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Friday, July 30, 2004
Worst Scandal Ever

Turns out to not so much be a scandal at all:

President Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger -- who'd been accused of stealing classified material from the National Archives -- has been cleared of all wrongdoing.
The National Archives and the Justice Department have concluded nothing is missing and nothing in the Clinton administration's record was withheld from the 9-11 Commission.

The Wall Street Journal reports archives staff have accounted for all classified documents Berger looked at.


So there.

Poll Watch

Note: this poll was run Sunday-Wednesday, so it does not include reaction to Kerry's speech.

Zogby America Poll, July 26-29, 2004, 1001 likely voters, MOE +/- 3.2%

Kerry/Edwards (D) 48% (unc)
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 43% (-3)
Undecided 8% (+3)

Hard to judge what impact this is having. It does touch on about two days' worth of reaction to the convention, but that was basically one speech by the Big Dog.

It essentially tracks with other pre-convention polls, and that's probably the way to look at this poll. One would suspect that John2's speeches should push 'em up over 50%--a two-point bounce seems inevitable. And if so, that would pretty much put this right where I thought: about an 8-11% lead coming out of the DNC.

Thursday, July 29, 2004
A Ground Rule Double

There are home run hitters, and there are slap hitters. Edwards, Clinton, Reagan--these are speakers who can touch 'em all. When they get the right material, they can knock it out of the park.

Then there are the slap hitters--Kerry, Bush, Carter, Gore. These aren't speakers with the capacity to go deep. At their best, they can move things along, give a solid effort, do the little things to win.

John Kerry is not an orator capable of hitting a home run. But tonight, he hit the ball as hard as he could, and he came in safe at second. For a guy who isn't a power hitter, that's pretty darn good.

He wasn't perfect. He could've, and should've, been tougher on al Qaeda (though he made certain to state clearly that they must, and will, be defeated.) He took a few direct jabs at Bush, which surprised me--and didn't really delight me. I've liked the Democrats' use of innuendo to attack.

And of course, the speech lacked the charm of Clinton, the charisma of Obama, the sheen of Edwards.

But for all its faults, there were great moments. Kerry's best line was a simple one, one which he should repeat over and over and over again:

I want an America that relies on its own ingenuity and innovation, not the Saudi royal family.

At this, I pumped my fist and shouted "Yes!"

September 11 gave our nation a grand opportunity: the chance to get our nation weaned off of oil.

As everyone knows, we are stuck in the Middle East because of the oil. (No, this isn't a "no blood for oil" rant. Quite frankly, much blood has been spilled for oil. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in no small part for oil. Natural resources--and the need for them--has driven all sorts of aggression back though time immemorial.)

After 9/11, we had the opportunity to get ourselves quit of this dependence. A different President would've used the attacks to call for a bold new energy independence. "Give up your SUVs," he might have said, "so that we can stop sending our money to those who support terror."

Of course, we had the son of an oilman and an oilman in power. I do not think George W. Bush failed to push us towards energy independence out of any evil connection to the Saudis. I honestly think it just never occured to him.

But of course, energy independence from the theocracies of the Middle East would greatly improve our national security. It would choke of funding of Wahabism. It would deal a fatal blow to the despots in Riyadh and Tehran. And of course, best of all, it would allow us to let the Saudis do whatever they want to, dissolve into chaos or depotism, without concern that our nation's energy hangs in the balance.

Right now, we are dependent on the Saudis (and the Iraqis, and the Yemenis, and the Iranians) for most of our oil. Energy independence is a national security issue. Thank God someone's saying it.

There were other great moments, too. As a Unitarian, I have an odd faith; we believe in something. We just don't know what. But I am a man of faith, and I thought Kerry just about nailed how I feel about it:

I don't wear my own faith on my sleeve. But faith has given me values and hope to live by, from Vietnam to this day, from Sunday to Sunday. I don't want to claim that God is on our side. As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side. And whatever our faith, one belief should bind us all: The measure of our character is our willingness to give of ourselves for others and for our country.

Perfect, and not just because he had to mention that he believed in God. Nations that claim they march under God's banner are rarely measuring up to His standards. We should never forget that al Qaeda believes it is doing God's work as well. I believe we are on God's side. I believe that we are right to advance liberty. But I am not so arrogant as to believe that God favors us. After all, the Good Lord helps those who help themselves, doesn't He?

All in all, a good speech--about as good a speech as John 1 has in him. Will it be enough? We'll find out soon.

Right On Schedule

Remember when?

A third source, an official who works under ISI's director, Lieutenant General Ehsan ul-Haq, informed tnr that the Pakistanis "have been told at every level that apprehension or killing of HVTs before [the] election is [an] absolute must." What's more, this source claims that Bush administration officials have told their Pakistani counterparts they have a date in mind for announcing this achievement: "The last ten days of July deadline has been given repeatedly by visitors to Islamabad and during [ul-Haq's] meetings in Washington." Says McCormack: "I'm aware of no such comment." But according to this ISI official, a White House aide told ul-Haq last spring that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July"--the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

Okay, they were one day late:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian wanted in connection with the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa, has been captured in Pakistan, Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat said Thursday.

The FBI had offered a reward for his capture of up to $5 million. At least 13 other people, including Ghailani's wife, a Uzbek national, were arrested along with him. Ten were non-Pakistanis, Pakistani security sources said.

A U.S. official in Washington confirmed the arrest but refused to say whether the United States had any role in the capture.


The Pakistani security sources said the arrests took place Sunday morning after a standoff that began Saturday night in Gujrat, just southeast of Islamabad. [emphasis mine--jf]

So yeah, it was a day late. But...I mean...he was arrested on Sunday. And then they held him...why?

I'm trying not to buy the conspiracy theories, but this is just too exact to be coincidence.

I can't wait to get rid of these guys.

Fealty Before the Crown

Liberal blogger Dean Esmay has a challenge for the right:

I don't want to hear why you think it won't happen. Indulge me: pretend it might. How many of you will have the patriotism to say, "I disagree with many of his policy directions, I do not think he is conducting our foreign policy in the right way, but I will do my best to get behind him and support him until elections come around next time?"

I'm genuinely curious. For that is the stance I intend to take. I will refuse to call him traitor, loser, liar, incompetent. He will be my President, my Commander In Chief, the Chief Executive of a great nation, elected by the will of a majority of the electors in these 50 great united States. So even if he does things I disagree with in conducting foreign policy, I will say, "I respectfully disagree with the President's directions, but I will do my best to express my dissent respectfully and hope that I am mistaken and that he has made the proper decisions after all."

That's my pledge. How many of you will take a similar one?

I don't know about the right, but I'm not going to take it.

I believe in being respectful; the office of the President deserves respect. And I gave respect to the President, even after the wrenching way in which he won the office. I didn't support him always, but I gave him deference.

After 9/11, I did support him.

But after Iraq, when it was clear that our President was, if not a liar, than surely incompetent, it became incumbent upon me to criticize my President, even harshly. Why? Because we live in our democracy, and that's what is demanded.

If President Kerry lies, behaves incompetently, and generally screws things up, I would hope the right would attack him. I would hope the right would challenge him. That is their job.

No, we don't have to name-call, we don't have to dive into conspiracy theory. The right was wrong to claim Bill Clinton was a murderer, the left was wrong to claim George W. Bush somehow knew about 9/11. These are outright falsehoods, and have no place in our national discourse.

But criticism of our President's conduct in office, his skill in solving problems, his ability to govern--it is disrespectful of our nation not to offer criticism.

For in the end, fealty to the President is unimportant; what is important is our nation's health, our nation's welfare, our nation's security. And that is more important than showing respect to any one man.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Medium John Knocks 'Em Dead

Another night, another great speech. Clinton, Obama, and now Edwards have hit home runs (well, maybe a triple by Edwards. But it was a base-clearing triple.)

Of course, for those of you reading this site, you'd probably heard most of what John 2 had to say, as it was a microwaved version of his "Two Americas" stump speech. But let's face it: that's one of the best stump speeches of the last ten years; it would be a pity to wase it.

Edwards tweaked the speech subtly though, bringing it in line with Obama's "One America" speech of the night before, and subtly tying the two speeches together into one great vision of what unites the Democratic party. It's odd; as an on-again, off-again DFLer of twenty years (yes, I was in fifth grade then. But I hated, hated, hated Reagan. And I got to shake Fritz Mondale's hand after his concession speech, when he dove right through the crowd at the old St. Paul Civic Center.) I've never seen two Democrats articulate a common theme for the party.

But there was Edwards, tying Obama to himself to Kerry with fluid ease.

But the most important section of the night was this:

And when John is president, we will listen to the wisdom of the September 11th commission. We will lead strong alliances. We will safeguard and secure our weapons of mass destruction. We will strengthen our homeland security, protect our ports, protect our chemical plants, and support our firefighters, police officers, EMTs. We will always use our military might to keep the American people safe.

