Thursday, September 30, 2004

Good luck, Senator, we're counting on you

How did Kerry do? Let us know. Click on "comments" below and tell us how it went.


Zogby: It's Kerry's To Lose

John Zogby, uber-pollster, still thinks this race is John Kerry's to lose and if he does so, it will be due to no strength on the part of the president, merely incompetence on the part of John Kerry. What makes him believe this? Read on.

The Massachusetts Senator still has aces in his hand that he can play. First, the President’s numbers are still not good. Despite a few outlier polls that show a large single digit or even a double digit lead for Mr. Bush, my poll has the President’s lead at only 3% and the average of all the public polls (as of this writing) is only a 4 point lead. Mr. Bush is only polling at 46% to 48% both nationally and in many key battleground states, hardly victory territory. And his barometric readings are still more negative than positive.

The best that can be said is that the President’s numbers are still better than Mr. Kerry’s. But my polling reveals another important fact – Mr. Kerry has more room for growth than the President. He has to first consolidate his base with an anti-war message that his base wants. He need not worry about accusations of flip-flopping on this issue because that is what the other side says about him and they are never going to vote for him under any circumstances. This alone will bring him to parity with the President in the polls.

From there we see a startling statistic: only 16% to 20% of undecided voters feel that the President deserves to be re-elected. Forty-percent of this relatively small group feel that it is time for someone new. They seem to have their minds made up about the President and have been given no reason to vote for Mr. Kerry. What is most important to this group? They agree with Mr. Bush on values, leadership, the war on terror, and likeability. They prefer Mr. Kerry on the economy, health care, the war, and education.


Educated Choose Kerry

The latest Harris Interactive Poll, conducted between Sept. 20-26, reveals the following horserace numbers:
Kerry 46
Bush 48
Nader 3

But perhaps the more telling statistic is the breakdown of support by education level:
  • Among those with a high school education or less:
Kerry 42
Bush 51
Nader 4
  • Among those with some college:

Kerry 44
Bush 50
Nader 3

  • Among college graduates:
Kerry 50
Bush 45
Nader 1
  • Among those with post-graduate degrees:
Kerry 58
Bush 37
Nader 2

'Nuff said.

Pat Buchanan Praises Kerry

Conservative and vocal critic of the Iraq War Pat Buchanan has some unexpectedly nice things to say about John Kerry:
After the swift boat attacks of August and the Rathergate debacle – CBS' botched attempt to paint President Bush as an insolent National Guard officer deserving of court martial – John Kerry seems to have found his footing. Kerry seems a liberated man.

He is now pummeling the president on the great issue of this campaign. "The invasion of Iraq was a profound diversion from the battle against our greatest enemy, Al Qaeda," declares Kerry. It has turned Iraq into a haven for terrorists. He describes "the real war."

"(T)o destroy our enemy we have to know our enemy. ... They are not just out to kill us, they want to provoke a conflict that will radicalize the people of the Muslim world, turning them against the United States and the West. And they hope to transform that anger into a force that will topple the region's governments and pave the way for a new empire: an oppressive, fundamentalist superstate stretching across a vast area from Europe to Africa, from the Middle East to Central Asia. That's their goal."

Truth be told, this is exactly what we confront. So, Kerry has rolled the dice to offer himself as a leader to disengage us from what he calls a mistaken, mismanaged war, to redirect our fire at Al Qaeda:

"As president, I pledge to you, America, I will finish the job in Iraq. ... I will refocus our energies on the real war on terror. I will wage this war relentlessly, with a single-minded determination to capture or kill the terrorists, crush their movements and free the world from fear."

But he also offers an historical perspective on his odds of winning:
History is not on Kerry's side. In wartime America, the peace candidate and the dovish party always lose.

Gen. McClellan was defeated by Lincoln in 1864 after Sherman took Atlanta. William Jennings Bryan was routed by McKinley when we were bogged down in a Philippine insurrection even bloodier than Iraq. Nixon routed McGovern, the antiwar candidate, in 1972 49 states to one.

Eisenhower and Nixon ousted ruling parties in unpopular wars in 1952 and 1968. But Truman and LBJ had been bloodied in primaries and did not run again. And Ike was more hawkish than Adlai Stevenson and Nixon more hawkish than Hubert Humphrey, who had promised a bombing halt.


DNC Action Alert - An Appeal From Terry McAuliffe

Tonight, don't let George Bush's henchmen steal another victory. We need your online help immediately after the debate, so save this email, print it out, and have it ready with you as you watch the first Presidential debate tonight.

We all know what happened in 2000. Al Gore won the first debate on the issues, but Republicans stole the post-debate spin. We are not going to let that happen again, and you will play a big role.

Immediately after the debate, we need you to do three things: vote in online polls, write a letter to the editor, and call in to talk radio programs. Your 10 minutes of activism following the debate can make the difference.

Vote

National and local news organizations will be conducting online polls during and after the debate asking for readers' opinions. Look for online polls at these national news websites, and make sure to vote in every one of them:

ABC News
CBS News
CNN/
Fox News
MSNBC
USA Today

And be sure to check the websites of your local newspapers and TV stations for online polls. It is crucial that you do this in the minutes immediately following the debate.

Write

Immediately after the debate, go online and write a letter to the editor of your local paper. If you feel John Kerry commanded the debate and had a clear plan for fixing the mess in Iraq, put it in your letter. If you feel George Bush dodged tough questions on Iraq and didn't level with voters, put it in your letter.

With just a few clicks, you can write your letter at our
online media center

Call

Do you listen to national or local call-in shows on the radio? How about on TV? Call them and let them know what you thought of John Kerry's plan to keep America secure and George Bush's continuing refusal to admit the truth about his record.

Here are some national shows to get you started. (All times are Eastern.)

Air America (all day): 646-274-2346
Alan Colmes (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.): 212-301-5900
Ed Shultz (3 p.m. to 6 p.m.): 701-232-1525
Bev Smith (7 p.m. to 10 p.m.): 412-325-4197
Doug Stephen (5 a.m. 10 a.m.): 1-800-510-8255

Find shows in your area on our
media website

Your actions immediately after the debate tonight can help John Kerry win on November 2. Make your voice heard!

Thank you.

Flip Flopper In Chief

The idea that Bush is the real flip flopper in this race has been floating in the blogosphere forever. A conservative I told this to replied "well if there was some big list of George Bush flip flops, certainly the liberal media would be on all over it." Umm, no they weren't (and no they're not liberal.) It took constant harping by the blogs, then John Kerry to use it in his interview on Good Morning America and now finally it's being reported by the media.

Here are just a few:

Flip: Two months into the war, on May 29, 2003, Mr. Bush said weapons of mass destruction had been found. “We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories,” Mr. Bush told Polish television. “For those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them."

Flop: On Sept. 9, 2004, in Pennsylvania, Mr. Bush said: “I recognize we didn't find the stockpiles [of weapons] we all thought were there.”

Flip: President Bush initially opposed the creation of an independent commission to investigate the Sept. 11 attacks. In May 2002, he said, “Since it deals with such sensitive information, in my judgment, it's best for the ongoing war against terror that the investigation be done in the intelligence committee.”

Flop: Bowing to pressure from victims' families, Mr. Bush reversed his position. The following September, he backed an independent investigation.

Flip: During the 2000 campaign, Mr. Bush said he was against federal intervention regarding the issue of same-sex marriage. In an interview with CNN's Larry King, he said, states "can do what they want to do" on the issue. Vice President Cheney took the same stance.

Flop: Four years later, this past February, Mr. Bush announced his support for an amendment to the Constitution that defines marriage as being exclusively between men and women. The amendment would forbid states from doing "what they want to do" on same-sex marriage.

"He Knew"

From The Seattle Post Intelligencer:
In an assessment that differs sharply with his view today, Dick Cheney more than a decade ago defended the decision to leave Saddam Hussein in power after the first Gulf War, telling a Seattle audience that capturing Saddam wouldn't be worth additional U.S. casualties or the risk of getting "bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq."
He said that in 1992 when he was GHW Bush's Secretary of Defense. And he was right. There's more.

He went on to suggest that ousting Mr. Hussein would preoccupy the United States for some time. "Once we had rounded him up and gotten rid of his government, then the question is what do you put in its place?'' Mr. Cheney said at the Discovery Institute in Seattle. "You know, you then have accepted the responsibility for governing Iraq."
Edwards is on it.
He knew - that's the worse part about this - he knew how dangerous this was. They knew that there were enormous predictors of what would be happening there, and they still didn't have a plan even though they knew what might be coming.

