The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, October 30, 2004


Michael Moore is going to have people with cameras at polling locations in Ohio and Florida. Supposedly this is going to prevent election fraud. Not that I support election fraud or whatever, but this seems to reach a level of absurdity beyond usefulness. I'm not exactly sure what he's hoping to capture, or how many hours of film it will require, beyond "voter intimidation and suppression." And "especially in minority communities!" It sounds like he's hoping for a good ol' racially fueled brawl. I hope not (and suspect not), but you might be able to sell the idea to Fox for a new reality show. (Disney-owned ABC would probably agree to produce it for him and then decide not to distribute it.)

By the way, this is my first blog post, so I hope I get the formatting and everything right. And B said I could write whatever I want, so it doesn't matter if this is even relevant, right?!

The media trying to figure out to whom Osama bin Laden is extending his support in the election through his tape is pretty much akin to Wallace Shawn trying to figure out which goblet is poisoned with iocaine powder.

I will be the "featured performer" at Java Jones coffee house, 6560 Pardall Rd in Isla Vista, on Friday, November 12th at 8pm. I'll be playing an 8-song set, should be fun. Check it out! All are welcome.
Media Matters documents the right-wing (and centrist) punditocracy's magical interpretations of the Bin Laden tape.
Yglesias: "According to the Bush campaign, 'anything that makes people nervous about their personal safety helps Bush.' Are people who think this way likely to improve, or degrade the personal safety of the American people? It's a question that, I think, answers itself."

Friday, October 29, 2004

Now, this is not a value judgment in any direction. But looking at's front page (as of 8:15 pacific time), I'm amused by the pleasant innocuousness of the lead headline:
Bin Laden tape: U.S. security depends on policy

"Clarke: U.S. security depends on policy"
"Cheney: U.S. security depends on policy"
"Paris Hilton: U.S. security depends on policy"
"Papa Smurf: Smurf Village security depends on distracting that elderly Jewish stereotype guy"

Sooooo, is Osama planning to become some sort of foreign policy bureaucrat or something? We'll have that story and more, tonight on The Beard-Guy Reports.
Get Your War On does Al Qaqaa.
Max gets an email from Bin Laden:
Greetings American fools and infidels.

I hope you like my new videotape. I'm in your election now. How cool is that?

Enough of this speculation about who I endorse. I ENDORSE YOUR TOTAL DESTRUCTION. You think I care about who wins Ohio? I WILL DESTROY OHIO. AND KANSAS. AND MISSOURI. ARGGHHH.
There's plenty more where that came from.

By the way, if we are going to look into exactly what it is Osama said in the tape, we might as well point out a possible factual inaccuracy. From ABC:
He said he was first inspired to attack the United States by the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon in which towers and buildings in Beirut were destroyed in the siege of the capital.

"While I was looking at these destroyed towers in Lebanon, it sparked in my mind that the tyrant should be punished with the same and that we should destroy towers in America, so that it tastes what we taste and would be deterred from killing our children and women," he said.
1982? Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't he working with the United States through much of the 1980's to resist the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan? Was he going through the motions for more than half a decade working with the CIA? It's more likely that he was highlighting this event in an attempt at standard jihadist boilerplate.

Now, to watch our media try to spin the tape in Bush's favor, if not because they are biased, then perhaps because they want to artificially manufacture a back-and-forth storyline; they're tired of all these pesky facts getting in the way of a Bush rebound.

UPDATE: Medium Lobster puts it another way.
The latest entity to be assimilated into the Ancient and Hermetic Order of the Shrill? The facts!

There's a new tape from Bin Laden, and its message, taken perhaps from his deep and precise understanding of the Islamic faith, amounts to "neener neener".
Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, in a videotape broadcast Friday on Al-Jazeera television, claims full responsibility for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States and warns Americans that “your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or al-Qaida. Your security is in your own hands.”

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said U.S. intelligence analysts, who were reviewing the tape, believed that the message was authentic and recently shot.

U.S. officials told NBC News, however, that there was no plan to raise the terrorist threat level, currently at yellow, or “elevated,” because bin Laden makes no specific threat. A senior official said the main message appeared to be “I'm still here; I’m still standing.”
If Gore had been President for these last four years, and had been unable to capture Osama, we'd be seeing pretty much the same tape today. Somehow I doubt that Gore would have been planning for an invasion of Iraq at the very time that Osama was at Tora Bora, but that's another matter.

