice Republicans there, since they do exist -- pro-choice is the majority position in the country after all. But if there were Bush supporters there, they laid extremely low, the proverbial Red Sox fans in the bleachers of Yankee Stadium. In fact there wasn't even any counter protest to be seen. And so there we all were, united in our support of abortion rights and our disgust for George W. Bush, a president who not only has claimed to be pro-life, but has acted on it by signing into law the unconstitutional "partial birth abortion ban," widely seen as the first step to eroding the right to a safe and legal abortion as guaranteed by the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. The unity was palpable and was evident in the orderly and surprisingly patient way in which our enormous group went from a huge blob in a park to a narrow line marching 2 by 2 up the stairs onto the bridge and over it.

And while I did feel a part of the event, some of the rhetoric did turn me off and seemed a bit unnecessarily nasty. For all the complaining of liberals that conservatives insist on seeing the world in black and white while we see the shades of gray and the complexity of issues, you would not have known it at Cadman Plaza that day. Sure the rhetoric was anti-Bush and anti-pro-lifers and anti-far religious right, but there were chants aimed at Republicans at large and at Christians at large, ignoring the fact that pro-choice Republicans exist and reinforcing the stereotype from the right that liberals are anti-religion. I do understand that it was a rally and that the efficiency of language that a chanter must necessarily employ does not lend itself to the expression of complexity, it kept me a bit at arm's length from the proceedings.

What I was most impressed with, however, was that there was such a strong movement for an issue that is currently the law of the land and has both the stamp of approval by the Supreme Court and the support of the majority of the country. It is a movement based on the threat of revocation of rights, not the desire for new ones, yet there was not an ounce of complacency on view that day. Not with George Bush in the White House and not, as one speaker reminded us, with the probablity that the next president will be in a position to replace up to 3 pro-choice Supreme Court justices. It was yet another reminder of the way in which this president has united the left. The unity that was on display among the delegates in Boston in support of Kerry/Edwards is just as palpable in New York in opposition of Bush/Cheney. It's there not only at a protest, but it's there in storefronts and it's there on people's clothes riding the subway.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Final Word on Swift Boat Vets...Really

Guest Post by a friend we'll call "Capitol Hill Insider guy":

What is most shocking about the belated Kerry reaction to SBVT? Day-to-day response was supposed to be top Kerry advisor Bob Shrum's strong point.

For years, Democratic insiders have complained that, while Shrum was the country's premiere speechwriter and brilliant counterattack specialist, he lacked the ability to craft an effective meta-message that both fit the candidate and summed up the candidacy. Regardless of a candidate's background, record, or voice, the Shrum meta-message was always a variation on 'the people versus the powerful' rant that was so ill-suited to Al Gore's record, temperament, and the campaign of an eight-year New Democratic incumbent.

With Kerry, Shrum finally seemed to realize the need to craft a message that suited the candidate and the times. A decorated veteran running during a war when the United States is dangerously isolated from its allies? How about "stronger at home, more respected in the world." While some will claim it sounds simplistic bordering on the insulting (how about "I Like Ike!"), it strikes the right balance of toughness for middle America and anti-Bushism for the East and West Coast liberals.

While Bob Shrum was patting himself on the back this August, along came the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (a group John Stewart correctly characterized as "neither swift nor truthful" - it's frightening, but The Daily Show provided more informative coverage of this story than any "legitimate" news organization - Ed Murrow is turning over in his grave). Who could have counted on this group of folks still being angry at John Kerry now nearly 30 years after the fall of Saigon? Well, just about anyone should have.

John O'Neill has been stalking Kerry ever since the candidate got off PCF-94. First, he was a hired hand of Nixon, attacking Kerry and Vietnam Veterans Against the War as unpatriotic for not supporting the president and the war (sound familiar?) and O'Neill has dogged Kerry ever since. Make no mistake, John O'Neill is a very angry man. But is it because he really thinks that Kerry didn't earn his medals? No, it comes down to the divide that still remains over the Vietnam War: was this a fight that could have or should have been won? On one hand, you have O'Neill and others who will likely claim until their dying days that they and their brothers-in-arms could have defeated North Vietnam if it wasn't for all those meddling liberals in Washington, DC who wouldn't let them take the gloves off. On the other, you have John Kerry and Vietnam Veterans Against the War who believe that winning the war would have required tactics too brutal to contemplate and that the South Vietnamese regime was corrupt, incompetent, and not worth the lives of more young Americans. It's a debate that could still easily lead to fisticuffs at any Legion hall or Fox News set.

So Shrum should have seen it coming. He should have hit back on the very first day. He didn't, and now John Kerry is paying the price. It is not likely a fatal blow, or even a glancing one, but it's been two solid weeks of awful coverage, no chance to talk about Kerry's winning issues, and now we're headed into a week of what will likely be solidly positive Republican converage. It's positive momentum for Bush going into the only two months that will truly matter in the campaign. Even with that said, Kerry still has an edge. But should Shrum fail in Kerry's next major test and Bush's momentum continue, pundits will look back on these two weeks and say, 'That was when John Kerry lost the war.'

Thanks, Mr. President...

...now just tell your minions all over cable news:

From The New York Times:
Mr. Bush did not hesitate when asked about the central charge issued by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the veterans' group that has leveled unsubstantiated attacks against Mr. Kerry's record in Vietnam. "I think Senator Kerry should be proud of his record,'' Mr. Bush said. "No, I don't think he lied.''

Seattle Times Endorses Kerry

Those who think the media is liberal would probably have an automatic "well, duh" reaction to the news that a Seattle newspaper has endorsed the Democrat. But in a 2 paper town, The Seattle Times is the more conservative of the two and in fact endorsed Bush in 2000. Their verbalization of their regret for having done so and their reasons for endorsing Kerry are eloquent and well worth reading. Some excerpts:

On regret:
Four years ago, this page endorsed George W. Bush for president. We cannot do so again — because of an ill-conceived war and its aftermath, undisciplined spending, a shrinkage of constitutional rights and an intrusive social agenda. The Bush presidency is not what we had in mind.
On the war:
When the Bush administration began beating the drums for war on Iraq, this page said repeatedly that he had not justified it. When war came, this page closed ranks, wanting to support our troops and give the president the benefit of the doubt. The troops deserved it. In hindsight, their commander in chief did not.