And we, John and I, we will have one clear unmistakable message for Al Qaida and these terrorists: You cannot run. You cannot hide. We will destroy you.

Yes. Exactly. It needed to be said, because it's true. The Democratic candidates may have different ideas of how to fight the War on Terror than the President, but they are clear that there is a fight. As are many of us. My problem with the Iraq war has not been that we shouldn't be fighting the War on Terror; my problem with the Iraq war has been that it has distracted us from the War on Terror.

So what say you now, righties? Is John 2 just lying? Because, short of simply refusing to believe Edwards, I don't see how you spin this as those defeatist Democrats, ready to surrender our nation.

We aren't defeatist. And we will never surrender.

But wait, there's more:

But we can't do this alone. We have got to restore our respect in the world to bring our allies to us and with us.

It is how we won the Cold War. It is how we won two World Wars. And it is how we will build a stable Iraq.

With a new president who strengthens and leads our alliances, we can get NATO to help secure Iraq. We can ensure that Iraq's neighbors, like Syria and Iran, don't stand in the way of a democratic Iraq. We can help Iraq's economy by getting other countries to forgive their enormous debt and participate in the reconstruction.

We can do this for the Iraqi people. We can do it for our own soldiers. And we will get this done right.

A new president will bring the world to our side, and with it a stable Iraq, a real chance for freedom and peace in the Middle East, including a safe and secure Israel.

Again, spot on. We don't need the rest of the world to give us "permission" to act. We need the rest of the world to help us act. And while George W. Bush will not be able to solicit that help (due to the large amounts of gasoline and matches used on the bridges between us and our allies), a new president--President Kerry--will be able to forge new alliances, and resume old ones.

But Edwards did something important here: he committed a Kerry/Edwards administration to finishing the job in Iraq. As bad as things have been there--and as bad as they remain--a pullout now by America would be disastrous. Better to see this job through--preferably with some sort of plan in place to actually transition to a viable nation-state in Iraq. Whatever one feels about the Iraq war, it is a fait accompli. We can--and should--punish this administration for taking us to war on shaky pretenses. We can--and should--punish this administration for failing to adequately plan for peace. But this war is a reality. None of us owns a time machine. And we cannot simply walk away now.

Jerry Falwell to Give GOP Invocation

The Rev. Jerry Falwell is evidently going to give the invocation at the RNC.

Let's see...Jerry Falwell...didn't he say something odd in the wake of 9/11?

Oh yeah...this:

September 14, 2001 Posted: 2:55 AM EDT (0655 GMT)

LYNCHBURG, Virginia (CNN) -- The Rev. Jerry Falwell said late Thursday he did not mean to blame feminists, gays or lesbians for bringing on the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington this week, in remarks on a television program earlier in the day.

On the broadcast of the Christian television program "The 700 Club," Falwell made the following statement:

"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"

Yes, that's right: the GOP intends to capitalize on 9/11 by picking the man who blamed 9/11 not on al-Qaeda, not on Osama bin Laden, not even mistakenly on Saddam Hussein, but on liberals.

If the Democrats fail to mention Falwell's comments post-9/11 every fucking time the RNC is mentioned, they will be making a grave mistake.

The GOP already has.


The other day I got into a cab.

"Hi," said the hack. "I'm an Iraqi expatriate. You know, I knew that there were no WMDs in Iraq."

"Really," I said. "That sounds oddly similar to my own opinions."

"Well, then try this on for size: Saddam Hussein was actually about to be ousted by pro-democracy rebels before the war, but now al-Qaeda controlls the country thanks to GDub."

"Strange," I said. "It's almost like I'm making up this conversation to boster my own case."

"Have I mentioned," queried the cabbie, "that Osama bin Laden has told me personally that he will surrender unilaterally if John Kerry wins the presidency?"


Yes, the shot of Kerry in the clean suit is pretty funny. It's also meaningless. Ha ha, now let's get back to business.


A written speech, like the script of a play, never really conveys the event. Nevertheless, if there's a reason I'm a Democrat, Barack Obama summed it up perfectly:

Don't get me wrong. The people I meet in small towns and big cities, in diners and office parks, they don't expect government to solve all their problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead and they want to. Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don't want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or the Pentagon. Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can't teach kids to learn. They know that parents have to parent, that children can't achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. No, people don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better. And they want that choice.


If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child. If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandmother. If there's an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It's that fundamental belief -- I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper -- that makes this country work. It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. "E pluribus unum." Out of many, one.

Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

Exactly. That's what the arbiters of patriotism will never understand--that liberals and conservatives alike love America. And the story of Barack Obama--the son of a Kenyan goat farmer and a Kansas oil rig worker's daughter, a man raised in Hawaii who went on to become an attorney, a state legislator, a professor, and soon, a United States Senator--this is the quintessence of our great national legacy.

I look forward to following this man's career for many years to come.

Groundhog Day

Do you ever think Florida might want to, you know, try running honest electons or something?


Almost all the electronic records from the first widespread use of touch-screen voting in Miami-Dade County have been lost, stoking concerns that the machines are unreliable as the presidential election draws near.

The records disappeared after two computer system crashes last year, county elections officials said, leaving no audit trail for the 2002 gubernatorial primary. A citizens group uncovered the loss this month after requesting all audit data from that election.

A county official said a new backup system would prevent electronic voting data from being lost in the future. But members of the citizens group, the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition, said the malfunction underscored the vulnerability of electronic voting records and wiped out data that might have shed light on what problems, if any, still existed with touch-screen machines here. The group supplied the results of its request to The New York Times.

"This shows that unless we do something now - or it may very well be too late - Florida is headed toward being the next Florida," said Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, a lawyer who is the chairwoman of the coalition.

Of course, as we know, Florida is all over. George's brother said so.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004
The Next President of the United States

There are speeches, and then there are speeches.

Tonight, Barack Obama delivered one of the latter.

The Illinois Democrat justified the lofty hopes the Democrats placed on him by annointing him keynote speaker; he delivered the finest keynote since Cuomo's "Shining City on a Hill" speech in 1984. Yes, it's better than Ann Richards' "Silver Spoon in Mouth" speech in '88. Better by far.

It's not just that he nailed the delivery, or that he had that combination of oratory skill and charisma that has popped up rarely enough (and not at all in candidate for president, with the possible exception of Vermin Supreme).

No, it was that Obama was telling a uniquely American tale, his tale--and he knocked it out of the park.

He pretty much sketched out as succinct a picture of Democratic party principles as anyone has in the last twenty years. He delivered his speech to his audience, not to the cameras--and yet held the attention of the camera. He has "it."

I don't know what the future holds for Obama, other than the United States Senate (note to the Illinois GOP: when your best hope is Ted Nugent, you may want to just fold). But I suspect we should be watching young Obama's career with interest. I suspect twenty years from now, we'll still be talking about Sen. Obama, Chairman Obama, Secretay Obama, or (dare I say it? I dare.) President Obama.

The Democratic party chose wisely tonight. And I'm doubly excited, because the Democrats have so often chosen poorly.

As for the rest of the speakers--oky doky. Howard Dean, as a friend noted, started off strong but then kind of became the whipped man he is. Geppy/Daschle--they're the same guy. Blech. How good does the Edwards pick look now?

Theresa gave a nice speech and didn't tell anyone to shove it, so that's good. Ron Reagan lacks his father's rhetorical gifts. But of course, he could've recited "Mary Had a Little Lamb." It was all about the symbolism.

Gov. Napolotano (D-AZ) may be a great and effective Governor, but she didn't excite me. And Teddy--oh, Teddy. Not a good speech. Fortunately, nobody heard it.

The best line of the night? "I think the Vice President needs a time-out." That girl may be President herself, someday.

Like a Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Ted's speech? Too harsh.

I suppose someone has to strike out at they don't.

I'm a little worried about Howie, too.

Atrios Outed!

It was only a matter of time, but Atrios' secret identity appears to have been revealed. He's a professor by the impossible name of Duncan Black. No, seriously. I know it sounds like the name of a villan from Harry Potter, but it appears to be his real name.

Ah, what the Hell. Quite frankly, given Atrios' status as the go-to lefty blogger, I'd say he's probably got a good enough future as himself to out himself.

Unless, of course, it's all a clever ruse. Hmmm....

Monday, July 26, 2004
Ann Coulter is a Vapid Idiot

Ann Coulter's column on the DNC was spiked, because it was "not funny" and "unusable." Hmm...that seems a bit over-the-top (especially because USA Today hired, you know, Ann Coulter; it's not like she's made a secret of her hacktacular nature). So, what could Coulter have written?

Here at the Spawn of Satan convention in Boston, conservatives are deploying a series of covert signals to identify one another, much like gay men do. My allies are the ones wearing crosses or American flags. The people sporting shirts emblazoned with the "F-word" are my opponents. Also, as always, the pretty girls and cops are on my side, most of them barely able to conceal their eye-rolling.

It goes downhill from there. No, really, I know that seems impossible, but it does.