Madeline Albright's Debate Questions For W

From today's New York Times OpEd page:

  • You say that we are winning in Iraq. Senator Chuck Hagel, a Republican, says, "We're in deep trouble." Gen. John P. Abizaid is asking for more troops. Secretary of State Colin Powell admits the insurgency is getting worse. The C.I.A. is pessimistic. Billions of dollars that were earmarked for reconstruction have been diverted for security. Insurgent attacks have quadrupled. Deaths of coalition troops are up. Significant chunks of Iraq are under enemy control. You have no viable military plan to make sure the January elections proceed peacefully and no political plan to reconcile competing factions. Your argument for re-election is that this is too dangerous a time to change direction. But since the direction is obviously wrong, don't we at least need to change drivers?
  • How has the Iraq war made us safer, if it transformed Iraq from a place whose military was surrounded and contained, into what you have repeatedly called the "central front" in the war on terror?
  • Your exit strategy for Iraq begins with successful elections in January. And yet there are many obstacles to those elections, especially in areas where the insurgents hold power. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says it doesn't matter if the people in certain regions are unable to vote. Secretary Powell says elections will not be credible unless all Iraqis take part. Do you agree with Secretary Rumsfeld that partial elections are acceptable, or with Secretary Powell that the elections must be nationwide?
  • You have proclaimed that "freedom is on the march" around the globe, but freedom in Russia is in rapid retreat. During the 2000 campaign, you blasted President Vladimir Putin of Russia for "killing children" in Chechnya. Mr. Putin has now been fighting terrorism for years and failing dismally. What lessons do you draw from Russia's experience when considering our own options for fighting terror?
  • Compared with when you took office, are we more safe or less safe on the Korean Peninsula? What concrete progress have you made during the past in preventing North Korea from building nuclear weapons?

E-Mail Message From Kerry Campaign

Tonight is an important night. It's not only the first presidential debate between John Kerry and George Bush, but also the last quarterly fundraising deadline of this election. There are two crucial actions you can take tonight that will make a real impact on Election Day: making a contribution to the Democratic Party before the deadline tonight at midnight, and participating in our debate response activities, which you will be informed of by e-mail later today.

Based on the money that is raised by midnight tonight, the Democratic Party will make key decisions about how much to spend and where to spend it. We want those decisions to be based on the strategy choices that will win the election, not financial constraints.

We are hours away from this critical deadline, so please make a contribution now:

https://www.democrats.org/support/kerry.html

As a campaign, we outraised George Bush during the first and second quarters of this year -- now we have the opportunity to help the Democratic Party outraise the Republican Party during the third quarter -- for the first time in history.

You have accomplished something so amazing during this election. Once, it was an accepted fact that Republicans will always outraise Democrats. Outraising the Republican Party on the night of the first debate will be another stunning demonstration of your power.

This goal is within reach, and you can put us over the top.

Please forward this e-mail to friends and family who care deeply about this election, and ask them to contribute before the midnight deadline.

Please be sure to read the e-mails later today which will inform you of how you can be a crucial part of our debate response activities. You can make the difference in the closing days of this election.

Arianna Huffington On What True Morality Is

Her latest column is brilliant. She talks often and passionately about the tragedy of Republicans co-opting the term "morality" to refer exclusively to such social issues as abortion and gay marriage when they ignore economic morality and the morality (or lack thereof) of war. How can a party that widens the gulf between the haves and have nots and under whose control more and more people drop below the poverty line be said to have a moral fiscal policy? How can an administration that sends thousands of troops to war, causing the deaths of thousands of Iraqi civilians and over 1,000 American troops in a war of choice be said to have a moral foreign policy? Yet the Republican Party wins the morality primary by throwing God's name around.

Here's an extended excerpt:

It was revealed last week that the Republican Party has sent out an incendiary mass mailing warning that, if elected, "liberals" (and I'll give you one guess which presidential candidate that includes) will try to — I kid you not — ban the Bible.

The full-color flyer features a picture of the Bible with the word "Banned" stamped across it, and a photo of a man, on bended knee, placing a wedding band on the hand of another man, accompanied by the word "Allowed."

Clearly, Bush and the GOP have taken their Bible-thumping ways to a whole new level: Now they're using the Good Book to try to bash in the skulls of their opponents.
This "God is on our side" attack is all the more outrageous because it's not coming from some shadowy 527 committee that Bush can publicly — albeit disingenuously — distance himself from but, rather, from deep in the heart of the Bush-run Republican National Committee. The president's team has undoubtedly "approved this message."


They've also used the official Georgewbush.com campaign website to attack Kerry, a Catholic, as being "Wrong for Catholics", while an RNC website, KerryWrongForCatholics.com, slams him for not being loyal enough to the Pope. We've certainly come a long way since another JFK had to assure voters in 1960 that he wouldn't take orders from the Vatican.

The idea that Kerry and the Democrats are anti-Bible and that Bush has a hot line to The Man Upstairs is both offensive and patently absurd. One look at the latest statistics showing the rise in the number of Americans living in poverty proves that Republicans — who, contrary to their claims, do not hold a copyright on the Bible — have grotesquely perverted its core teachings.

As Rev. Jim Wallis, the editor of
Sojourners magazine, told me: "It's a bitter irony: these people accuse Democrats of wanting to ban the Bible, then proceed to utterly ignore the vast majority of its contents when it comes to questions of social justice, war and peace, and protecting the environment."

Perhaps the holy rollers in the Bush camp should crack open a Bible and see what it has to say about caring for the poor (Matthew 25:40), caring for the Earth (Genesis 2:15), and caring for human rights (Genesis 1:27). I've got a hunch Jesus wouldn't be too thrilled with Bush's first term.

And while they're acquainting themselves with the Book they purport to defend, the Bushies might also want to have a look at John 8:32 to see what it has to say about the moral imperative of telling the truth. Instead, they are doing everything in their power to convince nervous voters that a vote for John Kerry is a vote for another 9/11. It's the latest vile twist in the Bush-Cheney "all fear, all the time" campaign strategy, and the last desperate gasp of an administration utterly clueless about how to actually win the war on terror.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Real Voices

Real Voices is an organization that creates radio and TV ads featuring real people:

If you had a minute to say anything you wanted to George W. Bush in front of thousands of American voters, what would you say? Chastise him for his foolish military adventure in Iraq? Scold him for domestic policies that hurt average Americans while enriching the few? Or just urge him to be honest with the American people for a change?

At Real Voices we think about that question a lot, because that's our mission: to give ordinary Americans a voice in the political process. In powerful 60-second radio and TV spots, our real citizens address the president in front of an audience of thousands of potential voters. Whether it's a parent who lost a son or daughter in Iraq, a sick child who might be cured by cutting edge stem cell research, or a scientist who knows the truth about global warming and toxic pollution, our "real voices" confront the President directly and honestly about his abysmal
record.


Click on the link on the site to watch "A Mother's Tears." It features the mother of Casey Sheehan, a mechanic who died in Iraq, tearfully asking the president:

When you haven't been honest with us, when you and your advisors rushed us into this war, how do you think we felt when we heard the Senate reports that there was no link between Iraq and 9/11?

The ad then cuts to black and text reminds us that President Bush has yet to attend the funeral of one member of our armed forces that's died in Iraq.

Nader News Update

Some recent Ralph Nader ballot developments:
  • The US Supreme Court refused to hear a case challenging the Oregon Supreme Court's decision blocking Ralph Nader from appearing on the state's ballot in November. So it looks like he'll remain off in Oregon.
  • The New Mexico Supreme Court ordered Nader onto the ballot there.
  • A state judge in Maine has decided to allow him to remain on that state's ballot.
  • The Secretary of State of Ohio disqualified thousands of signatures turned in by Nader as forgeries, resulting in fewer than the required 5,000 valid signatures. He's off there.
As a result, Nader's ballot access around the country is as follows:

On the Ballot in 32 states: AL, AK, CO, CT, DE, IA, FL, KS, KY, LA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MS, MT, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, RI, SC, SD, TN, UT, VT, WA, WV, WY

Legal Challenges Pending in 5 states: AR, ID, PA, TX, WI

Did Not Qualify for Ballot in 13 states: AZ, CA, GA, HI, IL, IN, MA, MO, NC, OH, OK, OR, VA

Check out www.stopnader.com for ongoing updates. A great analysis on the site takes Nader's 2000 vote percentage, 2.73%, and figures out that if that support level holds in the states that he'll actually be on ballots, the maximum percentage he can hope to receive nationwide in November is just 1.46%. But since Nader supporters are suffering from a much needed case of pragmatitis this year, we can expect support levels to drop even below that.

Paul Krugman - "Swagger vs. Substance"

Paul Krugman...well, words escape me...which is a problem for a blog. What he writes in his column Swagger vs. Substance is maddening because it's probably true:
Let's face it: whatever happens in Thursday's debate, cable news will proclaim President Bush the winner. This will reflect the political bias so evident during the party conventions. It will also reflect the undoubted fact that Mr. Bush does a pretty good Clint Eastwood imitation.

But what will the print media do? Let's hope they don't do what they did four years ago. Interviews with focus groups just after the first 2000 debate showed Al Gore with a slight edge. Post-debate analysis should have widened that edge. After all, during the debate, Mr. Bush told one whopper after another - about his budget plans, about his prescription drug proposal and more. The fact-checking in the next day's papers should have been devastating.

