The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, October 16, 2004

RNC threatens legal action against Bush for draft comment
Must credit The Facts Machine!!!

WASHINGTON (TFM Press) -- The Republican National Committee (RNC) is threatening to take legal action against President George W. Bush in response to his suggestion today in Daytona Beach, Florida, that there will soon be a military draft.

In a campaign appearance earlier today in the Sunshine State, President Bush addressed the issue of a possible military draft in the near future. He told an audience of supporters that he has "made it plain we will not have an all-volunteer army."

Upon hearing of Bush's comment, RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie immediately sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign headquarters.

"This is irresponsible, inexcusable speculation," Gillespie's letter said. "You're no better than those little punks at MTV."

When reached for comment, members of Bush's campaign were initially on the defensive.

"This points directly to the profound differences in the visions the two candidates have for America," said BC04 spokesman Ken Mehlman. "John Kerry will do or say anything to get elected, while George Bush will go the extra mile to put his incumbent candidacy in jeopardy. Really, the contrast is stark."

"I reject the premise of your question," Bush Press Secretary Scott McClellan told a reporter during an afternoon press briefing. "The President's favorite beer is Miller Genuine All-Volunteer."

He then added, "wait, did I mention the President doesn't drink anymore? Next question."

GOP vice presidential campaign director Mary Cheney was unavailable for comment, as she has been hidden in a spiderhole in Tikrit until mid-November.
Hmm, when you put it that way, maybe it is a choice!

A day of studying/volunteering/baseball awaits. Bye!

John Kerry thinks so.

Bill Schneider thinks so.

In fairness to Bush, no it's not on par with the Beveridge Report. However, to be president and allow something as basic as annual flu shots to be screwed up on your watch is an issue. Not only that, but to offer up an explanation for said screw-up that gives lie to your stances on a number of other issues (Kerry's health care plan, importing Canadian drugs, and even tort reform).

Friday, October 15, 2004


That being said, I would like to highlight a pair of important posts over at Pandagon on the matter.

[T]he commonly ascribed motivation for Kerry doing this is to appeal to Bush's natural base of anti-gay bigots. Even if this is what happened (it isn't), why is it okay for Bush to have these people's support (obviously, he's doing something which appeals to people who hate gays and lesbians), but not for Kerry to supposedly say something which appeals to them? It's okay for Bush to profit from homophobia, but not for Kerry?
And Ezra:
But I'm not sympathetic to the cries of outrage because the Kerry campaign was out of line, I'm sympathetic because goddamn that invocation of Mary Cheney must've hurt.
In both cases, the entirety of the post demands your attention.
The transcript from Jon Stewart's appearance on today's edition of Crossfire is excruciatingly funny. Tucker Carlson comes out of it looking bad, and Paul Begala comes out of it even worse than that.

UPDATE: Video.

This will be my last post on anything related to the Mary Cheney spat, at least today, probably ever.

One of the points I've heard Bill Maher (with whom I agree 70-75% of the time) make about the media frenzy following Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" at the Super Bowl last January was the following: If you only heard the reaction to the story and not the event itself, you would have thought that Janet Jackson had expressed verbal support for Adolf Hitler or Osama bin Laden at the Super Bowl, or bit Tom Brady's dick off, or something.

The reality, of course, was a half-second exposure of a 40-year-old woman's right nipple on television. The sky was certainly not falling.

Now let's apply that test to the Bush-Cheney response to Kerry's comments referring to Mary Cheney during Wednesday's debate. Okay people, turn on your Harrison Bergeron handicap radios, and ponder the following quotes:
"Now, you know, I did have a chance to assess John Kerry once more and now the only thing I could conclude: This is not a good man. Of course, I am speaking as a mom, and a pretty indignant mom. This is not a good man. What a cheap and tawdry political trick.".

"You saw a man who will do and say anything to get elected, and I am not just speaking as a father here, although I am a pretty angry father".

"...a crass, below-the-belt political strategy to attack the vice president's daughter."

Going by those quotes, would it be fair to assume that...

--The vice president's daughter is not yet out of the house, and is not openly gay?

--The vice president wants his daughter's sexuality out of the public discourse?

--John Kerry said something negative about the vice preisdent's daughter?

--John Kerry said something sexually negative/slanderous about the vice president's daughter? ("below-the-belt", "cheap and tawdry")

Gee, sure sounds like it.

Okay, you may now remove your late-21st Century brain scramblers. Would you be surprised to learn that Mary Cheney is not only in her mid-thirties, but is an out lesbian, has done gay/lesbian outreach work for Coors, and runs Dick Cheney's campaign?

Would you be surprised to learn that John Kerry's comment was the following:
KERRY: We‘re all God‘s children, Bob. And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney‘s daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she‘s being who she was, she‘s being who she was born as. I think if you talk to anybody, it‘s not choice.
And would you be surprised to learn that Cheney himself has voluntarily brought up his daughter's sexuality on the campaign trail?

In all of those cases, I'm sure you would be. I'll leave the rest to Queen Gertrude.

(Maybe if Kerry called Mary Cheney something along the lines of "the White House dog", he would get his ass kissed by the Howard Kurtz's of the world)

In the Moonie Times piece on the Mary Cheney thing, we hear from a Bush-Cheney campaign spokesperson:
But Nicolle Devenish, communications director for the Bush-Cheney campaign, said Mr. Kerry miscalculated the impact of his remarks and now is "backpedaling from what is a crass, below-the-belt political strategy to attack the vice president's daughter."

