Friday, October 29, 2004

Kerry Responds

In response to this tape from Osama bin Laden, let me make it clear, crystal clear. As Americans, we are absolutely united in our determination to hunt down and destroy Osama bin Laden and the terrorists. They are barbarians. And I will stop at absolutely nothing to hunt down, capture or kill the terrorists wherever they are, whatever it takes. Period.

New Bin Laden Tape

Al Jazeera aired a new tape of Osama bin Laden today.
"Your security is not in the hands of [Sen. John] Kerry or [President] Bush or al Qaeda," bin Laden said in the video aired on the Arabic language network Al-Jazeera. He also claimed responsibility for the attacks of September 11, 2001, which killed nearly 3,000 people.
Fletcher Christian rightly reminds us that Kerry can lose or win this thing with his response to this. Here's his own advice for the Senator:

"Osama bin Laden has made a deadly mistake if he thinks that the American people will ever forget what he did or that any of us will ever rest before he is captured or dead. Capturing or killing bin Laden must be a top priority for the next administration, not because it will end all terrorism, but because the victims of 9-11, their families, and all Americans deserve justice."

Krugman - Must Read As Always

Today's Krugman column is a nice anthology of the news stories that have helped make this week Bush's week from hell. There's the "missing AlQaqaa munitions," of course, and "Letting Osama get away," "Letting Zarqawi get away," "The situation in Iraq," and "70 Billion more." He sums it all up:
The story of Al Qaqaa has brought out the worst in a campaign dedicated to the proposition that the president is infallible - and that it's always someone else's fault when things go wrong. Here's what Rudy Giuliani said yesterday: "No matter how you try to blame it on the president, the actual responsibility for it really would be for the troops that were there. Did they search carefully enough?" Support the troops!

But worst of all from the right's point of view, Al Qaqaa has disrupted the campaign's media strategy. Karl Rove clearly planned to turn the final days of the campaign into a series of "global test" moments - taking something Mr. Kerry said and distorting its meaning, then generating pseudo-controversies that dominate the airwaves. Instead, the news media have spent the last few days discussing substance. And that's very bad news for Mr. Bush.

Creepy Bush Pledge

Slate's Chris Suellentrop witnessed this creepiness first hand at a Bush rally in Florida:

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

The Final Stretch

Thanks to Taegan Goddard's Political Wire for this one:

"With the approach of the final weekend of campaigning, each candidate's strategy, both geographical and rhetorical, came into sharper focus," the Washington Post reports. "Geographically, both men will concentrate almost all their efforts on Florida and on the upper midwestern states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio." Meanwhile, KITV-TV says Democrats and Republicans "are turning a lot of attention to Hawaii in a presidential race that has become unexpectedly close..." Dick Cheney will be Hawaii for a rally on Sunday; Al Gore and Alexandra Kerry are scheduled to arrive today.CNN reports Bill Clinton "will be back on the campaign trail" today "for a three-day trip to help get out the vote for" Kerry. He "will travel from New York to a pair of deadlocked battleground states -- Nevada on Friday and New Mexico on Saturday -- before returning Sunday to rally the faithful in his native Arkansas."

More on Eminem's "Mosh"

First of all, if you haven't seen the video, watch it.

Thanks to Jeremy for this background on the project. The most interesting excerpt:
Two years ago, this video would not have been approved by a single record label. A year ago it would never had the possibility of being played on television. But with the changing tide of public sentiment marked by the success of our last video for Chronic Future, an anti-war message that made it into rotation on TRL we think it might just have a chance. Now, it’s up to the broadcasters. Will they ban the top selling musical artist for being anti-establishment while they allow other propaganda to air? Or will they finally allow an artist who has the courage to speak out to take center stage and utilize the airwaves for something other than typical celebrity fodder?
It is a new world: "Mosh" is number one on TRL.

A sample of the lyrics:

To the people up top, on the side and the middle,
Come together, let's all bomb and swamp just a little
Just let it gradually build, from the front to the back
All you can see is a sea of people, some white and some black
Don't matter what color, all that matters is we gathered together
To celebrate for the same cause, no matter the weather
If it rains let it rain, yea the wetter the better
They ain't gonna stop us, they can't, we're stronger now more then ever,
They tell us no we say yea, they tell us stop we say go,
Rebel with a rebel yell, raise hell we gonna let em know
Stomp, push up, mush, fuck Bush, until they bring our troops home come on just . . .

Come along, follow me as I lead through the darkness
As I provide just enough spark, that we need to proceed
Carry on, give me hope, give me strength,
Come with me, and I won't stear you wrong
Put your faith and your trust as I guide us through the fog
Till the light, at the end, of the tunnel, we gonna fight,
We gonna charge, we gonna stomp, we gonna march through the swamp
We gonna mosh through the marsh, take us right through the doors, come on

Imagine it pouring, it's raining down on us,
Mosh pits outside the oval office
Someone's trying to tell us something, maybe this is
God just sayingwe're responsible for this monster, this coward, that we have empowered
This is Bin Laden, look at his head nodding,
How could we allow something like this,
Without pumping our fistNow this is our, final hour
Let me be the voice, and your strength, and your choice
Let me simplify the rhyme, just to amplify the noise
Try to amplify the times it, and multiply it by six-
Teen million people are equal of this high pitch
Maybe we can reach Al Qaeda through my speech
Let the President answer on high anarchy
Strap him with AK-47, let him go
Fight his own war, let him impress daddy that way
No more blood for oil, we got our own battles to fight on our soil
No more psychological warfare to trick us to think that we ain't loyal
If we don't serve our own country we're patronizing a hero
Look in his eyes, it's all lies, the stars and stripes
They've been swiped, washed out and wiped,
And Replaced with his own face, mosh now or die
If I get sniped tonight you'll know why, because I told you to fight

[spoken angrily] And as we proceed, to mosh through this desert storm, in these closing statements, if they should argue, let us beg to differ, as we set aside our differences, and assemble our own army, to disarm this weapon of mass destruction that we call our president, for the present, and mosh for the future of our next generation, to speak and be heard, Mr. President, Mr. Senator.

Florida

So how is Florida looking, you ask? Well, the daily tracking polls have some mixed news. Rasmussen today has Bush up 50-47 after being tied for several days. Zogby has Bush up only 1, 48-47, Kerry's best showing in 3 days. John Zogby elaborates:

Mr. Bush continues to lead Mr. Kerry in the battleground state of Florida, but his lead is now tenuous. The two candidates are now tied among women, each bringing in 48% of the vote. Mr. Bush is viewed favorably by 55% of Floridians and unfavorably by 45%, a one-point up-tick on each number. Mr. Kerry is viewed favorably by 50% and unfavorably by 48%.

Mr. Bush gets a 49% job approval rating, but 51% disapprove—a two-point positive swing. Mr. Bush is favored for re-election by 47% of Floridians, but 50% say it is time for someone new—a slide away from the President. On U.S. direction, 45% of Floridians say the U.S. is moving in the right direction, while 46% say it is on the wrong track.

The Ledger of Lakeland, FL, reports that a poll conducted by New York Times Regional Newspapers shows Kerry with a slight lead of 48.3 to 46.7. Some of that poll's findings:

Kerry is winning the battle among independent voters, claiming 48 percent of the vote to the president's 40 percent. Kerry also has a lead over Bush in the critical Interstate 4 corridor, with 50.5 percent of the vote to 45 percent. Kerry is also running surprisingly strongly among male voters, with each candidate taking 47 percent of the male vote. Among women, Kerry has a 49 percent to 46 percent lead, within the poll's margin of error.

Bush is running well among middle-age voters, with 52 percent of the voters between the ages of 34 and 49 to Kerry's 42 percent. Kerry had the edge among senior voters, another key constituency in Florida politics. He led among voters over the age of 65 by a 51 percent to 45 percent margin.Bush is leading among Hispanic voters, with 51 percent of the vote to Kerry's 43 percent.
A Quinnipiac University poll gives Bush a 3 point lead in Florida, but finds that of the 16% of Florida voters who cast their ballots early, Kerry leads Bush 56-39 percent.

RNC Mailer

Thanks to Salon's War Room for drawing our attention to this RNC mailer. It's their usual "Exploit 9/11" fear mongering we've become so accustomed to, but check out the shadowy figure of Kerry's face above the front page headlines of the terror attacks. Who knew there was anywhere lower to go?

Terror Tape

I find it extremely interesting that there isn't more coverage about this supposed terror tape, purportedly featuring an Al Qaeda member, threatening the US with an attack even larger than 9/11. Apparently, in his ideal world, blood will flow through the streets of America.

On one hand, it seems perfectly natural for this story to be buried. I mean, first it's exposed on Drudge, who is a well known Bush hack. He reported that ABC News was holding the tape, apparently until the election was over.Then, it turned out that ABC had actually handed it over to the CIA and FBI to authenticate. The outing of the tape is what smacked of politics, I suppose the idea being that if people only knew that al Qaeda was planning to strike, people would certainly vote for Bush. And then it was revealed that the Bush team is who leaked the fact that ABC News had the tape in the first place to Drudge, adding yet another layer of politics to the proceedings.