My only question is to the right: you say Democrats are drunk on Bush-hatred.

What do you call this?

Even the Conservative....

Sully is impressed:

If the first night is any indicator, the Democrats have played the smartest, strongest card of the campaign so far....Rhetorically, at least, they were saying: this is our war too. But we can pursue it more wisely and effectively than the well-meaning hothead now in office. And there was a subtler message as well. Remember when we were one as a nation? Do you really think that president Bush is capable of bringing any of us together again?

He isn't. But of course, that's largely because he was never that interested in bringing people together. It's not what helps you win.

The Only Democratic Blogger Who Isn't In Boston

That's me. In fact, I only caught sporadic bits and pieces of the convention tonight. My pundit's license may be lifted at any time. So before it is, a few thoughts:

  • Bill Clinton won't overshadow John Kerry--only 12% of the country even knows the DNC has started. But his speech was masterful, and a reminder of just how good this guy can be. "They need a divided country--we don't" is note-perfect. And he successfully toed the line while attacking Bush, sticking to policy disputes.
  • Hillary gave her standard speech. She's a bright woman, and my pick for future Democratic leader in the Senate (where partisanship is an asset, not a liability). But she proved yet again that she's not going to be President; bright as she is, she just doesn't have the chops. Kerry can out-orate her. (Leave aside the whole fact that she's basically nuclear to 55% of the country.)
  • Jimmy Carter. Great guy. Great guy. Pretty lousy President, though. Oh, he had a few nice zingers, but Carter wasn't going to make the people forget Kennedy, or for that matter, Sargent Shriver. His tone was a bit harsher than Clinton's, but again he kept it on policy, not personality.
  • Indeed, so far, so good for my pet theory: the name "George W. Bush" was not uttered by any of the major speakers. References were to "the Republicans" or to an unnamed, hypothetical President who led us into Iraq. The tone was not Bush-hatred; it was Bush-isn't-a-very-good-President-so-why-not-look-at-our-guy?
  • Finally, every speaker went out of their way to emphasize Democratic resolve against al-Qaida. Good. While the usual suspects may argue that the unserious Democrats are preparing to surrender unilaterally (but only if the U.N. lets us), almost all Democrats (and certainly the two heading the ticket) are more than willing to take out the bastards who hit us in 2001. We just want to make sure we're taking out the right ones, and that if we do go after some other jerks, the bastards don't get away while we're distracted.

So those are my thoughts. More later.

The Baseline

And so it begins.

As two Johns once said, in 1844, the Democrats were split. The three nominees for the Presidential candidate were Martin van Buren, a former President and an abolitionist; James Buchanan, a moderate; Lewis Cass, a general and expansionist. From Nashville came a dark horse riding up: it was James K. Polk, Napoleon of the Stump.


At any rate, we're here, one hundred sixty years after the Democrats forestalled disaster another few years. (Eventually, they'd get around to nominating Buchanan, our nation's worst President; under his watch, our nation finally dissolved into civil war. Until the South secedes again, George W. Bush must be content with second place.)

The Democrats are not divided. Not at all.

I have been an on-again, off-again member of the Democratic Party for thirteen years, and a fan of it for a decade more. The Democrats are proud of the old maxim, "I don't belong to any organized party. I'm a Democrat." The rank-and-file are usually at each others' throats at this point, though they suck it up through the convention.

The DLCers hate the unions who hate the gays who hate someone else, coming back around to hatred of the DLC in the big circle of mutual distrust that defines the Democratic party.

Not this year.

No, this year, there's something different in the air. Something odd.

It's called unity.

The Democrats are united in a single goal: to drive George W. Bush from power. And they are so focused on that goal that nobody seems capable of stopping that unity. If John Kerry chose to switch to a pro-life, anti-gay position at the convention, I suspect most of us would simply accept it as moving to the center and still pull the lever for him. He will not lose 98% of Democrats no matter what he does. Not because of anything he's done--but because the Democrats want Bush and co. gone.

The Right loves to spin this as some sort of irrational hysteria--the Democrats are kooky, nutty, ready to go berserk at the eeeevul George W. Bush.

But the Democrats aren't crazy. They're calm, composed, and focused. If the Democrats were drunk on Bush-hatred, they would've endorsed Howard Dean. They aren't. Of the big four candidates, Dean was fourth. The second most stridently anti-Bush candidate was Wes Clark. He was third.

Kerry and Edwards took their shots, but they were calm and respectful. Their disagreements weren't about Bush trying to start a second empire, but about him taking us to war with inadequate intelligence, and botching the clean-up. It's a message that can resonate.

Oh, there are some nutty lefties (although really--Whoopi Goldberg made a "bush" pun and she's being lambasted? Really? I mean, how many blow-job references did Bill Clinton get hit with over the eight years of his Presidency?). And yes, Michael Moore did insinuate an awful lot that's not quite factually borne out. But these aren't the Democrats, any more than Fred Phelps represents the Republicans. There are nuts in both parties; we ignore the nuts and focus on the actual candidates.

No, Kerry won't go nuts, and neither will Edwards; they're pros, and that's why they've gotten the nod. They're going to go in and cut the legs out from under Bush-Cheney, calmly and coolly.

We may lose, but it won't be because of irrational Bush hatred. The irrationality is gone now. We're crystal clear.

Poll Watch

So here's the baseline (Via Polling Report):

Time Poll, 7/20-22, 1000 registered voters, MOE +/- 3%

Kerry/Edwards (D) 50%
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 45%
Other 1%

Kerry/Edwards (D) 46%
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 44%
Nader/Camejo (RP) 5%

Does Bush deserve reelection?

Yes 43%
No 53%

Quinnipiac University Poll, 7/18-22, 1,551 registered voters, MOE +/- 2.5%

Kerry/Edwrds (D) 46% (+1)
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 43% (-2)
Someone Else 1% (-1)

Kerry/Edwards (D) 44% (+2)
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 43% (unc)
Nader/Camejo (RP) 4% (-2)

FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll, 7/20-21, 900 registered voters, MOE +/- 3% (767 likely voters, MOE +/- 4%)

Registered Voters (Likely Voters) [trendline (registered):

Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 43% (43%)[-4]
Kerry/Edwards (D) 42% (44%) [+2]
Nader/Camejo (RP) 4% (3%) [+1]

Kerry/Edwards (D) 44% (45%) [+2]
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 44% (44%) [-4]
Other 10% (9%) [+2]

That's the baseline. Kerry running between a point behind (although it is FOX) to five points ahead.

Will Kerry jump 10% in the next week?

Will he have Clinton's 40-point bounce from 1992?

Will monkeys fly out of my posterior?

Kerry will have a bounce. By Friday, he will be leading by four to ten percent across the board. Well, except for FOX. (Will FOX have him down, or up by 15%? Hmm....)

This isn't a "big bounce" year. The electorate is pretty divided, and I expect Kerry to get a small but significant bounce. I also expect a three-to-four percent bounce for Bush, but an incumbent can and should expect a smaller bounce, historically.

This week will tell a lot. We are, to borrow Sir Winston's marvelous phrasing, not at the end, nor the beginning of the end. But today marks the end of the beginning.

Thursday, July 22, 2004
Exquisite Dead Guy

The usual suspects are spinning like mad, trying to keep the Sandy Berger MOST IMPORTANT SCANDAL EVER going, but it just isn't. (Peep Google News. Nothin'.)

Barring any truly surprising revelations, I'd say my prediction holds: outside of the stalwarts (who are still trumpeting the bogus oil-for-food "scandal"), nobody will care about this in a week.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004
I Should Be Allowed to Think

"The Daily Show" won the Television Critics Association award for outstanding news and information programming, beating out shows that are actual news shows.

Of course, as anyone who's watched "The Daily Show" knows, it arguably is the most informative half-hour on television. And Samantha Bee is damn funny.

What other show would use the line "Talking points: they're true because they're repeated a lot?" None, that's what.

Congrats to Jon Stewart and the gang.

Oh, and is there any better proof that Kilborn might be overrated than the current version of "The Daily Show," funnier by far than it ever was when Kilby prowled the set?

The End of the Tour

Josh Marshall is all over l'affaire d'Berger. And he's got some pretty good points:

In the days ahead I have to imagine that a lot of Democrats -- and not happily -- are going to be asking this question: Why didn't Sandy Berger step aside from his advisory position for John Kerry some time ago?

It's a helluva good question. Look, this was going to be damaging to Berger, probably fatally (at least career-wise). He had to know that when there's an ongoing FBI investigation, even one that doesn't seem to be all that ongoing, there's a chance that it will leak. And that leak will be embarassing, not just to him, but to the Kerry campaign as a whole.

Marshall also notes Sen. Santorum's absurd claim that Berger stole the documents to bolster Kerry on port security.