John Kerry released a statement that hits the right notes:
In response to this tape from Osama bin Laden, let me make it clear, crystal clear. As Americans, we are absolutely united in our determination to hunt down and destroy Osama bin Laden and the terrorists. They are barbarians. And I will stop at absolutely nothing to hunt down, capture or kill the terrorists wherever they are, whatever it takes. Period.
Frankly, I'm getting tired of the phrase "capture or kill". He should try something else, just for fun. How about "I will consume as many white pellets as possible until I gain the ability to chomp down upon the terrorists, causing their terrified eyeballs to retreat back to their lair." Yes, that's right, we're enlisting Pac-Man in the war on terror.

But seriously, folks. Maybe it's not the most politically-viable way of putting it, but I sure wouldn't have minded Kerry mentioning, bluntly, that Bin Laden shouldn't have even been able to make this tape, since he should've been, you know, captured by now. But that silly John Kerry had to talk about the future, making "I will" statements. And gee, I thought all he did was whine about the past!

You know, this whole story about the missing explosives from Al Qaqaa has covered just about every aspect of how the administration has mismanaged the war effort: Insufficient troop levels, unseriousness about keeping weapons out of the hands of terrorists, lies, blaming the troops, and so on.

But since the story broke at the beginning of the week, I've felt like something was missing. Something that would have wrapped the Iraq war up in a neat little microcosmic package. And that something is: "Wouldn't it be wild if Ahmed Chalabi had something to do with this?"

Well whaddya know! (from Knight-Ridder, via Hullabaloo)
Al Qaqaa was on a classified list of Iraqi weapons facilities that the CIA provided to Pentagon and military officials before the invasion, said the U.S. intelligence official.

But when the Pentagon and U.S. Central Command produced their own list of sites that a limited number of U.S. "exploitation teams" should search, priority was given to those identified by exiled Iraqi opposition groups, he said. Al Qaqaa wasn't one of them.

Not only did we go to war partially because of the lies of an Iranian double agent, but perhaps more troops are dying now than should've because of said lies. Great.

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Over at Caljunket, Tommaso notes that Bush and his allies have developed the phrase "Syrian border!" into an all-purpose answer to any unanswered Iraq-related questions.

If I were a Republican, I'd stick with my other all-purpose answer: "9/11".

As much as some right-wing pundits would want you to believe otherwise, the 3/11/04 train bombings in Madrid, in and of themselves, were not what caused Aznar's party's defeat in the Spanish elections. Rather, it was his actions immediately following the attacks -- falsely implicating Basque groups when the available evidence clearly pointed elsewhere, namely to Al Qaeda -- which brought about his party's doom in the election.

Which brings us to the missing-explosives story. It's now not just that they went missing, it's that the administration has gone through every possible lame excuse in the book, in a three-and-a-half-day period, and is now cornered by clear evidence. No wonder Rudy and others were trying to blame the troops this morning.

Many have wondered what would happen if a "Spanish scenario" happened in the run-up to our election. Well, we're seeing one unfold in front of us, just in a slightly different form.

With that in mind, thank GOD this story broke on Monday instead of immediately before the election (which CBS was possibly planning to do before the NY Times decided to break it themselves this week). Not only was it important that the public knew about this mismanagement of the war, but it gave us one last opportunity to see, crystal-clear, exactly what is not to be liked about this administration. Lies, buck-passing, black-is-white-ism, projection, denigration of the troops, and fundamental unseriousness about achieving its stated goals.

How's the projected November 2nd weather in the swing states? It's possible that weather could affect voter turnout, and since Democrats are trying to get as many people to vote as possible, while Republicans are essentially playing turnout-defense, then you should know what to hope for weather-wise depending on your leanings.

Let's check
Cincinnati: Partly cloudy
Cleveland: Isolated T-storms
Columbus: Partly cloudy
Akron: Isolated T-Storms / wind
Dayton: Partly cloudy

Miami: Isolated T-Storms
Jacksonville: Scattered T-Storms
Orlando: Isolated T-Storms
Tampa: Isolated T-Storms

Milwaukee: Partly cloudy
Madison: Partly cloudy
Green Bay: Partly cloudy
TIME-OUT: While we're on the subject of Green Bay, I've noticed that people like to kid John Kerry for calling the stadium in which the Packers play "Lambert Field". The real name of the stadium, as NFL fans and GB residents know, is Lambeau.

But ponder this: When Bush was part-owner of the Texas Rangers, he helped dupe the local taxpayers into publicly funding a new ballpark in Arlington. What was the novel name Bush and his buddies came up with for the new ballpark in Arlington? "The Ballpark in Arlington". I guess Bush wouldn't have a problem remembering how to pronounce such a complicated name as that.