There's also, however, the fact that this really isn't news. Don't we already know that al Qaeda wants to kill us? In fact, the Bush campaign has told us so over and over again, even as they ousted a regime that had nothing to do with al Qaeda. Wouldn't it be interesting if the very fear mongering that they thought would usher them right into the White House for a second term, instead actually served to desensitize us to the idea; that the very repetition of the threat of another attack has actually lessened the reality of such an attack as a worthy news item? The irony is that their precious November surprise has been relegated to the 10th page as a result of their very own strategy of fear. Because, really, shouldn't we be freaked out by this? At least a little bit? Instead I find myself worrying more about the impact of the tape on the campaign than about the content of the tape -- the actual prospect of an attack. That's pretty messed up.

But there's another aspect to this. On the tape, the "terrorist" purportedly says that America has brought this on oursleves by electing George W. Bush, sort of simulatneously reiterating the Bush party line that the terrorists want Kerry to win and exposing the flaw in their argument: if the terrorists want Kerry to win, that means they don't like Bush, which means they're more likely to attack if Bush is president. This is something the Republicans would have no hesitation about exploiting if it were reversed, but that's why we're not Republicans. And it makes sense that the media wouldn't want to focus on this. That's a pretty outrageous charge to report about a sitting president.

I guess I'd say that I take the lack of interest in this story on the part of the media as a sign of their unwillingness to be a party to making this election a referendum on terror and fear. I applaud that, but part of me wonders if they're just protecting the president from a readership that, when confronted with the full story, would have no choice but to make the logical leap to this idea that re-electing Bush means the terrorists will attack again.

E-Mail From The Other Side

I signed up for George Bush campaign e-mail alerts a while back for novelty's sake but could never really bring myself to read them. I mean, they were only ever going to bring me mere moments of entertainment, not change my vote or offer anything substantive to the discussion. The media gives these spinmeisters on both sides plenty of air time, I know what the Republican message is. But I saw Ken Mehlman's e-mail in my inbox tonight and just had to read it. Turns out, it's priceless. It's like a postcard from bizarro land, or as Maureen Dowd puts it, Bush World, where up is down and wrong is so so right. Some samples:

Today the campaign released "Whatever It Takes," an ad featuring President Bush discussing his resolve to win the War on Terror. The ad reminds us of our shared experience over the last four years, his steady leadership, and the serious and difficult decisions a President must make. www.GeorgeWBush.com.
OK, so first he urges us to go to their website to watch their latest (last) ad of the campaign, called Whatever It Takes. I'ts an appropriate title, because not only does it feature Bush speaking about protecting America, the ONLY thing he has to run on, but it's been revealed, thanks to a tenacious dailyKos reader, that a shot of soldiers appearing to be marching in a parade, is actually a doctored photo. It's like something out of Geroge Lucas's brain, literally, if you look closely enough, there are clones scattered throughout the image, clearly copied and pasted images to make it appear to be one large mass of military might. Whatever it takes to win, I guess. This e-mail was sent out yesterday. Today, after the revelation of the doctored ad, the Kerry campaign called on it to be pulled and the Bush campaign announced they will indeed re-cut the ad. Ha. OK, back to Ken:

Because of the President's leadership, we have come through difficult times and stand together at an historic moment. We can choose to take the fight to the terrorists where they live and plan, or we can pursue the politics of retreat and defeat advocated by our opponent.

We choose hope over fear, and we choose to confront those who wish to do us harm, rather than returning to a pre-September 11 worldview.

Hmm, where to begin? First of all, we don't stand together at all. This president has presided over the most polarizied electorate in recent memory. Secondly, is he kidding us that they choose hope over fear. That's the funniest fucking thing I've ever heard. They wander the country telling Americans essentially to fear a Kerry presidency, that if we retreat to this so-called pre-9/11 mindset that Kerry advocates, that it's a recipe for disaster. I'm sorry, as Tom Friedman said in the New York Times, I look forward to the day when terrorism IS merely a nuisance and not a source of fear in our day to day lives. How dare they exploit our fears of another terrorist attack to get re-elected.

In addition, Kerry has never advocated a "retreat and defeat" strategy. It was so gratifying to hear Ron Reagan Jr. say on Hardball yesterday that when Bush accuses Kerry of this, he is just plain lying. In this day and age, that gesture on the part of a media personality is courageous. This whole idea that Kerry is the weak one is a ridiculous distortion, of course -- need we remind them who actually volunteered for Vietnam combat duty? But their re-election depends on people believing it. I actually don't know of one justification for a second Bush term that isn't based on some sort of misinformation or distorted claim. Kerry has always said he will do what needs to be done to finish the job in Iraq. But what's different between him and Bush is that Kerry is actually acknowleding that an end of our commitment is in sight, that there is a horizon, not just an endless slog. Bush wants to continue the current path. Of all places the status quo should not be acceptable it is in Iraq. And what do they say in defense? Oh, it's a war, nothing ever goes as planned, "it's hard work." As Kerry says, Mr. President, there's someone willing to relieve you of this very difficult job.

Now this is perhaps my favorite part of the e-mail:

In the final days of this campaign, the most important thing you can do is reach out to two other voters, tell them why you support the President, and get them to the polls. One good way to start that conversation is to forward this message to five other people. You can do so using the form below.

So he wants us to REACH OUT TO TWO other voters but SEND THIS E-MAIL TO FIVE other people. Sounds like some damn fuzzy math to me. Well, I promise you this, Ken Mehlman. I'll share this e-mail, all right, but it won't be with just 2 people or 5 people. We'll share your message of fear and lies with hundreds of people and take that army to the polls to get you the fuck out. 4 more days and you'd better start looking for another job.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Arkansas In Play!

The DNC is now officially targeting Arkansas, as they confirmed in a conference call with Arkansas media earlier today.
Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, just held a conference call with Arkansas media to announce a $250,000 television ad buy for Arkansas. Starting tonight, and continuing through Election Day, the ads will run on stations in Little Rock, Ft. Smith, and Jonesboro.

McAuliffe said that the commitment, which is their largest in any Southern state besides Florida, was motivated by their own internal tracking polls, which show the presidential race is a dead heat in Arkansas.

"The state is switching from red to blue," McAuliffe said. "We would not be spending a quarter of a million dollars there if it did not show that we could win."

McAuliffe also confirmed that Bill Clinton will visit Arkansas on Sunday afternoon for a campaign event, although the details have not been finalized. He said it will be Clinton's last campaign stop in 2004 -- the former president will return to to his home in New York from Arkansas.

The Redskins Rule

Thanks to Traci for making me aware of this consistent predictor of the presidential election:
Since the Redskins became the Redskins in 1933, the result of the team's final home game before the presidential election has correctly predicted the White House winner. If the Redskins win, the incumbent party wins. If they lose, the incumbent party is ousted.
This year, the game is on Sunday and the Redskins are playing the Green Bay Packers. Word has it that the Packers are the favorite to win. Go Packers!


Wisconsin

There have been two new polls that indicate that Wisconsin is swinging back to Kerry. An American Research Group poll out today has Kerry up by 1 and Zogby's daily tracking poll there went from Bush up two on Monday, to Kerry up 2 on Tuesday to Kerry up 4 on Wednesday, 50-46. (Gore won the state in 2000 by just over 5,000 votes or less than 1%). As a result of these polls, Slate.com and Electoral-Vote.com have thrown the state back into Kerry's column. Assuming Kerry wins Ohio, which looks likely, Wisconsin is a must hold state for Kerry now that Iowa looks to be trending Bush. There's a Kerry rally today in Madison with Bruce Springsteen to help shore up support there. Watch a live newsfeed of the event HERE.

Slate has an interesting article about what the Republicans are doing right and what the Democrats may be doing wrong this year. With an optimistic perspective, Fletcher Christian reminds us that "Wisconsin and Iowa haven’t voted for a Republican for president since 1984. These states voted for Clinton twice, they even voted for Dukakis. When it comes down to it, I think they’ll be there for Kerry, too."

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

A Lack of Civility

Yesterday it happened to be that I was conversing with two of my most favored co-workers in their office, one of them a moderate Republican, when a hardcore conservative man who ironically looks like Howard Dean (with a bigger paunch and a bigger head if you can believe it) walked into the office. I don’t even know why Dean, as we’ll call him, came in – but I assumed it was to banter with his political soul-mate. Dean’s been the most bombastic about Dubya’s reelection in the office and something about his salesman style this-war-is-great-let’s-have-another enthusiasm caused me to snap practically unprovoked.

I said, pretending to be amicable Dave, “Hey man, I remember you brought your daughter to work earlier this year – she was adorable, really cool kid.”

He responded: “Oh, you met her? Isn’t she great?”

Then I said: “Yeah, but if you succeed and Bush is reelected – how will you feel about her fighting in the next Bush war?”

Dean’s face went red, looked as fearsome as Howard Dean’s after a lost primary. He blasted back something to the effect of: “We’re fighting now so we won’t have to keep fighting more wars for years and years after!” and stormed out of the room.