The lack of port security isn't exactly a state secret, and the documents in question--Richard Clarke's reports on the milennium terror alerts--aren't the easiest place to get information on the issues with our ports. Marshall says, "As someone who runs in those circles, I can tell you that there are at least half a dozen Democratic think-tank homeland security mavens who will happily go on about port security with you until you're ready to strangle them, or even until you do strangle them."

Now I want to make clear: I don't think Berger was up to nothing at all. But the butt he was most likely trying to cover was his own. Not to steal reports, or give them to the Kerry campaign, but to prep for his time before the 9/11 Commission. (I should be clear that I have nothing to support this save Occam's Razor.) And I doubt very much that Mr. Berger "accidentally" transported anything. He wanted to make sure he had his facts straight, or at least that his facts agreed with Richard Clarke's.

No matter what, Berger's transgression does end his career (which is fine; as I've noted before, he was at best a mediocre NSA, and either Holbrooke or Biden would've made a better Secretary of State regardless of this situation). It is an embarassment to Kerry, though likely a transitory one. After all, how worked up will the public be about a former official in the Clinton administration doing something dumb that can't be directly tied to the Kerry campaign--especially after the guy was kicked out of the campaign for the dumb thing he did?

Heck, Kerry fired a guy for doing something dumb. The President might want to try it.

My bet: it's red meat for the right wing, it's a bump in the road for Kerry, and a week from now (barring some unforseen development), we've all moved on to something else. But we'll see.

UPDATE: Sully agrees with me:

My best bet is that Berger was engaging in advance damage control - saving the drafts to help concoct a better defense of his tenure. If so, it's classic Clinton era sleaze - not exactly terrible but cheesy subordination of national security for partisan political advantage.

Yep. Of course, that pretty much describes the Bush-era sleaze, too, if you excise the "not exactly."

Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Box Turtle Love

Sens. Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Rick Santorum (R-Man on Dog) are going to speak at the Republican National Convention, in an attempt to heal the hurt feelings of social conservatives.

Whether or not the two will speak in prime time is still unkown.

This is a setback for BC04, which had hoped to present the moderate face of the GOP (Ahnuld, Pataki, Rudy) at the convention, but now must stomach what is certain to be a rock-ribbed attack on gay marriage (and, for that matter, gay people) by Santorum.

Which is fine by me.

More Innocent Than It Looks

We'll start with the caveat: what Sandy Berger did is inexcuseable, and it has deservedly cost him his position with the Kerry campaign.

But before the right side of the blogosphere gets too over-the-top, it's important to take a deep breath, step back, and look at what's really happening.

Berger Did Not Steal Any Original Documents

I know some of the news reports have been confusing, so let's look at what David Gergen, a former White House Chief of Staff for Clinton who also happens to be a Republican, has to say:

Former Clinton aide David Gergen, who worked with Berger in the White House, was interviewed on NBC's "Today" show Tuesday and said of Berger's actions, "I think it's more innocent than it looks."

Gergen said Berger was not attempting to remove anything critical of the Clinton administration. Copies of the purportedly missing documents apparently were widely dispersed, and Berger has said the Sept. 11 Commission received everything it asked for.

Yes, Gergen is a Clinton aide. But the fact that the documents Berger purportedly stole (to keep the deep, dark secrets from coming out) nevertheless made it successfully to the 9/11 Commission tends to argue in favor of Gergen's point.

The Timing of This is Politically Motivated

That's not evil, or wrong, or anything like that. If the situation was reversed, I imagine the Democrats would be doing the same thing.

The 9/11 Commission's report is due out imminently. Of course the Bush administration is going to throw up some chaff to try to distract from the report. That doesn't mean Berger didn't do anything, just that it's silly to think that these charges just happened to come out after eight months.

It is Doubtful That This Will Go Anywhere

Oh, Berger may be charged, eventually, although the fact that the FBI hasn't even bothered to interview him yet tends to augur against that.

But this isn't a major story because Sandy Berger is the former National Security Advisor. He has no power whatsoever. Yes, this probably finishes Berger for the Kerry administration, and that's fine and proper--someone who does what Berger did, even innocently, is a poor choice to shepherd national security--but even if Berger goes to jail for this, it's not going to be on the same par as if, say, Condi Rice had done this.

Look, I've never been a big Sandy Berger guy. He wasn't the finest NSA in American history. And if he's guilty of taking classified documents--even if they're copies--then he deserves the oppprobrium he's getting. But he wasn't trying to hide the horrible truth about the Clintons. And those who desperately want this to be a MAJOR SCANDAL need to step back, take a deep breath, and get a life.

Saturday, July 17, 2004
Kerry. In a Walk.

Mitch Berg has posted his prediction for November, so I guess I may as well too.

It's in the headline: Kerry, and fairly easily.

Put in numerical form:

Kerry/Edwards (D) 50%, 365 EV
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 44%, 173 EV
Nader/Camejo (RP) 2%, 0 EV
Other 3%, 0 EV

Why do I think that Kerry is going to win by six or more percentage points? Well there are a few reasons.

Bush Has Failed

This is not meant to be an argument; this is the judgement of the American people.

Two recent polls show the right track/wrong track question with only 43% of respondents saying the country is on the right track. People consistently give Bush losing numbers in the generic "deserves to be reelected" category. Bush leads Kerry in fighting the War on Terror, but not by much, and he trails in virtually every category.

Will the rebounding economy save Bush? Unlikely. First, the rebound isn't very even--it's tended to disproportionately help more affluent Americans. Second, the rebound is stalling out a bit. Certainly, job creation is still well below administration forecasts and right around the break-even number. Third, even stipulating that the economy is growing, it usually takes a few quarters to a year for people to really feel it. (The economy grew throughout 1992. Bush pere still lost.)

Bush Gambled Big on Iraq--and Lost

If we don't invade Iraq, Bush is probably cruising to victory right now.

"But wait!" say the 'wingers. "That proves Bush is a strong man with solid principles who's strongly solid, and doesn't do stuff for political ends!"

At which I tell the 'wingers to Suck It.

Iraq was not purely political. But there's no question the Bush administration saw it as an enormous positive. For one thing, it cost the Democrats control of the Senate during the run-up to war. For another, all you had to do was look at the infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech to see how the Bushies thought their Messopotamian adventure would be remembered.

Bush bet his Presidency and his credibility on Iraq.

Which is why it sucks for him that he was pretty much wrong about everything going on there.

The fact is, there were no WMDs in Iraq, and Iraq posed no immediate threat to the United States. Americans are willing to forgive a lot, but we have a strong isolationist streak, even after half a century leading the West. We don't like to go to war to save other people. And with no WMDs and no immediate threat, we went to war--and killed nine hundred Americans--to help out Iraqis.

And for no other purpose.

Well, the price for such a gamble and failure is loss. Which Bush faces soon.

Undecided Voters Don't Break For the Incumbent

Undecided voters are rarely undecided about the incumbent. They don't like him. If they liked him, they'd be voting for him.

No, undecided voters are undecided about the challenger. Is he up to the job? Does he meet the basic threshhold of competence? Is he a decent guy? Can he run the country beter than the jackass who holds the office now?

The thing is, no matter who the challenger is, the answers to these questions are usually yes. Simply by winning a party's endorsement, the challenger is usually equipped with basic political skills. Kerry is not the greatest candidate the Democrats have put forward, but he's no Mike Dukakis either. He's been a Senator for a while, he's well-spoken. He's not the most exciting guy in the world, but you don't need "exciting" right now anyhow. He's competent.

That, and that alone, is enough to take the majority of the undecideds.

Nader Continues to Falter

Nader continues to drop like a stone, and it's questionable whether he'll even get on a majority of state ballots. Nader at 5% could be a factor. Nader at 1-2% isn't.

Bush Has Already Taken His Shot

For all the "wait until Bush takes a shot at Kerry" rhetoric, the fact is that Bush has already taken his shot. Since Kerry emerged as Bush's foe, Bush has relentlessly attacked Kerry. Just look at the BC04 ads. They are overwhelmingly negative and anti-Kerry. They certainly aren't the ads of a leader. They're the ads of a trailing candidate, ten points down with two weeks to go, desperately trying to get some kind of traction.

And that, in the end, is why I believe Kerry will win. For all the number-crunching, it's just obvious that both campaigns know the score. Leading candidates don't attack, and Kerry generally isn't; trailing candidates attack relentlessly, and that's what Bush has done.

The fact is, there's only so much Bush can do. He's attacking Kerry because America has decided on Bush. We don't like him. Bush's best chance is to convince America that Kerry is even worse. If he hasn't done it yet, I don't think he's going to.

Absent some sort of crisis (which could push the election either way; let's be honest, nobody really knows what a terror attack would do to this election), Kerry wins. Big.

Thursday, July 15, 2004
The Other Side

"Gay people are evil... EVIL...right down to their cold black heart which pumps not blood like yours and mine but rather a thick vominous oil that oozes through their rotten veins and clogs in their pea-sized brains which becomes the cause of their naziesqe patterns of violent behavior."