The first priority of a new president must be to end the military occupation of Iraq. This will be no easy task, but Kerry is more likely to do it — and with some understanding of Middle Eastern realities — than is Bush.

The election of Kerry would sweep away neoconservative war intellectuals who drive policy at the White House and Pentagon. It would end the back-door draft of American reservists and the use of American soldiers as imperial police. It would also provide a chance to repair America's overseas relationships, both with governments and people, particularly in the world of Islam. A less-belligerent, more-intelligent foreign policy should cause less anger to be directed at the United States.

On economic policy:

This page had high hopes for President Bush regarding taxing and spending. We endorsed his cut in income taxes, expecting that it would help business and discipline new public spending. In the end, there was no discipline in it. In control of the Senate, the House and the presidency for the first time in half a century, the Republicans have had a celebration of spending.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

UPDATE: Kerry's "Shame" Ad Taken Down

The Kerry campaign has taken down the ad entitled "Shame," in which John McCain is shown asking George Bush to apologize for supporting, or at the very least not condemning smear tactics against him in the ugly 2000 primary.

ABC News Notes that:
KERRY TO TAKE DOWN McCAIN AD: "It's long past time that George Bush also take John McCain's advice and do the right thing by putting an end to the smears and lies attacking John Kerry's military service," says Kerry spokesperson David Wade.
Indeed, it is no longer available on www.johnkerry.com.

Ode To The Courts - Part 2

Last November, Congress passed and George W. Bush signed into law the Partial Birth Abortion Act. This law criminalizes any "overt act" by doctors to "kill the partially delivered living fetus." Three lawsuits were immediately filed against the law, one in California, one in New York and one in Nebraska. The judges in these cases halted enforcement of the law until the lawsuits were settled. On June 1, a federal judge in San Francisco ruled the law unconstitutional "in several regards and that it created a risk of criminal liability for virtually all abortions performed after the first trimester." Today, a federal judge in New York concurred.

According to The New York Times:

A federal judge in New York ruled today that a federal law that banned a form of abortion is unconstitutional because it does not include an exception for cases where the procedure might be necessary to protect a woman's health...Today's ruling, by Judge Richard Conway Casey of the Federal District Court for the Southern District, came in a case brought by the National Abortion Federation and seven physicians. Judge Casey determined that a decision in 2000 by the Supreme Court required that any law limiting abortion must have a clause allowing doctors to go ahead with the procedure if they determine that the risk to a women's health is greater without it..."The evidence indicates that the same disagreement among experts found by the Supreme Court existed throughout the time that Congress was considering the legislation, despite Congress' findings to the contrary," the judge wrote. "The court cannot ignore that the evidence indicates a division of medical opinion exists about the necessity" of the procedure as a means to preserve women's health.

Ode To The Courts - Part 1

In this age of Republican dominance of all elective branches of our government (and the great lengths to which they'll go to maintain that dominance), I am constantly reminded of the importance of the courts in providing the checks and balances to that power.

In the latest egregious attempt at a Republican power grab, Rodney Alexander, Democratic Congressman from Louisiana, after months of flirting with switching parties (and after assuring the Louisiana Democratic leadership that he wouldn't) did so 15 minutes prior to the closing of the ballot on August 6, preventing Democrats from fielding a strong replacement. He returned money to donors who thought they were contributing to a Democrat and Democrats filed suit trying to remove him from the ballot.

The judge's ruling? According to Reuters:

District Court Judge Allen Edwards ruled that Rep. Rodney Alexander sought to manipulate the ballot system when he switched his affiliation from Democrat to Republican shortly before the sign-up period ended on Aug. 6.

[He] ordered state officials to reopen the ballot in a U.S. congressional race and allow new candidates to enter because of a last minute party switch by the district's incumbent.

National Poll Summary

Not what we wanted to see going into the Republican Convention: a tie.

Likely Voters - 8/25 (Prev: 8/1)

Bush 50% (51)
Kerry 47% (45)

FOX News
Likely Voters - 8/25 (Previous: 8/4)

Bush 43% (43)
Kerry 44% (47)
Nader 3% (2)

Registered Voters - 8/25 (Prev: 8/18)

Bush 44% (41)
Kerry 47% (48)
Nader 2% (2)

LA Times
Registered Voters - 8/24 (Prev: 7/21)

Bush 47% (44)
Kerry 44% (46)
Nader 3% (3)

Registered Voters - 8/23 (Prev: 8/5)

Bush 43% (42)
Kerry 43% (45)
Nader 5% (5)

Registered Voters - 8/23-25 (Prev: 7/19-21)

Bush 47% (47)
Kerry 45% (45)
Nader 3% (2)

More Statistics Bush Doesn't Want You To See

Thanks to Salon.com's excellent War Room for this juxtaposition:

President Bush in Pennsylvania last week:

You might remember, during the last three-and-a-half years we've been through a recession, we went through some corporate scandals, we went through a terrorist attack, all of which affected our economy. Yet we've overcome it. Our economy is strong and getting stronger. ... I'll argue vehemently, we've overcome it because of well-timed tax cuts. It helped when we put more money in the people's pockets. It helped when we said, you know, we hear your cries and you need more money if you've got a child in your family.
The news from the Census Bureau today:

The number of Americans living in poverty increased by 1.3 million last year, while the ranks of the uninsured swelled by 1.4 million, the Census Bureau reported Thursday. It was the third straight annual increase for both categories. While not unexpected, it was a double dose of bad economic news during a tight re-election campaign for President Bush.

Approximately 35.8 million people lived below the poverty line in 2003, or about 2.5 percent of the population, according to the bureau. That was up from 34.5 million, or 12.1 percent in 2002. The rise was more dramatic for children. There were 12.9 million living in poverty last year, or 17.6 percent of the under-18 population. That was an increase of about 800,000 from 2002, when 16.7 percent of all children were in poverty.