Later that afternoon a company-wide email went out cordially asking all employees to keep political discourse polite. Read: “Dave. Reel it in.” Dean had gone straight to the head hancho to complain about my political sabotage. While I’m open to the idea that I was inappropriate and offensive and maybe even “creepy” according to the two in the room with me – Dean going crying to our corporate mommy instead of confronting me man-to-man rendered the idea of an apology moot. This morning he waved and smiled his fake salesman grin when he passed me in the halls.

But why did I do it? Why did I want to hurt him?

Republicans and even moderate Democrats with ambiguous feelings on the war have a hard time understanding - forget empathizing with - the pain, outrage and disbelief the Iraq expedition has evoked in those who have despised it from its conception. To us the war in Iraq has been at once a massacre, a disaster, an (extant) lie, initiated by a formerly-marginal cabal of ideological chickenhawks, perpetrated by the most feckless administration in American history and defended by an equally cynical and vicious political machine. That the election has been in doubt after no weapons of mass destruction were discovered and the situation became a bloody morass – is beyond our incomprehension. We had no right to break Iraq. We had no good purpose. The situation on the ground is beyond salvageable.

For those who hate this war, when we see unapologetically giddy advocates of this administration crowing for his reemployment – fairly or not, we see miniatures of ever-smug Dubya trampling on our sense of decency and reason. This election at its core isn’t about John Kerry, it isn’t about tax cuts, rich vs. poor, or even social security, or the thousand other critical issues I wish it were about; it’s about a foreign, bloody, utopian, imperial misadventure in the Mideast. All the more painful is that the lie that is the war’s orchestration was enabled by the genuine pain and anguish felt by Americans after our worst modern day tragedy.

I wish I could be polite about this. I wish I didn’t have to be hostile. But the families of the thousands of dead soldiers and Iraqis needlessly killed, and those forced to pray every night that it’s not their child who’s one of the newspaper-nameless killed in the latest ambush or car bomb “over there” probably don’t think Bush or even Dean should be smiling. And for a moment, right or wrong, I made sure he wasn’t anymore by hitting him, albeit it cheaply, with an argument he must know at heart is true: the war is well and good as long as one of his own doesn’t have to fight it.

Las Vegas GOTV

This past weekend, I went from Los Angeles to Vegas to aid in the Nevada Get Out The Vote for Kerry effort for the second time and will be going again this weekend. It's been all about early voting for the past couple weeks -- urging people to take advantage of it, telling people where to go to vote AND offering a ride if they need one. What’s interesting about early voting is that you can go to any one of the many locations, as opposed to on Election Day when you’re required to go to your one precinct. We've been calling and visiting the homes of people who have previously expressed support for John Kerry, so we’re definitely venturing into friendly territory but that’s not to say that people aren’t getting sick of the calls. In fact, the phonebanking script had a new line this weekend: "I realize you may have gotten calls from us already…" and I threw in "and I apologize for that…" and sometimes they’d say "yup, just about a hundred" but they usually let you continue. A new phenomenon has developed there though: voicemail messages alerting the campaigns "I already voted, please don’t call me again."

But there were plenty of times when the person at the door or on the other end of the line seemed genuinely happy to talk to you. My favorite welcome we got while canvassing was, as we approached our next house, the next door neighbor was in his car, window open, and asked "Be ye Democrats, or be ye fools?" As it happened, he was just then on his way to vote for Kerry. There were some moving phone conversations I had as well. One guy who runs a convenience store told me he's been talking Kerry up to every one of his customers for the last several months and he hasn't heard ONE person express anything positive about Bush. He said "if the poor people vote, Kerry's gonna win." Another woman told me that she makes $7,000 because she's on disability and that she's lucky because she qualified for programs. She knows people who eat dog food to survive because their prescription drugs cost so much. "We have to get this guy out of there," she said. There is such passionate voter discontent for this president in Nevada. But perhaps the most striking thing about my trips to Nevada is the number of volunteers for Kerry there that are not even US citizens. It's a pretty small core group on the ground there and of them, I met two who are from England and one who is from The Netherlands. They truly see the election as a global event, one that impacts them just as much as it impacts us.

They told us on the bus that Californians make up about 45% of the volunteers on the ground in Nevada. I had no idea we were such a huge part of the effort. And it keeps growing. This weekend over 300 volunteers from California reportedly traveled to Nevada to help Kerry, up from fewer than 200 just a month ago. And to the extent that it’s an indicator, the improved quality and amount of food they serve to the volunteers tells me that real money is being spent on Nevada, which tells me that they really think it’s winnable. It’s exciting to be a part of turning this swing state blue. It’s feeling like it can happen. Here are some facts and figures:

A record 24,042 voters went to the polls Tuesday in Clark County, bringing the total to 183,252. The mail ballot return number is now up to 34,774 and Democrats have taken a slight lead (143 voters) in the absentee ballot count. In early voting, the Democrats had a big day and have moved out to a 7,042-voter lead.

The combined numbers:

Democrats: 96,954 (44.5 percent)
Republicans: 89,769 (41.2 percent)
Others: 31,353 (14.3 percent)

There's no guarantee, of course, that everyone votes with his or her party, but it's useful to get an idea of who is voting. Early voting ends on Friday so this coming weekend will be all about November 2. I'll have another report on Monday.

3 New Battleground States?

I'd previously contended that both campaigns could pretty much agree on the following list of 8 battleground states:

- Colorado, worth 9 EVs, went to Bush in 2000 by 9%
- Florida, worth 27 EVs, went to Bush in 2000 by <1%
- Iowa, worth 7 EVs, went to Gore in 2000 by 1%
- Nevada, worth 5 EVs, went to Bush in 2000 by 3%
- New Hampshire, worth 4 EVs, went to Bush in 2000 by 1%
- New Mexico, worth 4 EVs, went to Gore in 2000 by <1%
- Ohio, worth 20 EVs, went to Bush in 2000 by 4%
- Wisconsin, worth 10 EVs, went to Gore in 2000 by <1 %

However, recent polling, The Washington Post reports, suggests that three more states have recently come up for grabs:

- Arkansas, worth 6 EVs, went to Bush in 2000 by 6%
- Hawaii, worth 4 EVs, went to Bush in 2000 by 18%
- West Virginia, worth 5 EVs, went to Bush in 2000 by 6%

AR and WV had been on Kerry's initial list of potential pick-ups, but he backed off, wanting to devote resources elsewhere once it appeared that Bush had those states locked up. But the recent momentum Kerry has been experiencing seems to have taken hold in these states. A recent Arkansas poll had Kerry and Bush tied and a West Virginia poll had Bush up just a few points. On the other hand, no one ever expected Hawaii to be in play. Gore won the state in 2000 by 18%, so it took everyone by surprise to see a few recent polls showing the two candidates tied there. Needless to say, it's a little late in the game for either candidate to be altering his travel schedule to accommodate these developments, and you can be sure that both will be focusing on the big 8 above, but Bill Clinton will be traveling to Arkansas on Sunday to try to turn that state Blue and 527s on both sides will try to make up for what the campaigns lack in these states, both advertising- and manpower-wise.

The Finger

Feel like Bush's presidency has been one big metaphorical middle finger to this country and the world? Now watch him give it literally.


This video, circa his tenure as Governor, is real and is a glimpse into the real George W. Bush.

The Minority Vote

According to Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum, the desperation you smell coming from the Bush campaign may be due to their lack of support of minorities in the battleground states:
THE MINORITY VOTE....Hmmm. Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio has just finished a survey of 12 battleground states and finds Bush and Kerry tied with 47% of the vote apiece. But when he weights for minority turnout based on the 2000 exit polls, Kerry is ahead 49.2%-45.7%. And when he further updates the weighting to take into account the most recent census results, Kerry is ahead 49.9%-44.7%.

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

CNN reported yesterday that Kerry is beating Bush among Hispanics by a 2-to-1 margin, the same margin Gore beat Bush. Considering the rapid growth of that population, however, the Bush team has always said they need to get up to 40% to win. Also, there was a recent poll that showed Bush doubling his African American support from 2000 to 18%. That would be huge for Bush, but I'd be surprised if it's accurate and even if it is, Clinton's return to the campaign trail is probably returning some of that vote to Kerry.

Bush's Downfall

Sidney Blumenthal writes a succinct script for the fall of President George W. Bush. If you don't have a Salon.com membership, get the free day pass, it's an interesting walk down memory lane, beginning with...
The unmaking of the president 2004 began on Sept. 11, 2001. By Sept. 10, George W. Bush's poll numbers had reached 50 percent, the lowest of any president at that early point in his tenure. Having lost the popular majority in the 2000 election and been delivered the presidency by a 5-4 Supreme Court decision, Bush operated as though he had triumphed with a full-throated mandate. "From the very day we walked in the building," Vice President Cheney remarked, "a notion of sort of a restrained presidency because it was such a close election, that lasted maybe 30 seconds. It was not contemplated for any length of time. We had an agenda, we ran on that agenda, we won the election -- full speed ahead."


And ending with...
The war president has fallen victim to his own hubris. As Thucydides wrote: "To conceive extravagant pretensions from success in war is to forget how hollow is the confidence by which you are elated. For if many ill-conceived plans have succeeded through the still greater fatuity of an opponent, many more, apparently well laid, have on the contrary ended in disgrace."

