The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Saturday, October 09, 2004


Something odd from last night's debate, during one of Bush's responses about taxes:
GIBSON: Mr. President, 90 seconds.

BUSH: He's just not credible when he talks about being fiscally conservative. He's just not credible.
(no, not that, while yes it is funny for a man with Bush's record to say that. let's skip a little ahead in his answer...)
We've got battling green eye shades.

Somewhere in between those numbers -- and so there's a difference, what he's promised and what he can raise.

Now, either he's going to break all these wonderful promises he's told you about or he's going to raise taxes. And I suspect, given his record, he's going to raise taxes.

Is my time up yet?

GIBSON: No, you can keep going.


BUSH: Good. You looked at me like my clock was up.

I think that the way to grow this economy is to keep taxes low, is have an energy plan, is to have litigation reform. As I told you, we've just got a report that said over the past 13 months, we've created 1.9 million new jobs.

And so the fundamental question of this campaign is: Who's going to keep the economy growing so people can work? That's the fundamental question.
(emphasis mine) Huh?

Now let me get this straight. The Bush campaign fought very hard to get as much of what they wanted as possible into that 32-page "working agreement" for the debate formats.

One of the things they made the biggest deal about was the three colored lights that signal when the candidate was running out of time. Nobody has made such a big deal out of colored lights like that since Stanley Kowalski! They wanted the lights because they thought John Kerry's long-winded tendencies could be turned against him via the rules.

Yet between the first debate (when he said "let me finish" to no one in particular 45 seconds into a 2-minute response) and this one (when he asked if he had time left, when the multi-colored lights had yet to kick in), Bush seems to have trouble with a concept as intricate and sophisticated as three warning lights.

I'm not always into the "Bush is dumb" jokes, because they're not politically all that helpful and I don't think it's really true. But jeez, after this I wouldn't trust the guy at a busy intersection.

Then again, there are other theories.

Today he would have turned 64. And no, Paul wrote that one.

Actually he is 64, but somewhere else.

Now if you'll excuse me, in John's honor I'm going to head down to LA and get absolutely hammered, while finding time to record decent covers of 50's songs and jam with Harry Nillson.

Mickey Kaus is under the impression that Bush missed an opportunity to attack John Kerry during last night's debate:
Biggest whiff: Bush once again failed to pick apart Kerry's annoyingly opportunistic Iraq/Osama/Tora Bora attack. He could have argued a) Yes we made some mistakes but Kerry is letting a few of Zarqawi's bombs panic him--and trying to get them to panic the electorate. What kind of leader does that?; b) Kerry voted against the 1991 Gulf War, which began the inspection regime he says he wanted to continue! If we hadn't prosecuted that war, Saddam almost certainly would have developed a nuclear bomb, no? c) Bush did note that Kerry's plan for Iraq is basically the same as Bush's plan (plus a summit), but didn't flesh out the point in way that would be clear to the average viewer.
(text emphasis his, of course)

Why "A" is stupid: First, has Kerry given any indication or hint that he's going to bug out of Iraq, either because of Zarqawi or not? I don't think the phrase "We must succeed in Iraq" suggests that. But more importantly, everybody, guess what the fundamental problem is with Kaus' suggestion. The answer, of course, is "Yes we made some mistakes". I think our President has made it clear that he refuses to ever admit any particular mistake.

Why "B" is stupid: The second Bush says that, Kerry would rightly go into how many people involved with Desert Storm -- including Bush's dad -- knew that marching into Baghdad and occupying it would have created a fucking mess. And guess what we have now? A fucking mess! I don't think Bush would want to give Kerry an opening to highlight that inescapable fact.

Why "C" is stupid: Invites the questions about credibility with other nations... the small coalition... Missouri would be the 3rd largest, etc.

With all this in mind, I would be more than happy to forward Mickey Kaus' resume to the Bush-Cheney campaign, for consideration as an offical political advisor.

If Howard Dean or Al Gore had shouted down a moderator in a one-on-one Presidential debate... (finish the sentence however you'd like)
Remember those warnings about Iraqi terrorists plotting against America's schools all of two days ago?

Not true.

John Kerry's still leading, so be prepared for more non-warning warnings in the coming days...

From President Bush's April 13 press conference:
Q Thank you, Mr. President. In the last campaign, you were asked a question about the biggest mistake you'd made in your life, and you used to like to joke that it was trading Sammy Sosa. You've looked back before 9/11 for what mistakes might have been made. After 9/11, what would your biggest mistake be, would you say, and what lessons have you learned from it?

THE PRESIDENT: I wish you would have given me this written question ahead of time, so I could plan for it. (Laughter.) John, I'm sure historians will look back and say, gosh, he could have done it better this way, or that way. You know, I just -- I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer, but it hadn't yet.

I would have gone into Afghanistan the way we went into Afghanistan. Even knowing what I know today about the stockpiles of weapons, I still would have called upon the world to deal with Saddam Hussein. See, I happen to believe that we'll find out the truth on the weapons. That's why we've sent up the independent commission. I look forward to hearing the truth, exactly where they are. They could still be there. They could be hidden, like the 50 tons of mustard gas in a turkey farm.