She said his remarks constituted "a political mistake that I think they'll pay a hefty price for."
There you have it. The Bush-Cheney campaign is now saying that John Kerry, in his remarks during Wednesday's debate, attacked Mary Cheney.

If I may ask a simple, polite question: How so?

Over to you, liberal media!

P.S. At least the Washington Times piece included Cheney bringing up his daughter's sexuality publicly during a campaign appearance this summer. Fox News' piece, on the other hand, did not.

UPDATE: Instapundit makes a very weak attempt to unpack the comment I highlighted yesterday, after Sullivan called him on it.
Andrew also writes: "One last gripe about Glenn: he also writes that Kerry 'dissed' Mary Cheney. How? Is calling an openly gay person gay an insult?" Of course not. It's not even an insult to call a straight person gay. But it is disrespectful to drag people into debates on sexuality on national TV. And it's disrespectful to do so as an effort to -- as Mickey Kaus suggested -- swing the votes of homophobes. I'm surprised that Andrew is so untroubled by this.
Give me a break. Was Mary's father being "disrespectful" when he dragged her into the dialog on gay marriage on national TV? (I remember the coverage) And why did he do that? To swing non-homophobes toward voting WITH homophobes! Again, you're a fucking law professor, think harder.

And as long as we're on the subject, just above that in the same post we find more willfull stupidity from Glenn:
STILL MORE: Andrew Sullivan writes: "The usually even-keeled Instapundit says that Kerry's 'position on gay marriage is the same as the President's.' I can't see how that's even remotely the case."

Well, it was this Kerry statement that led to my conclusion:
The president and I have the same position, fundamentally, on gay marriage. We do. Same position.
Call me crazy, but I took that to mean that they had the same position. Since it was a Kerry statement, I should have realized that I was probably missing out on a crucial nuance. My bad.
"Fundamentally", stupid! What that means is that both Kerry and Bush believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. (Note: TFM does not share this view) Generally, when someone says "fundamentally", that implies, you know, a difference on some details. Kerry does not support a Constitutional amendment singling out an entire segment of our population for discrimination. Bush, on the other hand, does. But their positions on marriage are, fundamentally, the same. Is that so hard to understand? Yeesh.

The other day, a group called the Traditional Values Coalition accused the office of a Tennessee Democrat from the State Leg., Craig Fitzhugh, of allegedly printing flyers with the above image on them.

Well, it would appear that there's a bit more to the story. More, as in "file it next to the girl who had her Bush sign stolen from her".

Link via Josh, who also provides some context suggesting that this was a page from the Rovian playbook.


Thursday, October 14, 2004


What Juan Cole said.

Join us tomorrow when we at The Facts Machine divine some relevance from the relative heights of Storke Tower and the Campanile.

Come to UC Santa Barbara, where we're bold enough to paint our phallic symbol with an actual skin-tone. (:
World O'Crap brings us portions of The O'Reilly Factor for Kids: Part 2.

Uh oh.

My sense is that this Mary Cheney stuff won't last another 36 hours. Why? Look at the statements Dick and Lynne have made. They say they're "angry" and "indignant", but they haven't said why. We're supposed to assume something, but they neglect to say what that something is.

It can't be about bringing Mary into the discussion altogether, since Dick himself was happy enough to do that long before the 2004 debates. And it can't be about anything libelous that Kerry said, because what Kerry said cannot possibly be interpreted that way.

This situation can only expand if Dick and Lynne verbally offer up the context for why they're "angry", instead of just saying it and assuming we understand. In allowing the Cheneys' statements to stand as is, the Associated Press account seems very willfully obtuse. But that won't last.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum asks the very same question.

UPDATE II: Marshall adds:
Lynne Cheney called Kerry's mention of her daughter "cheap and tawdry." Those are words redolent of associations with sexual deviance, not rough campaign tactics. She might have said what he did was 'mean-spirited', 'underhanded', 'devious', 'inappropriate', 'wrong'. She chose 'cheap and tawdry'. Interesting ...
That might lend some insight to the "why" question.

UPDATE: A partial answer, via Americablog:
ABC News just reported that what truly angered the Cheney family about Kerry's comments last night about Mary was that he claimed to know what was in her mind! Excuse me? Kerry said:
I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was. She's being who she was born as. I think if you talk to anybody, it's not a choice."
So what the Bush campaign is now saying is that Mr. and Mrs. Cheney are upset that Kerry suggested that Mary thinks being gay isn't a choice. So does Mary think being gay IS a choice?

Like I said, lovely family.
See, this is why the issue is going away. The media, in this case ABC, figured out the relevant question to ask in only a matter of hours, and unless the Cheneys want to enter some really bad territory, there's not much more they can do once the press does that.
Andrew Sullivan has a pretty definitive take on this whole Mary Cheney spat.

As Instapundit, who has linked to Sully many a time would say, read the whole thing.
Slate's Bill Saletan recaps the third debate.
Dick Cheney is not a good man.

UPDATE: But wait! He's "a very angry father". Please, by all means, elaborate. Tell me exactly what John Kerry said that offends you.

Instapundit, this morning:
UPDATE: Lynne Cheney is letting Kerry have it for dissing her daughter:
Lynne Cheney issued her post-debate rebuke to a cheering crowd outside Pittsburgh. "The only thing I can conclude is he is not a good man. I'm speaking as a mom," she said. "What a cheap and tawdry political trick."
That seems to be the emerging consensus.
Excuse me, but "dissing"? "DISSING"?

Glenn, you have a fucking law degree. Care to unpack that comment a bit?
From a Clear Channel news break on 1340 AM in Santa Barbara:
...though polls seem to indicate that last night's debate was a draw.
Oh really?