Meanwhile, the people's own mobilization has produced new voter registrations in the millions, and hundreds of thousands of activists have spread in the past week across the battleground states. The Republicans desperately cast out ploys to suppress these voters, many of them African-American. In the end, the American people refuse to be frightened into becoming an unrecognizable nation that disdains, as the Declaration of Independence said, "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind."

The Harris Poll

The latest Harris Poll, conducted Oct. 21-25, has Kerry up by 1, 48%-47%. This same poll had Bush up 51%-43% 1 week ago. And in 2000, The last Harris Poll before election day got the final numbers just about right: tied at 47%.

Of Incompetence And Negligence

WDR friend Michael Webber rightly points out that the latest narrative regarding George Bush's record is his administration's complete and utter incompetence. The LA Times ran a story this week about how George Bush's incompetence and bad judgment turned Fallujah into such a hotbed of the insurgency, and the NY Times writes about how his incompetence allowed hundreds of tons of highly explosives materials to go unguarded and into the hands of insurgents.

Interim Prime Minister of Iraq Ayad Allawi added a different noun to this theme, blaming the American military’s “gross negligence” for the massacre by insurgents of 49 freshly trained Iraqi soldiers on Saturday.

As Craig Crawford of Congressional Quarterly notes, this is why John Kerry will win next week, because "For all of President Bush's valiant efforts to make this campaign a referendum on his challenger's character, it is turning into what the nature of politics demands: a referendum on the incumbent's performance." People don't want, as Kerry calls Bush's governing strategy, "more of the same." And indeed, Kerry's claim that he represents "a fresh start" is a nicer way of calling the President "incompetent," and allows people who don't hate Bush to get on board. Crawford continues:

I could see this mood in the nods of agreement in an airport lounge recently as a television news clip showed Kerry saying the country needs "a fresh start." This could be the most powerful phrase in Kerry's arsenal during the closing days.

Calling for "a fresh start" sounds like a phrase that was poll tested with a battery of focus groups, which is why it works. It is a simple notion conveyed by simple words.

The need for a fresh start is the least provocative argument that Kerry offers for replacing Bush after one term, and yet it might be the most persuasive. Kerry's more provocative language sets the bar too high for voters to come his way.

When Kerry portrays the president as either deceitful or incompetent, he delights those partisan Democrats who despise Bush. But most voters say they like the president, even if they lean against voting for him. The "fresh start" message gives those voters a reason to vote for Kerry without joining the hate-Bush camp.



Great State Polling

Yesterday, from American Research Group:

FL K49 B46
OH K49 B47
PA K50 B47

Today from Survey USA:

FL K50 B48
OH K50 B47
PA K53 B45

Bush is unable to top 48% anywhere and Kerry's up to 50%. That's huge.

And now there's a rumor from MyDD that a CBS News/NY Times poll of Florida with Kerry up by 9 is being suppressed because it "isn't plausible." Imagine if it had the President up? I bet it would be plausible then.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Eminem, We Salute You

Eminem's new video, "Mosh," is pretty amazing. Words don't really do it justice, so without further ado...

Real Player

Quick Time

So-Called-Liberal-Media, part 1

You can read our latest update of national newspaper endorsements HERE. As is evident, Kerry is winning the endorsement derby both in number of endorsements and in total daily circulation by a large margin. And so to downplay this routing, Ed Gillespie, RNC Chairman, on CNN used the tired old "liberal media" excuse:

Look, the Republican candidate will never win the contest for editorial board endorsements. The major dailies across the country tend to skew liberal.

Fucking liar.

Thanks to Salon.com’s War Room for this:

Since 1940 when industry trade magazine Editor & Publisher began tracking newspapers during presidential elections, only two Democratic candidates -- Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and Bill Clinton in 1992 -- have ever won more endorsements than their Republican opponent. That's because newspaper publishers, who usually sign off on endorsements, tend to vote Republican (like lots of senior corporate executives), which means GOP candidates pick up more endorsements. A lot more. In 1984, President Reagan landed roughly twice as any endorsements as Democrat Walter Mondale in the president's easy reelection win. And in 1996, despite his weak showing at the polls, 179 daily newspapers endorsed Republican Bob Dole, which easily outpaced the Democrats' tally by nearly a 2-to-1 margin.

In 2000, the overwhelming trend toward Republicans continued. According to
estimates, candidate Bush enjoyed a huge newspaper advantage, picking up nearly 100 more daily endorsements than Gore. On the eve of the election four years ago, Editor & Publisher spelled out the newspaper love affair with Bush in a Nov. 6 article: "The nation's newspaper editors and publishers strongly believe the Texas governor will beat Al Gore in Tuesday's election for president. By a wide margin, they plan to vote for him themselves. And, to complete this Republican trifecta, newspapers endorsed Bush by about 2-to-1 nationally."

Bush Rally Dictates High School Dress Code

Thanks to dailyKos for posting this e-mail he received from Wisconsin:
A friend with a child in the Richland County,WI high school where George Bush appears today reports the following. Students were told they could not wear any pro-Kerry clothing or buttons or protest in any manner, at the risk of expulsion. After a parent inquired, an alternative activity will be provided, probably a movie being shown in an auditorium. (The school secretary reportedly said that students had the choice of just staying home if they didn't want to attend the Bush rally, but the principal subsequently offered an alternative.)

Clinton In Philly

Bill Clinton appeared with John Kerry in Philadelphia yesterday. Check out the crowd:



The Washington Post gives us the low down:

Four years after being effectively banished from campaigning by the 2000 Democratic nominee, Al Gore, Clinton beamed with obvious delight at being
put to work this time. He and Kerry stood side by side amid roars from partisans.


"If this isn't good for my heart, I don't know what is," Clinton said. "From time to time, I have been called the Comeback Kid. In eight days, John Kerry's going to make America the Comeback Country."

Clinton then flew to Florida and will be campaigning for Kerry in Nevada and New Mexico this week, with a stop in Arkansas planned prior to his return to New York. People question why he'd appear in a Democratic stronghold like Philadelphia first; Republicans are even claiming it's a victory for Bush that Clinton's valuable time was wasted in a state that more than likely will go Kerry anyway. I think it was wise to start him out close to home, make sure he was OK post surgery to continue. Looks like he's good to go and he'll be a huge asset to Kerry. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present Bill Clinton, our October surprise.

"Get Your War On" Cartoon

CAP's Daily Grill

Thanks to the Center For American Progress for this juxtoposition:

"The American part of [paying for Iraq's reconstruction] will be one-point-seven billion dollars. We have no plans for any further-on funding for this."

– Bush USAID Director Andrew Natsios, 3/23/03

VERSUS

"The Bush administration intends to seek about $70 billion in emergency funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan early next year, pushing total war costs close to $225 billion."

Washington Post, 10/26/04

Monday, October 25, 2004

Poll Trends

We here at WDR have declared a war on polls. We know it's a metaphorical war, like the war on poverty or drugs, or...well, you know, but I had to note an interesting trend. Because say what you want about polls, if several are saying the same thing (especially if it benefits your guy), it's worth taking notice. Check out these numbers from some of the daily tracking polls, thanks to Kos (first column is Bush, second column is Kerry):

Washington Post - Registered Voters

10/24/04 46 48
10/23/04 49 46
10/22/04 50 45

Washington Post - Likely Voters

10/24/04 48 49
10/23/04 49 48
10/22/04 50 46

Rasmussen - Likely Voters

10/24/04 46.4 48.4
10/23/04 47.6 47.2
10/22/04 48.0 46.7

Zogby - Likely Voters

10/24/04 48 45
10/23/04 48 46
10/22/04 47 45

Looking at these numbers, we see that Zogby is the exception, with a marginal trend for Bush, but really just a maintaining of a Bush lead. In addition, Zogby also released new daily tracking state polls and they benefit Bush as well:

Colorado, Kerry 48 Bush 47

Florida, Bush 48 Kerry 47

Iowa, Bush 47 Kerry 44

Michigan, Kerry 52 Bush 43

Minnesota, Kerry 48 Bush 43

New Mexico, Bush 50 Kerry 42

Nevada, Bush 50 Kerry 44

Ohio, Bush 46 Kerry 45

Pennsylvania, Kerry 48 Bush 45

Wisconsin, Bush 48 Kerry 46

As bad as they seem, they're actually better than yesterday's numbers. Look for the Zogby state numbers to continue to improve for Kerry as they begin to reflect the trend toward Kerry seen in the other national polls. He could be peaking just in time.

The New Yorker Endorses Kerry

From The New Yorker's endorsement:
While Bush has pandered relentlessly to the narrowest urges of his base, Kerry has sought to appeal broadly to the American center. In a time of primitive partisanship, he has exhibited a fundamentally undogmatic temperament. In campaigning for America’s mainstream restoration, Kerry has insisted that this election ought to be decided on the urgent issues of our moment, the issues that will define American life for the coming half century. That insistence is a measure of his character. He is plainly the better choice. As observers, reporters, and commentators we will hold him to the highest standards of honesty and performance. For now, as citizens, we hope for his victory.