One of the things that Charlie Duelfer talked about was that he was surprised at the level of intimidation he found amongst people who should know about weapons, and their fear of talking about them because they don't want to be killed. There's a terror still in the soul of some of the people in Iraq; they're worried about getting killed, and, therefore, they're not going to talk.

But it will all settle out, John. We'll find out the truth about the weapons at some point in time. However, the fact that he had the capacity to make them bothers me today, just like it would have bothered me then. He's a dangerous man. He's a man who actually -- not only had weapons of mass destruction -- the reason I can say that with certainty is because he used them. And I have no doubt in my mind that he would like to have inflicted harm, or paid people to inflict harm, or trained people to inflict harm on America, because he hated us.

I hope I -- I don't want to sound like I've made no mistakes. I'm confident I have. I just haven't -- you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I'm not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one.

Yes, Ann.
Well, George, that was mid April. Now it's early October. You must have had time to come up with one. Heck, you could probably come up with three, like the woman last night asked. Bush still had no answer:
Q. President Bush, during the last four years, you have made thousands of decisions that have affected millions of lives. Please give three instances in which you came to realize you had made a wrong decision and what you did to correct it. Thank you.

Mr. Bush I - I have made a lot of decisions and some of them little, like appointments to boards you've never heard of, and some of them big. And in a war there's a lot of - there's a lot of tactical decisions that historians will look back and say, he shouldn't have done that, he shouldn't have made that decision. And I'll take responsibility for them. I'm human.

But on the big questions, about whether or not we should have gone into Afghanistan, the big question about whether we should have removed somebody in Iraq - I'll stand by those decisions because I think they're right. It's really what your - when they ask about the mistakes, that's what they're talking about. They're trying to say, did you make a mistake going into Iraq? And the answer is absolutely not. It was the right decision.

The Duelfer report confirmed that decision today because what Saddam Hussein was doing was trying to get rid of sanctions so he could reconstitute a weapons program and the biggest threat facing America is terrorists with weapons of mass destruction. We knew he hated us. We knew he'd been - invaded other countries. We knew he tortured his own people.

On the tax cut, it's a big decision. I did the right decision. Our recession was one of the shallowest in modern history.

Now you ask what mistakes. I've made some mistakes in appointing people, but I'm not going to name them. I don't want to hurt their feelings on national TV.

But history will look back and I'm fully prepared to accept any mistakes that history judges to my administration. Because the president makes the decisions, the president has to take the responsibility.
Still, no answer. Does RoveCo realize that this plays right into the whole stubbornness thing?

--Bush did better than he did the first time. Translation: He spoke in more complete sentences this time and was, uh, louder. Now, we're all intelligent human beings, even cable news pundits are. If you're determining the winner of the debate by an expectations game relating to Bush's first debate train wreck, then your mind isn't what we call sophisticated.

--That said, his bulging-veins factor was even higher in this debate than it was behind the lectern last week. He nearly cut off a number of undecided questioners, and shouted down Charlie Gibson.

I remember the townhall debate from 2000. The cable news networks made this ridiculous deal about how once, while Bush was talking, Al Gore got out of his chair and took two steps forward. Bush looked at him, gave him a little nod, and continued talking. The media went ape-shit, painting Gore as over-aggressive and disrespectful, eager to make it part of their lovely critique about how there were different Al Gores at every debate.

Now we have Bush yelling at people. Shouting them down! Is the media going to work this into their narrative this time?

--That was the 2nd time Bush has been asked the "have you made any mistakes" question, and the second time he's drawn a blank. The first was in that press conference he held during the 9/11 Commission fun, back in the spring. I'd say it was a big deal, except that right about then the Yankees took a big lead.

--Bush cutest moment, just as with Dick "I've Never Met You" Cheney, was a lie. He does qualify as a small business in timber.

--Kerry's "Missouri" line on the coalition was solid.

I'll have more to say tomorrow, but my short take is that Kerry wins again, though it was closer than last week, due to the whole complete-sentences thing.

Friday, October 08, 2004

My wireless has been cranky as of late. If it works, I will live-blog tonight's debate. If not, I will cover it either tonight or tomorrow.

Here are Oscar-winning documentarian Errol Morris' new slate of ads for MoveOn, testimonials by repentant Bush-2000 voters. (link via kevin)

What was the idea of the Bush debate negotiation team when they decided that the best day to hold the domestic policy debate was just hours after the September job data came out?

Well, they asked for it:
U.S. employers hired just 96,000 workers in September, the government said on Friday in a weak jobs snapshot, the final one ahead of presidential elections that also fueled speculation about a pause in interest-rate rises.

Democratic presidential contender Sen. John Kerry, who will face President Bush later on Friday for the second of three presidential debates before the Nov. 2 vote, termed the report "disappointing."

But Treasury Secretary John Snow countered that job creation showed the economy was "on the right path."
Cute, Secretary.

Of course, if the report revealed the creation of two or more jobs in September, Bush would use it to say, on the campaign trail, that he was "creating jobs".

Before you give in to that spin, keep the following in mind.

As Max reminds us, the 96k figure is well short of the 150k amount needed just to keep up with the expanding workforce.

And as Max also notes in the same post, the alternative employment survey, the "Household" index, shows a loss of 200,000 jobs. But... but... but what about eBay?