But as Adam Clymer pointed out yesterday on the Op-Ed page of The Times, front-page coverage of the 2000 debates emphasized not what the candidates said but their "body language." After the debate, the lead stories said a lot about Mr. Gore's sighs, but nothing about Mr. Bush's lies. And even the fact-checking pieces "buried inside the newspaper" were, as Mr. Clymer delicately puts it, "constrained by an effort to balance one candidate's big mistakes" - that is, Mr. Bush's lies - "against the other's minor errors."

The result of this emphasis on the candidates' acting skills rather than their substance was that after a few days, Mr. Bush's defeat in the debate had been spun into a victory.

Indeed, looking back to polling at that time, thanks to our OCD polling guru, Gore was ahead by an average of about 2 points leading up to the first debate, which was held on October 3, 2000. After the debate, 5 polls were conducted asking people who they felt won the debate. Results revealed a consensus: Gore won. (ABC: Gore by 3; Gallup: Gore by 7; NBC: Gore by 10; CBS: Gore by 14; Newsweek: Gore by 11.) But in the polls following the debate, Al Gore was unable to reap any benefits from this win. In fact, as a result of the post debate analysis, Gore went from 2 points up on October 6 to about 1 point behind Bush on October 11. As further evidence of the importance of debates in the presidential race and the speed with which things can change, before the first debate Gore was up by 2, after the last debate, a mere 2 weeks later, Bush was up by 3.


Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The Onion Does It Again

Check out this Onion article, Documents Reveal Gap In Bush's Service As President. Brilliant. Hilarious. Sad as hell.
Freshly unearthed public documents, ranging from newspapers to cabinet-meeting minutes, seem to indicate large gaps in George W. Bush's service as president, a spokesman for the watchdog group Citizens for an Informed Society announced Monday.

"We originally invoked the Freedom Of Information Act to request material relating to Bush's spotty record while in office," CIS director Catherine Rocklin said. "But then we realized that the information was readily available at the corner newsstand, on the Internet, and from our friends and neighbors who pay attention to the news."

According to Rocklin, the most damning documents were generated at roughly one-day intervals during a period beginning in January 2001 and ending this week. The document's sources include, but are not limited to, the U.S. newspaper The New York Times, the London-based Economist magazine, and the well-known international business and finance record, The Wall Street Journal.

"Factual data presented in these publications indicates that Bush took little or no action on issues as widely varied as the stalled economy, increasing violence in post-war Iraq, and the lagging public education system," Rocklin said. "The newsprint documents also reveal huge disparities between the ways Bush claimed to have served Medicare patients, and what he actually did."

Bush Endorses High School Candidate...Kid Loses

This is pretty funny:

President Bush's coattails evidently do not extend to Wheelersburg High School in southwestern Ohio. On Sept. 10, Bush visited the area for a rally and took a question from 14-year-old Dillon MacDonald. "I'm running for student president of my freshman class, and I was wondering if I could have your support," Dillon said to laughter from the crowd.

"Man, you're heading in the right direction," Bush replied. "I assure you, when I was 14, I couldn't have stood up in front of all these cameras. Yes, you can have my support." Bush promised he'd be "watching the [Wheelersburg] election like a hawk."

Alas, the endorsement proved insufficient: Days later, Dillon lost the class election to a girl in a three-person race. "It didn't quite put him over the hump," Principal Mark Knapp said of the presidential assist.

Is this a bad sign for Bush in the crucial state of Ohio? "I would hesitate to make any kind of prediction," Knapp said.

Kerry Surging

As I touched on in Reality Check #1, Kerry has cut Bush's leads significantly in the last 2 weeks. Now, a new poll reports that Kerry has actually taken over a slight lead over Bush. Here's a breakdown.

Investor's Business Daily/Christian Science Monitor, 9/22-9/27 (9/14-9/18)

Kerry 46 (43)
Bush 45 (46)
Unsure 9 (11)

Note that 2 of Kerry's points came from the Undecided.

Rasmussen Reports Daily Tracking 9/24-9/26 (9/15-9/17)

Kerry 46.1 (44.8)
Bush 47.8 (49.4)

CNN/USA Today/Gallup, 9/24-9/26 (9/13-9/15)

Kerry 44 (42)
Bush 52 (55)
Unsure 3 (2)

Note that 2 of Bush's points went to Kerry, 1 went to the Undecided.

ABC News/Washington Post, 9/23-9/26 (9/6-9/8)

Kerry 45 (43)
Bush 51 (52)
Nader 1 (2)

Crawford, TX Paper Endorses Kerry

"President Bush's hometown paper," the Lone Star Iconoclast (population: 705, circulation: 425), has endorsed John Kerry for president.
Four items trouble us the most about the Bush administration: his initiatives to disable the Social Security system, the deteriorating state of the American economy, a dangerous shift away from the basic freedoms established by our founding fathers, and his continuous mistakes regarding Iraq.
It's worth noting that in 2000, the paper endorsed Bush and in the lead up to the war, it was supportive of the invasion of Iraq.

As for Kerry, the paper praises his military service and says that he has "the vision of a return to normality.'' Couldn't have said it better myself.


Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

If John Kerry loses in November, it will likely be largely attributable to the fear mongering of Republicans. We know they have nothing positive to run on so they have no choice but to politicize terror fears.

Following up on Dick Cheney's claim that if "we make the wrong choice in November" (wink wink nudge nudge) "we'll risk being attacked again," their latest attacks on Kerry are pushing the idea that a vote for Kerry is a vote of the terrorists.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Sept. 18: "I don't have data or intelligence to tell me one thing or another, [but] I would think they would be more apt to go [for] somebody who would file a lawsuit with the World Court or something rather than respond with troops," Hastert said. Asked by a reporter whether he thought al-Qaida would operate more comfortably with John Kerry in the White House, Hastert replied, "That's my opinion, yes."

Sen. Orrin Hatch, Sept. 21: Terrorists "are going to throw everything they can between now and the election to try and elect Kerry."

And the latest ad by conservative 527 Progress For America shows images of terrorists, bin Laden and Mohammed Atta among them, and then states:

These people want to kill us. They killed hundreds of innocent children in Russia, 200 innocent commuters in Spain and 3,000 innocent Americans. John Kerry has a 30-year record of supporting cuts in defense and intelligence, and endlessly changing positions on Iraq. Would you trust Kerry up against these fanatic killers?
This strategy is on top of the classic Republican tactic of accusing those that criticize the war of somehow "comforting the enemy." As Iyad Allawi himself said, in a perfect echo of George Bush's talking points:

These doubters [of the war] risk underestimating our country and they risk fueling the hopes of the terrorists.
Certainly, playing on our fears is nothing new for the president. From our friends at salon:
Indeed, since Sept. 11th, fear has been the animating principle of nearly all of Bush's policies. The administration has invoked terrifying specters -- biological and chemical weapons rained from crop dusters or spewed into subway systems, a "dirty bomb" radiating entire downtown areas, a nuclear "mushroom cloud" rising over an American city -- to justify everything from the USA PATRIOT Act to racial profiling to the indefinite detention of "enemy combatants" to the invasion of Iraq.

Considering Bush's strength in the polls, one wonders how effective Kerry and Edwards's rebuttals of outrage at these attacks, calling them what they are, un-American, will be. One can only hope there is a backlash against this ugliness. There already is one in the media, with the editorial pages of The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times weighing in. Conservatives would say this is just typical of the liberal media bashing Bush, but what this criticism ignores is that the sentiment contained in these editorials is neither conservative nor liberal, it simply echoes the very American values of freedom of expression and fair play, values that are severely under assault by the Republicans in this campaign.

New York Times, 9/25/04 calls these tactics "appalling":

Mr. Bush has not disassociated himself from any of this, and in his own campaign speeches he makes an argument that is equally divisive and undemocratic. The president has claimed, over and over, that criticism of the way his administration has conducted the war in Iraq and news stories that suggest the war is not going well endanger American troops and give aid and comfort to the enemy. This week, in his Rose Garden press conference with the interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, Mr. Bush was asked about Mr. Kerry's increasingly pointed remarks on Iraq. "You can embolden an enemy by sending mixed messages," he said, going on to suggest that Mr. Kerry's criticisms dispirit the Iraqi people and American soldiers.

It is fair game for the president to claim that toppling Saddam Hussein was a blow to terrorism, to accuse Mr. Kerry of flip-flopping and to repeat continually that the war in Iraq is going very well, despite all evidence to the contrary. It is absolutely not all right for anyone on his team to suggest that Mr. Kerry is the favored candidate of the terrorists. And at a time when the United States is supposed to be preparing the Iraqi people for a democratic election, it's appalling to hear the chief executive say that loyal opposition gives aid and comfort to the enemy abroad.