First of all, love your work.

Okay, let's get down to business.

Your daughter is a grown woman. Not a grown woman in the Jenna Bush, just-got-out-of-college sense. I mean full-grown. Irrevocably an adult.

Furthermore, she is a lesbian. An out lesbian. And she happens to have done work for your husband and his running mate's campaign. She was on stage after the VP debate. With her partner, no less.

Being a lesbian is a thing, just like any other, like being left-handed, far-sighted or heterosexual. If you believe that lesbianism, in an of itself, is a bad thing, then you have departed from decent public discourse.

Last night Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry, in answering a question from moderator Bob Scheiffer about whether homosexuality was a choice (a question your husband's running mate essentially ducked), mentioned your daughter, a non-closeted lesbian who has worked for your husband's campaign and stood on stage with her partner after last week's VP debate, saying that if asked, she wouldn't view her basic sexuality as a choice.

You used this episode to say Kerry is "not a good man", referring to his comment as "a tawdry political trick".

Those are your words, Lynne. My question is: Why? Why is it a tawdry political trick?

Did John Kerry make some sort of negative charge against Mary Cheney? Did he slander her without giving her, or her father, a chance to respond?

If so, then you, Lynne Cheney, are promoting the idea that lesbianism is, in and of itself, a bad thing, and a charge against which people must defend themselves. Complain all you want, but that's the subtext you are supporting when you make comments like that.

To quote Dubya's mom, I'm through with you!

Metrosexually yours,
The Facts Machine

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


I'm signing off for the night, but I'll leave you with the sentiment shared by both Andrew Sullivan and Josh Marshall. As the latter put it:
Kerry looked more presidential than the president. I don't know how else to put it.
Kerry hit the trifecta.
The hard-workin folks at Media Matters have seen and reviewed Stolen Honor, the anti-Kerry film Sinclair Broadcasting Group plans to show on all its stations later this month.

Natrually, the film is full of shit. And they watched it.
Unless I'm missing something, did every single blogger over at The Corner not pick up on Bush's big Bin Laden lie?

And they say we are the ones constructing a cocoon.

Three insta-polls over at Political Wire, with two of them (CNN/Gallup and CBS) showing decisive Kerry victories, and the third (ABC) showing a narrow Kerry victory despite a sample leaning towards Republicans.

Everyone else is putting up the quote, and so will I.

March 13th, 2002:
QUESTION: Mr. President, in your speeches now, you rarely talk or mention Osama bin Laden. Why is that?

I don't know where he is. Nor -- you know, I just don't spend that much time on him really, to be honest with you.


QUESTION: Do you believe the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead of alive?

BUSH: As I say, we hadn't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, you know, again, I don't know where he is.

I'll repeat what I said: I truly am not that concerned about him.
This is relevant, of course, because tonight President Bush said this to Bob Scheiffer and America:
KERRY: Yes. When the president had an opportunity to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, he took his focus off of them, outsourced the job to Afghan warlords, and Osama bin Laden escaped.

Six months after he said Osama bin Laden must be caught dead or alive, this president was asked, Where is Osama bin Laden? He said, I don't know. I don't really think about him very much. I'm not that concerned.

We need a president who stays deadly focused on the real war on terror.

SCHIEFFER: Mr. President?

BUSH: Gosh, I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those exaggerations.
Hmm, George, the truth can be quite a nuisance, huh.

UPDATE: CNN is already playing the video. Good.

I love this whole "rush the polls!" thing that Democrats have finally figured out to do this time around. But at this moment, the LA Times internet poll has John Kerry winning the debate with 96.8% of the vote, to Bush's 0.9%. And that's with over eleven thousand people participating!

Yes! We must destroy non-scientific internet polling to save democracy!

More thoughts later...

--Bush did not help himself, nor did he do anything to slow Kerry's momentum. A lot more smirking this time around, even a "woo!" at one point. More false-start responses this time around than in the previous two debates put together.

--Where the fuck was the environment? Thanks Bob!

--Kerry dramatically outclassed Bush on health care, social security (the return of "2-1=4"), taxes and certainly on jobs. Bush accused Kerry of having zero medicare-related accomplishments in his tenure in the Senate, and Kerry produced one to refute the charge. However, Bush could not produce a single program of his related to jobs, only pointing in vain to his tax cut and, laughably, the No Child Left Behind act.

--Kerry's invoking of scripture was a bit too much for most of the secular college audience in Giovanni's, but with me putting on my pretending-to-be-from-middle-America hat, it felt as if he hit good notes with such references.

--What will the punditry make a big deal about: Bush's claiming never to have said that catching Osama "wasn't that much of a priority" or the Congressional Black Caucus comment. I'd point out that "That's not true! I met with them once or twice!" isn't much of a defense, given the context.

More later, when I find a better internet connection.
I'm pretty sure that his invoking that painting of his was a sweet little code to say "uhh, don't look at my record... I haven't been president these last four years... Oh, and I blink a lot."
The current situation in Iraq: Faith-based foreign policy.

You heard it right from the horse's mouth.
Bush ducks the affirmative action question big-time.

Stand by for CNN's talking heads to make a disproportionately large deal about the Congressional Black Caucus thing.
Again with the "Global Test". Bush is, naturally, afraid of tests.

And of course, what Kerry said meant the exact opposite of how Bush just interpreted it. Kerry is saying so as I type this.
"The No Child Left Behind act is really a jobs act if you think about it."

If that's the best he can do to point to a job growth program, then he's in deep, deep trouble.
"I'm tired of politicians that talk about family values and don't value families."