And as Max also reminds us, the 96k figure is far short of the level of monthly job creation Bush promised at the time he was promoting his 2003 tax cuts. (well after 9/11) That number was 300,000.

This will be one of many hanging sliders Kerry will receive tonight.

Thursday, October 07, 2004


Viceroy Jerry has an op-ed piece in Friday's NYT, in which he states his intention to clarify his recent comments at an insurance convention ("we should've had more troops on the ground"), but if you read it carefully, he doesn't actually clarify a thing.

This is as close as he gets:
It's no secret that during my time in Iraq I had tactical disagreements with others, including military commanders on the ground. Such disagreements among individuals of good will happen all the time, particularly in war and postwar situations. I believe it would have been helpful to have had more troops early on to stop the looting that did so much damage to Iraq's already decrepit infrastructure. The military commanders believed we had enough American troops in Iraq and that having a larger American military presence would have been counterproductive because it would have alienated Iraqis. That was a reasonable point of view, and it may have been right. The truth is that we'll never know.
Other than that, there's tripe about training the Iraqis to defend themselves. That is a worthy and necessary strategy in this effort, but it is not, and should not be mutually exclusive to having enough boots on the ground in the meantime.

From there, Bremer spends the rest of the column erecting a strawman, say that there are those who misconstrue Bremer's comments as lack of support for the effort. Er, no, Democrats, Kerry included, cite you to criticize the President's incompetence in carrying out operations in Iraq, the debate over the decision to or point of going is an entirely different debate.

The price of oil topped 53 bucks for part of today. While not the highest ever adjusting for inflation, it's still pretty high. A number of explanations are cited in the AP account...
Oil prices reached $53 a barrel on Thursday, and have advanced more than 20 percent in a month, in large part because output in the Gulf of Mexico was hobbled by a hurricane and has not been restored as quickly as expected.

The possibility of violence and a labor strike in oil-rich Nigeria has also kept oil traders on edge, and underlying it all is global unease about the fact that the world's available supply cushion is too thin to make up for any large, prolonged loss of output.

Light crude for November delivery climbed 65 cents to settle at a new high of $52.67 per barrel Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, retreating from a high of $53 set earlier in the day. In London, Brent crude for November delivery soared 91 cents to close at $48.90 per barrel.
Okay, we're a little under a month from election day, and Bush has slipped into a tie with Kerry, and is even a couple percentage points behind in some polls.

Therefore, I think it's high time to move the United States "Bandar Alert Level" up to "Orange". Bandar is, of course, Prince Bandar, the Saudi Ambassador who is much more deserving of that Gary Aldrich book title than anyone associated with Clinton. He's also the guy who, according to Bob Woodward's 2004 book on the Iraq war Plan of Attack, made an agreement with Bush involving lowering oil prices in the run-up to the 2004 election. It's the Guitar Center Theory: if you have your prices especially high right before the big sale, then the sale will appear all the larger to the consumers. Naturally, when the story broke everyone involved denied the thing. But of course, things like this aren't meant to be found out.

Anyway, regardless of whether it's true or not, let's all keep our eyes peeled. Because even if a deal was made and they carry it out, middle America might not appreciate the gravity of this; they'll say "hey, oil prices are dropping, it must be because of our administration", and they'll go on and vote for Bush anyway.

It's a familiar calculation for the administration: politicize national security policy, take the outrage from some, but believe that the result is a net gain. This calculation could arise in two other areas in the coming weeks:

1) Terror alerts. They know that each alert gives Bush a slight bump in his approval ratings, so they're more than happy to issue a blanket warning with no direct basis in reality for that purpose. And they're doing that right now!
2) If Osama is caught. If he gets caught in the last week of October, plenty of people will voice their outrage about the timing, and rightly say "why didn't you catch him all the way back in late 2001?" Their idea is to then pin their opponents by saying that if they had their way, we wouldn't have caught him at all, and you know where that progression goes. They figure that just enough Americans will say that despite the politicized timing, the capture of bin Laden is a net positive.

We'll see what happens.
Here's another global test. Hehehe.

Possible discovery made about the T-Rex:
Tyrannosaurus rex may have had a coat of fluffy feathers.
This conclusion comes from US and Chinese scientists who today announce the discovery of a 130m-year-old forerunner of the lumbering Cretaceous predator.

Dilong paradoxus - its generic name comes from the Mandarin for emperor and dragon, and its species name from its unusual features - was the size of a turkey, had a single nose bone, a massive jaw, a long neck, and hands with three fingers.

Mark Norell of the American Museum of Natural History, Xing Xu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and other colleagues report in Nature that its fossils were unearthed in Liaoning province in China.

Dilong is the most primitive of the tyrannosaurid family found so far. But what shook the discoverers was that the region's unique volcanic ash and sandy muds preserved not just the skeleton but also some soft tissue - and the first direct evidence that tyrannosaurs had feathers, or at least branching structures an inch long called protofeathers.
So Spielberg's gonna go back and fix it, right? Right? Well, let's think about this for a second.

