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Thursday, September 30, 2004
Libertarian Reaction

Julian Sanchez is on fire tonight. One post:

"I don't know how he's going to pay for all these promises."

Yeah, we wouldn't want to be running massive deficits. And if all that money's tied up in actual homeland security measures, where are we going to get the cash to invade Iran or Syria or Iceland or wherever the Wheel O' Liberation lands next.


More Conservative Reaction

Hindrocket at Power Line:

"....I don't think it went that well for the President. I think Kerry helped himself tonight. He came across as a credible candidate, and he was usually on the offensive. Bush's demeanor while Kerry was talking wasn't good; anything but commanding. Kerry's was better, in an odd reversal of what happened four years ago."

A reminder to less wonky readers: Power Line is a conservative blog with street cred. They broke Kerngate.

This was not close. Not remotely close.


Andy: "No president who has presided over Abu Ghraib should ever say he wants to put anyone on a leash. That's all."

And The Silence You Hear....

Over at Shot in the Dark, Mitch Berg chose to liveblog the debate.

I thought about doing that, but I can't type that fast. Besides, had I chosen to do that, I would've missed Bush's odd, quizzical looks while Kerry spoke.

But a funny thing happened; when he polled his partisans after the debate, the group was split. Oh, some of them said Bush won handily, but everyone thinks their guy wins every debate.

But some of them said that Kerry had won. Some by a little, some by a lot.

When a group of conservatives watches a debate and some of them think Kerry won, what does that mean?

It wasn't even close.

Kerry looked presidential. He looked tough. He took the fight to Bush. He did everything he had to do and should've been doing all along.

And Bush was rattled, annoyed, and a few times, haughty. His responses seemed fitting, not for a president, but for a king, being questioned by some ill-tempered commoner.

When Bush spoke, Kerry took notes politely, nodded when he agreed with something.

When Kerry spoke, Bush looked about, with a look on his face like he'd eaten a lemon.

Kerry's biggest charge: Bush misleads you.

Bush's biggest charge: Kerry's problems with the war makes him unfit to lead.

Kerry's best moment: stating flatly that the "voted for/against $87 billion" was a mistake, but not as big a mistake as invading Iraq.

Bush's best moment: to paraphrase Dwight D. Eisenhower, let me think about it for a day or two and I'll let you know.

Best moment for both: the exchange about daughters. And I sense already that Sen. Kerry was right: no point trying to keep your daughters on a leash.

This wasn't close. It was a blowout. Will it change the polls? We'll see. I predict it will. More than that, though, this debate should wake up the dormant democrats, who are wandering about in a fatalistic stupor, openly pining for Howard Dean, for God's sake. Kerry took the fight to Bush tonight. Keep fighting, John. It's your best chance to win.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Okay, I'll Be Back to Posting Tomorrow

No particular reason for the break, other than that I was just pretty burned out. How many times can you post polls and feign outrage? Besides, we hit a lull where pretty much nothing interesting happened.

But the debates are on tomorrow night, and I would be shirking my pundit-lite duties if I failed to comment on them. So I'll do my best to liveblog them, or maybe right-after-the-debate-blog them.

Thursday, September 23, 2004
Posted Without Comment

Fearless Leader: "I saw a poll that said the right track/wrong track in Iraq was better than here in America. It was pretty darn strong. I mean, the people see a better future."

You Don't Say

Funny, this:

President Bush, seated beside Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, said Tuesday: "My opponent has taken so many different positions on Iraq that his statements are hardly credible at all.''

The allegation is the basis of a new Bush campaign TV ad that shows the Democratic senator from Massachusetts windsurfing to the strains of a Strauss waltz as a narrator intones: "Kerry voted for the Iraq war, opposed it, supported it and now opposes it again.''

Yet an examination of Kerry's words in more than 200 speeches and statements, comments during candidate forums and answers to reporters' questions does not support the accusation.

Of course, we all know that John Kerry is a dangerous flip-flopper who talks out of both sides of his mouth while our Commander in Chief is resolute, and would never change his mind on Iraq. And no amount of evidence will convince us otherwise!