And The Los Angeles Times calls President Bush a "coward":
The suggestion that terrorists support Sen. John F. Kerry for president is ugly, but basically silly. The suggestion that Kerry supports the terrorists is flat-out disgusting. President Bush has allowed surrogates to spread the former idea, but he himself has helped to promote the latter. Last week, Bush declared that Kerry's criticism of him and his Iraq policy "can embolden an enemy" and called Kerry "destructive" to the war on terror.

This attempt to delegitimize criticism rather than rebut it comes as part three of a three-part Republican strategy. (At least we hope there are only three parts.) Part one was the first wave of Swift boat ads (and the ridiculous hoo-ha around them), raising questions about Kerry's Vietnam service. From there it was an easy leap to part two, the second Swift boat wave and the accompanying fuss about Kerry's leadership of the Vietnam antiwar movement. Part three drives it all home: As during Vietnam, so during Iraq. The guy is still at it, disloyally attacking his own country in wartime and giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

Compared with Kerry, George W. Bush is a coward. This is not a reference to their respective activities during Vietnam. It refers to the current election campaign. Bush happily benefits from the slime his supporters are spreading but refuses to take responsibility for it or to call point-blank for it to stop.

O'Reilly v. Stewart

Bill O'Reilly did us the favor of fulfilling every stereotype we have of him, by showing himself to be curmudgeonly and out of touch when he interviewed Jon Stewart a couple weeks ago. Here's the transcript:

O'REILLY: You actually have an influence on this presidential election. That is scary.
STEWART: If that were so, that would be quite frightening.
O'REILLY: But it is. It's true. I mean, you've got stoned slackers watching your dopey show every night, OK, and they can vote.
STEWART: Yeah.
O'REILLY: You can't stop them.
STEWART: Yeah, I just don't know how motivated they would be, these stoned slackers.
O'REILLY: Yeah, it just depends if they have to go out that day.
STEWART: What am I, a Cheech and Chong movie? Stoned slackers?
O'REILLY: Come on, you do the research, you know the research on your program.
STEWART: No, we don't.
O'REILLY: Eighty-seven percent are intoxicated when they watch it. You didn't see that?
STEWART: No, I didn't realize that.

My Republican middle-aged parents (neither stoners nor slackers, they) may want to dispute O'Reilly's characterization of The Daily Show's viewership, since Stewart has a place next to Brokaw and Imus in their daily viewing. And indeed, Nielsen Media Research confirms that The Daily Show's viewership is more complex:

Viewers of Jon Stewart's show are more likely to have completed four years of college than people who watch 'The O'Reilly Factor,' according to Nielsen Media Research.

Jon Stewart's reaction?

This election is going to rely on the undecided. And who is more undecided than stoned slackers? Ice cream or pretzels? Ice cream or pretzels? What's it going to be?"

Monday, September 27, 2004

Reality Check #2

No matter how many national polls we cite, the reality is that this election will be decided on a state by state basis. Each state has a certain number of electoral votes to cast, depending on their representation in Congress, and 48 out of the 50 states have winner take all electoral contests on election day. America Coming Together's blog gives us some good news on this front and others that, combined, should serve as yet another reality check:

1. This morning, ACT released some of our latest internal polling – to some good news. Two of the states that went to Bush in 2000 are now tightening up to a dead heat this year. Both Ohio and New Hampshire are in a tie at 46% 46% and 47% 47% respectively.

2. And the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that in Ohio, Election Boards are overwhelmed with the quantity of voter registration applications. “Some boards are processing cards 24 hours a day. “

3. Scared by the news of their slippage, the Bush campaign continues their tactics of fear mongering, which the New York Times calls “An Un-American Way to Campaign.”

4. Not only is this tactic the worst kind of fear-mongering – it’s also not fooling the American people – As Dick Cheney travels the country talking about the spectre of Al Qaeda – voters want to hear simple truths about the issues that are most important to them.

5. They’re not much better when they DO talk about domestic issues. Bush continues to stay far out of touch with reality – the Washington Post reports on the ever-widening gulf between Bush’s ‘compassionate’ rhetoric about children’s healthcare, and his stunning inaction on the issue.

More news on the state polling front tomorrow.

Reality Check #1

I have to confess, today I was feeling a bit down about Kerry's prospects for victory. Part of it was due to recent polls that seem to reveal that perhaps the race isn't as close as I had hoped and part of it was due to this idea I've been hearing that Kerry has to hit it out of the park during the debate on Thursday or else he's done. Even an optimist has a bad day, but I'm over it. All I needed was a reality check.

There's a new Gallup poll, a new ABC News poll and a new Rasmussen poll out, and while Bush is up in all of them to varying degrees, Kerry has risen in every single one of them in the last week and a half. In the absurd Gallup poll, which does skew Republican due to an oversampling of Republicans, Kerry went from 13 points down to 8 points down; in the ABC News poll, Kerry went from 9 points down to 6 points down; and in Rasmussen's daily tracking poll, he went from 4 points down less than a week ago to less than 2 points down today. It's not merely wishful thinking to stress the significance of these trends. It means that Bush's bounce is dwindling and that Kerry's strong performance last week is resonating with people.

It also means that Kerry has the momentum going into Thursday's debate. And I saw a poll on CNN Headline News that shows that, despite what one would think, a majority of people feel that Bush will win the debate. Kerry was at about 39%. These low expectations of Kerry are exactly what Bush benefitted from in 2000 against Gore. When I was in Nevada, I spoke to a few undecided voters who really were looking forward to the debates to help make up their minds. The sense I got was that they were fed up with Bush and they wanted to be reassured that Kerry is a strong alternative; they don't know him and they're looking to the debates to help the get to know him. It is a lot of pressure, but word is that Kerry thrives under these conditions. Think about late last year. I don't have solid numbers in front of me but if memory serves, in December, Kerry was in a fight for 4th place in Iowa and 3rd in New Hampshire. He made changes and in less than a month, he was surging on his way to the nomination. Also, in his tight 1996 race for the Senate against popular Massachusetts Governor William Weld, Kerry sealed the deal during the debates. Kerry has a lot going for him heading into Thursday and this shouldn't be underestimated.

In 1980, Carter was ahead going into the debates against Reagan. The country was over Carter but was not convinced that Reagan was the man to take over the reins. After Reagan's strong performance, he gained the country's confidence and their vote on election day. While the debates provide a HUGE upside for Kerry, I really don't feel the downside is nearly as bad as some say. If he performs up to his ability on Thursday and continues to pound Bush on Iraq as he's done, keeping the heat on and responding quickly to attacks leveled at him, he'll win this thing.

New Kerry Ad: Bush "Doesn't Get It"

Watch Kerry's great new ad ripping Bush for his Iraq non-policy HERE.

Script:

Narrator: “There he goes again. George Bush said Iraq was ‘mission accomplished.’ 16 months later, he still doesn't get it. Today: over 1,000 US soldiers dead, kidnappings, even beheadings of Americans. Still Bush has no plan what to do in Iraq. How can you solve a problem when you can’t see it? John Kerry’s plan: Train Iraqis to handle their own security … real elections … and work with allies to shoulder the burden. It’s time for a new direction in Iraq.”

Another Hero

54-year-old Perry Patterson, a full-time homemaker from Eugene, Oregon, went to a Dick Cheney rally last week and became the latest in a long line of "dissenters" at Bush/Cheney events who end up in the hands of the police. As she tells it:

When [Cheney] said, `We've made the world a safer place,' I just had this primal need to say `No!' at the top of my voice. I was surprised at myself that I let loose like that, but I did.
As a result of this outburst, she was immediately escorted out of the event by security personnel and asked to leave the premises. When she asked how she could be thrown out when she had a ticket, she was told that the owner of the venue no longer wanted her there and that if she didn't leave she would be cited with criminal trespassing. When the police were unable to provide her with written notice or a Monaco representative to personally order her off the premises, she refused to leave and was cited with second-degree criminal trespass, a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $250 and she faces an Oct. 1 court date.

Patterson said she attended Friday's rally at a Monaco Coach hangar at the Eugene Airport with the expectation that people of all political views would be welcome.

She said she expected audience members to be able to ask questions of Cheney. As the mother of sons ages 16 and 22, Patterson said she wanted to ask Cheney if he and Bush would be reinstating the military draft to ensure adequate troop levels in Iraq.

Sadly, that's become too much to ask of our President and Vice President.

See the stories of the other heroes of the 2004 campaign HERE and HERE.

Progress Report

From The Center For American Progress's Progress Report:

COLIN POWELL SAYS THINGS ARE GETTING WORSE: Bush continues to insist that there have been "months of steady progress" in Iraq. Yesterday, Secretary of State Colin Powell said that "the insurgency in Iraq is getting worse and that the U.S. occupation there has increased anti-American sentiment in Muslim countries."

IRAQ WAR ASSISTS AL QAEDA RECRUITING: According to intelligence and law enforcement officials interviewed by the Los Angeles Times, the Iraq war has emerged as "
a rallying point for a seemingly endless supply of young extremists willing to die in a jihad, or holy war." Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, dean of Europe's anti-terrorism investigators, said, "In Iraq, a problem has been created that didn't exist there before." The sentiment was echoed by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who said on Friday that the invasion of Iraq has "ended up bringing more trouble to the world," in part because it "has aroused the passions of the Muslims."