Consider human evolution. The ancestors of humans, such as australopithecus, homo habilis, etc, were significantly hairier than today's humans. And they go back a few million years. So in that period of time -- a short period in evolutionary terms -- 2-legged upright primates went from very hairy to almost hairless in some cases. (not me, though, hehe)

Now consider the recent finding. The remains of the Dilong paradoxus mentioned go back 130 million years. That leaves 65 million years worth of evolution before the large-scale extinction period for the dinosaurs. From an evolutionary standpoint, that is a much more significant amount of time than the de-furrification time of 2-legged primates. And since the T-Rex grew to be rather large -- in excess of 40 feet long, nose to tail -- it wouldn't exactly be predisposed towards flying, regardless of whether you're in the "agile hunter" camp or the "plodding scavenger" camp. Thus, I'm not yet sold on the idea of a giant feathered tyrannosaur.

(I was quite the dino-nut in my pre-pubescent years, and the residuals remain)

The more intelligent minds of the right know exactly what John Kerry meant by his comments in last Thursday's debate which included the two-word phrase "global test".

Just as a refresher, here, from the transcript, is what John Kerry said:
LEHRER: New question. Two minutes, Senator Kerry.

What is your position on the whole concept of preemptive war?

KERRY: The president always has the right, and always has had the right, for preemptive strike. That was a great doctrine throughout the Cold War. And it was always one of the things we argued about with respect to arms control.

No president, though all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America.

But if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons.

Here we have our own secretary of state who has had to apologize to the world for the presentation he made to the United Nations
Got it? Your next President just told you that he'll never cede his right to preemption to protect our country and our people.

Let's parse it further: What's the first thing he mentions immediately after saying "global test"? Did it have anything to do with this mythical "international veto" Bush has been stumping about? Nope; rather it was about justifying our actions to our own friggin people.

Even further: "you can prove to the world". "can prove".Think hard, conservatives. That statement renders irrelevant any opinion France, Germany, Britain, Turkey, Indonesia, or any other individual might have about our preemptive action. What do you think all that WMD and links-to-Al-Qaeda stuff was about? It was about proving to Americans and the world that we were preempting for legitimate reasons. Of course, all that stuff turned out to be bullshit, but that's another story.

The difference between Bush's position and Kerry's position isn't as much about actual policy as it is about sincerity and competence. In fact, on just about everything foreign policy related -- Iraq, homeland security, preemptive action -- that's the difference Kerry is selling: seriousness. Seriousness breeds credibility, and that's why Kerry brought up the DeGualle story right after that.

Anyway, the right is trying to latch on to two words, out of context, and sell them to the American people as a drastic policy difference from the President, one that points to Kerry's supposed weakness on national defense. They know what he meant, but they go ahead anyway.

With that in mind, here's an example: see if you can spot the problem with this piece by Anne Bayefsky of the National Review:
Kerry put U.N. centrality this way: "You don't help yourself with other nations...when you refuse to deal at length with the United Nations." Speaking of Iraq, "at length" meant "We needed to go to the U.N. The president needed the authority to use force...." Any use by a president of the option of a "preemptive strike" must be done "in a way...that passes the global test can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons."
Bayefsky goes on to lambast the UN for several hundred words, which is expected. But in order to squeeze Kerry's "global test" into the piece, she had to stick an ellipsis over the very first bits of context Kerry provided regarding that phrase. Her piece is about "the graders" of the test, but the very first "graders" (to use her terminology) Kerry identified were . . . US! The American people!

Almost every criticism of anything Kerry has said since his campaign's inception has involved taking whatever it was he said drastically out of context.

How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for Saddam Hussein's, uh, bribery?
Vice President Dick Cheney brushed aside the central findings of chief U.S. weapons hunter Charles Duelfer - that Saddam not only had no weapons of mass destruction and had not made any since 1991, but that he had no capability of making any either - while Bush unapologetically defended his decision to invade Iraq.

"The Duelfer report showed that Saddam was systematically gaming the system, using the U.N. oil-for-food program to try to influence countries and companies in an effort to undermine sanctions," Bush said as he prepared to fly to campaign events in Wisconsin. "He was doing so with the intent of restarting his weapons program once the world looked away."
While this may be good enough for the Glenn Reynolds' of the world, something tells me this won't fly with the Lila Lipscombs of the world.

And something tells me Cheney ain't exactly the right guy to make the sanction argument. Good thing he left it to Dubya.

Eye on the ball: NO WEAPONS, guys. Bush did not show Congress the evidence the administration had which casted doubt on the WMD argument, so you can't argue that Congress (or Kerry) saw exactly what Bush saw.

And if bribery is a justification for war, can we please bomb the fuck out of Tom Delay?
Looks like Not-Jenna has some fun too:
Her dad was Skull and Bones. So was her grandfather and great-grandfather. By not joining Yale’s secret society, Barbara Bush broke with that tradition.

But she embraced another - the naked party.

Yale’s naked parties have been described as an intellectual salon without the clothes. Incoming freshmen hear about the ritual long before setting foot on campus.

The creme de la creme of naked parties is the springtime event held by the Pundits, a society synonymous with streaking through the library during finals. This one is invitation only for about 40 to 50 “A-list” guests. A bouncer checks names at the door.