Poll Watch

American Research Group, September 7-21, 30,600 likely voters, MOE +/- 4%

George W. Bush (R) [I] 47%
John Kerry (D) 46%
Ralph Nader (3P) 1%
Other 1%

John Kerry 270 Electoral Votes (132 Solid)
George W. Bush 253 Electoral Votes (133 Solid)
(Wisconsin and West Virginia are ties)

FOX News/Opinion Dynamics, September 21-22, 1,000 likely voters, MOE +/- 3%

George W. Bush (R) [I] 45% (-2)
John Kerry (D) 43% (-2)

Democracy Corps*, September 19-21, 1,017 likely voters, MOE +/- 3.1%

John Kerry (D) 49% (+1)
George W. Bush (R) [I] 49% (unc)

NBC News/Wall Street Journal, September 17-19, 787 likely voters, MOE +/- 3%

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

Well, I said a few days ago that we'd see which polls were accurate and which were not; I think we're starting to nail it down. Seven of the last eight, and nine of the last eleven polls have shown the Bush lead at 4% or less. It's a trend! For all the talk of Bush's insurmountable lead, the actual difference could be made up by swinging one of every fifty voters--and if you believe ARG, who cares? Kerry is winning on the only scoreboard that matters.

It's official--Bush is not running away with the election. This remains very close and--given that undecideds tend to break away from the incumbent--still tends to favor Kerry.

The debates will tell the tale. If Kerry has a Gore-esqe moment, it may doom him. Similarly, if Junior apes Daddy and checks his watch, it may doom him. We'll find out soon enough.

Monday, September 20, 2004
RNC: Vote For Us or The Bible Gets It

This isn't a 527 doing this. But hey, I'm sure it's all okay because...well, because:

Campaign mail with a return address of the Republican National Committee warns West Virginia voters that the Bible will be prohibited and men will marry men if liberals win in November.

The literature shows a Bible with the word "BANNED" across it and a photo of a man, on his knees, placing a ring on the hand of another man with the word "ALLOWED." The mailing tells West Virginians to "vote Republican to protect our families" and defeat the "liberal agenda."

Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie said Friday that he wasn't aware of the mailing, but said it could be the work of the RNC. "It wouldn't surprise me if we were mailing voters on the issue of same-sex marriage," Gillespie said.

The Democrats also plan on killing these cute kittens, while enacting laws requiring underaged girls to perform necrophilia. VOTE REPUBLICAN OR THESE DEMOCRATS WILL FORCE YOU TO BECOME ATHEISTS! AAAHHHH! AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

Do I need to tell you how offensive this is? Do I need to tell you how unlikely it is that George W. Bush will condemn this?

Doesn't that tell you everything you need to know?

Secret, Undisclosed Location

At last, we find out where Dick Cheney's been:

Reports of a shadowy figure in the woods and heavy breathing heard in the night, coupled with a recent series of grisly murders, have generated rumors that U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney has returned to terrorize the counselors at Camp Crystal Lake, sources reported Friday.

"I knew it'd been too quiet around here," camp caretaker Ephram Magritte, 67, said between sips from his flask. "Things were just starting to get back to normal. Then that carload of kids had to go have a drinking party at the lake last Friday. When two of them went missing, people started up again, saying Cheney was back. We don't need that kind of talk. Stirs up trouble. Scares off customers."

Four hours later, Magritte was found hanging from a tree, his brass-handled cane protruding from his eye socket.

About what I figured, actually.

Poll Watch

Rasmussen Tracking, September 16-18:

George W. Bush (R) [I] 48% (-1)
John Kerry (D) 46% (+1)

Zogby America, September 17-19, 1,066 likely voters, MOE +/- 1%

Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 47% (unc)
Kerry/Edwards (D) 44% (-1)

George W. Bush (R) [I] 46% (unc)
John Kerry (D) 43% (+1)
Ralph Nader (3P) 1% (-1)
John Badnarik (L) 1% (unc)

CBS News/New York Times Poll, September 12-16, 1,088 registered voters, MOE +/- 3%

Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 50% (unc)
Kerry/Edwards (D) 42% (unc)

Somethin's happenin' here...what it is ain't exactly clear....