Missing Explosives In Iraq

OK, let me get this straight. We went into Iraq to disarm Saddam Hussein of Weapons of Mass Destruction that weren't there but once in Iraq, we failed to secure the weapons that were there, which could be (and likely have been) used to attack our troops? Are you kidding me? You know how the word "tons" is usually used to denote "a lot." Well today, when news headlines say "Tons Of Iraq Explosives Missing" they mean it literally.

Several hundred tons of conventional explosives are missing from a former Iraqi military facility that once played a key role in Saddam Hussein's efforts to build a nuclear bomb, the U.N. nuclear agency confirmed Monday.
The White House's explanation? According to Press Secretary Scott McClellan:

At the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom there were a number of priorities. It was a priority to make sure that the oil fields were secure, so that there wasn't massive destruction of the oil fields, which we thought would occur. It was a priority to get the reconstruction office up and running. It was a priority to secure the various ministries, so that we could get those ministries working on their priorities, whether it was ...
Classic. And in the inderstatement of the day, John Kerry pounced, calling this story further evidence of the administration's "incompetence." This is how the Bush campaign responded to this attack:

John Kerry has no vision for fighting and winning the War on Terror, so he is basing his attacks on the headlines he wakes up to each day.
Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo is the best source for the ongoing story.

More Newspaper Endorsements

Here's an updated list of newspaper endorsements (Kerry now leads Bush 125-96 in endorsements leads by about 16 million to 10 million in total daily circulation.) While the actual effect of endorsements is uncertain, I'm constantly impressed by the continuous flow of papers that endorsed Bush in 2000 that are refusing to do so this year, a phenomenon that I think reflects a larger disillusionment among those on the right and the middle with this president. Most of these newspapers (32 now) are endorsing Kerry (while only two have switched from Gore in 2000 to Bush in 2004) and several are withholding an endorsement altogether.
The Detroit News, which has never endorsed a Democrat, and which backed Bush in 2000, announced that it would sit out the 2004 election, not happy with either candidate. The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, another Bush backer in 2000, said the same thing today in an editorial titled "No One to Champion." A third Bush supporter in 2000, The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., also declared neutrality today. The Chicago Sun-Times, the Daily News in Los Angeles, the Orlando Sentinel, and The Commercial-Appeal in Memphis, Tenn., were among the papers that backed Bush in 2000 but today chose Kerry.
While it may come as no shock to some that Kerry also received an endorsement from The Washington Post, it should be noted that they were supportive of Bush's war and actually "find much to admire" in Bush. They seem to have been the newspaper equivalent of an undecided voter, but in the end:
On balance, though, we believe Mr. Kerry, with his promise of resoluteness tempered by wisdom and open-mindedness, has staked a stronger claim on the
nation's trust to lead for the next four years.




Friday, October 22, 2004

Electoral College Scenarios

The following are some electoral vote scenarios, all assuming the now likely retention of Pennsylvania for Kerry and pick-ups of Ohio and New Hampshire for Kerry. They range from ideal to nightmare. Remember, 270 are needed to win. If Kerry wins Florida, Ohio AND Pennsylvania, it's Kerry in a landslide, a scenario that actually could happen and we'll represent with only the first below. Play along HERE.

Kerry landslide (Everything has to go right, not very likely):

Bush picks up 0 states from 2000
Kerry picks up Florida (27), Ohio (20) and New Hampshire (4)

Kerry 311
Bush 227
Great (Somewhat Likely):

Bush picks up 0 states from 2000
Kerry picks up Ohio (20) and New Hampshire (4)

Kerry 284
Bush 254
Too Close For Comfort (Likely):
Bush picks up Iowa (7)
Kerry picks up Ohio (20) and New Hampshire (4)

Kerry 277
Bush 261

Bush picks up Wisconsin (10)
Kerry picks up Ohio (20) and New Hampshire (4)

Kerry 274
Bush 264

Ditto except Bush also picks up 1 of Maine's electoral votes:

Kerry 273
Bush 265

Bush picks up Iowa (7) and New Mexico (4)
Kerry picks up Ohio (20) and New Hampshire (4)

Kerry 272
Bush 266

Ditto except Bush also picks up 1 of Maine's electoral votes

Kerry 271
Bush 266
Nightmare Scenarios (Could happen)

Bush picks up Wisconsin (10) and New Mexico (5)
Kerry picks up Ohio (20) and New Hampshire (4)

Kerry 269
Bush 269

Yes, a tie is possible. In this case, as I understand it, the vote will go to the House of Representatives, with each state getting 1 vote; the vote for a given state is determined by the majority opinion of that state's congressional delegation, which could lead to some intersting votes. For example, the red state of South Dakota only gets 1 Representative and after Bill Janklow ran someone down and went to jail for it, a special election resulted in Democrat Stephanie Herseth taking the seat. Would she vote with her state, which no doubt would go for Bush, or her party? These are the intriguing questions that would be raised by a tie. Conventional wisdom is, however, even if the Democrats make gains in the House on November 2, that a tie means a win for Bush.

Bush picks up Iowa (7) and Wisconsin (10)
Kerry picks up Ohio (20) and New Hampshire (4)

Kerry 267
Bush 271

Bush picks up Iowa (7), Wisconsin (10) and New Mexico (5)
Kerry picks up Ohio (20) and New Hampshire (4)

Kerry 262
Bush 276

Bush landslide...let's not go there

100 Reasons To Oust Bush

The Nation compiles this excellent list of "100 Facts and 1 Opinion" that tracks the disastrous presidency of George W. Bush, with links to sources. It's a useful resource to send to undecideds and even die hard Bush fans. I would excerpt them except that I'd just end up listing all 100 -- I mean, how do you choose?

Jesse Ventura Endorses Kerry

Ventura had apparently announced that he wouldn't be endorsing either candidate but today came out for Kerry, a huge endorsement to shore up the independent vote in barely Kerry Minnesota.

Read Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman continues to remind us of the severe voter disenfranchisement in 2000 and the likelihood of its happening again, especially in Florida.

After the 2000 debacle, a task force appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush recommended that the state adopt a robust voting technology that would greatly reduce the number of spoiled ballots and provide a paper trail for recounts: paper ballots read by optical scanners that alert voters to problems. This system is in use in some affluent, mainly white Florida counties.

But Governor Bush ignored this recommendation, just as he ignored state officials who urged him to "pull the plug" on a new felon list - which was quickly discredited once a judge forced the state to make it public - just days before he ordered the list put into effect. Instead, much of the state will vote using touch-screen machines that are unreliable and subject to hacking, and leave no paper trail. Mr. Palast estimates that this will disenfranchise 27,000 voters - disproportionately poor and black.

A lot can change in 11 days, and Mr. Bush may yet win convincingly. But we must not repeat the mistake of 2000 by refusing to acknowledge the possibility that a narrow Bush win, especially if it depends on Florida, rests on the systematic disenfranchisement of minority voters. And the media must not treat such a suspect win as a validation of skewed reporting that has consistently overstated Mr. Bush's popular support.

On The Road, But Not At The Wheel

[An editorial by Fletcher Christian, friend, contributor and fellow mutineer]

For months, the Terror Twins of Bush and Cheney have been warning (read: scaring) Americans about an impending attack before the November election. Yet instead of hunkering down to protect us from the evildoers, the administration, seemingly having attended Faber College’s John Blutarsky School of Government, has responded in the only way they know how:

ROAD TRIP!

After 60 years of national security advisors refraining from partisan politicking, President Bush sent National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice on the campaign trail. In this time of great peril, what better place for the president’s chief foreign policy advisor than a Cleveland Browns practice? Or at Pittsburg’s Carnegie Melon chatting up the co-eds? Or at an AIPAC convention in Hollywood, Florida?

Hmmm. Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida? Subtlty has never been an attribute of the Bush-Cheney squad.

Meanwhile, to further hammer home the administration’s hammer-to-nail relationship with the American people, Vice President Cheney took a bus trip through Ohio, stopping in Carrol, Ohio to make his case for re-election: "The biggest threat we face now as a nation is the possibility of terrorists' ending up in the middle of one of our cities with deadlier weapons than have ever before been used against us - biological agents or a nuclear weapon or a chemical weapon of some kind - to be able to threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans.''

The vice president later stated that John Kerry is trying to scare Americans.

Did Mr. Cheney just pass through Lewis Carroll, Ohio?

To be fair to Ms. Rice, her visit to the Browns might have had something to do with her post-January 20, 2005 employment plans. In the past, she expressed interest in becoming commissioner of the National Football League. And perhaps Ms. Rice’s visits to Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida have nothing to do with November 2. Maybe Condi is taking Darth Cheney’s gloom and doom warnings of an impending attack seriously and heading for the hills? Dodging danger does seem to be another trait of the Bush-Cheney crowd, after all. Bush and Cheney might think "High Noon" is a great movie, but it would have been a much different film if Marshall Will Kane had retreated to an undisclosed location.

In any case, Iraq is going to hell in a hand basket, North Korea and Iran have the bomb, the economy is still ailing and this winter grandma might succumb to the flu. Yet Dick Cheney still operates on the other side of the looking glass and Condi is conferring about the 4-3 defense with Cleveland quarterback Jeff Garcia and playing defense for 43. No one is sure what Osama is up to these days, but I’m confident it does not involve playing defensive tackle for Cleveland’s football team.