But back to the weather:
Minneapolis: Partly cloudy
Duluth: Partly cloudy

Des Moines: Partly cloudy
Davenport: Mostly sunny
Sioux City: Mostly sunny

Little Rock: Sunny
Fayetteville: Sunny

Philadelphia: Scattered T-storms
Pittsburgh: Scattered T-storms
Harrisburg: Scattered T-Storms
State College: Scattered T-Storms

Las Vegas: Sunny
Reno: Partly cloudy

New Mexico
Albuquerque: Sunny
Santa Fe: Sunny

Denver: Mostly sunny
Boulder: Mostly sunny
Pueblo: Sunny
If you want to read into my choice of states, fine. I don't believe Michigan, New Hampshire, Arizona, Virginia, etc are really in play unless it's a landslide in either direction.

Also, it should be noted that "Isolated T-storms" is pretty much the default forecast in Florida, so that's not gonna be a problem.

And of course, I'm glad to be part of the political party which doesn't put its own survival above increased voter participation!

I will do at least one more update of this before election day, probably without links next time, that was a hassle. And dig the Grateful Dead reference in the post title, hehe. (linked lyrics are "libertarian", btw)

That would be an IAEA seal. Looks like we have pictures taken by embedded reporters of some of the very explosives that we've been talking about.

But don't worry, they're no worse than TNT they were gone when our troops got there this is all our troops fault Russia moved them to Syria why are you insulting the troops? maybe Dan Rather took them? These were the WMD's! uhh... Saddam was an evil man.

UPDATE: AP picks up the story, and ABC's reporting it tonight.
ABC News on Thursday showed video that appeared to confirm that explosives that went missing in Iraq did not disappear until after the United States had taken control of the facility where they were stored.

The disappearance of the hundreds of tons of explosives from the Al Qaqaa storage facility has become a hotly contested issue in the U.S. presidential campaign.

Democrat John Kerry said it was an example of President Bush bungling the Iraq war. Bush countered that Kerry was making wild accusations without knowing the facts.

Vice President Dick Cheney said it was possible that the explosives had been removed from the site before the U.S. forces arrived there.
Sorry Dick, "possible" just went out the window.

Which of these sets of photographs better captures the magnitude of John Kerry's rally in Madison, Wisconsin?

Ann Althouse's set?


The Associated Press' set?


But how ill?
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is suffering from a blood platelet deficiency and is being moved to Paris for additional tests to determine its cause, one of his doctors said Thursday.

"There are certain investigations for this disease, which is not possible to do them here," said his physician, Ashraf al-Kurdi.

"This is why we advised him to go abroad for further investigations, because if we know exactly what is the cause of the platelet deficiency, then the treatment can be very easy."

Abbas Zaki, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, said Arafat will be taken Friday to Jordan by helicopter, where he will be placed aboard a French aircraft for the flight to Paris.

Further details about his condition were not immediately available.
First of all, those pictures of Yasser in PJ's and a Beastie Boysish cap aren't the most encouraging things in the world if you're looking for good news about his health.

So it looks like he's going to Paris for treatment, meaning Israel, which has essentially quarantined him in (what's left of) his Ramallah compound for a while, is now lifting their ban on his travel to let him. It wasn't an unexpected choice, since the last thing Israel wants is to be seen as culpable for killing an old man revered by many (but not all) of the Palestinians, and the Arab world for that matter.

The question on a lot of people's minds is whether or not Sharon will let him return, should he make a recovery. It's an interesting choice:

--Keep him out, and perhaps it would set off a shift in the Palestinian leadership that could yield people more palatable to Israel than Yasser is. However, the obvious risk is that Arafat becomes less marginalized, instead of more, by this; he'd be a living martyr, unfairly kept out of his home by those Israeli travel-ban flipfloppers. Yes, they'd use Bush campaign rhetoric, they would!

--Let him back in, and perhaps the above-described renaissance of relevance would occur anyway. And it would amount to a "he'll die soon" strategy; ask the last 10 US presidents about how that's worked in Cuba. On the other hand, it would be a decent gesture on Israel's part, and decency and moderation are precisely what the situation there needs.

Yasser Arafat is, in my view, the Ralph Nader of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. *Huh?* Meaning, whatever progress he made in bringing relevant issues to the attention of a broader audience has largely been wiped away by a calculated tactical misstep, namely his walking away from the table at Camp David. I don't think much of Sharon either, of course, but much as I don't think the "cold shower" of a Bush presidency was worth it, it hasn't been evident that being opposed by a Sharon/Likud government instead of a Barak/Labor government has helped the Palestinian cause.

I do, however, like that Arafat is going to Paris. It gives the right-wing of the blogosphere an opportunity to make a bunch of France jokes, and in their laughter they forget to cover the election. Sounds good to me!

and Kerry nails it:
Bush on Wednesday accused Kerry of opportunism, saying: "A political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as commander in chief ... that is part of a pattern of a candidate who will say anything to get elected."