The Census Bureau's definition of poverty varies by the size of the household. For instance, the threshold for a family of four was $18,810, while for two people it was $12,015. Nearly 45 million people lacked health insurance, or 15.6 percent of the population. That was up from 43.5 million in 2002, or 15.2 percent, but was a smaller increase than in the two previous years.

And Now For Some Bad News

After John Edwards joined the ticket and until the Swift Boat Veterans attacked, the news was mostly good for Kerry. He had a few stumbles but for the most part was running a disciplined campaign and was largely immune to anything the Republicans threw at him. It turns out now though that the Veteran attacks may be working, if this new LA Times poll is to be believed:

Kerry 46 (48)
Bush 49 (46)

This represents a shift of 5 points from before the Democratic Convention but is still within the margin of error.


For all the promising signs for Bush, the poll found the president still threatened by a current of uneasiness about the nation's direction. In the survey, a slight majority of voters said they believed the country was on the wrong track. A majority also said the country was not better off because of his policies and needed to set a new course. And 45% said they believed his policies had hurt rather than helped the economy.

Those results suggested that a substantial part of the electorate remained open to change. But amid the firefight over Kerry's Vietnam service and uncertainty about his policy plans, the Democrat still has not built a constituency for his candidacy as large as the audience for change in general, the poll suggested. Nearly 1 in 5 voters who say the country needs to change policy direction is not supporting Kerry, according to the poll.

They say John Kerry is a good closer and that he thrives when the chips are down (witness Iowa). Between the fall-out from the attacks and the upcoming Republican convention, it looks like he may have to put that trait to the test.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Kerry on Daily Show

John Kerry acquitted himself well opposite Jon Stewart on last night's The Daily Show. Of course, he was in friendly territory. A choice Stewart line:
Now how— how are you holding up? This has been a— it’s been a rough couple weeks. I’ve been following— I watch a lot of the cable news shows. So I understand that apparently you were never in Vietnam.
In general, Kerry deftly worked his campaign talking points on such subjects as Iraq and the outsourcing of jobs into the dialogue. A full transcript is HERE. But as for things you may not have heard from him before, excerpts are below.

On the subject of the attacks against him:
You know what it is, Jon? It— it— it’s disappointing because I think most Americans would like to have a much more intelligent conversation about where the country’s going. And— (APPLAUSE) yeah, I think that— you know, and— and, yeah, it’s a little bit disappointing. But believe it or not, I’ve been through worse.
On the subject of debating George W. Bush:
Well, that’s the test of debates. I mean, look, the President has won every debate he’s ever had. People need to understand that. He beat Ann Richards. He beat Al Gore. So he’s a good debater. And debates are sort of formulaic. But I believe that— the truth is what people are looking for. I have a better plan. I have a plan to put America back to work. I have a plan to provide healthcare to all Americans rather than see Americans lose it and pay more for it. We can go down a different road.

And on how he counters the "flip-flop charge":

By talking about things that really matter that people really wanna talk about. I mean, is it a flip-flop— I don’t know what compassionate conservative means. Does it mean cutting kids out of after-school programs? Does it mean drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge? Does it mean sending kids to Iraq without body armor that’s state of the art? Does it mean— turning your— I mean, you can run through a list. Is that compassionate conservatism?

The GOP's Multiple Personality Disorder

Whatever happened to the oh so resolute Republicans? THEY'RE the ones accusing Kerry of not knowing where he stands on issues? In advance of the Republican convention, the GOP is having a major identity crisis.

After arguably sabotaging the GOP's presidential ambitions during the 1990s, the factions of the Republican Party that we formerly would have called fringe did an excellent job of shutting the hell up in 2000 so that Bush could credibly run as a moderate and win, which sucked for Gore since he was trying to do the same. But after more than 3 years of a Bush presidency, it is quite clear that his policies ranging from the "partial birth abortion ban", the proposed federal amendment banning gay marriage, the restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research and his slew of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, have been designed to shore up the far right "base" of the Republican Party, a large chunk of which apparently did not vote at all in 2000 for fear that Bush would be too moderate.

The proposed party platform released today, a final draft of which will be ratified by delegates at the convention next week, confirms in black and white this party's far right wing stances on issues by asserting support for federal constitutional amendments banning both gay marriage and abortion as well as Bush's stem cell research stance. As The Washington Post reports:

Republicans who back gay rights and abortion rights had little chance of shaping those planks more to their liking. But they hoped, at least, to have the party offer a strong statement declaring its openness to opposing views on those subjects.

The gay-rights group Log Cabin Republicans, abortion-rights group Republicans for Choice and the Republican Youth Majority have proposed a much more expansive "unity" plank that promised to be a hard sell in the hearings.

The platform draft, "refusing to unite our party and refusing to recognize that people of good faith can disagree over contentious social issues, sends the wrong message to fair-minded voters," said Patrick Guerriero, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. Ann Stone, national chair of Republicans for Choice, said: "It was their chance to show George Bush as a uniter not a divider, but clearly they have failed."
On the other hand, the Republicans ARE trying to put a more moderate and fair-minded face on the party by giving the most prominent (read: prime time) convention speech slots to popular high profile moderates such as Arnold Schwarzenneger, Rudy Giuliani and New York Governor George Pataki, gay rights and abortion rights supporters all. In addition, Dick Cheney, in a campaign speech yesterday, broke with his boss on the Federal Marriage Amendment:

Lynne and I have a gay daughter, so it's an issue our family is very familiar with. With the respect to the question of relationships, my general view is freedom means freedom for everyone. ... People ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to. The question that comes up with the issue of marriage is what kind of official sanction or approval is going to be granted by government? Historically, that's been a relationship that has been handled by the states. The states have made that fundamental decision of what constitutes a marriage...At this point, say, my own preference is as I've stated, but the president makes policy for the administration. He's made it clear that he does, in fact, support a constitutional amendment on this issue.
We wonder where warm and fuzzy Dick was when the amendment was actually going up for a vote.