Here are the last eight polls for likely voters:

Bush +3 (Zogby)
Bush +13 (Gallup)
Bush +1 (Democracy Corps)
Bush +4 (New Democrat Network)
Bush +8 (ICR)
Bush +2 (Zogby)

Notice anything strange about those numbers--specifically, one of those numbers?

This is going to be interesting. Right now, I think it's safe to say Bush is winning, and it's safe to say he's winning by anywhere from 3%-8%. But it ain't double-digits.

Or maybe it is.

The fact is, polls aren't agreeing with each other. They're kicking out data that is contadictory. In a nutshell, Zogby, Rasmussen, and Gallup can't all be right.

But they can all be wrong.

Either this race is close to a tie, or it's a Bush blowout. I'm reserving judgement on which it is--we'll certainly know in November. I think it's safe to say, though, that some of the polling services are going to have their credibility shattered at the end of this; my bet is we'll find out the ones with problems are the ones whose samples say Bush won by 12% in 2000. But I could be wrong.

What I do know is that we should take the polls with a grain of salt; I know, I dissect 'em all the time here, but I do it because it's fun. The final decision will be made by voters over the next month. I think it's safe to say that John Kerry has some work to do--but it's also safe to say that this race ain't over yet.

CBS: Bush Memos Fake

This via the New York Times. Okay, so are we done yet?

Our Small World

Here's a story about the first trial in connection with prisoner abuse in Iraq. I note the story for a couple of reasons. First of all, it's an interesting story. Second, the lead defense attorney, Capt. Anders Folk, is good friends with one of my best friends, and a good guy. Good on ya, Anders, and good luck.

Thursday, September 16, 2004
Poll Watch II

Pew Research, September 11-14, (number and MOE forthcoming):

John Kerry (D) 46% (+6)
George W. Bush (R) [I] 46% (-6)
Ralph Nader (3P) 1% (-1)

It's a trend! The Bush bounce has all but evaporated--we're approaching a tie.

Now, we get to see if this continues past even, or if Bush has even farther to fall.


Kerry's upcoming speech to the National Guard--it looks like Big John is finally starting to get it:

True leadership is about looking people in the eye and telling the truth--even when it's hard to hear. And two days ago, President Bush came before you and you received him well, as you should. But I believe he failed the fundamental test of leadership. He failed to tell you the truth. You deserve better. The Commander in Chief must level with the troops and the nation. And as president, I will always be straight with you--on the good days, and the bad days.

Two days ago, the President stood right where I'm standing and did not even acknowledge that more than 1,000 men and women have lost their lives in Iraq. He did not tell you that with each passing day, we're seeing more chaos, more violence, more indiscriminate killings. He did not tell you that with each passing week, our enemies are getting bolder--that Pentagon officials report that entire regions of Iraq are now in the hands of terrorists and extremists.

He did not tell you that with each passing month, stability and security seem farther and farther away.

He did not tell you any of this, even though--as the country learned today in The New York Times--his own intelligence officials have warned him for weeks that the mission in Iraq is in serious trouble. But that is the truth--hard as it is to hear. You deserve a president who will not play politics with national security, who will not ignore his own intelligence, while living in a fantasy world of spin, and who will give the American people the truth about the challenge our brave men and women face on the front lines.

Absolutely right. And it's about time John started to say it.

Poll Watch

Harris Interactive, September 9-13, 1,018 Likely Voters, MOE +/- 3%:

John Kerry (D) 48% (+1)
George W. Bush (R) [I] 47% (unc)
Ralph Nader 2% (unc)

Democracy Corps*, September 12-14, 1,003 Likely Voters, MOE +/-3.1%:

George W. Bush (R) [I] 49% (-1)
John Kerry (D) 48% (+1)

George W. Bush (R) [I] 47% (-1)
John Kerry (D) 45% (unc)
Ralph Nader (I) 3% (-1)

Rasmussen Tracking, September 12-14, 1000 Registered Voters:

George W. Bush (R) [I] 47% (unc)
John Kerry (D) 46% (unc)

The polls are drifting towards a norm, and the norm is zero. At this point, I would suggest that GDub has a 1-2% lead--and that his lead is eroding.