And a shout-out to equal pay for equal work. Please, keep talkin dirty to me John.
Anybody else notice how almost every single Bush rebuttal goes something like this:

--Snarky joke that falls flat.

--2 second pause to smirk, filling said silence.

--(waits for Karl on the earpiece) Answers...
Ooh! Ooh! Stand by for the usual suspects to bitch about the temporary worker card.
"You still get your check"

When you get your check, and the dollar amount on that check, are the issues, George.
"We all know that money for social security is running out" -Scheiffer

Did the Cato Institute write that question for Bob?
Marriage defined by the courts: Bad!

Marriage defined by a discriminatory amendment to the constitution: Good!

...I could give a shit if Kerry loses any Ralph Reed, Christian Coalition votes in his response to this question... but Kerry needs to quickly get to his reasons for supporting domestic partnership laws, and he didn't get as much in there as I would have liked.
"There's a tax gap"

Uh George, you identified a "tax gap" as the reason we can't pay for homeland security in the first debate. You have a lot of credibility sir.

By the way, what's that stuff at the corners of his mouth? Did he skip his physical this year because he has rabies?
"Don't get a flu shot this year". A bold plan.

Wait. We have a vaccination shortage, therefore we need tort reform. Original. Wrong, but original.
Bush is describing his plan, sounds as if he's going through the motions a bit. Initially, they're both going right for the jugular again.

Bush laughing about his own statement when Kerry repeated it back to him, still the same guy as those first two debates.
Could we do away with this custom where the candidates thank everyone right before going into their first answer? This isn't the Oscars.
The microphone is still short! This debate is over.
The channel changes, and so begins the exodus of the baseball fans! May they find the promised land.

Of course, they could always stay here and root for the person from Boston.

Of course, they're both New Englanders (Bush is really from Connecticut), but let's not worry about that.

Blogging to you live from Giovanni's Pizza in Isla Vista, where they BETTER CHANGE THE CHANNEL by 6pm. But it's nice to know the Red Sox are within one run.

Anyway, debate coverage will commence soon!
Operation Truth's new ad is indeed effective, but regarding their other video material, I have to ask: What's up with Jesse Ventura's new look? Did he get traded to the Red Sox or something?

This is, uh, not very subtle.

More Democratic voter suppression here and here too.

I just reregistered to vote last Monday. The person to whom I handed my registration form is also the president of UCSB Campus Democrats, so I'm pretty sure I'm in the clear on this one.

Bush and Kerry return to their respective lecterns tonight for the third and final Presidential debate, to be held in that quiet, tranquil community known as Tempe, Arizona. The debate will focus primarily on domestic issues. What should we look for?

--Watch for these lies. Will John Kerry be able to hit back in a rhetorically clear manner?

--Will the discrepancy in microphone-height remain apparent tonight?

--Will Bush quote the 98-tax-increases figure he and Cheney used last week, or the 350-tax-increases figure they're using in a campaign commercial currently running in battleground states? At maximum, only one of these figures can be true. At maximum.

--Will Bob Scheiffer be shouted down?

--If Bill O'Reilly shows up, will he feel up Teresa? (dammit, this deserves its own post)

Posted 2:37 PM by Brendan

I guess we now know who Bill O'Reilly's ideal Supreme Court Justice is.
Hours after Bill O'Reilly accused her of a multimillion dollar shakedown attempt, a female Fox News producer fired back at the TV star today, filing a lawsuit claiming that he subjected her to repeated instances of sexual harassment and spoke often, and explicitly, to her about phone sex, vibrators, threesomes, masturbation, the loss of his virginity, and sexual fantasies.
I won't ruin the rest, but here's one to think about for the rest of the day:
66. During the course of O'REILLY's telephone monologue on August 2, 2004, he suggested that Plaintiff ANDREA MACKRIS purchase a vibrator and name it, and that he had one "shaped like a cock with a little battery in it" that a woman had given him. It became apparent that Defendeant was masturbating as he spoke. After he climaxed, Defendant O'REILLY said to Plaintiff: "I appreciate the fun phone call. You can have fun tonight. I'll appreciate it. I mean it." Plaintiff felt as if the floor had fallen out from beneath her. She was shocked, frightened and upset. She felt trapped.
Boy, what a charmer that man is. The trick to get out of that situation is to either say "shut up!" or moan "ohhh Al, Al!" "Oh god, you are the hottest clandestinely registered Republican I have evern met!" should work as well. Or "Oh baby, I'm giving you all my Peabody, I mean Polk awards for this!" Okay, back to that other post.

--Will Bush be listening to the Yankees game on his earpiece?

--Will Kerry be able to nail Bush to the wall on the environment this time, instead of letting him slip away and talk just about Kyoto?

See you tonight at 6!

Kerry's new ad features Bush's "I don't think you can win it" quote from his interview on Today. Good. They asked for it.

I'm a fan of, it's just about the most straightforward and useful electoral vote coverage you can find around the internet. The state polls are frequently updated, using a variety of polling organizations, and I appreciate that.

However, I've noticed that the Votemaster sure enjoys using partisan polls for his electoral map from time to time. And, um, partisan only one way.

On today's map, there are seven states whose status are currently determined by partisan polls: Washington, Oklahoma, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In five cases, the status is determined solely from the Republican polling firm Strategic Vision. In one case (Oklahoma) the Republican polling firm Wilson Research is employed, and in Pennsylvania it is a compromise between Strategic Vision and a Quinnipiac U. poll.

Note that partisan polls alone were enough for the Votemaster to change the three midwestern swing states -- Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio -- from Kerry states to Bush states.

And of course, note that no Democratic polling organizations are used for the map.