Turning Nevada Blue

Dave & I were in Las Vegas this weekend working for Kerry, trying to turn Nevada from red to blue. Latest poll has Kerry down only 2 there so it's doable. More on our trip later.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Edwards Calls Them Out

Thanks to Kos:

John Edwards released the following statement today:

The administration's credibility on Iraq collapsed today. Over the past 24 hours, the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of Defense and the Under Secretary of State have all contradicted each other on elections in Iraq.

For a President who is fond of saying we should not send mixed messages - you need a scorecard today to keep up with all the different and contradictory statements from the White House.

The President also talked about the need to support Prime Minister Allawi. The best lesson for any fledgling democracy is that leaders should tell the truth, to always be straight with the people. Prime Minister Allawi's trip to the United States was filled with all the wrong lessons, lessons from an administration that just can't seem to tell the truth when it comes to Iraq.


This is what he's talking about -- they're falling apart:

BUSH SAYS IRAQ WILL HOLD ELECTIONS IN JANUARY

"They're going to have elections in January in Iraq. When America gives its word, America will keep its word. We'll stand with the people of Afghanistan and Iraq."

- [9/22/04, Remarks by the President at Victory 2004 Rally , Latrobe, PA]

CHENEY SAYS IRAQIS WILL DECIDE WHETHER TO HOLD ELECTIONS

"First of all, I'll be happy to pass along the message. I will see Mr. Allawi, as I mentioned, on Thursday -- both in the Congress, and then he'll come to the White House for a meeting with the President and myself. He has indicated repeatedly that he wants to keep that January deadline. We agree wholeheartedly. It's important to remember this is an Iraqi decision."

- [Dick Cheney, Lansing, Michigan, 9/21/04]

RUMSFELD SAYS ELECTIONS CAN BE OPEN TO 3/4 OR 4/5 OF IRAQ

"Let's pretend hypothetically that you get to election time in January and lets pretend that its roughly like it is, or a little worse, which it could be, because you've got to expect it to continue. They're not happy the way its going. They don't want a government elected in that country...badly, they don't want that. And let's say you try to have an election and you could have it in three-quarters or four-fifths of the country, but some places you couldn't because the violence was too great. So be it. Nothing is perfect in life. So you have election that's not quite perfect."

- [Donald Rumsfeld, Senate testimony 9/23/04]

DICK ARMITAGE SAYS ELECTIONS ARE OPEN TO ALL

"We're going to have an election that is free and open and that has to be open to all citizens. It's got to be our best effort to get it into troubled areas as well,"

- [Dick Armitage, House testimony, 9/24/04]


Fantasy World of Spin

When John Kerry said "President Bush is living in his own fantasy world of spin," who knew how prescient that statement would be. At yesterday's news conference in the rose garden, Bush, and his echo Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, continued to promote his optimistic projections for Iraq (as Jon Stewart said, the roses in the garden matched the color of his glasses.) And the press isn't buying it.

For example, check out this AP headline:

Iraq Violence Eclipses Rosy Declarations

Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and President Bush have declared that Iraq is on the road to stability, with the Iraqi leader saying elections would be possible in all but three or four of Iraq's 18 provinces. But the map of Iraq is scarred with violence every day. The capital is wracked by kidnappings and bombings. And September is shaping up as one of the deadliest months for American soldiers.
Salon's War Room has this analysis of Allawi's claim that "if you care to look at Iraq properly, and go from Basra to Nasiriyah to Kut to Diyala to Najaf to Karbala to Diwaniya to Samaraa to Kirkuk to Sulaymaniyah to Dahuk to Arbil, there are no problems. It's safe, it's good."

Diyala: Ten days ago in Baqubah, a city in the province of Diyala, gunmen opened fire on a van of Iraqi policemen. At least 11 people were killed.

Kirkuk: In Kirkuk earlier this month, a car bomb killed at least 20 people and wounded 36 more.

Najaf: Just this week, U.S. forces and Iraqi police arrested aides to Muqtada al-Sadr in a pre-dawn raid. The take, according to Iraq's minister of state: enough weapons to fill five trucks, including "large amounts" of dynamite and other explosives and 100 AK-47 rifles.

Dahuk: Although this northern province is apparently largely peaceful, its governor was the target of a roadside-bomb assassination attempt earlier this month.

Basra: While Basra is also held up as a "success story" in Iraq, a BBC correspondent working there now says that reporters "wouldn't dream of" staying in Basra on their own because the "chances of being kidnapped are too great."

And Paul Krugman and Bob Herbert of The New York Times weigh in with their usual insight on the editorial page today:

Bob Herbert, Bush Upbeat As Iraq Burns

As the situation in Iraq moves from bad to worse, the president, based on his public comments, seems to be edging further and further from reality. This is disturbing, to say the least. The news from Iraq is filled with reports of kidnappings and beheadings, of people pleading desperately for their lives, of American soldiers being ambushed and killed, of clusters of Iraqis being blown to pieces by suicide bombers, and of the prospects for a credible election in January tumbling toward nil.

The war effort has deteriorated so drastically that the administration is planning to take more than $3 billion earmarked for crucial reconstruction projects and shift them to security programs designed to ward off the increasingly deadly insurgency. A classified National Intelligence Estimate prepared for the president contained no really good prospects for Iraq. The best-case scenario was a country with only tenuous stability. The worst potential outcome was civil war. The intelligence estimate was prepared in July, and the situation has only worsened since then.

Paul Krugman, Let's Get Real

At the root of this folly is a continuing refusal to face uncomfortable facts. Confronted with a bleak C.I.A. assessment of the Iraq situation - one that matches the judgment of just about every independent expert - Mr. Bush's response is that "they were just guessing." "In many ways," Mr. Cordesman writes, "the administration's senior spokesmen still seem to live in a fantasyland."

Fantasyland extended to the Rose Garden yesterday, where Mr. Bush said polls asking Iraqis whether their nation was on the right track were more positive than similar polls asking Americans about their outlook - and he seemed to consider that a good sign.

Where is Mr. Bush taking us? As the reality of Iraq gets worse, his explanations of our goals get ever vaguer. "The security of our world," Mr. Bush told the U.N., "is found in the advancing rights of mankind."

Bush/Cheney are losing the message war right now, hopefully giving Kerry/Edwards momentum going into the first debate next week. Is this the shift we've been waiting for? The Boston Globe thinks it very well might be:

THIS WEEK, John Kerry got laryngitis but found his voice. And if Kerry rebounds to win the presidency, this period will be seen as the public turning point in the campaign.


Thursday, September 23, 2004

President Wile E. Coyote

I thought Bill Maher saying Bush's obliviously optimistic comments about the situation in Iraq reminded him of Bagdhad Bob ("the guy who said 'there are no Americans here' as American tanks rolled in behind him") was classic but tonight Chris Matthews nailed it on Hardball. He likened Bush to Wile E. Coyote:

It seems like one of those cartoon characters that walks off a cliff and hasn't looked down yet and therefore hasn't fallen.



Hey Ladies!

In 2000, Al Gore received 54% of the women's vote and Bush received just 43%. Democrats have relied on women's support to make up for the advantage Republicans have among men. But John Kerry has been bleeding support of the fairer sex. The latest New York Times poll actually had Bush up by 5% and a more recent poll had Kerry up by just 3% among women. So what's an aloof and not terribly studly Democratic candidate to do when women are swooning at the president's swagger and tough-guy routine? When "Security Moms" are entrusting the welfare of their families to George W? The appearance on Regis and Kelly didn't hurt. Nor does campaigning with the 9/11 widows the "Jersey Girls." But the real secret weapon: Johnny E.

This headline from The New York Times sort of cracked me up, I guess the use of the word "courts" -- what, were "woos" and "seduces" already taken?

Democrat Edwards Courts Women Voters

He appeared with prominent female backers at an event billed as a conversation with women and families. He argued that he and Kerry are the candidates who can be trusted to keep America safer, pointing to ``the incompetence of the Bush administration.''

By contrast, he said, ``our commitment is real and strong. We will do absolutely everything that needs to be done to keep this country safe.''

``Every single day John Kerry is president of the United States, he is going to tell you the truth,'' Edwards pledged.

Talk about turning a negative into a positive. Edwards has been out of the press limelight lately, surely in spite of his best efforts, and this seems like the perfect project to get him back on center stage.

Courts Under Siege

As I've written HERE, HERE and HERE, the courts have provided a welcome voice of reason in these times of Republican dominance of the legislative agenda. And turns out, the Republicans don't like it one bit.