The idea that this party is anything but right wing is a farce. Of course it makes sense for them to try appeal to moderate voters, whom they seem just now to be realizing they need in November, but they do so with zero credibility. Yes the conventions are scripted produced affairs, so perhaps I should know better than to be outraged when the party goes into hair and makeup for its prime time debut. But one thing the Democrats had going for them in Boston was consistency. On the subject of the war, Kerry's standing by his vote of support for the war resolution was reflected in the party platform as well as in the prime time schedule. The largest concession Kucinich could get out of the platform was that "reasonable people have differences" on the issue, and the fiery anti-Iraq war rhetoric of Howard Dean, Al Sharpton and even Jimmy Carter was kept out of prime time, opting for a more moderate voice. We may not be thrilled with the moderate tone struck by the Dems in Boston but it reflected real unity that was palpable outside the artifice of the convention. The Republicans had it in 2000 and they won. This time it's our turn.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Rubin Retracts

On August 8, Jamie Rubin, national security advisor to John Kerry, said:

In all probability [John Kerry] would have launched a military invasion with the support of the rest of the world by now.
This got heads scratching and got many of us wondering if these guys are even speaking to each other. Well, it ain't much consolation, but, as The Washington Post reports, he did retract the statement today:

To the extent that my own comments have contributed to misunderstanding on this issue. . . . I never should have said the phrase 'in all probability' because that's not Kerry's position and he's never said it. That was my mistake.

He went on:

Bush went to war the wrong way. What we don't know is what would have happened if a president had gone about it the right way.

The McCain Paradigm

We continue to hear that John McCain's service record was odoriferously, recklessly and unfairly impugned by Bush's triangular surrogates in 2000, that he lost the primary to Bush for this reason, Bush got away clean, and most importantly we're on the same road vis a vis John Kerry.
However, there is a difference. McCain ultimately lost the race in 2000 because the party establishment had a candidate in George W. Bush they preferred. South Carolina played a part but it's unlikely McCain would have won anyways when you look at the margins he lost primaries by in the next rounds. It wasn't all S.C. momentum -- it was the establishment circling their wagons. McCain won the tiny state of New Hamphshire - a place where mavericks are often rewarded uniquely. So let's put the McCain story in perspective. Yes, the Bushies are up to their same old tricks -- but there's no need for fatalism here. Let's hit back and hit 'em where it hurts. That's right - let's go after Laura Bush, that bible-toting librarian help-mate. (C'mon. I'm kidding. I'm kidding)

Law Of Unintended Consequences

Well, I bet Georgie boy thought he had a winner on his hands with this whole Swift Boat thing. He figured he could wash his hands of it and if asked to come out against the ad he could say he's been condemning these 527 ads all along. What he didn't count on, apparently, was that further scrutiny into Kerry's war record would lead to further scrutiny into...er...his. Consider the can of worms officially opened.

Despite the claims of conservatives that the media has exhaustively explored questions about George Bush's service in the Texas National Guard (or lack thereof), the fact that Fahrenheit 911 had so many surprises on the subject says all you need to know. A little background:

Questions about Bush's record predate the current campaign. The apparent gap in his Guard service first surfaced before the 2000 election, when The Boston Globe reported that Texas Guard commanders were unable to account for Bush's whereabouts from May 1972 to April 1973.

Bush has not said what he did in the Guard during that period. Aside from a statement by a former Alabama Air Guard officer who said he saw Bush report for duty there in the fall of 1972, the only evidence he was at Dannelly Air National Guard Base in Alabama was a record of a dental exam on Jan. 6, 1973, at the base.

Bush said in a TV interview in February that he would make all his military records available. That month, the White House released more than 400 pages of Bush military records, including some duplicates, and said the documents were a complete catalog of his personnel files. But some documents still have not been made public.

They say, despite the release of hundreds of pages of records, the following questions still remain:

• Why did Bush, described by some of his fellow officers as a talented and enthusiastic pilot, stop flying fighter jets in the spring of 1972 and fail to take an annual physical exam required of all pilots?

• What explains the apparent gap in the president's Guard service in 1972-73, a period when commanders in Texas and Alabama say they never saw him report for duty and records show no pay to Bush when he was supposed to be on duty in Alabama?

• Did Bush receive preferential treatment in getting into the Guard and securing a coveted pilot slot despite poor qualifying scores and arrests, but no convictions, for stealing a Christmas wreath and rowdiness at a football game during his college years?

Bush was supposed to serve from 1968-1973. Clearly, that didn't happen. Here's hoping we have 2 months of Bush squirming trying to keep us from finding out just what did.

One More Thing About Bob

We've already established that Bob Dole disgraced himself, his uniform, his fellow veterans and his political party with his smears on John Kerry's service record. But this wasn't even about Bob Dole morphing into an ultra-vituperative politico. No, this was about Bob Dole being old and shitty and needing a way to be relevant, a willing victim of his own aging swelled ego. It's no wonder that in an op-ed in the Times a few months ago Dole explained that his own campaign failed for the same reason that Kerry's would -- the economy was actually just too darn good! Wrong on both counts Bobby D. and shame on you one more time for good measure. It's clearly way too hard for you to be nothing more than merely the husband of the Senator from North Carolina.

MUST READ: Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman is always the man, but today he writes an impassioned condemnation of the Bush attack machine. Here's an excerpt but the whole thing is certainly worth reading:
Almost a year ago, on the second anniversary of 9/11, I predicted "an ugly, bitter campaign - probably the nastiest of modern American history." The reasons I gave then still apply. President Bush has no positive achievements to run on. Yet his inner circle cannot afford to see him lose: if he does, the shroud of secrecy will be lifted, and the public will learn the truth about cooked intelligence, profiteering, politicization of homeland security and more.

But recent attacks on John Kerry have surpassed even my expectations. There's no mystery why. Mr. Kerry isn't just a Democrat who might win: his life story challenges Mr. Bush's attempts to confuse tough-guy poses with heroism, and bombast with patriotism.