In the spring of 2002, Barbara Bush, then a sophomore, arrived at a house on Crown Street for the fun, according to at least two people who saw her there. Not known: the whereabouts of her Secret Service protection.

Like everyone else at the party, sources say, she left her inhibitions at the door and her clothes in a changing room, then mingled with the other guests over wine, cheese and pool.

Naked parties are not orgies, not even close, despite their name, say those who attend. Stripped of clothing and other status markers, students are rendered equal. There’s more eye contact, less small talk. Everyone’s vulnerable.
Glad that someone in the Bush family is being exposed to John Rawls, if only in a second-hand manner.
“At most clothed parties, it’s more overt that people are hitting on each other - naked parties are actually less sexual,” one student was quoted as saying in a 1999 Yale Daily News story titled, “Nude Haven.”
Uhhh... right.

[lumbergh] I'm gonna have to go ahead and disagreeee with you on that one [/lumbergh]

Cue George Carlin's bit on whether there's more fucking per capita at the North Pole or the Equator.


I may have trouble liveblogging tomorrow's debate (computer issues). I will definitely recap it though. And there's still a chance. It depends on where I am and how my computer is doing.
Here's an excerpt from an amusing RollingStone piece on Jon Stewart and The Daily Show. One bit made me laugh out loud:
After mulling over how to find an undecided voter for an upcoming bit ("Well," Stewart muses, "you'd have to go out and find a fucking idiot"), he turns to the "headline" item that will kick off tonight's broadcast...
Hehehehe. No offense, of course, you precious undecided types . . . we . . . need . . . you. (Morons)
Kerry's leading, so you know what that means . . . terror alert!!!

Frankly, I'd rather be a long-snapper or an Oompa-Loompa than a Nazi.

New AP poll:
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry took the lead over President George W. Bush among likely voters nationwide in an Associated Press-Ipsos Public Affairs poll, erasing the edge Bush held two weeks ago.

Half of 944 likely voters surveyed Oct. 4-6 said they would vote for Kerry if the election were held now, compared with 46 percent who backed Bush, the AP reported. The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

In an AP-Ipsos poll conducted Sept. 20-22, Bush led Kerry 52 percent to 45 percent. Since then, the two candidates met in their first debate, on Sept. 30.
So that's an 11-point bounce from the debate (down seven to up four). And that's before the domestic policy debate, which will be held tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Zogby's new battleground poll looks like good news for the Kerry camp.
Kevin Drum provides a handy chart comparing what Cheney said last night to, you know, the truth.
I'm not sure that I'm quite as nuts about John Edwards' debate performance as Bill Saletan is (I still think Edwards came out on top), but Saletan makes the biggest point, the one the cable news spinners didn't bother to:
If you watched this debate as an uninformed voter, you heard an avalanche of reasons to vote for Kerry. You heard 23 times that Kerry has a "plan" for some big problem or that Bush doesn't. You heard 10 references to Halliburton, with multiple allegations of bribes, no-bid contracts, and overcharges. You heard 13 associations of Bush with drug or insurance companies. You heard four attacks on him for outsourcing. You heard again and again that he opposed the 9/11 commission and the Department of Homeland Security, that he "diverted" resources from the fight against al-Qaida to the invasion of Iraq, and that while our troops "were on the ground fighting, [the administration] lobbied the Congress to cut their combat pay." You heard that Kerry served in Vietnam and would "double the special forces." You heard that Bush is coddling the Saudis, that Cheney "cut over 80 weapons systems," and that the administration has no air-cargo screening or unified terrorist watch list.

As the debate turned to domestic policy, you heard that we've lost 1.6 million net jobs and 2.7 million net manufacturing jobs under Bush. You heard that he's the first president in 70 years to lose jobs. You heard that 4 million more people live in poverty, and 5 million have lost their health insurance. You heard that the average annual premium has risen by $3,500. You heard that we've gone from a $5 trillion surplus to a $3 trillion debt. You heard that a multimillionaire sitting by his swimming pool pays a lower tax rate than a soldier in Iraq. You heard that Bush has underfunded No Child Left Behind by $27 billion. You heard that Kerry, unlike Bush, would let the government negotiate "to get discounts for seniors" and would let "prescription drugs into this country from Canada." You heard that at home and abroad, Bush offers "four more years of the same."
Most of the post-debate coverage was very base-versus-base oriented, but Edwards' performance, much like Kerry's, was aimed directly at swing voters.

MSNBC's roundtable faulted Edwards for staying on gay marriage too long. But again, they're thinking in the trenches. Edwards talked about it so that he could make it absolutely clear that his problem was with fucking with the Constitution for the sake of discrimination. I'm not Frank Luntz (haha) but I think that could turn out to be a winner with undecided voters.

Anyway, off to class, and then Control Room, more later.
Dick Cheney lied (surprise!) about his involvement with the Senate.

Man, what was up with MSNBC's post-debate coverage? I caught it being replayed last night at midnight, and it really felt fishy. Everyone else on TV, Fox included, seemed to think the debate was a draw. Yet Chris Matthews and his panel (Mitchell, Meacham, Scarborough, and an unusually quiet and aquiescent Ron Reagan) were falling over themselves to go fuck themselves Cheney.