Kerry threw the words back at the president 24 hours later, announcing he was going "to apply the Bush standard" and declaring: "Mr. President, I agree with you."

"George Bush jumped to conclusions about 9/11 and Saddam Hussein," he said. "George Bush jumped to conclusions about weapons of mass destruction and he rushed to war without a plan for the peace. George Bush jumped to conclusions about how the Iraqi people would receive our troops. He not only jumped to conclusions, he ignored the facts he was given."
Is there a way we can get the Bush campaign to make a statement on Giuliani's comments?

Well, apparently this is a bit more coordinated than that.

Bush yesterday:
Now the Senator is making wild charges about missing explosives, when his top foreign policy advisor admits "we don't know the facts." End quote. Think about that. The Senator is denigrating the actions of our troops and commanders in the field without knowing the facts.
Rudy Giuliani, campaigning for Bush on the Today Show, this morning:
The president was cautious, the president was prudent, the president did what a commander in chief should do. No matter how you try to blame it on the president the actual responsibility for it really would be for the troops that were there. Did they search carefully enough? Didn't they search carefully enough?
Since claiming they just found out about this didn't work, and saying the explosives were gone when the troops got there didn't work, and since saying the Russians took them didn't work... and apparently since saying Kerry is denigrating the troops didn't work... will their attempts to blame the troops work?

In their desperate search to find an explanation, the administration is doing their best Dan Rather impersonation. (round-up from The Moderate Voice)

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


Here's a handy calendar graphic on the overlapping events of the Tora Bora battle and the initiation of Bush's Iraq plans from BOP News, via tapped.


If you were wondering why the Cardinals folded like a tent in the Series, here's your answer.

By the way, if you need some sort of silly instant factoid to throw around: Cardinals' SS Edgar Renteria had the final AB of the World Series in a losing effort, but in 1997 as a Marlin he had the last AB for the winning team (game-ending single scored Craig Counsell in Game 7). Has any other player ever been the last batter in two different World Series', regardless of winning or losing?

UPDATE:'s useless-info piece doesn't make mention of Renteria's feat. Scoop!

It would appear that the name of America's largest left-of-center political party changes depending on the President's audience.

Count this as another bold TFM prediction.

Yesterday I told you that the so-called "Incumbent Rule" would hold, meaning that undecided voters will largely swing to Kerry on election day.

Today I address that other nagging question on people's minds: Will we see a repeat of Florida? Will we have multiple Floridas?

My bold prediction: No. In fact, my even bolderer prediction is that we will know the winner of the presidential election no later than noon on Wednesday, probably on Tuesday night.

What's my basis for such a bold claim? Our culture, that's what.

We Americans are a people of bandwagoners and sequel-whores. When something happens, it can't just happen by itself; it has to be a trend, or part of a greater narrative.

An example from the world of politics: James Jeffords' departure from the Republican Party in the spring of 2001. Do you remember what happened in the immediate aftermath of that event? There was massive media speculation that other members of Congress would shift parties as well, including Sens. John McCain, Zell Miller and Lincoln Chafee. Despite the near-orgasm of shifty speculation from our media, all of these men deprived the press of their happy ending.

And it's not just politics, but also our culture that can't stop at one. Take movies: Dante's Peak is followed by Volcano, Deep Impact is followed by Armageddon, Antz is followed by A Bug's Life, Battlefield Earth is followed by The Passion of the Christ*, and so on.

If one eccentric billionaire gets his own inane reality show, then two or three other eccentric billionaires must get their own as well.

And of course, it happens in war. Remember the day Baghdad fell in April 03? Picture CNN on that day. It mostly ran a split-screen. On the right side, you had the same 3 minutes of footage (doors being broken down, the flag on top of the Saddam sculpture, etc) recycled over and over again. But on the left, you had various talking heads speculating as to whether Syria was next. Or Iran.

The problem with this is that it's only in the controlled environments where this sort of short-term repetition occurs (movies, TV, etc). When we apply that formula to political speculation, it doesn't seem to turn out that way as much.

The speculation about possible Florida-like scenarios happening in the wake of next week's election has been rampant. Why? Because it happened in 2000, so people figure it must happen again this year. Call it a hunch, but I think those people are going to be disappointed.

Of course, I could be horribly wrong, in which case Jeebus help us all.

Or insert the hobbit-related reference of your choice here.
Scientists have discovered a tiny species of ancient human that lived 18,000 years ago on an isolated island east of the Java Sea -- a prehistoric hunter in a "lost world" of giant lizards and miniature elephants.