One of the wonders of recent American politics has been the ability of Mr. Bush and his supporters to wrap their partisanship in the flag. Through innuendo and direct attacks by surrogates, men who assiduously avoided service in Vietnam, like Dick Cheney (five deferments), John Ashcroft (seven deferments) and George Bush (a comfy spot in the National Guard, and a mysterious gap in his records), have questioned the patriotism of men who risked their lives and suffered for their country: John McCain, Max Cleland and now John Kerry.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Bumper Sticker Madness

Generally, when I present a bumper sticker to someone, I get the response "you don't expect me to put that on my car, do you?" This isn't for lack of commitment to whatever candidate or cause the bumper sticker promotes, mind you, but merely a concern for maintaining a pristine car exterior, which I can understand, although my car is a 1993 so I have no such concern. But as it happens, when Kerry locked up the nomination, I went to replace my Clark sticker with a Kerry sticker and Clark came off on the first try leaving no residue behind. In fact, I keep it intact to this day. These were good things I thought -- I can proudly adorn my car with stickers galore -- John Kerry, then Kerry/Edwards, and MoveOn's "Nothing Accomplished" -- without fear of lowering the resale value of my car (yeeeah riiight), and, hey, I'd be able to strip the stickers off and keep them for posterity. Well, my friends, I saw the dark side of this bumper sticker game this weekend.

While my car was parked, minding its own business in the Savon parking lot in Glendale, my John Kerry sticker was swiped, just stripped right off my bumper with, of course, no residue left behind. I'd never heard of such a thing in my life. It didn't even occur to me that that was an option -- oh how naive I was. Was it an envious (and felonious) Kerry supporter? Probably not -- certainly they would have gone for the newer and fancier Kerry/Edwards sticker. It must have been a Bush supporter, surely intending to start with the left-most sticker and work his way up the bumper. It's sort of a metaphor for the entire Bush/Cheney campaign -- asserting a positive -- vote for Bush -- by going negative -- tearing down Kerry. Or maybe he just thought it was easier than getting his own sticker (not to mention the added bonus of not affecting the resale value if his car.)

Anyway, I was browsing dailyKos today and was pleased (sort of) to find that I'm not alone in having had my bumpersticker nicked. User jmelli had this to say:

In an earlier diary I posted about how someone removed two of my three bumper stickers from my car. I replaced the Kerry sticker with a Kerry-Edwards one, and I put up a poll to ask which sticker should replace my other one. The winner of the poll was "A Republican Removed my Other Bumper Sticker". Zackpunk suggested I change the wording slightly, and I adopted half of his suggestion. It now reads: A Republican Stole My Other Bumper Sticker"There ought to be limits to freedom." -GWB

I created the sticker on cafepress, so whoever wants it
can pick one up.

Disclaimer: all profits ($1/sticker) will go to
Democracy For America.
I look forward to proudly adding this sticker to my bumper.

Swing State Polling Update

Imagine my surprise when FoxNews's The Beltway Boys featured this rundown of state polling:

Keystone Poll, Aug. 2-15

Kerry 48
Bush 42

University of Cincinnati Poll, Aug. 15-18

Kerry 48
Bush 46

New Mexico
American Research Group, Aug. 17-19

Kerry 49
Bush 42

American Research Group, Aug. 17-19

Kerry 49
Bush 46

It was then extra satisfying to see that these results have pushed Kerry's electoral college lead, according to FoxNews's own calculations, to 327-211. But even more satisfying than that? This exchange between moderate (at best) Mort Kondracke and conservative (to say the least) Fred Barnes:
Mort: [The gap] is getting wider.

Mmmm, hmm, yeah, gee, indeed it is.

Also, the latest Zogby Interactive Battleground States Poll was released today. Out of the 16 states polled, Kerry is ahead in 14; of those, Kerry's lead is 5 or more in 8 (3 of which are outside the margin of error: Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington; 5 of which are not: Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan, Minnesota and New Mexico); Kerry leads by less than 1 point in 2 (Florida and Missouri); Kerry has expanded his lead from the last poll in 8 states (Iowa, Missouri, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington & Wisconsin) and switched two states from Bush to Kerry (Arkansas and Nevada.)

Since Zogby polled late last week during what would presumably be the height of the Swift Bboat Liars' influence, this would seem to indicate no Swift Boat bounce for Bush, although it still may be too early to tell.

What John Kerry Did Say In Front Of Congress, 1971

Since the Swift Boat Veterans claim to be so concerned with truth, I thought it would be worthwhile to juxtapose the script of their latest ad, called "Sellout", in which they quote Kerry's testimony in front of The Senate in 1971, with an actual transcript of what he did say that day.

First the ad:

John Kerry: “They had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads. . .”

Joe Ponder: “The accusations that John Kerry made against the veterans who served in Vietnam was just devastating.”

John Kerry: “. . . randomly shot at civilians. . .”

Joe Ponder: “It hurt me more than any physical wounds I had.”

John Kerry: “. . . cut off limbs, blown up bodies. . .”

Ken Cordier: “That was part of the torture, was, uh, to sign a statement that you had committed war crimes.”

John Kerry: “. . . razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Ghengis Khan. . .”

Paul Gallanti: “John Kerry gave the enemy for free what I, and many of my, uh, comrades in North Vietnam, in the prison camps, uh, took torture to avoid saying. It demoralized us.”

John Kerry: “. . . crimes committed on a day to day basis. . . ”

Ken Cordier: “He betrayed us in the past, how could we be loyal to him now?”

John Kerry: “. . . ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam.”

Paul Gallanti: “He dishonored his country, and, uh, more, more importantly the people he served with. He just sold them out.”

Next his testimony:

I would like to talk, representing all those veterans, and say that several months ago in Detroit, we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.

It is impossible to describe to you exactly what did happen in Detroit, the emotions in the room, the feelings of the men who were reliving their experiences in Vietnam, but they did. They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do.

They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, tape wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the country side of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.

We could come back to this country; we could be quiet; we could hold our silence; we could not tell what went on in Vietnam, but we feel because of what threatens this country, the fact that the crimes threaten it, not reds, and not redcoats but the crimes which we are committing that threaten it, that we have to speak out.

I wouldn't claim to call into question how this testimony made the Swift Boat veterans feel. It does appear that the attacks on Kerry are rooted in genuine resentment due to his anti-war activism. But once again, the Swift Boat Liars don't seem to be able to make their point without resorting to advertising trickery. While seeing the full testimony may not mollify those that are moved by the ad, it at least gives proper context to the statements contained within it.