Here's my theory:

Some of them folksy homespun lines Matthews and company used seemed just a wee bit too prepared. "Dick Cheney was loaded for bear tonight. He went looking for squirrel and he found squirrel". "It was like a squirt pistol against an M-16 machine gun". They were dead-set on taking any debate that wasn't a clear case of Edwards taking Cheney to the woodshed, and spinning it as a victory for Cheney.

But why? Conservative bias? Maybe, maybe not. But I think there's the bigger issue for MSNBC, which aspires to rise to the ranks of CNN and Fox. They wanted to make a splash, and to grab the leading edge of the campaign's meta-narrative and try to set the tone. The way you do that is to emphasize the drama of the race. Kerry clearly whupped Bush in the first debate, and the pendulum swings one way. So why not call the VP debate in Cheney's favor, "big time", so that the pendulum swings back the other way, thus heightening the drama, and promoting the idea that "the pressure is on Kerry" in the 2nd Presidential debate.

(BTW if Maria Shriver did a story for Dateline on immigration issues in California, I wouldn't trust her. I don't trust Andrea Mitchell as an objective reporter. I would feel the same way if genders were reversed.)

You know what the big secret about the VP debate is anyway?

When Friday's debate comes along, it will be nothing but a distant memory.

Elections are not won, or even swung positively, in the VP debate. The only thing that can happen in a VP debate that matters is if one candidate fucks up royal, and I don't think either candidate did that, unless of course you count Cheney saying he never met Edwards before.

(that's cheney on the far left)

And even when a candidate bites it in the VP debate (Quayle 88), it doesn't tend to matter much. Edwards was not "obliterated" as Joe Scarborough put it. So life goes on, and the debate on Friday will be very interesting, as Bush doesn't really have a domestic record worth talking about.

UPDATE: Amy Sullivan has more on MSNBC.

2ND UPDATE: Another partial explanation.

As heard on Franken this morning, from Nation writer and author John Nichols, author of Dick: The Man Who Is President.

On monday, Don Rumsfeld said this about possible links between Saddam and Al Qaeda:
"I have seen the answer to that question migrate in the intelligence community over a period of a year in the most amazing way," he told an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations after being asked what Saddam's connection to al-Qaeda was.

Mr Rumsfeld said there were differences in the intelligence community as to what the relationship was.

"To my knowledge, I have not seen any strong, hard evidence that links the two."
Monday, of course, was the day before the Vice Presidential debate.

The Vice Presidential debate features, of course, the Vice President, one Dick Cheney. Cheney, of course, is the most obsessed proponent of the idea that Saddam had Qaeda connections, referring to them as "an established relationship" early on in the debate.

The gossipy speculation part is: Back in 2000, when Cheney was in charge of Bush's running-mate search committee, there was speculation that Rummy -- a former Secretary of Defense under Ford -- was in the running for the nod. When Cheney ended up picking the most qualified Republican he could find -- himself -- Rummy may have felt slighted. And the theory follows that perhaps this informed the timing of his Saddam/AlQaeda statement yesterday.

I'm not sure how much there is to that. But I will say that not a lot of what these guys say is timed accidentally.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Onion provides us with an inside look at that list of debate rules.
Er, nevermind, it was a very frosh-centric crowd, and I've seen that movie too many times. Control Room is playing tomorrow night at Campbell Hall, I think I'll go to that.

Whoops! My wireless had a hiccup around the 35-minute mark of the debate, meaning I only got to riff on the foreign policy portion of the debate.

Here are my quick takes.

--Cheney did marginally better than Bush did.

--Cheney didn't seem to be terribly clear on the concept that putting one's hands between your mouth and your clip-on microphone muffles your voice.

--Oh, and Cheney fucked up the website! Regarding Halliburton, Cheney directed viewers to consult "factcheck dot com" to have the record set straight. The problem? The website in question is factcheck dot org (this site). At the time he said it, fact check dot com went to some sort of placeholder site, but now that my internet is up again and I check it, it's a redirect to! Try for yourself.

I'm glad to see that Cheney and the Republicans are coming around on George Soros. Did anyone else notice this? Ahh, Kevin did (the wrong url part, not the Soros part).

--Nice to see Edwards run through the highlights of Dick Cheney's legislative career, including voting against Head Start, MLK Day, and a resolution calling for Nelson Mandela's release. Go incarcerate yourself, Dick.

--The main thing I wanted Edwards to do was to come armed with specifics, because as uncharismatic as Cheney is, he's there because the perception inexplicably persists that he's "competent". In terms of being on top of things, at the very least Edwards fought his way to a draw.

--Go vote in these polls.

--And Atrios is right that Cheney didn't even bother to respond to most of the charges made against him (Halliburton, his legislative record, etc). The closest he came was referring viewers to a website . . . the wrong website. By the way, the current lead item on the right website is "Bush Mischaracterizes Kerry's Health Plan".

--On the economy and jobs, Cheney employed, through his snarl, the Tinkerbell strategy (clap! clap!) while Edwards charged for the reddest meat of the debate. Cheney -- again through his snarl -- spouted nothing but fantasyland cheerytalk about the economy, and Edwards let it speak for itself. "I don't think the American people can take four more years of this."