These "little people" stood about three feet tall and had heads the size of grapefruit. They co-existed with modern humans for thousands of years yet appear to be more closely akin to a long-extinct human ancestor.

Researchers suspect the earlier ancestor may have migrated to the island and evolved into a smaller dwarf species as it adapted to the island's limited resources. This phenomenon, known as the "island rule" is common in the animal world but had never been seen before in human evolution.

"Not even in primates," said paleoanthropologist Peter Brown, of Australia's University of New England, a member of the multinational team reporting on the find Thursday in the journal Nature. "But even though we have evidence of intelligence [in the new species], they were clearly subject to isolation and dwarfing."

Colleagues marveled at the find as an evolutionary aberration -- an archaic human that survived to a time in the fossil record when Neanderthals -- which had been thought to be the last pre-modern species to share the planet with modern humans -- had probably been extinct for more than 10,000 years.

"This is a great fossil find that speaks mounds about evolutionary experiments and the variation they caused," said paleoanthropologist Ken Mowbray, of the American Museum of Natural History. "We have to step back and reevaluate everything we have. It's really cool."
(By the way, is Ken Mowbray in any way related to the Moonie Times reporter on the byline for the Kerry-UNSC non-story from earlier this week? They're both in DC)

At least we now know where Ross Perot originated.

But seriously, this is a fascinating discovery. But not unprecedented. In Lord of the Flies, none of the island dwellers were of normal human size. Okay, so they were kids, but I'm trying here!
Gee, I wonder what this morning's Ailes/Moody memo had to say...

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Andrea Moro's Electoral College predictor website that I plugged a week ago is doing something else now: It's doing full quantified predictions based not only on's polls, but also on those gathered by conservative outlet RealClearPolitics, and a third estimate based on Tradesports' prices for the candidates.
Yes. Why? Iraq.

This is the first incumbent-vs-challenger Presidential election I've gone through while I was of voting age.

We've heard to great excess this year about how the predominant trend in previous elections is that undecided voters usually end up going against the incumbent. This would, at first, be seen as an advantage for John Kerry, since Bush's national numbers and battleground state numbers have him not getting any higher than the mid-upper 40's, and the remaining pool of undecided voters would go to Kerry by a 3:1 ratio.

But if I had to guess, I'd say that a lot of active Democrats are worried that this trend may not hold next Tuesday, perhaps myself included at times. There's a looming sense that this election will somehow defy precedent and normal trends. After all, the 2002 midterms did: The President's party gained seats for the first time in a midterm election in a long time, or ever? I don't remember.

They worry that the war on terrorism, and the threat/scare/fear dynamic therein has altered the tendencies of middle-of-the-road voters in some permanent fashion. Appeals to national security concerns conducted in rhetorically powerful fashions (like Saxby Chambliss putting Max Cleland's face next to Bin Laden's in his ads) were enough to tip the scales of legislative power towards the Republicans two years ago.

Will 2002's election results be repeated next week, with undecideds turning to the President at the very end?

No. Not this time.

There are two reasons for this, one structural and one more general.

The structural reason is that the Democrats didn't have shit for a ground-game or fundraising in '02. Now the streets and precincts of swing states will be crawling with motivated MoveOn and ACT volunteers, and they will have learned the lessons of Howard Dean's orange-hatted Iowa debacle. Plus we're looking at unprecedented levels of small-donor fundraising, allowing the DSCC and the DCCC to have much more versatility in their efforts, and allowing Democrats to be competitive in places where we shouldn't be. (Monigardo, Ginny Schrader, Patsy Keever, etc)

The the other, more general reason is simple: Iraq. No, I'm not talking about how Iraq is a clusterfuck right now, or about how Bush has mismanaged the war from start to no-finish-in-sight, though both of those apply. My argument is that by choosing to invade Iraq, the Bush administration and Republicans blew their precedent-setting wad.

After 9/11 and the start of the "war on terror", the Bush administration stressed over and over that this would be "a different kind of war". And for a while it was: After the speedy toppling of the Taliban, it was a matter of tracking down, capturing and killing Al Qaeda terrorists. By selling the war as one of "a different kind", the Bush administration was implying that because it was new and they were the ones conducting it, then they must be the only people who can fully understand it, and thus can conduct it best. It was this implication that allowed the Republicans to pick up seats in '02.

But Iraq fucked that up royal. Why? Because Iraq is much more like a conventional conquer-occupy-&-rebuild war than the more abstract "war on terror". It may not be precisely like Vietnam, but voters can look at the situation in Iraq and say "I remember this". They can more easily categorize and asess what's going on than when we were just hunting down international terrorist cells.