   --Mr. Garrison

Sometimes, you have to laugh, because if you don't laugh, you cry.

Mr. Garrison's over-the-top condemnation of gays in the classic "South Park" episode "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride" was funny because you know there are people who actually think that way.

People like Al Dobras.

I warn you: if you click on Mr. Dobras' name, you'll be subjected to a bile-filled rant against homosexuals and lesbians that is so over-the-top that it seems like parody.

It isn't.

Among the insights Mr. Dobras shares:

Actually, both homosexual and heterosexual are relatively new terms, having found their way into the lexicon in the 1930s.  The associated term gay, did not come into common usage until the mid-1970s.

The use of those words as nouns has come into relatively common usage in recent years, in large part due to homosexual practitioners and their apologists who know that any debate centered on the homosexual lifestyle would be a lost cause.  For obvious reasons, therefore, it was politically necessary to perpetrate the myth that homosexuality is an inborn state of being and a civil rights issue rather than an atypical sexual behavior, like pederasty—sexual activity between a man and a boy.

* * *

The California Domestic Partners Law cites a domestic partnership as a declaration of shared responsibility between two persons of the same sex—the declaration is not made between two homosexuals since it is not possible to rationally classify someone by using such a designation. In fact, the California law makes no mention of either homosexuals or sexual orientation in the legislation.

The recently passed Senate hate crimes bill, S.966, provides additional penalties for “offenses involving actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.” The crafters of the bill, recognizing that sexual orientation is an indeterminate term, added the word perceived as a descriptor to the protected categories. Again, the word homosexual is nowhere found in the legislation.

* * *

  • No matter what image of the homosexual lifestyle GLBT groups may want to project to the public, the facts are that the great majority of homosexuals engage in risky sexual practices that most people would consider beyond bizarre.A frank and open look at the homosexual lifestyle can be found at the web site of the Family Research Institute.
  • Promiscuity, pornography, and the elusive pursuit of sexual fulfillment fuel the engine of the homosexual lifestyle.
  • It is not uncommon for homosexuals to have hundreds, if not thousands, of casual sexual encounters during their lifetime, whether in a “committed” relationship or not.Sexual fidelity has little meaning in homosexual relationships.

* * *

  • Lesbians have more male [sic] sex partners then their heterosexual counterparts, putting lesbians at greater risk for contracting STDs.
  • Lesbians are three times more likely to abuse alcohol.
  • Homosexual and lesbian relationships are far more violent than traditional married households.

You know, we have made great strides in this nation. Over the past forty years racism has been driven underground and women have advanced to near-equality. But when I read statements like this, I'm transported back through time to the era of George Wallace.

This is what hatred looks like. Oh, it's dressed up as an "objective" look at homosexuality. But of course, there were plenty of "objective" articles about how the wild Negro couldn't possibly live with the civilized white folk.

We have learned over the past fifty years what hateful, evil rubbish that was. I pray we learn our lesson here sooner.

Little Pig, Little Pig, Let Me In
So Ditka's out. 
Time for the Illinois GOP to get truly desperate:
[A]nother name surfacing is that of rocker, outspoken conservative and gun-rights activist Ted Nugent.

"He grew up in Arlington Heights. He went to St. Viator High School," Cook County Republican Chair Gary Skoien told WMAQ. "He has more connection to Illinois than Hillary Clinton had to New York, and he's been a very articulate spokesperson on constitutional issues. He would be a very interesting candidate."

Nugent couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday night.

And when the Nooge refuses, the Republicans can tap Justin Timberlake.  "He once played a concert at the Rosemount Horizon.  So...he's...well, I guess he's the best we can do."

Oh Lord You're Mean

A nice column about the most overrated band in America, the "new" Wilco, in Slate.

Wilco used to be one of my favorite bands, right up through A.M. Jeff Tweedy, their frontman, was half of the great Uncle Tupelo, which also spun off Son Volt (fronted by Jay Farrar). But by the time Yankee Hotel Foxtrot came out, Wilco had become largely unlistenable.

Oh, they're still able to recapture the old magic, on songs like "Fell In Love With The Drummer." But mostly, it's just Radiohead-esqe deconsruction, and as the article says:

Deconstruction is currently doing for Wilco (and Radiohead before it) what it did for literary studies in the '70s and '80s: providing a sense of pomp and excitement during a period of near-total marginalization.


CORRECTION: The song is "Heavy Metal Drummer." I stand corrected.

Electoral College Watch, Based on an aggregate of polls:

Kerry/Edwards (D) 185 likely, 137 uncertain, 322 total
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 161 likely, 55 uncertain, 216 total
Nader/Camejo (RP) 0 likely, 0 uncertain, 0 total

Hardly over. Ohio, Michigan, Florida, and Pennsylvania are all in Kerry's "uncertain" pile. Obviously, those are enough to swing the election right there. Still, who would you rather be right now?

But What Will We Tell The Children?

Bill O'Reilly is a liar:

MALLICK: I don't think that your French boycott has done too well ...

O'REILLY: ...they've lost billions of dollars in France according to "The Paris Business Review."

MALLICK: I think that's nonsense.

Media Matters for America found no evidence of a publication named "The Paris Business Review." A search revealed no mentions of "Paris Business Review," "Revue des Affaires de Paris," or any similar French name. A LexisNexis search for "Paris," "France," or "French" within five words of "business review" produced no relevant results. There is a journal called "European Business Review," which is published in England; however, over the past two years, "European Business Review" has not mentioned an American boycott of France.

So O'Reilly went to the old high school debate standby: make shit up. But of course, people are actually listening to Mr. O'Reilly.

Oh, and as for the French boycott? Actually, French exports to America are up since February of 2002.

Of course, I'm sure this is all a vast conspiracy against O'Reilly.

Still, I'd love for Bill to bring in the article he cites. Shouldn't be a problem. Right?

One State, Two State, Red State, Blue State

I don't know about this Slate quiz. Mainly because I get "red state" points for knowing all four of the Quad Cities, which are entirely within...wait for states.

Actually, it's probably not that far off, if instead of "red state/blue state" they mean "coasts/heartland." And for what it's worth, I am a suburban midwesterner. I'm just a liberal one.

After the Ricky Williams Deal, How Could You Trust Him With Our Nation's Security?

Oh, the humanity.

The GOP in Illinois, stung by their inability to get anyone by Tarquin L.B.B.B.O. Biscuit-Barrell to run against Barack Obama (D-The Next Big Thing) thought they might have their man in Iron Mike Ditka, Hall of Fame tight end, coach of the 1985 Super Bowl XX Champion Chicago Bears, and all-around Chicago hero.

It was the dream. The Republicans needed a rich, famous somebody to run against Obama, who is charismatic, bright, and running a great race. Ditka fit the bill. Oh, sure, the Levitra jokes would've been running hot and heavy, but everyone loved Ditka. As a wise man once said: "Ditka is like the sun, only smarter."

Alas, it was not to be. Ditka is evidently out.

So who will the GOP tap now? It's pretty thin gruel after Mike. Current Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Lame Duck) only got the job in the first place because he was running against corrupt Sen. Carol Mosley-Braun (D-Zaire). He was withdrawing precisely because he was an accidental Senator with little-to-no chance of reelection against a poor opponent; Obama would wipe the floor with him.

Now, it's down to the cast-offs and lesser lights of the Illinois GOP. No candidate with a future wants to run in this horrible situation; no candidate with a legacy wants to risk it on almost certain failure. And Ditka, the GOP's best shot, just walked.

As for the Democratic nominee? Well, Mr. Obama is going to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. And come January, he'll be the Junior Senator from the Great State of Illinois.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Good 50, Evil 48

Well, that was anticlimactic.

After threatening an end to civilization if the FMA failed, our Republic managed to endure the failure of the FMA to clear a procedural vote, killing the measure in the Senate. The vote to end cloture failed 48-50, with Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and John Edwards (D-NC) not voting due to campaign commitments.

Ouch. Not even a simple majority against cloture.

And it's not like the GOP can blame this on the Democrats. Six Republican Senators--Sens. Campbell, Chaffee, Collins, McCain, Snowe, and Sununu--voted against cloture. Only two Democrats--Sens. Byrd and Nelson--and Sen. Zell Miller ("D"-GA) voted for cloture.

And it gets worse for FMA supporters. Both Byrd and Nelson said they would've voted against the amendment. So would Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA). Indeed, it's hard to see how the GOP would've mustered more that 43 or 44 votes for the amendendment--which would've required 67 votes to pass.

And of course, that's not even the end of the sadness for the "defenders of marriage." Because the amendment that was voted on was changed at the last minute to remove language that may just have been in there to bar civil unions. Or not. Nobody is really quite sure.

When the GOP first put forth gay marriage as a big wedge issue, some Democrats were concerned about the implications for the fall. But after this resounding defeat--and the ineptitude with which the Majority in the Senate conducted themselves--it's hard to play this as anything at all. Gay marriage is an issue with opposition that's a half-mile wide and a quarter-inch deep. Few people really care that much about it, and those who are truly opposed to this are voting Bush anyhow.