So my question is: What's the dealio? Is this an accurate snapshot of the Electoral College as it stands today? Has the Electoral College devolved into a party school in recent years? Would that be considered "devolving"?

Okay, I need lunch.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Well, well, well.
Germany might deploy troops in Iraq if conditions there change, Peter Struck, the German defence minister, indicated on Tuesday in a gesture that appears to provide backing for John Kerry, the US Democratic presidential challenger.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Struck departed from his government’s resolve not to send troops to Iraq under any circumstances, saying: “At present I rule out the deployment of German troops in Iraq. In general, however, there is no one who can predict developments in Iraq in such a way that he could make a such a binding statement [about the future].”

Mr Struck also welcomed Mr Kerry’s proposal that he would convene an international conference on Iraq including countries that opposed the war if he were to win next month's election.

Germany would certainly attend, Mr Struck said. “This is a very sensible proposal. The situation in Iraq can only be cleared up when all those involved sit together at one table. Germany has taken on responsibilities in Iraq, including financial ones; this would naturally justify our involvement in such a conference.”

Berlin has refused to comment on the outcome of the US election, but Mr Struck's comments are significant as Mr Kerry has argued that he would be able to draw in countries to work in Iraq that opposed the war. Gerhard Schröder, the German chancellor, was a leading opponent of the US-led Iraq war and his re-election in 2002 was secured in part on support for this stance.
The countries in largest opposition to/pissed off most by Bush in the run-up to the Iraq invasion have treaded very lightly during this campaign season, and for good reasons: They don't want to be seen as trying to affect an American domestic matter, and though they may be more willing to cooperate with a Kerry administration should he be elected, they can't come out and fully say so, because if they did and Bush was reelected, we can expect more champagne boycotts or something. The compromise Germany has come up with is to offer subtle hints like this one, having an underling of Schroeder come out and say what he said.
Boy, that John Edwards sure is one optimistic guy...

Digby documents the response to news of Christopher Reeve's death over at FreeRepublic. As you read these, keep in mind that these were the comments the moderators chose not to delete.

(link via Hesiod)

I'm just going to stick all the helpful links in one place, rather than do any commentary, since you can probably guess my opinion about this.

The short and the shorter of it is: Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which own TV stations that reach 25% of the country, is planning to require all of its stations to show an anti-Kerry documentary film in the run-up to the election. The documentary has a lot of overlap with the Swift Boat Liars' A-material. Hence, should the doc be shown, voters in many parts of the country -- Sinclair owns a lot of stations in states that are up for grabs this year -- will be subjected to over an hour of uninterrupted anti-Kerry propaganda, including a rehashing of the charges relating to his war medals, an issue that was settled conclusively by the US Navy last month.

Sinclair, you may remember, is the same company that refused to allow its ABC affiliates broadcast Ted Koppels reading of the names of the Iraqi war dead on Nightline back in May.

Commence link dump!

--Sinclair's advertisers. As long as I stay away from Subway and Taco Bell for the time being, I think I'm ok. One of the advertisers, Sylvan Learning Center, has already annouced they're pulling their ads.

--Here's the DNC's action page. That page also includes a handy list of their affiliates and their locations, so you can know whether there's a Sinclair station in your area.

--"Sinclair Broadcasting Group, under fire for ordering its 62 networks to broadcast a film sharply critical of John Kerry’s opposition to the Vietnam War, is a major investor in a company recently awarded a military contract by the Bush Administration". That company is called Jadoo, a producer of portable power systems. It's enough to make one wonder if there's some sort of quid pro quo going on here. And naturally, Jadoo has done business with Enron.

--A charming statement from Sinclair spokesman Mark Hyman:
However, the accusations coming from Terry McAuliffe and others, is it because they are some elements of this that may reflect poorly on John Kerry? That it's somehow an in-kind contribution of George Bush?

If you use that logic and reasoning, that means every car bomb in Iraq would be an in-kind contribution to John Kerry. Weak job performance ratings that came out last month would have been an in- kind contribution to John Kerry. And that's just nonsense.

This is news. I can't change the fact that these people decided to come forward today. The networks had this opportunity over a month ago to speak with these people. They chose to suppress them. They chose to ignore them. They are acting like Holocaust deniers, pretending these men don't exist.
Naturally, Abraham Foxman has something to say about that lovely analogy. Meanwhile Jesse is wondering whether that Mark Hyman is the same Mark Hyman who recently trolled his blog.

--Here's a pretty straightforward take-action page.

--Lastly, Josh Marshall is all over most of the developments.

In my little way, I've been trying to counteract the rhetorical trends of our current political discourse.

I always say "tax cut" instead of "tax relief".

I do my best to say "late-term" and not "partial birth abortion", of which there is no such thing. And it's always "pro choice", not "pro abortion".

The "death tax" is always "the estate tax". Death happens to everybody, and only .5% of "estates" get taxed upon the owner's death.

And so on.

Nevertheless, yes Tommaso, I will pick up a copy of Lakoff's new one when I have a chance.

The comment thread from the linked post is a fun read. Of course, anyone who points to Mark Halperin's memo as some sort of example of "liberal bias" has, in Polish Prime Minister Kwasniewski's words, been taken "for a ride".

Hoffmania points out this quote from General Brent Scowcroft, a man who worked for both Bushes:
"Can we win the war on terrorism? Yes, I think we can, in the sense that we can win the war on organized crime. There is going to be no peace treaty on the battleship Missouri in the war on terrorism, but we can break its back so that it is only a horrible nuisance and not a paralyzing influence on our societies."
Again, a General said that.