Because the administration built up the perception that they were the only ones who really know how to conduct the war on terror, they weren't held as accountable for their mistakes in it as they could have been. With Iraq, though, swing voters will likely take Bush and the Republicans to task for the clear ways in which that war has been fucked up.

The result is that what worked in 2002--things like Cheney's "they'll nuke our cities!" comments--will not be taken nearly as seriously this time around.

The above was my very long way of saying that the "undecideds usually go against the incumbent" rule will apply next Tuesday.

For some very uplifing analysis of how the incumbent rule might affect the election (a Kerry landslide?), go here. I'll be content to be very, very nervous for the next 7 days.

Mickey Kaus' endorsement of John Kerry:
I'm voting for Kerry, mainly because I think Bush is prosecuting the fight against terrorism in a way that will make us dramatically less safe unless we have a conspicuous change at the top. Even if you supported the war in Iraq, now is the time to a) try to preserve our gains in that country and Afghanistan while we b) let the world calm down so that fewer people hate us (and hence fewer people try to come and kill us).

I don't expect Kerry to be a successful president in any other respect. It doesn't matter.
If this is the case, if this is what Mickey really believes... then why has he bombarded his readership with harsh critiques of every single marginally-relevant triviality about Kerry he could find? The swiss cheese! The mispronounciation of David Ortiz's name! Where he slept on a given night 33 years ago! And so on.

Could someone please sandpaper that shiny skull of his?
"Remember to vote, or P. Diddy will kill you."

The Onion gives us a guide for election day.

Bozell and co. are just about the last people still being duped by Drudge into thinking that NBC News reported that the higher-powered explosives weren't there when US troops arrived.

They'd be well-served to look at what NBC's news department is actually reporting.

While I've never been a big fan of Eminem, I've always "got" him on some level, understood his role as a provocateur, and couldn't really work up any outrage over what some saw as examples of his lyrical overstretch. (if Elton John understands, then I must follow... hence the reference in the title to this post, if any of you get it)

But enough stalling: Go watch his new video.

Megan McArdle on Bush's new $70billion Iraq request:
A HEARTENING SIGN FOR HAWKS The administration is apparently planning to ask for $70 billion more for the war in Iraq, which will bring the total price tag to about $225 billion. Yes, that's a lot of money, but on the other hand, remember when folks like Eric Alterman were telling us it was going to cost trillions?
Whew! Just a quarter trillion! Keep shruggin' there, Atlas!

But let's put $225 billion in a more accurate context:
“I’ve asked the American people to foot the tab for $20 billion of reconstruction…Others are stepping up as well, 13 billion out of the Madrid Conference…The Iraqi oil revenues – excess Iraqi oil revenues, coupled with private investments, should make up the difference.” -George W Bush, 10/28/03

“Costs of any such intervention would be very small.” -Glen Hubbard, White House Economist, 10/4/02

"There's a lot of money to pay for this. It doesn't have to be U.S. taxpayer money. We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon." -Paul Wolfowitz, 3/27/03

"Well, in terms of the American taxpayers' contribution, I do; this is it for the U.S. The rest of the rebuilding of Iraq will be done by other countries who have already made pledges ... But the American part of this will be one-point-seven billion dollars. We have no plans for any further-on funding for this." -Andrew Natsios, Bush USAid Director, 3/23/03

"We don't anticipate requesting anything additional for [Iraq for] the balance of this year." -Joshua Bolten, Budget Director, 7/29/03

Paul Wolfowitz “dismissed articles in several newspapers this week asserting that Pentagon budget specialists put the cost of war and reconstruction at $60 billion to $95 billion in this fiscal year.” -Wolfowitz, 2/28/03

“Iraq, unlike Afghanistan, is a rather wealthy country. Iraq has tremendous resources that belong to the Iraqi people. And so there are a variety of means that Iraq has to be able to shoulder much of the burden for their own reconstruction.”-Ari Fleischer, 2/18/03

Iraq will be “an affordable endeavor," "that will not require sustained aid” and will “be in the range of $50 billion to $60 billion." -Mitch Daniels, Budget Director, 4/11/03
(quotes via Center for American Progress)
BUSH F___-F___S ON CIVIL UNIONS his Good Morning America interview:
In a television interview aired Tuesday, Bush said he doesn't oppose civil unions for same-sex couples even though the Republican Party platform is opposed to them. However, he still supports banning gay marriage through a federal constitutional amendment. "I don't think we should deny people rights to a civil union, a legal arrangement, if that's what a state chooses to do so," Bush said on ABC's Good Morning America. "I view the definition of marriage different from legal arrangements that enable people to have rights. I strongly believe that marriage should be defined as a union between a man and a woman."