Last October, Jeb Bush rushed "Terri's Law" through the Florida state legislature in order to keep a severely brain-damaged woman, Terri Schiavo, alive in spite of a court ruling that she be taken off life support (ie, her feeding tube removed) in keeping with the woman's husband's wishes. He said it's what she would have wanted while her parents pleaded with Governor Bush to take action to keep her alive. Once Jeb rushed the law through the legislature, he promptly used it to reinsert her feeding tube and she's been living like that ever since. Today, the Florida State Supreme Court ruled that Terri's Law actually violates the separation of powers between the judicial branch and the legislative and executive branches.


"It is without question an invasion of the authority of the judicial branch for the Legislature to pass a law that allows the executive branch to interfere with the final judicial determination in a case," Chief Justice Barbara Pariente wrote for the court. "That is precisely what occurred here."

Limiting the power of the courts is precisely what the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment was all about, as well. Conservatives see court rulings such as the Massachusetts State Supreme Court decision that a ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional as "activist judges legislating from the bench" because the court used its ruling to instruct the legislature to act to remedy the situation. To thwart this, conservatives' only recourse is to undermine the courts by amending constitutions to state that marriage is only between a man and a woman so that courts by definition can't rule such bans unconstitutional. So, first, they tried at the federal level with the Federal Marriage Amendment, but that failed to even come up for an up and down vote due to lack of support. And now they're trying all over the country to amend state constitutions to ban same sex marriage. Such a ban passed in Louisiana just this past weekend. Several states have it on the November ballot as a voter initiative, which accomplishes another goal: motivating the base to get to the polls in November increasing turn out for George W. Bush.

Today, Republicans in the House pushed through a vote on yet another piece of legislation, The Pledge Protection Act, that seeks to both undermine the power of the courts and hurt Democrats in November.


The bill, which the House approved, 247-173, would prohibit federal courts, including the Supreme Court, from hearing cases involving the Pledge [of Allegiance] and its recitation and would prevent federal courts from striking the words "under God" from the pledge.

The legislation has little chance of advancing in the Senate this year, but it laid down another marker for politicians seeking to differentiate themselves from their election opponents on volatile social issues of the day. Other "wedge" issues that have come up or may arise before the election include gay marriage and flag-burning.

Indeed, 166 of the 173 nay votes were from Democrats but to minimize negative fallout, 34 Democrats voted with the Republicans. (Of these 34, the vast majority are from red states such as Texas, Tennessee, South Dakota and Georgia and swing states such as Iowa, West Virginia, Minnesota and Missouri.)

Clearly, this is another front in the culture war that wages on between Democrats and Republicans, between those that would like to keep church and state separate and those that would seek to blur the line, between those that feel that the constitution is the basis for the laws that govern our society and those that believe it should be the Bible. Of the many things that this election is about, this is truly one of the most important.

Nader Off Oregon Ballot

The Oregon Supreme Court has reversed a lower court ruling and declared Nader off the ballot in Oregon.

The high court unanimously upheld a ruling by Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, who determined that flawed petitions sheets left Nader 218 signatures short of the 15,306 needed to put him on the Nov. 2 ballot.
In 2000, Gore beat Bush in Oregon by fewer than 7,000 votes; Nader received more than 77,000 votes, amounting to 5% of the vote. The 2 most recent polls have shown wildly divergent results between Kerry and Bush and the one that included Nader has him at only 1%. Conventional wisdom is that Oregon's 7 electoral votes will go to Kerry in November regardless of the Nader factor but he can use all the help he can get.

No Tax Relief For You!

Salon's War Room tells it like it is:

If this weren't so awful it would almost be funny, in an Onion kind of way.

Bid to Save Tax Refunds for the Poor Is Blocked
By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 23, 2004; Page A04

"Congressional negotiators beat back efforts yesterday to expand and preserve tax refunds for poor families, even as they added $13 billion in corporate tax breaks to a package of middle-class tax cuts that could come to a vote in the Senate today."

The image of Washington politicians (Republican leadership in this case) "beating back" attempts to keep tax refunds for poor families while making sure corporations get their additional billions is too much to take. You can imagine the heated conversations that took place on Capitol Hill. A legislator with a conscience saying, "Well, if we're going to include that $13 bil for the corporations in this legislation that will add to the ballooning deficit and lead to cuts in programs that help poor people, maybe we should keep the refunds for poor people, too." How do you argue with that? Tom DeLay and Trent Lott found a way -- and they won.

According to the Washington Post, GOP Sen. Don Nickles argued that working poor families are already being helped with the earned-income tax credit program, which he said was riddled with abuse -- and he didn't support expanding another tax refund program until the problems were addressed. So once again there's a double-standard. Poor people are punished for "abuse" in a tax credit program, but Bush jokes on the campaign trail that rich people just figure out how to dodge taxes anyway -- so why bother eliminating their generous tax cuts, as John Kerry has proposed.

A Look Back At 2000 - Part 4

Intro

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

So what can we learn from this? Keeping in mind the extent to which the electorate may be more polarized this year (and thus, the numbers may be less fluid):

1. Plenty of time for a major shift

In mid-September, Gore led from anywhere from 6% (Pew on 8/14) to 16% (Newsweek on 9/16) and ultimately won by less than 1%.

2. Debates matter

Prior to the first debate. NY Times/CBS News had Gore up 4%. After the final debate, Bush was up 2%. Prior to the first debate, Newsweek had Bush up 1%, after the final debate, Bush was up 7%. Prior to the first debate, Gallup had Gore up by 2%, after the final debate, Bush was up by 6%.

3. Gallup skews Republican

USA Today/Gallup began their daily tracking poll on September 4, 2000. How did their numbers compare with the averages of other polls for the same periods?

Throughout the entire course of the daily Gallup poll in 2000, they consistently gave Bush an edge, one that increased as the election neared. From Oct. 12-Oct. 31, the Bush benefit was 1.5%. From Nov. 1-Nov. 3, it was 3.0%. From Nov. 4-Nov. 7, it was 2.6% and on election day, Nov. 7, 2000, it was back to a solid 3.0% (they had Bush up by 2% while other polls had Gore up by 1%.)

This would help explain the latest Gallup poll that shows Bush up by 13 points.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

What John Kerry should ask Dubya in the debates

John Kerry: Mr. President you owe an answer to the folks in this hall and the millions of others watching tonight about where you’ve taken the country in your first term. What you have done with our jobs? We had two million more when your term began, and all you’ve had is excuses and empty promises about why you’re the only president in generations to lose jobs. What have you done with our surplus? We were trillions in the black before and now with your tax cuts for the gilded class and war of choice in Iraq we’re trillions in the red. What have you done to the environment? You’ve gutted environmental regulation for the benefit of corporations and your campaign contributors. You love to speak about values; do you believe that the choice of enhancing corporate bottom lines to the detriment of the air we breathe and the water we drink (with more arsenic thanks to you) reflects the values of this country’s citizens? And what have you done to our reputation around the world? We used to be the most respected country on earth both diplomatically and militarily, but now we are neither. All because of how you recklessly and unilaterally went to war in Iraq and bungled the aftermath of the war our allies are alienated and we’re reminded with the daily news reports that the situation on the ground is bloody, chaotic and worsening. And why are you being dishonest about this by saying we’re making ‘progress’ when we’re clearly not? And furthermore, why did you tell us we had accomplished our mission in Iraq when we had clearly not? Why did you divert the war against terror in Afghanistan and its rebuilding to pursue a war against a country with no relationship to 9/11 or Al Qaeda?

You fashion yourself a straight-talker, Mr. President, and I believe the country deserves straight answers. Here’s your chance.

Optional…

John Kerry: Mr. President, why can’t you watch sports and eat a pretzel at the same time? Is ‘My Pet Goat’ really that much of a can’t-put-it-down read that you can’t put it down even when the nation is attacked? Would you consider seeing a speech pathologist about correcting your pronunciation of the word nuclear? How much does getting a DUI suck? I have a friend who really needs to score some snow – do you have any of your old hook-ups from when you were (supposed to be) in the guard? Does Dick Cheney have to be in the room when you go number two?

Kerry On Message

Kerry, at a press conference in Orlando yesterday, took questions from reporters for the first time since early August. A day after his Iraq speech on Monday and hours after Bush's address in front of the UN, he continued to hammer Bush on Iraq. He has a message and he's sticking to it. Here's a review from msnbc.com's blog First Read:
For the first time in six weeks, John Kerry finally took questions from the travel press corps, and he opened on a note of humor. "Where have you been?" he joked. MSNBC's Diamond notes that Kerry took 11 questions in 30 minutes and appeared to enjoy the interaction. She adds that he is using humor and a mocking tone to convey both comfort as well as take the edge off of attacks -- something Bush does very well. Kerry is also increasingly on message and disciplined. For example, she says, when he finished yesterday's presser, he simply said "Thank you" and walked from the podium, without stopping to turn and take just one more question, or to clarify himself one more time as he walked off -- which is his normal way of ending a press avail.