At any rate, today's vote is a victory for the Constitution, which survived yet another harebrained scheme to write public policy into it. It's a victory for federalism, allowing states to set their own agendas with regards to gay marriage. And of course, it's a victory for gays, who only want to be married after all.

Oh, and closed circuit to Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN): you have now lost my vote. Permanently. The DFL could run Josef Stalin against you, and I'd vote for him. No Senator who supported this amendment will ever, ever, ever get my support. I voted for you for mayor in 1997, and I could've been persuaded to vote for you in the future. But no more, Nahm. No more.

Somewhere, Mitch Berg is Crying....

Ramsey County District Judge John Finley has struck down concealed carry, declaring the bill unconstitutional.

Finley's ruling was based on the rarely observed clause in the Minnesota Constitution that requires bills passed by the legislature to be single-subject. Concealed carry was attached by an amendment in the House to noncontoversial DNR legislation that did not have anything to do with firearms. The issue was not brought up in committee in either house.

Wrote Finley, "Our state has prided itself in its openness in all areas of government. Attaching this very important and divisive amendment to a totally unrelated, noncontroversial bill without providing notice to the general public is a direct violation of the state constitution and the holdings of our highest court."

Attorney General Mike Hatch (DFL-Burnsville) has said he will appeal the ruling. In the interim, permit rules will revert to the old, county-by-county system, but permits issued under the now invalid rules will remain valid. Also, the ubiquitous "This Store Bans Firearms" signs no longer need be displayed for a business to bar weapons.

I've always found concealed carry to be a mixed bag. I never have thought it would create a "wild west" situation, nor have I thought it would sharply deter crime. I have been generally in favor, on the simple principle that we should favor an expansion of liberty in the absence of evidence to the contrary. But the way in which concealed carry was passed was sloppy, to say the least. Even Gov. Timmy conceded as much last year, but that didn't stop him from signing it five minutes after it passed.

I don't doubt that some form of concealed carry will rise from the ashes. But this time, let it go through committee, let it get a fair hearing, and let's get the language tightened up. A better-written law is in everyone's best interest.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004
On the Plus Side, There's Someone to Carpool With....

Via Marshall, it appears that one James Sharp, esq. is representing both Ken Lay in the Enron case and George W. Bush in the Plame case.

Hmm. What a coincidence.

I mean, it's not like Bush was friends with Lay or anything, so what are the odds?

Delicious Yellow Cake

I've thus far refrained from commention on the "Iraq Did Too Want Yellowcake" story, mainly because I haven't had time to actually look into it. I mean, a few conservative bloggers linking to a story doesn't always mean there's anything there. I mean, look at Gulf War II: The Vengeance.

But looking at the matter, it sure looks on the surface like a repudiation of the liberal points, with statements like:

The UK government has stood by its claim that Iraq had sought to buy uranium, and its assertion is expected to be supported by an official inquiry headed by Lord Butler whose report is published tomorrow. The UK has made clear that its claim was not based on the evidence provided in the fake documents, and that it had other evidence that Iraq had tried to buy uranium.

The Senate report adds weight to these claims by detailing the extent to which French intelligence information supported that being gathered by other intelligence agencies. The French information was given particular weight because French companies control Niger's uranium output.

Well. I mean if the French thought there was something to this, then there must be something to this. The mines were run by the French. Hmmm....

Well, I was wrong.

Except maybe I wasn't. Because, as Josh Marshall notes:

[T]he British claim that there was other evidence beside the documents is given further weight by the fact that French intelligence also had suspicions about a Niger-Iraq deal. And France's suspicions were uniquely relevant since French consortia actually control the mines.

This is at best a very sloppy reading of the report.

Here's why.

Page 59 of the report states that on November 22nd 2002 French officials told their American counterparts that they had "information on an Iraqi attempt to buy uranium from Niger." They went on to say that they were confident that the transaction did not in fact occur -- a confidence presumably based on their own physical custody of the uranium.

However, in the context of the WMD debate, Iraqi intent was and is quite important, even if attempts to acquire the yellowcake failed. So the French suspicions were important -- particularly because of their role running the mines.

However, the FT ignores what appears in the report ten pages later. There on page 69 the report says ..."March 4, 2003, the U.S. Government learned that the French had based their initial assessment that Iraq had attempted to procure uranium from Niger on the same documents that the U.S. had provided to the [IAEA]."

In other words, the French suspicions, at least as detailed in the report, add no weight to the claims that there was other evidence beside the documents since the French suspicions, by their own account, were based on the documents.

Oh, and also, the mines in question lacked the capacity to turn the uranium into Yellowcake.

Look, is it possible Saddam was just seconds away from moving that industrial equipment into Niger? I suppose. But I keep coming back to a simple question:

If there was something to the Yellowcake story, why didn't the Bush administration say so last year?

Let's remember what former White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer said at the time:

FLEISCHER: Well, there is zero, nada, nothing new here. Ambassador Wilson, other than the fact that now people know his name, has said all this before. But the fact of the matter is in his statements about the Vice President -- the Vice President's office did not request the mission to Niger. The Vice President's office was not informed of his mission and he was not aware of Mr. Wilson's mission until recent press accounts -- press reports accounted for it.

So this was something that the CIA undertook as part of their regular review of events, where they sent him. But they sent him on their own volition, and the Vice President's office did not request it. Now, we've long acknowledged -- and this is old news, we've said this repeatedly -- that the information on yellow cake did, indeed, turn out to be incorrect. [Emphasis Added]

Again, if there was evidence that there was something to the story, why did Fleischer say there wasn't? After all, it was this moment that transformed the Niger Uranium thing from a minor hobbyhorse of bloggers to a scandal. It was The White House that triggered the scandal, by admitting that the story was wrong.

Now, maybe the White House was being charitable. They thought their lead was too big, they figured people would enjoy a good scandal. But I think it's probably more along the lines of this: there may have been some scraps of evidence that Iraq (along with pretty much everyone else in the middle east and Korean peninsula) was looking for uranium. But there isn't much proof of that, and what proof exists is tenuous. There's no proof it didn't happen--but no proof it did, either.

And so both sides can claim vindication.

But only one side went to war based on this justification. So I would tend to say that they have more of the burden of proof.

At any rate, I'll happily concede that I was wrong, so long as righty blogs concede that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, no viable nuclear program, and posed no threat to America worth going to war over.

There's more evidence for my contention than yours.

Poll Watch

CNN/USA Today/Gallup, July 8-11, 706 Likely Voters, MOE +/- 4%

Kerry/Edwards (D) 50%
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 46%

Kerry/Edwards (D) 50%
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 45%
Nader/Camejo (RP) 2%

Investor's Business Daily/Christian Science Monitor/TIPP, July 6-10, 800 Registered Voters, MOE +/- 3.5%

Kerry/Edwards (D) 49% (+5)
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 44% (unc)

Kerry/Edwards (D) 47% (+6)
Bush/Cheney (R) 43% (-1)
Nader/Camejo (RP) 4% (-2)

And two more polls show an Edwards bounce in in the 4-6 point range, and solid Kerry leads. This solidifies the AP poll as an outlier--when six polls say one thing and one says another, trust the six.

A few interesting points:

1. In the CNN poll, Nader actually hurts Bush more than he hurts Kerry. No, I am not making that up! He wasn't lying! He takes from both equally! He's helping us beat GDub!

Well, except if you read all the other polls he doesn't. Still--it tells you how far He Who Must Be Ignored has fallen, doesn't it?

2. We appear to be reaching equilibrium in the race; Kerry with about a four-to-five point advantage, Bush with consistent support in the low-to-mid forties, Kerry with support in the upper-forties-to-low-fifties. It's not invincible, but Kerry appears to be in great shape. A good convention should put him in the driver's seat.

3. The Edwards bump is similar in size to the Gore bump Bill Clinton received in 1992. We all remember how 1992 ended.


The prevailing line of attack on John2 is that they're the most liberal...ticket...ever! This is based on rankings by the National Journal for 2003, when both men were preparing for a Presidential run, which gave Kerry the most liberal voting record in the Senate, and Edwards the fourth-most-liberal.

But an Andrew Sullivan reader (found via The Artist Formerly Known as Calpundit) has gone back a few years, and the results are, well, different:

2003: Kerry - 1st (96.5) Edwards - 4th (94.5)
2002: Kerry - 9th (87.3) Edwards - 31st (63.0)
2001: Kerry - 11th (87.7) Edwards - 35th (68.2)
2000: Kerry - 20th (77) Edwards - 19th (80.8)
1999: Kerry - 16th (80.8) Edwards - 31st (72.2)

Average: Kerry - 12th (85.9) Edwards - 24th (75.7)

And so instead of John Kerry being the reincarnation of Paul Wellstone, we find he's merely a mainstream liberal. And Edwards tends towards the right of the Democratic party, not the left.