The Bush-Cheney reelection effort turns on America viewing them as the sober and experienced leaders in dangerous times. Yet the foreign policy instructor for our nation’s first DWI (Driving While Ignorant) president is on the road instead of being at the wheel.

If it weren’t for the plastic Jesus on the dashboard, I’d be worried right now.

Random Thoughts At Midnight

Chris Matthews sucks. His panel is stacked with conservatives, Ron Silver, "actor/activist" whose answer to everything is "9/11" and Ed Rollins, Republican strategist; then there's Ron Reagan who seems like a Democrat most of the time but thinks he needs to be evenhanded since he's on MSNBC's payroll and Andrea Mitchell, who is married to Alan Greenspan and appears to have drunk the Kool-Aid on certain issues, but again, is afflicted with this need to be evenhanded, something the two Republicans on the panel clearly do not struggle with. I prefer Fox News to this bullshit, at least they have Juan Willaims representing. And Chris Matthews was arguing with David Boies about the 2000 election decision by the Supreme Court. David Boies was Gore's guy in that fight, I think he knows it a bit better than you, Chris, it was a 5-4 decision, not 7-2 and of course it was partisan. This and the fact that Yahoo News is still reporting the AP poll with Kerry up by 3 as "Kerry and Bush Are Tied" are what we're up against. Pathetic.

So I recently posted about Ohio being the most important state and that it appears to be going to Kerry. Well, I've now heard an argument for the idea that actually Bush/Cheney have given up on Ohio, conceding it essentially to Kerry, and are focusing on Iowa and Wisconsin. If Bush wins Florida, Wisonsin AND Iowa and Kerry wins Pennsylvania and Ohio, Bush wins by the same electoral margin he won in 2000: 271-267. Kerry needs not only Ohio, but also 1 of these two states, Iowa or Wisconsin. Gore barely carried them in 2000, and there's increasing reason for Kerry to be worried. Despite word on the ground that these states are trending Kerry's way, two new polls today have Bush up in Iowa by 6 points, one a Survey USA poll and one a Mason Dixon poll. There's an argument for why these polls may be bullshit but that may just be wishful thinking. Keep an eye out for these states.

I'm heading to Las Vegas again this weekend to get the vote out for Kerry there. Early voting is happeneing there right now and word is that the vast majority of early voters in Nevada are Democrats. I anticipate that's what we'll be focusing on when there. Right now the state is polling for Bush, but this is all about the ground game. The Democrats are extremely organized and have a clear strategy in Nevada. I doubt Nevada will be decisive but it will be a true triumph if we can turn it blue.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

God Said, God Said

On Tuesday, Pat Robertson told CNN that when he warned the President before the war that there would be serious casualties in Iraq and that he should prepare the American people (psst...God told him so), Bush responded:

Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties.
Since we know that Bush speaks with God regularly, we can only assume that God was sending some seriously mixed messages. Or, as WDR's friend Fletcher Christian suggests:

Pat Robertson and the president seem to be attempting to prove polytheism. Robertson’s god told him that Iraq would be nothing but death and destruction; Bush’s god told him it would all be wine and roses. Either the presidential hotline to heaven has been disconnected or Pat is talking to Athena while W. is chatting up Ares.

Either way, damage control has commenced and entails, essentially, calling Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition, a liar.

White House and campaign advisers denied Bush made the comment, with adviser Karen Hughes saying, "I don't believe that happened. He must have misunderstood or misheard it."
And...

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, "Of course, the president never made such a comment."
Pat Robertson released the following irrelevant statement in response:
I emphatically stated that I believe 'the blessing of heaven is upon him' and I am persuaded that he will win this election and prevail on the war against terror in order to keep America safe from her avowed enemies.
As for other messages he's been getting from God:
In January, Robertson told viewers during his "700 Club" television program that God had told him Bush would win re-election in a blowout." In the CNN interview, Robertson said he believes Bush will win by a "razor-thin" margin but by a substantial Electoral College victory.
OK, how many gods are there exactly, or does he just keep changing his mind, 'cause he keeps telling me it's gonna be Kerry.

Media Bias For Bush

Yeah right...lilberal media. Whatever. Look at these headlines. Thanks to dailyKos for the juxtaposition.

AP
AP Poll: Bush, Kerry in Dead Heat

[...] In the AP-Ipsos Public Affairs poll, the Democratic ticket of Kerry and Sen. John Edwards got support from 49 percent of those who said they were likely to vote, and the Republican team of Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney got 46 percent, within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Reuters
Reuters Poll: Bush Grabs One-Point Lead on Kerry

President Bush opened a slight one-point lead on Democratic rival John Kerry in a tight race for the White House, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Thursday.

The Politics Of Baseball

Interesting, now that The Red Sox have beaten The Yankees for the American League title, all these political comparisons are coming out of the woodwork. Certainly, there's the fact that the Democratic National Convention was held in Boston and the RNC was in New York. As Jay Leno joked back in July:
You know Boston is a perfect city for Democrats because the Democrats are like the Red Sox: They're optimistic in the spring, concerned in the summer, ready to choke in the fall.
Not this time, Jay. If the Democrats are the Red Sox then the Republicans are the Yankees and they're the ones that choked this year. As The AP recently put it:
The Yankees are successful - winning American League pennants in five of the last six years, just as the GOP has won four of the last six presidential elections. The team's most visible fan is one of the nation's leading Republicans: former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

The Red Sox, like the Democrats, seem more vulnerable. Last year's crushing loss in the American League Championship Series resembled the Democrats' loss in the last presidential race - narrowly missing a prize that many felt should have been theirs.

The Red Sox were five outs away from winning the decisive seventh game of the series, only to lose the game in extra innings; Democrat Al Gore lost the presidential election despite getting more votes than George W. Bush, in an election that took weeks to sort out.

Now that we know the Red Sox are in the World Series, we'll have to wait until later tonight to see if the fight for the ultimate title in baseball will more literally mirror the race for the highest political office with a Massachusetts vs. Texas World Series. But in the meantime, we defer to The New Yorker for a look at the more practical ramifications of The Red Sox going all the way:

Shaughnessy has already looked ahead and calculated that the seventh game of the World Series would be played on Halloween, a Sunday. "The American League has home-field advantage this year, so they’d be playing Sunday at Fenway," he said, hopefully. "And the election is two days later, so it’s already occurred to me that the victory parade would be Election Day. The parade’s always Tuesday, and, with Kerry running, it’d just be an interesting mix."

It would be an interesting mix, yes, and one that isn’t likely to bode well for Kerry’s count in the popular vote. Think about it: after eighty-six years of suffering, would the registered voters of New England—i.e., the Democratic base—dare skip the most heavily anticipated celebration in modern sports history merely to cast ballots for a fair-weather fan?

An Embarrassment of Polling Riches

Slate has a great Electoral College map that they seem to be updating every day, made all the better by their 3rd straight day of a predicted Kerry win, 276-262. Here's what they say:

No change in the electoral vote count yet, but underlying currents are moving to Kerry. Latest polls suggest that a Florida shift to Kerry is more plausible than an Ohio shift to Bush, and a Kerry upset in West Virginia is more plausible than a Bush upset in New Jersey. The quantitative basis for ceding West Virginia to Bush is thin, and online and Democratic polls are making it thinner. We await the first neutral phone poll of October.

Electoral-vote.com has a Kerry win projected as well, and they actually have Florida for Kerry and Ohio for Bush (they count the FoxNews poll out of Ohio with Bush up by 4 as most recent and therefore most important, even though it's a clear outlier.)

There was talk over the last few days of the national Bush surge taking hold at the state level, but instead, what we're seeing, is Kerry's state by state strength being seen in new national polls.

Among the daily tracking polls, while Zogby and Rasmussen have no change (tied and Bush up 1 respectively), Washington Post and ABC News both show a return to Bush up 3 after yesterday's polls in which Bush was up 5 (with Kerry gaining 1 and Bush losing 1) and TIPP shows a 4 point Bush lead on Monday down to a 1 point Bush lead today.

In addition, check out the latest national polls:

The Economist/You Gov - Oct. 18-20 (Oct. 10-12)

Kerry 48 (47)
Bush 46 (46)

Pew Center For Research - Oct. 15-19 (Oct. 1-3)

Kerry 47 (44)
Bush 47 (49)

Democracy Corps - Oct. 17-18 (Oct. 14-16)

Kerry 50 (50)
Bush 47 (47)

NBC/Wall St. Journal - Oct. 16-18 (Sept. 26-28)

Kerry 46 (45)
Bush 48 (48)

Harris Interactive - Oct. 14-17 (Sept. 20-26)

Kerry 46 (46)
Bush 48 (48)

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Random Thoughts At Midnight

I was talking to Guru earlier today and asked him if he'd "heard what Teresa said today." OK, so fine, it's by definition a loaded question but I was still amused at his response, even without knowing what she'd said: "Oh no, what did she say now...I wish they'd just shut her up for 13 days." It's true, she opened her trap and said something to the effect of "I don't even know if she's ever even had a real job as a grown-up" about Laura Bush. What the hell? Maybe she's actually trying to sabotage the Kerry presidency. Teresa, your "speak your mind/heart on your sleeve" attitude was charming up until, oh, I'd say, October hit. Now it's just dangerous. But credit to the Kerry campaign for having Teresa immediately apologize, saying that she had forgotten all the work Mrs. Bush had done as a librarian and a teacher and that she truly was sorry. It's amazing how jarring an apology can be in this context, you so rarely hear one. CNN seems to think Teresa offended a lot of Moms, a constituency he's been having trouble with as of late. I'm choosing not to entertain that notion.