But why should Bush take his words to heart? I mean, back in 2002 Scowcroft said such absolutely ridiculous and wrongheaded things as this:
Saddam's strategic objective appears to be to dominate the Persian Gulf, to control oil from the region, or both.

That clearly poses a real threat to key U.S. interests. But there is scant evidence to tie Saddam to terrorist organizations, and even less to the Sept. 11 attacks. Indeed Saddam's goals have little in common with the terrorists who threaten us, and there is little incentive for him to make common cause with them.

He is unlikely to risk his investment in weapons of mass destruction, much less his country, by handing such weapons to terrorists who would use them for their own purposes and leave Baghdad as the return address. Threatening to use these weapons for blackmail--much less their actual use--would open him and his entire regime to a devastating response by the U.S. While Saddam is thoroughly evil, he is above all a power-hungry survivor.

Saddam is a familiar dictatorial aggressor, with traditional goals for his aggression. There is little evidence to indicate that the United States itself is an object of his aggression.


The United States could certainly defeat the Iraqi military and destroy Saddam's regime. But it would not be a cakewalk. On the contrary, it undoubtedly would be very expensive--with serious consequences for the U.S. and global economy--and could as well be bloody.


But the central point is that any campaign against Iraq, whatever the strategy, cost and risks, is certain to divert us for some indefinite period from our war on terrorism. Worse, there is a virtual consensus in the world against an attack on Iraq at this time. So long as that sentiment persists, it would require the U.S. to pursue a virtual go-it-alone strategy against Iraq, making any military operations correspondingly more difficult and expensive. The most serious cost, however, would be to the war on terrorism. Ignoring that clear sentiment would result in a serious degradation in international cooperation with us against terrorism. And make no mistake, we simply cannot win that war without enthusiastic international cooperation, especially on intelligence.
Roost, ye chickens have come to!
Seymour Hersh told this story at Santa Barbara too. (link via atrios)

I'm sitting in Giovanni's Pizza in Isla Vista, and the wireless signal here is pretty good, so look forward to the return of debate live-blogging tomorrow at 6PM Pacific!

More blogging soon...

Monday, October 11, 2004

Over at Pandagon, Jesse lays down a challenge to all those on the right who criticized Ted Koppel's reading the names of the Iraq war dead last spring.

We're now done with the debates that focus on foreign policy, and something occurred to me about Bush's performances.

It's been said before that the extent to which Bush wants to run on his record is that he wants people to focus on his decision-making process ("I saw a threat") and not, you know, the actual results of that process (Iraq as it stands today).

I thought his biggest challenge in the debates would be to somehow frame what has actually gone on in the context of the decisions he's made, and do so in a positive way.

Thinking back to the debates, Bush spent very little time on the rosy future of Iraq. Not much on the prospect of elections there in January. A little bit about Allawi (you'll notice he's dropped the "interim" from Allawi's title lately, that's interesting), but not terribly much.

Virtually everything he said in the debates about Iraq had to do with the rightness of his decision to invade and the size of the coalition he assembled. Practically nothing about the lack of WMD, the 1000+ dead American troops, the struggles in Fallujah, Najaf, Ramadi, Samarra, etc.

It was a tough task, but one he had to attempt if he wanted to win. Bush failed to put the results of his decisions in any sort of positive context with the decisions themselves. And that's why he will lose in three weeks.

Sunday, October 10, 2004


RIP Christopher Reeve.

I hope all of you out there also appreciated his work in the hilarious-yet-underappreciated Noises Off
Via Suburban Guerrilla, the repeatedly-vindicated Scott Ritter comments on the Duelfer report.

Atrios links to this LA Times piece on how some military assaults on targets in Iraq like Fallujah and Ramadi are being postponed until after the election by the administration because of the effect they could have on said election (i.e. lots of American troops getting killed).
Although American commanders in Iraq have been buoyed by recent successes in insurgent-held towns such as Samarra and Tall Afar, administration and Pentagon officials say they will not try to retake cities such as Fallujah and Ramadi -- where insurgents' grip is strongest and U.S. military casualties could be the greatest -- until after Americans vote in what is likely to be a close election.

"When this election's over, you'll see us move very vigorously," said one senior administration official involved in strategic planning, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Once you're past the election, it changes the political ramifications" of a large-scale offensive, the official said. "We're not on hold right now. We're just not as aggressive."
I'm suffering from a bit of Bush-prioritizing-himself-over-Iraq fatigue, so I won't cover that here. But let's reverse the question.

Let's explore the hypothetical of Bush losing on November 2nd.

Bush's dad did virtually nothing to help the Somalia situation during his lame duck period before Clinton took over, electing instead to "punt". We all know how that ended up.

So my question is: Can we trust a lame-duck Bush to faithfully prosecute the war in Iraq between early November and mid January?

I mean, any more than we can right now, that is.

Hopefully, we'll find out the answer to that question, but if their similar demeanors at this point in the election cycle are any indication, perhaps it could be like father like son in this instance as well...

John Kerry, that pinko commie, just said he wants to reduce terrorism's effect on our lives to "a nuisance"!

Whereas Bush is going to eliminate all terrorism in the world forever.

Get a grip, you morons.

POSTSCRIPT... And lest we forget:
Lauer: You said to me a second ago, one of the things you'll lay out in your vision for the next four years is how to go about winning the war on terror. That phrase strikes me a little bit. Do you really think we can win this war on terror in the next four years?

President Bush: I have never said we can win it in four years.

Lauer: So I’m just saying can we win it? Do you see that?