Kevin says, "[t]he next time someone brings this up, let 'em know the facts. After all, that's the whole point of being an advocate for the left, isn't it?" Indeed. And it's a point well taken.

Monday, July 12, 2004
Tinfoil Condition Yellow

The really bad plan to postpone Election Day in the event of a terror attack has been shelved. Thank God.

As long-time readers of this blog may remember, on September 11, 2001, I cast a ballot in between the two strikes on the World Trade Center. Yes, it was in a mayoral primary. So what? That vote was meaningful. I would've cast it that day no matter what. Hell, I would've crawled over glass to cast the ballot that day, because it is the fundamental basis of our government.

No, postponing elections a week or two wouldn't destroy our Republic. But it would be a powerful symbol that our nation was teetering on the abyss.

I wouldn't give them the satisfaction.

The chattering classes were quick to declare that "the terrorists would win if...." If we stopped flying, playing baseball, voting Republican, drinking gin...whatever.

So what do the terrorists win if we don't vote?

It was a horrible idea. Thank God cooler heads prevailed.

Number One in tha Hood, G

This article by Justin Peters is a great piece on what may be the funniest block of television this side of "The Daily Show," Comedy Central's Adult Swim. Why is it so funny?

How is it that the same economy that gives us bland fodder like Vin Diesel, Evanescence, and "According To Jim" can sometimes suddenly produce the sort of wonderful, bizarre material that we see on Adult Swim? It's because the good stuff tends to come when nobody's looking--created by those on the fringes of the studio system, occupying marginal creative real estate with minimal supervision. In the natural world, punctuated evolution occurs when small groups find themselves geographically isolated and free from natural predators, allowing creatures with rare mutations to thrive and develop into entirely new species. So it is in entertainment: The best material has often come from the back alleys of the studio system.

True. That, and Master Shake is frickin' hilarious.

Poll Watch

One of these polls is not like the others....

(All polls courtesy Polling Report)

AP Ipsos, July 5-7, 804 Registered Voters, MOE +/- 3.5%

Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 49% (+5)
Kerry/Edwards (D) 45% (-2)
Nader/Camejo (RP) 3% (-3)

Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 50%
Kerry/Edwards (D) 46%

Zogby America, July 6-7, 1,008 Registered Voters, MOE +/- 3.1%

Kerry/Edwards (D) 46% (+2)
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 44% (+2)

Kerry/Edwards (D) 47% (+3)
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 45% (+3)
Nader/Camejo (RP) 2% (-1)

Does Bush Deserve Reelection?

Deserves Reelection 43%
Time for Someone New 53%

Newsweek/Princeton Research, July 8-9, 1,001 Registered Voters, MOE +/- 4%

Kerry/Edwards (D) 47%
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 44%
Nader/Camejo (RP) 3%

Kerry/Edwards (D) 51%
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 45%

Imaginary Tickets

Bush/Powell (R) 53%
Kerry/Edwards (D) 44%

Bush/McCain (R) 49%
Kerry/Edwards (D) 47%

Kerry/Edwards (D) 53%
Bush/Frist (R) 43%

Deserves Reelection?

Yes 43%
No 52%

The AP/Ipsos poll was trumpeted by many on the right as proof positive that Kerry/Edwards was not only not a positive for the Dems, but a net negative. But given that it's the only one of the last five polls to show a Bush/Cheney lead, I think that's overstating the case by quite a bit. The AP/Ipsos poll has "outlier" written all over it. (This may be due to the schitzophrenic methodology; the poll started before Kerry picked Edwards, and thus 1/3 of the data is "Kerry v. Bush," 2/3 "Kerry/Edwards.")

It's clear that John Edwards isn't going to be a panacea. But it's also clear that he's not hurting Kerry, and may well help him in the long run. Newsweek shows Kerry over 50% in a two-way race; that's a nice number.

I think the two biggest numbers are the "Deserves Reelection" numbers on Zogby and Newsweek. It's pretty clear right now that Americans have decided on balance that GDub does not deserve reelection. Whether John Kerry is the best guy to hire? Well, they're not quite sure about that yet. I don't expect any 15-point bounces either way, period, between now and November. But if Kerry can present himself well at the DNC, an eight- or nine-point bounce is realistic.

Friday, July 09, 2004
Hell Freezes Over

Even the Liberal Mickey Kaus endorses Kerry.

What's next?

Glenn Reynolds: "Kerry isn't that bad. Heh. Indeed."

Mitch Berg: "Come on, liberals, admit it: John Kerry is a great man."

James Lileks: "I told Gnat the other day, 'you know, John Kerry is much like a Star Trek DVD.'"

Adam Yoshida: "I believe we must imprison all left-handed people. Just in case." (Because, you know, some things never change.)

You Are Dumb.

It's funny because it's true:

"With so many right-wing shams to choose from, it's simply too daunting for the average, left-leaning citizen to maintain a sense of anger," said Rachel Neas, the study's director. "By our estimation, roughly 70 percent of liberals are experiencing some degree of lethargy resulting from a glut of civil-liberties abuses, education funding cuts, and exorbitant military expenditures."


"I can't even look at the back of my Volvo anymore," said one Syracuse, NY liberal who wished to remain anonymous. "My 'Lick Bush' and 'Four More Wars' bumper stickers just remind me of the angry feelings I can't sustain. I still have a sign hanging up in my cubicle at work, but if someone starts to talk about Cheney, I can't take it. I'm like, 'Yes, we all hate Cheney. He's an evil puppet-master. Yes, Bush is dumb. This is obvious. How many times can we say it? Now, excuse me, will you let me through so I can microwave my burrito?'"

Thursday, July 08, 2004
Anger. Resentment. Frustration. Santorum. Eww....

Conservatives are angry that the GOP National Convention...well...doesn't so much feature them.

While former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY), Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Senator Zell Miller (D-GA), and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) are given prime-time slots--an alleged Democrat, a maverick, and two social libertarians--socially conservative Republicans have been shut out.

As the article in The Hill states:

“The real muscle in the party is not in the California governor’s office but in the pro-family movement,” said Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), referring to the fact that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (Calif.) has a starring role in New York: “I am astonished that in an election year that is routinely described as a “base election” there will be no prime-time speakers who will give voice to the traditional moral values that bring millions of our voters to the polls.”

Now, these things tend to go one of two ways. Either they blow over and get covered-up in the party's rush to right the ship for the General Election, or they blow up.

What's going to happen here?

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) told The Hill: “The convention is using people that run the State Department because they are accustomed to the concept that they must not rock any boats, so that everything runs smoothly. The people who reflect the majority of the party should certainly be given a chance to present their positions.”

Hmm...that doesn't sound like someone who doesn't want a few boats rocked.

The GOP doesn't want The Governator. They want more Santorum!

Let's see. Anger over ideological direction of the convention...check. Push to dump Vice President from the ticket...check.

Panic level rising in the Grand Old Party? Check.


Jon Stewart pretty well nailed it:

"Oh, I get it. Be afraid enough not to vote for Kerry, but not so afraid that you don't vote for George W. Bush."

What was he referring to? The remarkably content-free briefing by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, who boldly asserted:

  • Al-Qaeda wants to strike us.
  • They may strike somewhere in America.
  • They could strike anytime between now and the election.
  • Or not.
  • We really don't know.
  • But we thought this might distract you from other things.
  • Oh, and by the way...we aren't raising the terror alert.
  • Have a nice day.

Look, I'm all for being vigilant. But this isn't about being vigilant. Vigilant isn't "hey, don't forget to look at stuff, 'cause you never know!"

But I've long ago given up on the Bush administration actually worrying about protecting us. Scaring us? They've got that down pat.

July Surprise--Josh Marshall Style

Josh sez:

If only bagging OBL had been such a priority for them in early '02. But, alas, Iraq called. And priorities are priorities.

This is where one says: indeed.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004
An Impeachable Offense

Disgusting. Wrong. Damn near treasonous:

A third source, an official who works under ISI's director, Lieutenant General Ehsan ul-Haq, informed tnr that the Pakistanis "have been told at every level that apprehension or killing of HVTs before [the] election is [an] absolute must." What's more, this source claims that Bush administration officials have told their Pakistani counterparts they have a date in mind for announcing this achievement: "The last ten days of July deadline has been given repeatedly by visitors to Islamabad and during [ul-Haq's] meetings in Washington." Says McCormack: "I'm aware of no such comment." But according to this ISI official, a White House aide told ul-Haq last spring that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July"--the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

The Bush administration has matched this public and private pressure with enticements and implicit threats. During his March visit to Islamabad, Powell designated Pakistan a major non-nato ally, a status that allows its military to purchase a wider array of U.S. weaponry. Powell pointedly refused to criticize Musharraf for pardoning nuclear physicist A.Q. Khan--who, the previous month, had admitted exporting nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea, and Libya--declaring Khan's transgressions an "internal" Pakistani issue. In addition, the administration is pushing a five-year, $3 billion aid package for Pakistan through Congress over Democratic concerns about the country's proliferation of nuclear technology and lack of democratic reform.