Bob Dole Should Be Ashamed

This is an exchange between Wolf Blitzer and Bob Dole on CNN's Late Edition:

WOLF BLITZER: You seem to think there is some doubt whether John Kerry deserved those ribbons and medals that he got, serving in Vietnam. I want you to listen to what Senator John Warner, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, a friend of yours, he was on this program sitting in that seat only one week ago. He was secretary of the Navy when John Kerry got that Silver Cross. Listen to this.


SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: We did extraordinary, careful checking on that type of medal, a very high one, when it goes through the Secretariat. So I'd stand by the process that awarded him that medal, and I think we best acknowledge that his heroism did gain that recognition. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The Silver Star he was talking about. You obviously believe Senator Warner.

DOLE: Yes, but I don't think Senator Warner drafted the citation or even, you know, they'd gone so far as to say Kerry wrote up his own record.

BLITZER: But what Senator Warner said is there was a process that, when it got to him, the secretary of the Navy, he had total confidence that it was justified. And that if he got the Silver Star, John Kerry, he believes it was justified.

DOLE: I don't quarrel with that. I said John Kerry's a hero. But what I will always quarrel about are the Purple Hearts. I mean, the first one, whether he ought to have a Purple Heart -- he got two in one day, I think. And he was out of there in less than four months, because three Purple Hearts and you're out. And as far as I know, he's never spent one day in the hospital. I don't think he draws any disability pay. He doesn't have any disability. And boasting about three Purple Hearts when you think of some of the people who really got shot up in Vietnam...

So what exactly is he saying? That John Kerry somehow wounded himself in a grand plan of getting out of Vietnam? I always thought of Dole as a fair guy, and even a stand up guy who didn't play these games. This is the bullshit that Swift Vet Larry Thurlow suggested on last Thursday's Hardball:

Because of the fact that he engineered three Purple Heart incidences that allowed him to go home after he spent about one third of his tour there.

As did wingnut Michelle Malkin on the same program:

Why don‘t people ask him more specific questions about the shrapnel in his leg. They are legitimate questions about whether or not it was a self-inflicted wound.

Chris didn't let either of them get easily away with these outrageous claims, but now Bob Dole, a more mainstream figure, is starting to plant seeds of doubt as well. But as Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo points out, Dole's pot may be calling John Kerry's kettle black:

In a 1988 campaign-trail autobiography, here's how Dole described the incident that earned him his first Purple Heart: "As we approached the enemy, there was a brief exchange of gunfire. I took a grenade in hand, pulled the pin, and tossed it in the direction of the farmhouse. It wasn't a very good pitch (remember, I was used to catching passes, not throwing them). In the darkness, the grenade must have struck a tree and bounced off. It exploded nearby, sending a sliver of metal into my leg--the sort of injury the Army patched up with Mercurochrome and a Purple Heart."

Perhaps the final word on the subject should be the left to the man who spoke the first word on the subject:

All wounds received in the nation's service are equally honorable.

- George Washington, 1776, upon creating the Order of the Purple Heart

Who are these people?

We already knew George W. Bush was the most venal politician of the modern era (easily besting Nixon in my view) - but who are the rest of these people?

John Kerry, I thought you were the man who only goes to war "when we have to, not because we want to"? So why are you letting your national security advisor say you would "probably" have invaded Iraq as president even without evidence of WMD? Why can't you say (as Clinton did at the DNC) that the weapons inspectors needed to at least evince some evidence of a threat before igniting so costly a bloodshed? How can you honestly say with a straight face today that all the blood and treasure lost and hatred fomented, was worth it?

Bob Dole, all that viagra has clearly gone to the wrong head. I thought you were supposed to be the stately Senator man of moderation and reason. But now you're using your war hero clout to take pot-shots at Kerry on Bush's behalf about whether his boat was precisely in Cambodia at the time he said it was. Maybe we'll never know for sure how far into no-man's-land Kerry's boat drifted - but you all of all people should understand that undermining a man's heroic service in this way to score cheap points for your political horse is a most putrid act for a fellow veteran. In retirement apparently you're happy to play the part of Republican hatchet man. Your lecherous-leering-at-Britney Pepsi ads were more seemly.

John McCain, what is your deal? For reasons unbeknownst to me you've had a hard-on for the war in Iraq from the beginning, though you've rightly criticized the Bushies for all their post-oc missteps. Still, you're doing your all to bolster the president who took you down in the lowest form imaginable and whose policies (from tax cuts to pork barrel spending and all the corporate cronyism that I know turns your entrails) you've consistenly opposed over the last four years. Is that the work of a maverick? How can a man so firm in his beliefs that he would rather suffer in a POW camp than abandon his comrades - so readily abandon his principles for the advancement of his political party (and another shot at commander in chief in 2008)? Remember the "iron triangle" of special interests you were purportedly fighting against in 2000? So apparently now you're their champion.

Media Is Getting Pissed

While conservatives in the media seem to have little problem wearing their political affiliation on their sleeve, liberals have been conditioned to at least attempt to be objective. That's why it has been so satisfying to see some members of the media who are usually prone to frustrating evenhandedness, come unhinged as a result of the Swift Boat Veterans' attacks. First, Chris Matthews was visibly upset last week on Hardball when interviewing one of the Swift Boat Vets. Then yesterday, on Fox News of all places, Juan Williams and Cece Connelly came to Kerry's defense, or, more accurately, simply pointed out the facts, which, crazy facts, back Kerry up. It certainly doesn't take a liberal to see through the slander, but the passion with which Juan Williams stated the obvious may have given us a glimpse into his true colors. Anyway, here's what they had to say:

Juan Williams:
This is just amazing to me. There is no dispute about John Kerry's heroism in this situation. John Kerry went to Vietnam, chose to put himself in that Swift Boat, what we have here is a group of people whose accounts change from day to day from time to time from situation to situation given whether they're happy or angry or whatever. When it turns out their own contemporaneous records that were the basis for their getting awards are released, which they had to release, it backs up John Kerry's account of what occured...They are lying, Bill. If this were a courtroom, this whole thing would have been thrown out a long time ago. These people have political motivations, they're angry at John Kerry about the fact that he came back and was part of the anti-war movement in this country. They're Bush supporters. Bob Perry, Merrie Spaeth from Texas, are big Bush supporters, they're putting money behind this, they're taking advantage of these men. This is a political conspiracy. In addition, the co-author of this book has slandered the Pope, slandered Jews, slandered Muslims and yet somehow we give them all this attention and credibility and put them on network television. These people are ridiculous.
Cece Connelly:
What are some of the facts that we know? Some of the facts are that Mr. Thurlow, who received commendation on that same day that Kerry did, in his citation as well as Kerry's, it reflects all boats taking enemy fire. And by the way, Mr. Thurlow's citation was written by a guy named Lambert on his boat. What else do we know? We know that everyone on John Kerry's Swift Boat as well as Jim Rassman support his account, which is also shown on the citation for his medals. We also know that George Elliot and Lonsdale stepped forward in 1996 not simply to say he was not a war criminal, they went much further in their rhetoric and praise for him as being courageous.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Swift Boat Controversy Continues

This whole Swift Boat Veteran bullshit is making me sick. I mean, if Kerry loses because of this, I guess we never had a chance in the first place. Forget being right on the issues. Forget presenting an actual vision for the future. Forget the fact that Bush has a legacy of loss of jobs, loss of life, and loss of credibility in the world. They literally will do anything to maintain power and I guess we've underestimated them. The question now is will the people see through it? On one hand, I have a hard time believing that they will. They didn't see through it in 2000 when the rightwing smear factory attacked Vietnam vet John McCain. They didn't see through it in 2002 when they attacked Vietnam vet Max Cleland. Why should we think people will see through it now? On the other hand, John Kerry is a fighter and this is bringing it out in him, which is good. And there's that whole truth thing he has on his side. I guess this is all a classic case of optimism vs. cynicism -- will truth win out over lies? I choose to believe yes. It's clear these slimy slanderous tactics are the only way Bush can win and I think every Republican should be ashamed to be affiliated with that party today.

On the plus side, an editor of the Chicago Tribune, who commanded a Swift Boat alongside John Kerry during the events that led to his silver star, has written a complete and moving account of the events of that day, some of which directly counter what the Swift Boat Liars have said.

Read it HERE.

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Friday, August 20, 2004


Dear God, I know we usually talk mano-a-mano, or mano-a-almighty-o, and I don’t mean to rock the Lord Boat here - but you seem to be delivering the goods a bit less often for me these days, so I’m writing you a letter all formal-like. You see, at our last national security meeting (that’s when we get to talk about where we gon’ drop the big ones) I asked about the snack break (Cheeeeetoooooos!!!) and Cheney got all pissed and was like: “Shit, Junior, go write a fucking letter to Jesus or something. We’re busy in here.” At first I thought Uncle Dick was just in his usual hard ass mood, but then I thought – good idea!

So then why are my approval ratings so low, Oh Lord? You gave the ole holy stamp of approval on the invasion – so why do I keep havin’ to explain the thing to everyone and their damn aunt Edna? You know, not to nitpick, but you coulda’ thrown in a WMD or two somewhere in there, just to spare a born-again brother some headaches. Way it is, everybody’s blamin’ me for the body-bags, the bog-down and the big bill – like it’s somehow my fault. Do you think maybe you could come back to earth as George Burns and tell everyone Iraq was your idea? (See George Burns is dead so everyone would believe you…Awww, silly me, you’re God, you know that)

When 9/11 landed on my lap it was like manna from heaven for our agenda – and don’t think the manna wasn’t appreciated. It was fine manna. Damn good manna. Just like that I went from the “arsenic” president to a real live “war” president. I still don’t know what “war” president means but bless you my savior I do love to call myself that. For a while there I could do all your good work without anybody asking questions: Got me a Patriot Act, more tax cuts for my homies (hee hee!) and my own private Hanoi Hilton down in Guantanamo Bay. Approval ratings up the ying yang!

But did I go too far with this Iraq thing? How could I if you signed off?

And how am I losin’ to this high-fallutin’ Yankee, anyway? If he’s so smart, how come all those years ago he volunteered to get in one of them ‘Swift Boats.’ Rich and connected and he was still gonna risk getting shot up by some gook in a rice patty – what’s wrong with that boy? Man, if you had put me in a Swift Boat back then, only question would have been how swiftly I would have jumped out the boat and run for cover. Ha ha ha ha ha. Shit…

Now I learned last time that you don’t directly meddle with tight political races (that’s what brothers and Supreme Court justices your daddy appointed are for) – but if you’ve got time maybe you could just give Kerry, um, uh…shingles or some shit that wouldn’t necessarily kill him but make ‘im look all nasty like. Maybe leprosy? Can’t look so ‘presidential’ when you got the sores, blisters and boils drippin’ off your French-lookin’ face, now can ya?

Remember that night I decided to turn the whole George W. show over to you, Jesus? I was bent over praying to another God that evening – the porcelain one – and I just wanted the room to stop spinning so dang bad. The next morn’ I got to thinkin’ if the meek inherit the earth – there ain’t no one lived meeker than me thus far, and if you need someone who’s good at inheritin’ stuff, look no further! Cokin’, boozin’, draft-dodgin’, DUIin’, bankruptin’ – you lifted me out of all that. You got me off the sauce and into givin’ first time drug offenders hard jail time in Texas, and hurry-on-uppin’ the executin’ of hundreds of men (coupla’ ladies thrown in for equality sake) on death row.

But Lord I know what’s always been most important to you is that I privatize and deregulate anything me and my backaroos can get our paws on for the greater corporate good. It was your charge to keep in the governor’s mansion; it was your charge to keep in the White House – and I have kept it.

OK, so maybe that doesn’t make so much in the way of sense. In truth I s’ppose I’ve always had two masters: My corporate paymasters and you, master of the universe. But please understand I’ve always seen both you guys as, well, like, Master 1A and Master 1B – and Lord, in this case there is no shame in second place. After all, you may have saved me from the hooch and hookers – but Wal Mart and Exxon wrote the checks.