President Bush: I don’t think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world — let's put it that way.
In other words, down to a nuisance level.
American companies, such as the big H, were doing business with Iraq through overseas subsidiaries. That's the only reason why we aren't being implicated as accessories to Saddam's attempts to get around the sanctions. So please, Mister Cheney, shut up.

Unless of course you'd like to tell over a thousand mothers, face to face, that this was the reason their child was killed in Iraq.

Should I review his appearance at Campbell Hall a mere hour after it occurred? I'm mighty pissed-off right now, so this could get ugly. Let me compose myself. (short pause) There, that's better.

Fuck Bush. Fuck the war in Iraq. Fuck the mess he and his cronies have made of America's credibility, respect, and moral authority around the world.

You want more? Okay.

Listening to Hersh brought me back to Al Gore's post-Abu Ghraib speech in New York, you know, the one the de facto Abu Ghraib apologists on the right used to question Gore's mental stability. Today I heard the same anger about what these guys have done to our country as Gore expressed, only delivered by a journalist with a prolific knowledge base on the subject. It had been months since I read his three big New Yorker pieces, but upon returning to my computer I was compelled to Lexis-Nexis them and dive into them once more, and I came up from the experience all the more angry.

The fact that the White House knew about what happened four months before the Taguba report went public but kept it silent, hopeing for some sort of good news to overshadow it. The fact that the systematic torture and abuses as Abu Ghraib were the natural extension of clearly and publicly-expressed sentiments from the administration about this being "a different kind of war", one in which the old rules don't necessarily apply, including the Geneva Fucking Conventions (when Switzerland ended its neutrality, they put "Fucking" in there). The fact that Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon had a secret program, going through various codenames, that brought such hideous brutality back to Abu Ghraib only months after kicking Saddam out of Baghdad.

(veins... bulging...) Okay, with that I'll turn it over to Al Gore:

"How dare they subject us to such dishonor and disgrace! How DARE they drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud of Saddam Hussein's torture prison!"

Thanks, Al.

Other tidbits from Hersh's appearance:

--He believes the war in Iraq is "unwinnable". If winning means "anything even remotely similar to a stable democracy any time in the coming few years", then yes, I agree. If you think I'm setting the goalposts too close together ("Democracies take years! Remember all the naysaying about postwar Germany!"), I would be happy to remind you of all the wonderful, flowery things that members of the administration said in the run-up to the war. Or you can join me and Richard Perle in Baghdad next weekend for the dedication of the shiny new George W. Bush Square! Think of it as a roundabout with no exit lanes.

He pointed out that the insurgency is growing stronger, and not weaker. Attacks are being carried out by larger groups rather than smaller ones. We have been wholly unable to infiltrate them, even with our employment of Abu Ghraib-like tactics. (by the way, that removes the ends-means moral question of the abuses) There are those in the military who believe the insurgency posesses short-range missiles but are waiting to use them until whatever time they have determined is the right one to escalate. No matter who wins next month's election, it's bound to get worse.

--He subscribes to something similar to a Zarqawi-as-Emmanuel-Goldstein theory. That is, that the insurgency has duped the United States military, government and media into identifying Zarqawi as some sort of mastermind, or leader, of the insurgency. And it makes sense. Zarqawi is useful to the administration because they used him as the lynchpin of their case that Saddam and Al Qaeda were connected (an assertion notably distant from the facts), and because identifying the leader of the insurgency makes the guerrilla effort seem more compact and manageable than if there was no clearly-defined leader. Zarqawi is useful to the insurgency because it makes, in international eyes (ours included), the bad parts of the insurgency more about him than about the insurgents in general.

Furthermore, it makes sense because Rummy, Cheney and Feith's Office of Special Plans were more than happy to swallow every bit of tripe from Ahmed Chalabi (as was Judith Miller, whom Hersh partially defended today for some reason on the source disclosure thing), and Chalabi was either working for, or being used by the Iranian government who had an interest in seeing Iraq turn into a chaotic, failed state. They bought it hook, line and sinker, and they haven't changed, so there's no reason they wouldn't be duped again, this time by the insurgency regarding Zarqawi.

--He doesn't think much of Kerry's chances for success in Iraq either, nor does he think that Kerry's first term, should he be elected, will be a very successful one for him, given the likelihood of Republican majorities in Congress and a hostile media.

I am sure that should he be elected, Kerry will try with all his ability to find a path towards some form of success in Iraq. He certainly has the right to take America's newfound credibility (with a new leader) for a spin, and see what kind of cooperation he can get from our allies in Europe and elsewhere. However, should these efforts not bear fruit in terms of the Perle-Cheney-PNAC goals in Iraq, I'm convinced that the true test of President John Kerry would then not be the extent to which he succeeds in Iraq, but rather how long it takes him to bring us, the American people, to the real epiphanies about what can and cannot be accomplished.

His Vietnam experience is highly relevant to this campaign, as he would be in the Nixon seat in 2005 following Bush's stubborn-and-wrong LBJ impersonation. The worst periods of that war came under Nixon's watch, and Kerry would be in a position to make some of the very same mistakes. Nixon bombed the fuck out of Cambodia, destabilizing that country and creating a vacuum that allowed the Khmer Rouge to more easily take power and kill 2 million of its own people. Hersh pointed out that Bush's war in Iraq has already swung the pendulum in neighboring Iran away from democratic reform and back towards the anti-US fundamentalist hardline autocrats. Kerry's future decisions will either exacerbate or mitigate these trends. We know which way Nixon went. We also know which way John Kerry went at that time. Will he see the light, if there is light to be seen?