Diamond also says that during yesterday's press conference, Kerry repeatedly questioned Bush's character and judgment. For instance:

"The President needs to live in the world of reality...not in the world of fantasy spin"
"The President failed to level with the world's leaders...
"He failed to talk about the realities...
"He doesn't have the credibility to lead the U.S. in the world...
"The President wants to debate fiction not reality.
"This Administration hasn't leveled with the American people.
"The President has no credibility and has no credibility with foreign leaders.
"The President wants to shift the topic - I'm not going to let him shift the topic. "The President needs to live in the world of reality.
"The President keeps denying facts..."

So So So So Wrong

1 year ago, Richard Perle, one of the neo-con architects of the war in Iraq that Bush trusts so dearly, said this in an address at the American Enterprise Institute.

And a year from now, I'll be very surprised if there is not some grand square in Baghdad that is named after President Bush. There is no doubt that, with the exception of a very small number of people close to a vicious regime, the people of Iraq have been liberated and they understand that they've been liberated. And it is getting easier every day for Iraqis to express that sense of liberation.
Again, note the date. September 22, 2003. This is the sort of pie in the sky rosy projection that the Bush team has constantly fed us about this war from the beginning. If nothing else, they should be held accountable for being wrong about something so grave as war. Yes things go wrong in war. Yes, war is not pleasant. But more than a 1,000 people have died as a result of their bad judgment. Seems to me that's worse than lying or purposely misleading us. Just being wrong has had tragic consequences. How can this country let these guys be wrong for 4 more years?

A Look Back At 2000 - Part 3

Intro

Part 1

Part 2

The first presidential debate of the 2000 race was held on October 3 and, despite the fact that Gore was widely considered the winner (by an average of 9%), his behavior at the debate coupled with media coverage that labeled him an exaggerator denied Gore a bounce. The race was a statistical dead heat leading up to the second debate on October 11. This time, Bush was the clear winner (by an average of 9%) and did receive a bounce. Bush was leading by an average of 4% leading up to the third debate on October 17, of which there was no clear winner (people favored Gore slightly).

Throughout the rest of October, Bush held an average lead of 3.5%. Leading up to the weekend before election day, Bush was still up by an average of 2% and then came the November surprise: the report of Bush’s DUI. A CBS Poll released on election day, 11/7, had Gore up by 1%, 45-44 (a net gain of 3% from their previous poll on 11/3). Similarly, Gallup’s daily tracking poll showed a net gain of 4% for Gore between 11/3 and 11/7, even though their final poll still had Bush up by 2%, 48-46. And the Zogby/Reuters/MSNBC daily tracking poll had Gore leaping from down 3% on 11/3 to up 2% on 11/7, 48-46.

The final (and ultimately irrelevant) popular vote total was Gore 48.4, Bush 47.9.

50 State Polling

American Research Group draws an intriguing conclusion from their polling of all 50 states, as follows:
  • George W. Bush is at 47% and John Kerry is at 46% in the weighted national popular vote.
  • Bush leads outside the margin of error in 17 states with 133 electoral votes.
  • Kerry leads outside the margin of error in 10 states with 132 electoral votes.
  • Bush has any lead in 29 states with 253 electoral votes.
  • Kerry has any lead in 20 states with 270 electoral votes.
  • Bush and Kerry are tied in Wisconsin and West Virginia.
  • Bush needs to defend small leads in 5 states - Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Ohio.
  • Kerry needs to defend small leads in 5 states - Maine, Florida, Minnesota, Oregon, and Pennsylvania.
  • Among men nationwide, 51% say they would vote for Bush and 42% say they would vote for Kerry.
  • Among women nationwide, 42% say they would vote for Bush and 50% say they would vote for Kerry.

270 electoral votes wins it so if ARG is correct, John Kerry is currently leading with less of the popular vote but more of the electoral votes, just as Bush won in 2000. Wouldn't payback be sweet.


Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Memo-Gate

Dan Rather has officially apologized for basing part of his 60 Minutes story about Bush's National Guard service on memos that have since turned out to be fakes. The right would like to think this is one great left wing conspiracy but so far, the memos have only been traced to former Texas Air National Guardsman Bill Burkett. He says he was just a middle man and while he did originally lie about the source of the memos, he swears he did not forge them himself.


In interviews in recent days with USA TODAY, both in person and on the phone, Burkett said he had merely been a conduit for the records purported to be from the private files of Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, one of Bush's former Guard commanders, who died in 1984. Burkett admitted lying to USA TODAY about the source of the documents but said he did not fabricate the papers.

In earlier conversations with USA TODAY, Burkett had identified the source of the documents as George Conn, a former Texas National Guard colleague who works for the U.S. Army in Europe. Burkett now says he made up the story about Conn's involvement to divert attention from himself and the woman he now says provided him with the documents. He told USA TODAY that he also lied to CBS. Burkett now maintains that the source of the papers was Lucy Ramirez, who he says phoned him from Houston in March to offer the documents. USA TODAY has been unable to locate Ramirez.
So who did forge and leak the memos? Left wing conspiracy theories have it that they came directly from the top -- Bush's brain himself, Karl Rove, but so far there is no evidence of this. The latest rumor does posit that it came from a Republican activist though. Care of The New York Post:

The hot rumor in New York political circles has Roger Stone, the longtime GOP activist, as the source for Dan Rather's dubious Texas Air National Guard "memos."

The irony would be delicious, since Rather became famous confronting President Nixon, in whose service a very young Stone became associated with political "dirty tricks."

Reached at his Florida home, Stone had no comment.

The fact is, of course, that none of this memo business undermines the basic fact that Bush did not show up for duty when he was called to even though he has claimed otherwise as president. Eric Boehlert of salon has it all right HERE.

Paul Krugman - MUST READ

Paul Krugman's column in The New York Times is always a must-read but today, he has some interesting insight into the Iraq situation:

The Bush administration fostered the Iraq insurgency by botching the essential tasks of enlisting allies, rebuilding infrastructure, training and equipping local security forces, and preparing for elections. It's understandable, then, that John Kerry - whose speech yesterday was deadly accurate in its description of Mr. Bush's mistakes - proposes going back and doing the job right. But I hope that Mr. Kerry won't allow himself to be trapped into trying to fulfill neocon fantasies. If there ever was a chance to turn Iraq into a pro-American beacon of democracy, that chance perished a long time ago.

Can the insurgency be crushed? It's widely believed that in November, a few days after the election, the Bush administration will launch an all-out offensive against insurgent-controlled areas. Such an offensive will, for all practical purposes, be an attempt to conquer Iraq all over again. But unlike Saddam's hapless commanders, the insurgents won't oblige us by taking up positions in the countryside, where they can be blasted by U.S. air power. And grinding urban warfare that leads to heavy American casualties and the death of large numbers of innocent civilians will simply enlarge the ranks of our enemies.

But if the chance to install a pro-American government has been lost, what's the alternative? Scaling back our aims. This means accepting the fact that an Iraqi leader, to have legitimacy, must be able to deliver an end to America's military presence. Unless we want this war to go on forever, we will have to abandon the 14 "enduring bases" the Bush administration has been building.

The point is that by winding down America's military presence, while promising aid to those who don't harbor anti-American terrorists and retaliation against those who do, the U.S. can probably leave behind an Iraq that isn't an American ally, but isn't a threat either. And that, at this point, is probably the best we can hope for.

Register To Vote - Deadlines and Forms

Michael Moore has an excellent page on his site where he provides voter registration deadlines and links to downloading voter registration forms for every state.

Make sure to re-register if you've moved and make sure everyone you know is registered.

Kerry On Letterman

John Kerry was on Letterman last night and delivered the show's best ratings for a fall season opener since the debut of the show on CBS in 1993, even beating Leno.

And what was Kerry's Top 10 List you ask?

Top 10 Bush Tax Reform Proposals

No. 10: "No estate tax for families with at least two U.S. presidents"

No. 9: "W-2 form is now Dubya-2 form"

No. 8: "Under the simplified tax code, your refund check goes directly to Halliburton"

No. 7: "The reduced earned income tax credit is so unfair; it just makes me want to tear out my lustrous, finely groomed hair"

No. 6: "Attorney General Ashcroft gets to write off the entire U.S. Constitution"

No. 5: "Texas Rangers can take a business loss for trading Sammy Sosa"

No. 4: "Eliminate all income taxes: just ask Teresa to cover the whole damn thing"

No. 3: "Cheney can claim Bush as a dependent"

No. 2: "Hundred-dollar penalty if you pronounce 'nuclear' instead of 'nucular"'

No. 1: George W. Bush gets a deduction for mortgaging our entire future."

3 Debates It Is...

Schedule is as follows:

September 30
Location: University of Miami at Coral Gables
Moderator: Jim Lehrer of PBS's NewsHour
Format: sitting at a table

October 8
Location: Washington University, St. Louis, MO
Moderator: Charlie Gibson of Good Morning America
Format: town-hall meeting; voters will ask questions

October 13
Location: Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Moderator: Bob Schieffer of Face The Nation
Format: sittimg at a table
Theme: foreign policy

There was some question as to whether Bush would approve one of the debates, specifically, the second one at which the candidates were to answer questions from undecided voters in the audience. As Kerry amusingly put it on Regis and Kelly this morning, Bush wanted to work it so he could have a lifeline -- so he could phone a friend during the second debate.