So why are you treating me this way? I guess you did me a mini-solid with that hurricane down in Jebland, but the way things are goin’ down there I’m gonna need a typhoon every two weeks to take the state.

How am I supposed to come back to Crawford and face the armadillos on my ranch a loser?! You gotta give me another term. Just one more. You gotta. I didn’t even blame you coupla’ years back when I had to put the freezers on my best bud Kenny Boy. I’m tellin’ ya – if I have to come home and face Laura, the twins and my assorted ranch vermin a loser – I might just make a return to prayin’ to ye God O’ Porcelain.

Swift Boat Smackdown

In a scathing article, The New York Times does away with any credibility the Swift Boat Veterans for, ahem, Truth may have had left. Read it HERE or let Kos of dailyKos break it down for you HERE.

Olympics - Part Deux

Remember that Bush/Cheney ad that sought to remind us that this year's Olympics include teams of two new free nations, Iraq and Afghanistan?

Here's what a couple of players from the Iraqi Olympic soccer team had to say about the Bush/Cheney campaign exploiting them:

Sadir had a message for U.S. president George W. Bush, who is using the Iraqi Olympic team in his latest re-election campaign advertisements.

In those spots, the flags of Iraq and Afghanistan appear as a narrator says, "At this Olympics there will be two more free nations -- and two fewer terrorist regimes."

"Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign," Sadir told SI.com through a translator, speaking calmly and directly. "He can find another way to advertise himself."

Ahmed Manajid, who played as a midfielder on Wednesday, had an even stronger response when asked about Bush's TV advertisement. "How will he meet his god having slaughtered so many men and women?" Manajid told me. "He has committed so many crimes."

Ain't freedom of speech a bitch, George?

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Olympics - Part Un

The Olympics are on. Who knew?

So, I've been avoiding The New York Times and Washington Post websites today since I've been burned this week by their intrepid reporting of Olympics results. Damn those news outlets reporting news! Why can't they adopt Salon.com's restrained model of simply providing a link that says "Women's Gymnastics Results" or "American Fencing Results," the news equivalents of a movie review warning "caution: spoilers."

As if I needed another reason to love Salon.com.

Kerry v. Swift Boat Veterans

OK, let’s talk about the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth ad. You can see it HERE.

Until now, John Kerry has largely ignored the ad, choosing to let the facts speak for themselves:

  • While they claim to have "served with John Kerry", the men in the ad actually did not ever actually serve under John Kerry's command on either of the swift boats he served on – you’ll recall that his actual boatmates, the men who really served WITH Kerry, were on stage with him in Boston calling him a hero. As Jon Stewart noted on The Daily Show, apparently when the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth say they "served with John Kerry", they mean "they were in Vietnam at the same time" (although at least one of them did serve on a different swift boat in the vicinity of Kerry’s.)

  • While the ad did not originate with the Bush/Cheney campaign, Swift Boat Veterans For Truth is an independent 527 organization with ties to rich Texas Republicans and the ad was created by the same smear-meisters who were responsible for the Bush smears of John McCain in South Carolina in 2000.

  • Speaking of whom, John McCain himself came out strongly against the ad saying
I deplore this kind of politics. I think the ad is dishonest and dishonorable. As it is, none of these individuals served on the boat [Kerry] commanded. Many of his crew have testified to his courage under fire. I think John Kerry served honorably in Vietnam. I think George Bush served honorably in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.
In addition, he called on Bush to condemn the ad. Not surprisingly, Bush has not.
  • And on top of all of this, several of the stories told by the veterans from the ad have proven either untrue or have been retracted. For example, Louis Letson, who claims to be an authority on John Kerry’s lack of heroism because he "treated [John Kerry] for that injury" is nowhere to be found in any of John Kerry’s medical records of the time; also, The Washington Post today reports this about Larry Thurlow, a veteran who says that John Kerry is lying when he claims that his boat came under enemy fire during the events that led to his bronze star:
Thurlow's military records contain several references to "enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire" directed at "all units" of the five-boat flotilla. Thurlow won his own Bronze Star that day, and the citation praises him for providing assistance to a damaged Swift boat "despite enemy bullets flying about him."

But while the mainstream media has widely criticized the ad and conventional wisdom says that the Swift Boat Veterans are motivated by anger at John Kerry for protesting the war upon returning from it, there is a sense that the ad is, at the very least, succeeding in raising a question mark in people’s minds about Kerry's military record, which could prove costly since his heroism in Vietnam is such a crucial part of his campaign for president.

So finally, John Kerry has gone on the offensive. In a speech to the International Association of Fire Fighters in Boston, he said this about the Swiftboat Veterans For Truth:

They're a front for the Bush campaign. And the fact that the president won't denounce them tells you everything you need to know -- he wants them to do his dirty work. Of course, the president keeps telling people he would never question my service to our country. Instead, he watches as a Republican-funded attack group does just that. Well, if he wants to have a debate about our service in Vietnam, here is my answer: Bring it on!

It's been a while since he's pulled "Bring It On" out of his arsenal. You gotta give him points for restraint, although I personally will never tire of his appropriation of that phrase. Extra points for trotting out Kirsten Dunst, John.

In addition, today the Kerry campaign has released a powerful new ad ("Rassman") featuring Lt. Jim Rassman, the man whose life Kerry saved in Vietnam (and a registered Republican) directly contradicting the Swift Boat Veterans’ ad. Watch it HERE.

As a sidenote, MoveOn.org also released an ad this week countering the Swift Boat Veterans’ ad, using it to simultaneously criticize Bush. The script states: "George Bush used his father to get into the National Guard, was grounded and then went missing" and then goes on to quote McCain’s criticism of the Swift Boat ad saying "here’s what a true Republican war hero said." Predictably, John McCain has come out against this ad as well. As Salon.com’s War Room reports:

On Tuesday McCain told the Associated Press that MoveOn's ads represent "the same line of scurrilous attack" as the Swift Boat ads and that Kerry should condemn them.

And unlike Bush…

The Kerry campaign obliged, releasing a statement saying, "I agree with Senator McCain that the ad is inappropriate. This should be a campaign of issues, not insults."