The old Vulcan proverb is that only Nixon can go to China. We may be about to find out if it takes a non-neoconservative to properly carry out a neoconservative pipe dream. Perhaps the difference between a Kerry administration and a Bush administration is in that central, hideous tenet of neoconservatism: democracy by any means. That was the tenet which spawned Abu Ghraib. Like John Kerry said in the first debate, "there's the right way to go to war, and there's the wrong way". Are there "right means" to democracy in Iraq on any realistic timeline, given what we've done so far? Guess we'll have to wait and see.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

POSTSCRIPT. Cranky memo to students and adults alike, who feel the need to ask lecture-givers questions via microphone at the end of an appearance:

1) I don't care about your little organization.
2) You're not talking to God, so don't expect precisely the answer you want.

POST-POSTCRIPT. I just converted the Kerry's-prospects portion of this post into a letter to the editor, and sent it to my school's paper, the Daily Nexus. They've printed me before, so let's see if they bite again. And yes, I broke it up into smaller paragraphs. (:
Over at TalkLeft, Bush's debate comments on the Dred Scott case are treated with the proper derision.

I've noticed, at least in my blog perusal over the past several months to couple years, that the right wing of the blog universe has something of a monopoly on this whole "carnival" thing.

Vanities, Liberated, Capitalists, Commies, etc, it's carnivals everywhere you look.

Is there a deeply-repressed, hidden affection for the carny lifestyle going around among the anti-idiotarians?

Did they see The Jerk too many times?

Bush copies Gore . . . again!

Remember how George Bush, while speaking around the country in 2002, used the so-called "trifecta" joke a number of times, regarding a 2000 campaign promise only to deficit-spend if there was a war, a recession or a national emergency? (the punch-line was "Never did I imagine that I would hit the trifecta") Well if you recall, he never actually made that promise, but Al Gore did. Bush stole the line from Gore, lied about its origin, and made conservatives laugh across America.

Well, George the Echo is at it again.

Al Gore, How to Debate George Bush, op-ed, NY Times, 9/29/04:
The biggest single difference between the debates this year and four years ago is that President Bush cannot simply make promises. He has a record. And I hope that voters will recall the last time Mr. Bush stood on stage for a presidential debate. If elected, he said, he would support allowing Americans to buy prescription drugs from Canada. He promised that his tax cuts would create millions of new jobs. He vowed to end partisan bickering in Washington. Above all, he pledged that if he put American troops into combat: ''The force must be strong enough so that the mission can be accomplished. And the exit strategy needs to be well defined.''

Comparing these grandiose promises to his failed record, it's enough to make anyone want to, well, sigh.
George W Bush, 2nd presidential debate, 10/8/04:
Mr. Gibson: Mr. president, minute and a half.

Mr. Bush: That answer almost made me want to scowl. He keeps talking about let the inspectors do their job. It's naïve and dangerous to say that. That's what the Duelfer report showed. He was deceiving the inspectors...
(emphasis mine in both cases)

Bush used the same line, with the same intent, as Al Gore just used. The difference, of course, is that Gore, used it 4 years after his debates as an ironic bit of humor, while Bush used the line just 8 days after the offending facial expression in question. The other difference is that while the media made a large issue over Gore's gesture, which was largely isolated, the critique on Bush's first debate performance in 2004 was not about an isolated facial expression, but his attitude and demeanor throughout the event. The 2000 issue was "the sigh"; nobody right now is talking about just "the scowl". Thus, I'm guessing that his line fell flat with most people.

Especially when just minutes later, he angrily shouted down the moderator.

UPDATE: As Wonkette put it:
Uhm. Yeah. I think I could hear crickets. I mean, that joke bombed. Bombed like a bad war.

Just watched Saturday Night Live’s satire of the townhall-style Presidential debate. I was curiout about it, because as everyone surely remembers, their take on the Bush-Gore debates in 2000, for some inexplicable reason, had an actual impact on the campaign. They made fun of Gore’s sigh (Al didn’t, oh, shout over the moderator or anything, by the way) and the media used it to help construct their “three faces of Al Gore” narrative. To be fair, the Gore campaign itself used the SNL debate sketch in prepping Al for future debates. But my main point is that the sketch had an impact, and that’s just scary and stupid.

After watching tonight’s take on the St Louis debate, I can say without a doubt that we have nothing to worry about.

First of all, the sketch was paced waaay too fast, and they worked through so much material too quickly that it was like watching the real debate in fast-forward, with some slight exaggerations here and there.

They made Bush get out of his chair a lot and get kinda whiny and stuttery, but they didn’t capture the LOUDNESS or the aggressiveness of his actual performance. It doesn’t help that the guy who played him, well, wasn’t very good, at least on the Will Ferrell Scale. Mostly they dwelled on the timber company thing.

As for Kerry, underappreciated SNL cast member Seth Meyers had his above-average Kerry impersonation down at the beginning, but sped up, along with the sketch in general, to a fault. In terms of what they riffed on, they rightly mocked Kerry for his overuse of the assertion that he “has a plan”, as well as his repeated invoking of generals and Republicans who share his viewpoint. It’s possible that Kerry will tone both of these actions down in the third debate. But these are rhetorical quirks, not personality quirks, or at least the media won’t make some sort of overarching character judgment over the Kerry impersonation.

And their take on the VP debate was quick and pointless. Cheney scares people, and Edwards talked about Cheney’s gay daughter. Hooray.

Oh, by the way, now that Amy Poehler has replaced Jimmy Fallon as Tina Fey’s Weekend Update partner, may I say, hottest fake news ever.

Of course, The Daily Show has rendered SNL completely obsolete in the world of news satire, so none of this matters anyway. That wasn’t the case in 2000.