Asked to comment on his party's opposition to civil unions, Bush said he disagreed with that position. The platform was adopted during the Republican National Convention in New York last month, when Bush officially received the party's nomination for the November 2 presidential election. Bush favors a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, while his opponent, Democrat John Kerry, feels that each state should decide for itself whether to permit same-sex couples to wed.
So George W Bush is expressing his support for civil unions.

And he supports a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Specifically, he threw his support behind the Federal Marriage Amendment (H.J. Res 56) as drafted by Rep. Musgrave of Colorado. Here's the text of that amendment:

1st Session

H. J. RES. 56 Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to marriage.


May 21, 2003 Mrs. MUSGRAVE (for herself, Mr. HALL, Mr. MCINTYRE, Mr. PETERSON of Minnesota, Mrs. JO ANN DAVIS of Virginia, and Mr. VITTER) introduced the following joint resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

JOINT RESOLUTION Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to marriage .

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification:

"Article --

"SECTION 1. Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups." (emphasis mine)
You can argue about legal wiggle-room if you want, but an amendment worded in such a manner would have thrown into jeopardy civil union and domestic partnership legislation in a number of states, Vermont and California included. In short, Bush supported a bill that would have ruled state civil union laws unconstitutional.

But now he suddenly supports civil unions?

*does hand motion* FLIP-FLOP! FLIP-FLOP!

Remember, John Kerry will say anything to get elected!

From the LA Times:
Though he still won't commit to campaigning out of state for President Bush, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is blitzing California in the days before the election, stumping for legislative candidates and urging voters to follow his advice on a string of ballot measures.

Schwarzenegger appeared at a rally here Monday afternoon to tout an initiative, Proposition 1A, that would make it tougher for the state to tap local government revenue during financial crises. He told reporters afterward that "we haven't really made up our mind yet" as to whether he would campaign for Bush in the last week of the presidential race.

He is considering a single trip to Ohio — there and back the same day, probably Friday.

"Now I can squeeze in a quick trip because I have my own plane," he said. "So there is a way of doing it. But I'm not going to hop around from state to state because the people did not elect me to do that."

Schwarzenegger sponsors an annual fitness weekend in Columbus, Ohio, and has made clear that Ohio is the only state besides California where he would campaign for Bush.
Hmm, I wonder why Ahhnuld isn't stumping for Bush more than just one day. Perhaps it has something to do with his other bush-stumping, so to speak:
Schwarzenegger says his pro-Bush speech in August didn't do any favors for him in bed.

He drew big laughs when asked how well the speech went over with his wife, Maria Shriver, a member of the famously Democratic Kennedy family.

When asked how long it was before he and Maria started talking again after the speech, he said "well, there was no sex for 14 days."
Well there you have it. Maria Shriver may have saved America from future Iraq-like misadventures. Perhaps she is the face that kept 1,000 more ships from launching! Heyo!
Via Josh Braun, you can see video of part of the massive Philly crowd here (click on "VIDEO: Vernon Odom reports")

Monday, October 25, 2004

I took a class this summer on 19th Century French art, so in that spirit, here's a Fark Photoshop contest using David's The Death of Socrates.

Naturally Bill, Ted, and Val Kilmer all find their way into this one.

Just stumbled onto for the first time. It's just as user-friendly as electoralvote or 2004k, so I'll probably go back there from time to time.

The site also features predictions for each state to go along with up-to-date polling information. Based on their battleground predictions, they have Kerry winning the electoral college 273-265.

Think that's too close for comfort? It gets better.

Race2004's projection has Kerry taking New Mexico, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania among the battlegrounds, and Bush picking up Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada and Florida.

The one state that tips the scales? Arkansas. And not only that, but Race2004 owner Stephen Lorimor somehow came up with a more, uh, precise projection on the right side of the screen:
Projected Vote

Kerry wins the popular vote with 492,481 votes (48.97%). Bush places second with 492,291 votes (48.95%).
So they predict Kerry will win Arkansas -- and thus in effect, the Presidency -- by 190 votes.


Will we have a new Florida in Arkansas? Will the blow-dried cable anchors of America really want to spend 4-5 weeks in Little Rock? Will large insects get stuck in Wolf Blitzer's beard? Will Bill Clinton take over the Warren Christopher role for the Democratic candidate? If so, would that disbarment nonsense come up? Will we recount votes AND fight the culture wars at the same time? Soooo many questions.

We'll be lucky to get this resolved before Dick Clark is counting down the big ball at Times Square.
Since backing off from their plans to show an anti-Kerry documentary uninterrupted, as well as since their airing of a fairly even-handed news special in its place, Sinclair Broadcasting Group's stock has held generally steady above the 7-dollar mark. Proving, of course, that it pays to be fair.