--On interantional AIDS relief, Edwards called for twice the funding Bush did in the 2003 SOTU, and Cheney had no response.

--Edwards' compliments to Cheney about how Dick cares for his lesbian daughter were interesting. I don't doubt John's sincerity. But... while Edwards said them, Cheney had this nervous smile on his face, and it seemed to say "Quiiiiet... not in front of the Istian-chray Oalition-cay".

--I have to go, because I'm headed for a 10pm showing of Fahrenheit 911 at IV Theater, and it should be racous since a large contingent of Campus Dems will be there. But all in all, Edwards looked/sounded good and had his facts generally together, and Cheney, while he held on to his air of competence, was still full of shit. It will probably be a wash. Friday will be important.

More thoughts tomorrow maybe.
Is Cheney trying to make hand-farts or something?

(sorry about the break from somewhat-serious commentary)
"I ask a lot of questions. That's my job as vice president."

flashback to fall of 2002...

"Friends from the energy department, could those 60,000 aluminum tubes have any possible purpose other than for nuclear bomb fuel?"

Oh wait... that didn't happen.
"More of the same" was how Edwards described Bush's plan for Iraq. Hitting the Clinton themes. Good.

...Forgive me, Mister Vice President, but in regard to comparing the sizes of the 91 and 03 coalitions, I'm going to guess that Germany contributed a lot more to the war effort in 91 than, say, Mongolia and Palau did in 03.

Dick, this counts too. Prick.
25 minutes in, the H-word emerges.

"Well, Gwen, uh, I think the record speaks for itself."
"An established relationship with Al Qaeda". That statement, if there's any justice, should get GoFuckYourself in trouble.

Edwards: "You are still not being straight with the American people".

...Edwards, early on, hits the 92 Clintonite theme of "a fresh start" (i.e. change)
We'll be doing this, once again, in a lots-of-little-posts fashion. Why? Because it's fun! Big time!

--If you have a Halliburton-related devil and angel on your shoulders, listen to the devil. Make him defend it.

--Clean up after the mess Lieberman left in the 2000 debate. Remember what BigTime said regarding his financial good fortune during the Clinton years: "The government had absolutely nothing to do with it." John, you know he lied, now go make like the best lawyer in the nation that you are and fuck him up.

--You better have done your homework. Start out strong.


P.S. Kerry didn't suck, and neither should you.

Coming to you live -- again -- from The Hub, the heart of the UCen, deep within the southern kingdom of UCSB, to watch the Vice Presidential debate.

...I think somebody else has mentioned this, but I will again anyway. Judy Woodruff (ugh) is reporting live from "spin alley" where all the campaign surrogates from both sides are getting ready to offer spinnish statements to anybody with a microphone. Everyone in that room will be, in effect, lying to reporters. What the hell are they doing in there? Are they going to pick the lie they like the most and run with it? Well they did that with the GOP spin on Kerry's global test line. (I still don't think that will hurt Kerry much, if at all)

...Okay Miles, enough with the numbered keypads for undecided voters. If they haven't figured out which candidate they support yet, then they obviously don't know how to operate electronic devices.

...You know, there's a Wendy's right behind me. Maybe in honor of John and Elizabeth I should get one of them square burgers in their honor.

Today's NYT Editorial hammers the administration on the aluminum tubes.
The only physical evidence the administration offered for an Iraqi nuclear program were the 60,000 aluminum tubes that Baghdad set out to buy in early 2001; some of them were seized in Jordan. Even though Iraq had a history of using the same tubes to make small rockets, the president and his closest advisers told the American people that the overwhelming consensus of government experts was that these new tubes were to be used to make nuclear bomb fuel. Now we know there was no such consensus. Mr. Bush's closest advisers say they didn't know that until after they had made the case for war. But in fact, they had plenty of evidence that the claim was baseless; it was a long-discounted theory that had to be resurrected from the intelligence community's wastebasket when the administration needed justification for invading Iraq.

The tubes-for-bombs theory was the creation of a low-level C.I.A. analyst who got his facts, even the size of the tubes, wrong. It was refuted within 24 hours by the Energy Department, which issued three papers debunking the idea over a four-month period in 2001, and by the International Atomic Energy Agency. A week before Mr. Bush's 2003 State of the Union address, in which he warned of an Iraqi nuclear menace, international experts in Vienna had dismissed the C.I.A.'s theory about the tubes. The day before, the International Atomic Energy Agency said there was no evidence of an Iraqi nuclear program and rejected the tubes' tale entirely.

It's shocking that with all this information readily available, Secretary of State Colin Powell still went before the United Nations to repeat the bogus claims, an appearance that gravely damaged his reputation. It's even more disturbing that Vice President Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, had not only failed to keep the president from misleading the American people, but had also become the chief proponents of the "mushroom cloud" rhetoric.
I'm sure John Edwards will have a chance to make an issue of this tonight.

Monday, October 04, 2004


Two of my blogs (one I contribute to, another I founded and ran for over two years) were just selected to be among "The best of the Berkeley blogs", all of this even though I've never been a full-time student there!

The good people of Berkeley chose to honor, among others, my group music blog If Six Was Nine, and my you-wish-you-thought-of-it brainchild the California Patriot Watch, which I recently ceded to the equally-masochistic Jon Pennington after two ferocious years.