But Powell conspicuously did not commit the United States to selling F-16s to Pakistan, which it desperately wants in order to tilt the regional balance of power against India. And the Pakistanis fear that, if they don't produce an HVT, they won't get the planes. Equally, they fear that, if they don't deliver, either Bush or a prospective Kerry administration would turn its attention to the apparent role of Pakistan's security establishment in facilitating Khan's illicit proliferation network. One Pakistani general recently in Washington confided in a journalist, "If we don't find these guys by the election, they are going to stick this whole nuclear mess up our asshole."

I have said before that my greatest source of anger at the Bush administration is their repeated determination to politicize the defense of our nation. Even after September 11th, when the entire Democratic party was at the disposal of the President, Bush and his crew chose to do what benefitted them politically over what was best for the nation.

If the Bush administration is now pushing Pakistan to deliver al-Qaida folks on a timetable that screws up the Democratic National Convention, then we have gone around the bend. This is not just politicizing foreign policy--it is using foreign governments to bolster your own campaign.

It is wrong. It is unAmerican. And it should be repudiated across the board.

Nobody wants to see Osama bin Laden's head upon a pike more than I do. And I'll be happy to see it. I expect it any day now. Around twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July.

Another Pander to the Religious Right

The Bush administration plans to add a tarriff on shrimp. Well of course. Because we all know how God feels about shrimp....

Poll Watch

NBC News/Princeton Survey Group, July 6, 2004, 503 registered voters, MOE +/- 5%:

Kerry/Edwards (D) 49%
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 41%
Nader/Camejo (Ref) 4%

Job Approval:

George W. Bush
Approve: 45%
Disapprove: 48%
Delta: -3%

Dick Cheney
Approve: 44%
Disapprove: 43%
Delta: +1%

Choice of Edwards

Likely to Vote for Kerry?
More Likely: 24%
Less Likely: 7%
No Difference: 63%

CBS News Poll, June 6, 2004, 462 Registered Voters, MOE +/- 5%:

Kerry/Edwards (D) 49% (+4)
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 44% (unc)


Dick Cheney
Favorable: 27%
Not Favorable: 47%
No Opinion: 26%

John Edwards
Favorable: 38%
Not Favorable: 9%
No Opinion: 53%

Choice of Edwards:

Right Experience to be a Good VP?
Yes: 50%
No: 21%

Enough Experience to be a Good President?
Yes: 37%
No: 41%

Glad Edwards was Chosen
All Voters: 52%
Democrats: 69%

Wish Kerry Had Picked Someone Else
All Voters: 11%
Democrats: 9%

No Opinion
All Voters: 37%
Democrats: 22%

So all in all, a nice bump for John2. The biggest knock on Edwards is his lack of experience, but the public seems to recognize that he's running for the #2 slot. Yes, Vice Presidents do sometimes have to take over for the top guy, but that hasn't happened in thirty years--and a good chunk of voters don't remember that. Even those that do recognize that it's unlikely that John Edwards will be taking over for Kerry immediately--and he certainly appears capable of handing the Vice Presidency until he needs to step up.

Will the honeymoon last? Well, it's inevitable that John2 will be falling back a bit--there is some artificiality to the bounce. But this has been managed nicely to turn July into Kerry/Edwards Central. The story has enough legs to get to the weekend...then it's just a week until we start to ramp-up to the convention.

If all goes well, Kerry/Edwards should have a comfortable lead after the convention--though not the 15% bar-raiser that BC04 is claiming. (If they do, then it's over.)

As for Bush/Cheney, people keep suggesting that Dick will be axed from the ticket in favor of Condi! or Rudy! or somebody similar. But aren't we getting a bit late for that? And wouldn't it undercut the current line of attack on John Edwards to replace Dick Cheney with Condoleeza Rice (four years as a pretty bad NSA, and otherwise nothing)? (I won't even speculate on Giuliani--his positions on social issues are anathema to his party. Should GDub throw Cheney over for Rudy, the right will revolt.) And the whole "Cheney had a heart murmur" line won't fly anymore--because a) he's had a heart attack, and he stuck around, and b) because it's been floated so much by the blogosphere that nobody will buy it.

I still think Bush will stick with Dick, because the base likes it and because Cheney's been loyal. And because dumping Cheney now looks less savvy than desperate.

Kenny Boy Indicted

Per the Houston Chronicle, everyone's favorite Bush bobo could be facing trial. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Quayle Redux II

Rude Pundit has some thoughts on experience

Quayle Redux

Mitch Berg says that Edwards is the worst of all possible choices, because "[h]e IS a lightweight. I fact, calling him the Democrat Quayle is wrong; Quayle at least accomplished something in the Senate; of the bills Edwards has sponsored, *not one* has passed. Not one. Not even under Clinton."

Well, first of all, Edwards was a Freshman Senator under Clinton; Freshmen rarely get much accomplished. This is the nature of the Senate.

But the question on Quayle was never his lack of experience as a Senator. It was his lack of brainpower. And Edwards is not lacking in smarts. As for his lack of experience on foreign policy, Edwards is no more lacking in foreign policy experience than George W. Bush was in 2000--and that lack of experience didn't stop Mitch from voting for him.

So why did a lack of foreign policy experience not matter for Bush in 2000, but matter terribly for Edwards in 2004? Because Bush was merely running for President, while Edwards is running for Vice President? Please. It matters because it's a nice talking point.

Edwards doesn't need vast foreign policy experience because he isn't going to be President immediately. He will gain experience as Vice President, and should President Kerry die, he will use his experience as Vice President in his new role. As for Kerry, he doesn't need foreign policy experience in his #2 like Bush did in his. Kerry already has experience. What he lacks is charisma. Edwards has it.

Again, Edwards and Kerry balance each other well--as Bush and Cheney did to a lesser extent in 2000. That's what you need in a Veep. Edwards will help Kerry where he needs help. And that is all that matters.


William Safire (showing the same political aplomb that led him to predict a Draft Hillary movement at the Democratic National Convention) says that the choice of John Edwards is terrible, because Kerry is trying to find a campaigner, not a governing partner like Dick Cheney. Of course, that's because Kerry is competent and doesn't need a mentor as his Vice President, unlike, say, George W. Bush. Meanwhile, Even the Conservative Andrew Sullivan wonders:

If it's a sign of weakness that Kerry picked Edwards, why is it not a sign of panic that Republicans are showcasing people who have opposed much of Bush's domestic agenda at their convention?

Um...because it isn't. It just isn't.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004
The Right Choice

So it's Edwards. Thank God. For once, the obvious choice is the actual choice--and John Kerry passes his first test with flying colors.

So will Edwards be an asset to the ticket? Yes, he will. He can deliver a better stump speech than any of the other three people on the major tickets. He has the sort of sunny optimism that Americans love. He nicely counterbalances the biggest negatives of Kerry, and he has the raw charisma of a Clinton, a Reagan, or a Kennedy.

The negatives? Well, he's only been in office six years (although a certain miserable failure had only been in politics six years when he became President.) He's already being derided as a pretty face, the Democratic Dan Quayle (although isn't that sort of funny, given that Dan Quayle was the Republican Dan Quayle), but Edwards isn't the sort of idiot who would say:

How terrible it is to lose one's mind, or never to have had a mind is such a waste. How true that is.

or (to the people of American Samoa):

You all seem like happy campers. Happy campers you have been, happy campers you are, and happy campers you shall continue to be.

Ah, Dan Quayle. Good times, good times.

What other objections to Edwards? Well, he isn't John McCain, and evidently the Bush camp is all over it! Kerry once asked McCain if he might be interested in the #2 slot, and McCain said he didn't think so! That will teach John Kerry to try to cross party lines!

And of course, we all know that Edwards once said flatly he was not interested in being Vice President. But he was running for President at the time; he had to say that. It's political Kabuki.

All in all, an A+ for this choice. Quite simply, of the Democrats Kerry could've picked, Edwards was the best.

And I can't wait for the Vice Presidential debate.

Monday, July 05, 2004
A Clarification

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

CLARIFICATION: It has come to the editor's attention that the Herald-Leader neglected to cover the civil rights movement. We regret the omission.

The article that follows is an important attempt to right a historic wrong. We can all get caught up in our what-will-they-be-correcting-in-40-years games, but the truth is that there is no comparable struggle going on--and no comparable attempt to hide it. (Yes, the Gulf War II: The Vengeance coverage deserves some opprobrium, but it is heading back toward equilibrium; certainly, there has not been a decade-long attempt to ignore the bad there...except, of course, on FOX.)

Instead of wondering about today, let us simply congratulate the editorial staff at the Herald-Leader for doing some small thing to try to fix a grave error. It does not excuse the past--but perhaps it opens our eyes a bit to the future.