Wouldn't it be, like, totally crazy if after Boston came back from 3 games down to eliminate the Yankees in the ALCS, the Red Sox then went up 3 games to none over St Louis but then let them come all the way back and take the Series?

I know you were thinking it.

...Hey! Come back here!


AP does an entire write-up on relatives of Bush who got together and set up a pro-Kerry website. But... the article itself doesn't include the address of the site! Hmm...

In case you were wondering, it's Thanks, AP!

UPDATE: This is interesting. A slightly-expanded version of the same AP story includes the URL, yet CNN's version was posted 7 hours later without it. So... thanks, CNN!

Two years later, we're more energized than ever.

Bush, today:
Now my opponent is throwing out the wild claim that he knows where bin Laden was in the fall of 2001, and that our military passed up the chance to get him in Tora Bora. This is an unjustified criticism of our military commanders in the field.
Bush administration, 2002:
The Bush administration has concluded that Osama bin Laden was present during the battle for Tora Bora late last year and that failure to commit U.S. ground troops to hunt him was its gravest error in the war against al Qaeda, according to civilian and military officials with first-hand knowledge.

Intelligence officials have assembled what they believe to be decisive evidence, from contemporary and subsequent interrogations and intercepted communications, that bin Laden began the battle of Tora Bora inside the cave complex along Afghanistan's mountainous eastern border. Though there remains a remote chance that he died there, the intelligence community is persuaded that bin Laden slipped away in the first 10 days of December.
Bush, Saturday:
President Bush said Sen. John Kerry had "election amnesia" that caused him to shift his stance on Iraq, as the president sought to fire up his conservative base in the key battleground state of Florida on Saturday.

While I revel in midtermosity, Josh Marshall's been all over the Al-Qaqaa story. Just keep scrolling when you get there.

Also, it's nice to turn on my computer and see pictures like this one:

That's Kerry addressing over 100,000 enthusiastic supporters in Philadelphia, in what some are calling the largest political rally in American history. Former TFM roomate and documentary filmmaker Josh Braun was there, and he called me from the crowd this morning so I could listen along. Clinton's speech was unusually short, but it had to be, given his physical state. Because it was kept short (about 5 minutes) he kept it high-energy all the way through, energizing the crowd, which Kerry didn't let down either with his meaty speech.

Early on, Kerry hammered the Bush administration on the Al Qaqaa revelations, to which the White House has, shall we say, had some trouble fashioning a coherent response.

To get an idea of the size of this rally, consider Bush's rally the other day at AllTel Stadium. That venue's capacity is 73,000. And they only filled the lower level, or at least most of it (about 40,000). This morning's Kerry/Clinton rally topped six digits. To put it another way, when I asked Josh to estimate the crowd size, he numbered it at "as far as I can see". The ball's in your court, Ahhnuld!
Midterm! More blogging later...

The people of Britain have spoken, and have chosen our next president.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Tom Burka reports that it's still a very close race.
Another very libertarian song.

In news that matters,
The Iraqi interim government has warned the United States and international nuclear inspectors that nearly 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives - used to demolish buildings, make missile warheads and detonate nuclear weapons - are missing from one of Iraq's most sensitive former military installations.

The huge facility, called Al Qaqaa, was supposed to be under American military control but is now a no man's land, still picked over by looters as recently as Sunday. United Nations weapons inspectors had monitored the explosives for many years, but White House and Pentagon officials acknowledge that the explosives vanished sometime after the American-led invasion last year.
But look on the bright side: We secured the oil ministries!

More here including news from The Nelson Report that the Department of Defense told the Iraqis not to tell the IAEA about the missing explosives... you know, which may have been used to, oh I don't know, blow up American troops and Iraqis.

You guys on the right mean to tell me that this is what you've all be so excited about for the past 36 hours?


This seems like a reasonable explanation to me.

Looks like a James Lee Witt hail mary to me. Not only is it not going to work, it's just silly. The 'October surprise' version of those cute little puppies. Aww!

UPDATE: Ezra puts things in perspective.
Chris Bowers on those strange Hawaii polls that show a tie.

Apparently the second of the two new HI polls only surveyed Oahu, meaning that 30% of the state's population--the 30% that leans furthest towards the Democrats--was kept out of the poll.

Of course, I'm sure Rumsfeld wouldn't mind an election where only 70% of a given area was able to participate.
Political Animal on the "Puppies" ad: "If Kerry were genuinely weak in the war against terrorism, the Bush campaign would be able to come up with something a lot better than this. The fact that this is the best they can do probably says more about Kerry's strength than anything the Democrats could say for themselves."