I watched Alexandra Pelosi's Diaries Of A Political Tourist on HBO tonight. After making a name for herself with Journeys With George during his race for the presidency in 2000, she decided to spend 2002-2004 documenting the Democratic challenge for his job. It's sort of a mixed bag. It's edited in retrospect, after John Kerry got the nomination, so the film makes a point of sort of developing a rapport with Kerry, and so he actually comes off quite well. Bob Graham comes off as cooky, Edwards comes off as vain, Gephardt comes off as an extremely benign and gentle fake, Clark barely registers, and the rise and fall of Dean is probably the most poignant narrative thread of the film. But it's actually most interesting when it critiques the media influence on the process, a critique that is made more sharp when you realize that the candidates view Pelosi's camera as just as potentially damaging as any trained on them by the networks. You want to yell, "just answer the damn question honestly, it's just a documentary," until you realize that any mistake caught on film will be repeated over and over by the media. There's Candy Crowley of CNN expressing dismay at the fact that campaigns are what they are because of her...because of television; you have Dean's scream, as Pelosi puts it, the mistake Dean mande was "making a sound no one had ever heard before;" and you have Dick Gephardt, tearfully dropping out of the race, hugging his wife, and as he steps of the dais and sees Pelosi's camera, he immediately smiles, as if by instinct...he wasn't a candidate anymore, in fact he was leaving political life altogether, yet he couldn't help but smile through the tears for this little camera...and so she just hugged him. But the film leaves largely unanswered the very question that she verbalizes toward the end of the film when trying to get an interview with Kerry: why him?

I saw on the CNN crawl that Dick Cheney got a flu shot, despite the fact that President Bush has asked Americans to leave the flu shots for only the most vulnerable among us. That might bite him in the ass. As someone who never gets a flu shot when they are available (and who never gets the flu) I had to ask my friend Bill just how this shortage is manifesting itself. He said that his doctor can't even get any vaccine, nor will where we work be providing shots. Earler today I'd read that the Congressional doctor dude was recommending that all members of Congress and staff get a flu shot because their work involves meeting and shaking hands with so many people and so they'd be providing them to all, again, despite George Bush's call for sacrifice. Now, also according to CNN's crawl, the Congressional doctor dude is denying that this is the case. This issue has clearly taken the administration by surprise. Wouldn't it be funny if after all this talk of terror and the war, it's the simple flu that brings this president down. I mean, it's bizarre enough that with everything that's happened since Bush has been president, and just in 2004 alone, that the campaign is sort of reverting to that dreaded pre-9/11 mindset -- the Democrat is scaring seniors about Medicare and the Republican is calling John Kerry a liberal. I guess some things are timeless.

Kerry Brings Out The Big Dog

Bill Clinton will be joining John Kerry on the campaign trail 6 weeks after his emergency heart bypass surgery. On Monday they’ll be appearing in Philadelphia together, apparently contrary to Hillary Clinton’s wishes. She did manage to keep him from Arkansas, however, where some Kerry aides had hoped he would go first, but Philly seems as good a place to start as any. It’s close to their home and it’s solid Kerry and Clinton country in a marginal swing state. But let’s face it, Clinton back on the campaign trail will be THE national news story on Monday, beaming into homes of undecideds everywhere. “Remember how much you loved Bill Clinton?” the subliminal message will seem to say. “Remember how he felt your pain? He’s a Democrat. Remember voting Democrat? You can do it again. Forget that Kerry hasn’t convinced you that he feels your pain, or anything for that matter, just look at the guy standing next to him. Remember him…?” and it will just loop.

How will the Bushies try to get a word in edge-wise on Monday? Stay tuned.

Ohio

As we've noted before, for Kerry to win, he's going to have to pick up at least one big state that Gore lost in 2000. If Kerry simply wins what Gore won, he'll lose 278 to 260 electoral votes. The only states that are currently up for grabs that would confer those 10 extra votes needed to push Kerry over the top are Florida (with 27 EVs) and Ohio (with 20 EVs.) Bush won Ohio by about 4% in 2000 and Florida by "537 votes" yet it appears that Ohio may be the more likely get for Kerry. 7 out of the last 9 Ohio polls have shown Kerry with a slight lead (a sample is below) and, as a result, most electoral vote counts are putting the state's coveted 20 electoral votes in Kerry's column.

Kerry 47, Bush 47 (Rasmussen)
Bush 49, Kerry 44 (Fox News)
Kerry 49, Bush 47 (Survey USA)
Kerry 50, Bush 47 (ABC News)
Kerry 48, Bush 46 (Ohio Poll)

But it is interesting to note that Bush hasn't been to Ohio in 17 days while John Kerry seems to always be there -- twice this week alone. And clearly, their strategy to regain the lead in Ohio is underway. The Vice President took a bus tour through southern Ohio yesterday and continued to scare the shit out of people:
The biggest threat we face now as a nation is the possibility of terrorists' ending up in the middle of one of our cities with deadlier weapons than have ever before been used against us - biological agents or a nuclear weapon or a chemical weapon of some kind - to be able to threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans.
Also, the Bush twins are in Cincinnati today and George is expected to visit Canton, OH on Friday, and Arnold Schwarzenegger is due for an appearance with the President in Columbus, OH (apparently a "second home" to the Governor, who knew?) the final weekend before Election Day. We'll keep you posted as to any and all Ohio developments, for it's looking more and more likely that it will be the determining state this year.

Flu Bug Hits The Campaign Trail

In the third presidential debate, Bob Schieffer asked a question about the flu vaccine shortage. This is how President Bush responded:
Bob, we relied upon a company out of England to provide about half of the flu vaccines for the United States citizen, and it turned out that the vaccine they were producing was contaminated. And so we took the right action and didn't allow contaminated medicine into our country.

We're working with Canada to hopefully -- that they'll produce a -- help us realize the vaccine necessary to make sure our citizens have got flu vaccinations during this upcoming season. My call to our fellow Americans is if you're healthy, if you're younger, don't get a flu shot this year. Help us prioritize those who need to get the flu shot, the elderly and the young. The CDC, responsible for health in the United States, is setting those priorities and is allocating the flu vaccine accordingly.
Well, first of all, it's a California company, Chiron, that outsourced its flu vaccine production to an English company, but be that as it may, probably the most interesting thing the president said is the part about limiting flu shots to those that are most vulnerable...in other words, "rationing," the very thing he contends will happen under Kerry's healthcare plan. It's already happening, Mr. President.

What are the politics of the flu? Well, Bush, further on in his answer to Bob Schieffer, blamed the problem on this litigious society we live in, and so, by association, on trial lawyers, which, of course, is code for John Edwards. But as the New York Times informs us:
Experts are pondering ways to induce more companies to make flu vaccine for the American market. The issue is not that manufacturers are worried about lawsuits over liability, as President Bush has suggested. Litigation is seldom, if ever, cited in authoritative analyses of vaccine shortages. The main problem is that influenza vaccine needs to be reformulated every year, and companies suffer huge losses if they overestimate the amount that will be needed because they end up having to destroy millions of doses. The administration needs to find a way to expand and stabilize the vaccine manufacturing base. The lesson of the Chiron debacle is that a diversity of supply is critical.

Both candidates are raising the issue in retiree-heavy Florida, Bush on the defense, and Kerry on the offense.
President Bush on Tuesday assured the state's flu-wary retirees that "we have millions of vaccines doses on hand for the most vulnerable Americans" as his administration said that 2.6 million more doses would be available by January.
And
Democrats have seized on the vaccine shortage to accuse the administration of being unable to protect Americans - from either illness or terrorism. "If you can't get flu vaccines to Americans, how are you going to protect them against bioterrorism?'' Senator John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate, asked in an interview with National Public Radio. "If you can't get flu vaccines to Americans, what kind of health care program are you running?''
This is one of those unforseen external factors that people talk about impacting the campaign, and it by far benefits Kerry. While I'm uneasy with Kerry playing the "scare tactics" card that we criticize the administration for pulling out with such abandon, I like that on this issue, as well as so many others, the Democrats are finally fighting fire with fire.

George Bush: Bubble Boy

Great Washington Post piece by Harold Myerson on the insulation of the president:

"I have no outside advice" in the war on terrorism, President Bush told Bob Woodward in December of 2001. In an interview that Woodward revealed to Nicholas Lemann in last week's issue of the New Yorker, Bush insisted that, "Anybody who says they're an outside adviser of this Administration on this particular matter is not telling the truth. First of all, in the initial phase of the war, I never left the compound. Nor did anybody come in the compound. I was, you talk about one guy in a bubble."