Conventional wisdom is that debates present more downside than upside for incumbents. In fact, Clinton reduced the number of debates in 1996 to 2 from 3 but he was in a much stronger position against Dole than Bush is against Kerry. Bush has given in on this issue, agreeing to all three debates with one minor concession: the audience at the second debate will be filled with "soft supporters" of either Bush or Kerry, as opposed to "undecided voters."


A Look Back At 2000 - Part 2

Intro

Part 1

On July 25, 2000 Bush announced Dick Cheney, the man in charge of finding him a running mate, as his running mate. The USA Today/CNN poll recorded a 10 point net gain for Bush, and the Washington Post/ABC poll had the bounce at 8 points. Leading up to the Republican Convention, which began on July 31, Bush/Cheney had an average lead of 7 points, and they left their convention on August 3 with a solid 12 point lead.

This momentum was cut short on August 8 when Al Gore stunned everybody by announcing Joe Lieberman as his running mate. This gave Gore a bounce, allowing him to cut Bush’s lead to 6.5% leading up to the Democratic Convention, which began on August 14. As the convention was going on, it didn’t appear as though Gore was receiving much benefit. On the last day of the convention, a daily tracking poll had Bush’s lead at 5% but after Gore’s acceptance speech that night, and perhaps more importantly, after the kiss, polls showed an impressive jump. In the days following the Democratic Convention, Gore was up an average of 4.5%, a net gain of 11%.

Gore was able to maintain a lead for the rest of August and much of September as a result of convention momentum and negative press for Bush, whether it was his ad that subliminally called Democrats "Rats" or calling a New York Times reporter an asshole when he thought the microphone was off. From September 1-19, Gore had an average lead of 6%. Bush went into damage control mode and with the help of charming appearances on Oprah and Regis and Kathie Lee, he turned the race into a statistical tie. From September 22 to October 2, Gore led by an average of 1%.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Kerry's Speech at NYU - Excerpt #4

We need to turn the page and make a fresh start in Iraq.

First, the President has to get the promised international support so our men and women in uniform don’t have to go it alone. It is late; the President must respond by moving this week to gain and regain international support.

Last spring, after too many months of resistance and delay, the President finally went back to the U.N. which passed Resolution 1546. It was the right thing to do – but it was late.
That resolution calls on U.N. members to help in Iraq by providing troops… trainers for Iraq’s security forces… a special brigade to protect the U.N. mission… more financial assistance… and real debt relief.


Three months later, not a single country has answered that call. And the president acts as if it doesn’t matter. And of the $13 billion previously pledged to Iraq by other countries, only $1.2 billion has been delivered. The President should convene a summit meeting of the world’s major powers and Iraq’s neighbors, this week, in New York, where many leaders will attend the U.N. General Assembly. He should insist that they make good on that U.N. resolution. He should offer potential troop contributors specific, but critical roles, in training Iraqi security personnel and securing Iraq’s borders. He should give other countries a stake in Iraq’s future by encouraging them to help develop Iraq’s oil resources and by letting them bid on contracts instead of locking them out of the reconstruction process. This will be difficult. I and others have repeatedly recommended this from the very beginning. Delay has made only made it harder. After insulting allies and shredding alliances, this President may not have the trust and confidence to bring others to our side in Iraq. But we cannot hope to succeed unless we rebuild and lead strong alliances so that other nations share the burden with us. That is the only way to succeed.

Second, the President must get serious about training Iraqi security forces. Last February, Secretary Rumsfeld claimed that more than 210,000 Iraqis were in uniform. Two weeks ago, he admitted that claim was exaggerated by more than 50 percent. Iraq, he said, now has 95,000 trained security forces.

But guess what? Neither number bears any relationship to the truth. For example, just 5,000 Iraqi soldiers have been fully trained, by the administration’s own minimal standards. And of the 35,000 police now in uniform, not one has completed a 24-week field-training program. Is it any wonder that Iraqi security forces can’t stop the insurgency or provide basic law and order?
The President should urgently expand the security forces training program inside and outside Iraq. He should strengthen the vetting of recruits, double classroom training time, and require follow-on field training. He should recruit thousands of qualified trainers from our allies, especially those who have no troops in Iraq. He should press our NATO allies to open training centers in their countries. And he should stop misleading the American people with phony, inflated numbers.


Third, the President must carry out a reconstruction plan that finally brings tangible benefits to the Iraqi people. Last week, the administration admitted that its plan was a failure when it asked Congress for permission to radically revise spending priorities in Iraq. It took 17 months for them to understand that security is a priority … 17 months to figure out that boosting oil production is critical … 17 months to conclude that an Iraqi with a job is less likely to shoot at our soldiers.

One year ago, the administration asked for and received $18 billion to help the Iraqis and relieve the conditions that contribute to the insurgency. Today, less than a $1 billion of those funds have actually been spent. I said at the time that we had to rethink our policies and set standards of accountability. Now we’re paying the price.

Now, the President should look at the whole reconstruction package…draw up a list of high visibility, quick impact projects… and cut through the red tape. He should use more Iraqi contractors and workers, instead of big corporations like Halliburton. He should stop paying companies under investigation for fraud or corruption. And he should fire the civilians in the Pentagon responsible for mismanaging the reconstruction effort.

Fourth, the President must take immediate, urgent, essential steps to guarantee the promised elections can be held next year. Credible elections are key to producing an Iraqi government that enjoys the support of the Iraqi people and an assembly to write a Constitution that yields a viable power sharing arrangement. Because Iraqis have no experience holding free and fair elections, the President agreed six months ago that the U.N. must play a central role. Yet today, just four months before Iraqis are supposed to go to the polls, the U.N. Secretary General and administration officials themselves say the elections are in grave doubt. Because the security situation is so bad… and because not a single country has offered troops to protect the U.N. elections mission… the U.N. has less than 25 percent of the staff it needs in Iraq to get the job done.

The President should recruit troops from our friends and allies for a U.N. protection force. This won’t be easy. But even countries that refused to put boots on the ground in Iraq should still help protect the U.N. We should also intensify the training of Iraqis to manage and guard the polling places that need to be opened. Otherwise, U.S forces would end up bearing those burdens alone.

If the President would move in this direction … if he would bring in more help from other countries to provide resources and forces … train the Iraqis to provide their own security …develop a reconstruction plan that brings real benefits to the Iraqi people … and take the steps necessary to hold credible elections next year … we could begin to withdraw U.S. forces starting next summer and realistically aim to bring all our troops home within the next four years.

Kerry's Speech at NYU - Excerpt #3

This President’s failure to tell the truth to us before the war has been exceeded by fundamental errors of judgment during and after the war.

The President now admits to “miscalculations” in Iraq. That is one of the greatest understatements in recent American history. His were not the equivalent of accounting errors. They were colossal failures of judgment – and judgment is what we look for in a president. This is all the more stunning because we’re not talking about 20/20 hindsight. Before the war, before he chose to go to war, bi-partisan Congressional hearings… major outside studies… and even some in the administration itself… predicted virtually every problem we now face in Iraq.

This President was in denial. He hitched his wagon to the ideologues who surround him, filtering out those who disagreed, including leaders of his own party and the uniformed military. The result is a long litany of misjudgments with terrible consequences. The administration told us we’d be greeted as liberators. They were wrong. They told us not to worry about looting or the sorry state of Iraq’s infrastructure. They were wrong. They told us we had enough troops to provide security and stability, defeat the insurgents, guard the borders and secure the arms depots. They were wrong. They told us we could rely on exiles like Ahmed Chalabi to build political legitimacy. They were wrong. They told us we would quickly restore an Iraqi civil service to run the country and a police force and army to secure it. They were wrong.

In Iraq, this administration has consistently over-promised and under-performed. This policy has been plagued by a lack of planning, an absence of candor, arrogance and outright incompetence. And the President has held no one accountable, including himself.

In fact, the only officials who lost their jobs over Iraq were the ones who told the truth.
General Shinseki said it would take several hundred thousand troops to secure Iraq. He was retired. Economic adviser Larry Lindsey said that Iraq would cost as much as $200 billion. He was fired. After the successful entry into Baghdad, George Bush was offered help from the UN -- and he rejected it. He even prohibited any nation from participating in reconstruction efforts that wasn’t part of the original coalition – pushing reluctant countries even farther away. As we continue to fight this war almost alone, it is hard to estimate how costly that arrogant decision was. Can anyone seriously say this President has handled Iraq in a way that makes us stronger in the war on terrorism?

By any measure, the answer is no. Nuclear dangers have mounted across the globe. The international terrorist club has expanded. Radicalism in the Middle East is on the rise. We have divided our friends and united our enemies. And our standing in the world is at an all time low.