TFM acquaintance Nadia (she of the ridiculously long hair, of which I highly approve) gets profiled in the piece. Here's her review of one of my concerts, from early 2003.

Congrats also to Reb&Tom at CalJunket, the boys at ResIpsa (mild?? ), and the busy bees at CalStuff, and the rest.

The Facts Machine, as the masthead photo clearly shows, is a UCSB blog, and thus not eligible for such fun. The only UCSB bloggers I've met are Nico Pitney of the now-defunct Priority Wire, formerly among the gang at Not Geniuses, and Michael Gordon, aka The Buggy Professor, a long-winded cantankerous neocon from whom I took two polisci classes last year.

If you're from the UCSB community and you have a blog, journal or political-themed web presence of some sort, feel free to drop me a line. Also, if you're in the UCSB area, tomorrow there will be another debate party at the UCen, followed by a Campus Democrats meeting in the State Street Room, then followed by a screening of Fahrenheit 911 at 10, though I don't remember which theater it's in.

I heard my Republican landlords talking in the kitchen this evening while I was eating in the living room. (background: I'm renting a room in Goleta in a house owned by a 40something Republican couple) Last night my fellow liberal housemate Aaron and I had a somewhat loud, liberal-themed conversation in the living room that they overheard, and I'm pretty sure they were putting on some sort of pageant for me. Maybe I'm developing some Nixonesque paranoia, I dunno. Anyway...

The husband loudly pronounced some news he just heard. "It just came out that Saddam Hussein funded the terrorists in Somalia, you know, the Blackhawk Down thing."

"Really?" his wife replied. "Where did you hear about that?"

"On the radio on the way home. It's gonna break soon... it proves that Saddam Hussein has connections to the terrorists."

I walked into the kitchen to pick up a drink from the fridge, and he looked at me with a very contented smile on his face.

I retreated back to my room and thought about what I had just heard. "On the radio" . . . hmm. I mumbled to myself, "some AM wingnut must have read something from Bozell or Laurie Mylroie".

And guess what: I was right on both counts.

I shaved my legs for this? (they're country fans) Anyway...

UPDATE: Jesse rightfully piles on the ridicule.

For whatever reason, this whole week I thought that the Vice Presidential debate was on Wednesday the 6th, when in fact it's tomorrow at 6pm. Be sure to watch!

I wasn't going to link to anything related to this ridiculous idea that Kerry brought a "cheat sheet" to the debate with him, and casually removed it from his jacket and put it on the podium . . . on the stage . . . in front of 60 million Americans.

When I heard about this (from the usual suspect in a fedora), I thought to myself "it's going to turn out to be a pen".

And it was.
But the mystery was solved when The Post reviewed a Fox News Channel feed from Thursday's debate: Kerry pulled out . . . a black pen.
Hmm, one Murdoch tentacle reviews another... that's some great sock puppetry there. But the Post is looking to recover from the Gephardt VP black eye, so they are now redeemed.

I like this idea on the right that Kerry somehow cheated. First, they work ever so hard to lower the expectations for Bush, to make it easier for him to "win" the debate. But suddenly, John Kerry could only have won the debate because he cheated. Did expectations about Bush's performance change overnight? You bunch of flip-floppers you!

Anyway, Kerry's spokespeople have been having a field day with this one:
Kerry campaign spokesman David Wade remained angry at the bloggers' guilt-by-insinuation.

"The right-wing attack machine will say anything to steal a debate do-over," he said.

"We plead guilty to having a pen."

Look, righties, if John Kerry is willing to have his picture taken while serving as a long snapper in a tarmac football game, then that pretty much confirms that Kerry's love of athletics supercedes self-conscious or inauthentic campaign photo-ops.

Unless, of course, he was doing his impersonation of Bush's performance in the first debate.
Oh cool, Hesiod is blogging again. TFM officially welcomes him back, even though he's been back for, you know, over a month.

"Nowadays everybody wanna talk like they got somethin to say
But nothin comes out when they move their lips;
Just a bunch of gibberish
And motherfuckers act like they forgot about Poland"

Simple and to the point, like the man who said it: Hehe.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

The closer is closing


The Army Reserve is running some commercials, which I admit are pretty well done. The one I'm commenting on features visuals of empty offices and rooms, followed by captions that the occupant of said office/room is off doing something Army-related ("currently studing tropical diseases in guatemala", "currently training Iraqi police officers", etc). And that's effective enough.

One of the examples shows an empty location where an auto mechanic would work, and the caption is: "currently hunting Osama bin Laden".


Okay, I understand that hunting Osama is both a worthy and noble activity, and while it is not a magic bullet regarding stopping Al Qaeda, I want to see him caught. And I understand that the allure of that noble act would be a useful recruitment tool. But can't our armed forces do just a little bit better than sending reservist mechanics to the Afghan-Pakistani border to catch Bin Laden? Don't we have special forces for that? Look, I saw G.I. Jane, so I know we have people who've had a LOT more training than reservists.

Then again, using Army Reservists is a much better idea than that whole Afghan warlord idea the administration had about three years ago.

Today is a travel day... more tonight or tomorrow.