Indeed. By every available indication, George W. Bush's is the most inside-the-bubble presidency in modern American history. It's not just that his campaign operatives exclude all but the true believers from his rallies, or that Bush, by the evidence of his debate performances, has grown utterly unaccustomed to criticism.

With each passing day, we learn that once Bush has decided on a course of action, he will not be swayed by mere intelligence estimates, military appraisals or facts on the ground. We already knew that when Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki told Congress during the run-up to the war that occupying Iraq would require hundreds of thousands of troops, he sealed his ticket to an early retirement. We've recently learned that Paul Bremer had told the president we needed more troops to secure postwar Iraq and the safety of our troops already there, and that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez had pleaded for more armored vehicles to better shield our soldiers.

Of course, he also told Bob Woodward that he listened to a "higher father" when asked if he took advice from the first President Bush. But, according to an interview on Paula Zahn last night, he seems even to have ignored God's word when spoken through Pat Robertson:
ROBERTSON: I met with [Bush] down in Nashville before the Iraq War started. And he was the most self-assured man I ever met in my life. You remember, Mark Twain said, "he looks like a contended Christian with four aces." He was just sitting there, like, I'm on top of the world, and I warned him about this war. I had deep misgivings about this war, deep misgivings. And I was trying to say, "Mr. President, you better prepare the American people for casualties." "Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties." "Well," I said, "it's the way it's going to be." And so, it was messy. The Lord told me it was going to be, A, a disaster and, B, messy. And before that, I had deep, in my spirit, I had deep misgivings about going into Iraq.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Cincinnati Enquirer Letter To The Editor

Thanks, Gary, for sharing this great letter that appeared in today's Cincinnati Enquirer and offers career advice to George W. Bush in the event that he's looking for work in a couple of months.

Your Voice by Dr. John S. Hutton

I have long felt that George W. Bush's talents are not adequately channeled as president.

I used to think that his star power belonged on Sesame Street; our nation sponsored by the letter W. However, Bush's 2004 campaign inspires a more vivid vision: George W. Bush, televangelist.

While his presidency has been a testament to divisiveness, fear and maniac fiscal policy, anything-but-comforting citizen souls, Bush would make a terrific televangelist, eclipsing even compassionate, conservative, Jerry Falwell.

He should ditch the "uniter-not-divider" show and step-up ministering to the converted. Karl Rove could be his choir director, cuing hymns and amens for maximum ratings.

Dick Cheney could be his sidekick Prophet of Doom, grumbling from Revelation on the hour. John Ashcroft could develop a Soul Code system, tweaking the odds of the Apocalypse depending on viewership and giving levels.


There are considerable upsides to exiting public life. Gone are opinion polls, incessant cries for peace, jobs, and tolerance and pesky demands of people you don't agree with. There are no campaign-finance laws for televangelist ministries. They are tax-exempt, the ultimate tax cut.

They can have all of the secret meetings they want. They can despoil their land. They can be blissfully sanctimonious, testifying about the miracle of running up epic debts and having viewers pay them off.


Bush would retain political influence as a televangelist, as evidenced by clergy who distort theology and run afoul of their tax-exempt status by proclaiming voting for John Kerry a sin.

He could lead grand, unaccountable crusades to the Holy Land. And he could hammer this home: if viewers don't pledge unquestioning devotion, they'll be banished to eternal agony alongside trial lawyers, environmentalists, U.N. delegates, gays, pro-choice women, liberals, and other partakers in the Axis of Evil.

None of this questions Bush's faith. It's his competency as president that is in doubt.

John Kerry would make a terrible televangelist, doomed to an obscure public access channel. However, Kerry would make an excellent president, his faith balanced with intelligence, integrity, and the ability to assimilate reality. The presidency is a complex job, requiring more than witty one-liners and preaching to restore America's soul.

Classic Quote

Thanks to Salon.com's War Room for bringing this to our attention:

From CNN's news crawl:
PUBLIC SPLIT ON WHETHER BUSH IS A DIVIDER.

Sinclair Update

Once it was reported that the Sinclair Group, a GOP-friendly media conglomerate that owns 62 television stations around the country, would force its stations to air Stolen Honor, an anti-Kerry documentary in prime time mere days before the election, the left went on the attack with petitions, boycotts, you name it. Original story is HERE.

Since then, there have been various developments. In a huge testament to the left's grassroots activism, up to 80 advertisers (10%) have pulled support from any number of Sinclair stations and, as a result, Sinclair's stock (SBGI) has dropped precipitously, about 17% in the last 5 days alone to $6.26, resulting in a loss of $100 million in market share. This has led to shareholders initiating lawsuits against the company.

Read more about these developments on dailyKos HERE.

In the meantime, the Democratic National Committee filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission claiming that airing the documentary would amount to an illegal in kind contribution to the George W. Bush campaign, their point being that if Sinclair would like to air what is essentially an anti-Kerry advertisement, they can pay for it like everybody else, not air it for free.

But when the program would air and exactly what the program would consist of has been a mystery...until now. From the press release (thanks to Talking Points Memo):

Sinclair Broadcast Group announced today that on Friday, October 22, 2004 at 8:00 p.m. (7:00 p.m. central time) certain television stations owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. will air a special one-hour news program, entitled "A POW Story: Politics, Pressure and the Media."...The news special will focus in part on the use of documentaries and other media to influence voting, which emerged during the 2004 political campaigns, as well as on the content of certain of these documentaries.
The best part is right here:

Contrary to numerous inaccurate political and press accounts, the Sinclair stations will not be airing the documentary "Stolen Honor" in its entirety. At no time did Sinclair ever publicly announce that it intended to do so. In fact, since the controversy began, Sinclair's website has prominently displayed the following statement: "The program has not been videotaped and the exact format of this unscripted event has not been finalized. Characterizations regarding the content are premature and are based on ill- informed sources."
Does this seem to be a concession on the part of Sinclair? Yes, somewhat. And indeed, the program won't air on all 62 stations, but only 1 within any given market. But there is still the fear that this could be a Trojan horse of sorts, a way to sneak through anti-Kerry propaganda in the form of objective news. The Washington bureau chief of their news division was fired today after saying that Sinclair's planned hourlong special is "biased political propaganda, with clear intentions to sway this election."

So what do we do? Keep the heat on. List of advertisers is HERE.

Here's a partial list of national advertisers that are still advertising on Sinclair with e-mail addresses to let them know that we won't be using their services unless they pull out:

Appleby's
ca.diraimo@applebees.com

Arby's
tholtz@ARBYS.COM

Big Lots
Talk2US@BigLots.com

Coronoa
procermexlt@corona-extra.com

Domino's Pizza
mailto:mcintyt@dominos.com

Johnson & Johnson
treynol3@ethus.jnj.com

Lowes
webeditor@lowes.com

Miller Brewing
gary.leibowitz@sabmiller.com

Nissan
nnaconsumeraffairs@nissan-usa.com

Subway
asksubway@subway.com

Taco Bell
Amy.Sherwood@Yum.Com

In Bad Faith

“And the Lord said the rich shall inherit the Bush tax cut”

George 3:13

At the Democratic Convention one of the first questions we asked was to an elderly delegate from Ohio: “Isn’t religion the reason this is a race?” He looked at me nonplussed for a moment, laughed, then considered that I was serious and nodded in solemn agreement, “I guess it is.” Nicholas Kristof of the NYTimes and others have documented in great detail how important religion and faith is when it comes to the way Americans vote. We will probably have a black Jewish female president who lights a Kwanza bush during the holidays before we have an atheist commander in chief.

How else are we to understand how the majority of Bush supporters - who aren’t millionaires, energy companies, military industrialists, corporate executives, neoconservatives or partisan ideologues - continue to back him after a uniquely disastrous term in office, topped by the revelation that he misled the country into a bloody, expensive war without the existence of weapons of mass destruction? Millions of those whose interests Bush has not only ignored but injured will be voting for him regardless this year. And it is not only due to the militaristic sideshow of Cowboy against the terrorist machine that is half his campaign. The other hemisphere of the Bush crusade is not only redolent of the fiery preacher at the pulpit, but of the spirit and words and uttered by Red Sox fans, or to promote the newest M. Night Shyamalan film: “Believe.” Since his policies are inherently unpopular, Bush has made belief in his presidency an article of faith.

Dubya loves to proclaim in his speeches and in press conferences (those few he allows) that he believes God wants all his children, even those pour souls in the Muslim world, to be free. The message is: Believe in Dubya. He is the purveyor of God’s will for freedom. Bush will say he believes jobs are created by tax cuts to the wealthy or that the mission in Iraq is succeeding. That the facts say otherwise are of no concern: he asks you to take a leap of faith with him.

As much of Bush II’s presidency is a lie, his fervent belief in God is no pretension and it his authenticity in this sense that has confused so much of the electorate who must ask: How can we not have real faith in this real man of faith? How can a man who genuinely believes he is guided by the Lord, if we agree this guidance to be supreme, be guided wrong?

In this election it is not the issue of the separation of church and state that is most harrowing. It is the separation of belief and truth.

"You know, I've been President for 3 and 1/2 years now. More than ever, I believe with all my heart that one cannot be President of our great country without a belief in God, without the truth that comes on one's knees.” -- George Herbert Walker Bush