I will make a bold prediction: by the end of September, the majority of polls will be giving John Kerry a slight lead. And it is a lead he will not surrender.

And Now, The Really Important Stuff

If Johann Santana doesn't win the AL Cy Young, it will be a crime against the Baseball Gods.

Since the all-star break, Santana is 11-0, with a 1.27 ERA. On the season, he's 18-6 (second only to Curt Schilling in the AL) with a 2.76 ERA (best in the AL), and 240 strikeouts (ditto). Opponents are batting just .193 against him, and he is the only pitcher in the AL with a WHIP under 1 (0.92). Curt Schilling is a good guy, and he's having a great year--19-6, 3.35 ERA--but he's not even close to Santana. Schilling has given up fifty more hits in five fewer innings, struck out sixty-three fewer batters, and opponents are batting .248 against him.

Mariano Rivera? Sure, he's a great closer, perhaps second only to Eckersley all-time. But while 4-1, 1.76 ERA, 48 saves is great, it's just not as difficult to close as it is to start. (For example, Eckersley was a solid third starter throughout his career, but he never would've made the Hall of Fame if he hadn't been sent to the pen.) If there were no dominant starter in the AL, then Rivera would be in play. As it is, Santana, Schilling, Pedro Martinez, Mark Mulder--all would get my vote ahead of Rivera.

As for the other major awards: I'd give the Big Unit the NL Cy Young (sure, he's 13-13, but he's pitching for the putrid Diamondbacks. And he pitched a perfect game. And, well, he's Randy Johnson.) AL MVP? David Ortiz gets my vote.

And NL MVP? He's a jerk, but nobody can even touch Barry Bonds this year. The guy's OPS is 1.439. He's walked 205 times. And he'll have 700 homers by the end of the year. Yes, he's on steroids. But if Major League Baseball doesn't care, neither do I. And as for the fact that Bonds is a surly curmudgeon--Ty Cobb was one of the most loathsome human beings ever to walk the planet. But he was one of the top five players of all time. Bonds is, too--one of the top five players, that is.

Iraq is Flat

Via Sully, we learn that while we yammer about kerning and "but the forgeries accurately reflect reality," we've lost control of the Green Zone:

US military officers in Baghdad have warned they cannot guarantee the
security of the perimeter around the Green Zone, the headquarters of the Iraqi
government and home to the US and British embassies, according to security
company employees.

At a briefing earlier this month, a high-ranking US
officer in charge of the zone's perimeter said he had insufficient soldiers
to prevent intruders penetrating the compound's defences.

So we can't even control the most heavily fortified section of the most secure city in Iraq? Well, smashing success, Mr. President. I sure want you at the helm for the next four years. 'Cause if John Kerry was president, why, I bet we'd have turned over the nukes to bin Laden by now.

Sully is dead right: "At this rate, it won't matter that John Kerry seems unable to make the case against the president. The shambles that this president has created in Iraq war will do it for him."

RIP James Barber

Dr. James Barber is dead at age 74. Barber is best known for his book The Presidential Character, which sought to judge Presidents on two axes--their activity or inactivity, and their general outlook--positive or negative. Presidents Barber assessed as Active Positivies--like Franklin D. Roosevelt or Harry Truman approached the Presidency with energy and enjoyment. Passive Positives, like Taft or Reagan, were cheerful and optimistic, but willing to ride the waves. The rare Passive Negatives--Coolidge or Eisenhower--viewed their service as a burden to be endured.

But of course, the most destructive Presidents are the Active Negatives, who almost seem bent on their own destruction. Think Lyndon Johnson. Think Richard Nixon.

Oh, and also, George W. Bush.

Barber's words of wisdom from a Washingtonian interview in 1994 ring true: "The pathetic hope that the White House will turn a Caligula into a Marcus Aurelius is as naïve as the fear that ultimate power inevitably corrupts."

A million years ago, I studied Barber for a Political Psychology class--and thought his analysis sound. He certainly called Nixon. His was a simple, easily accessable theory that seemed to work most of the time. And it is certainly worth revisiting on this occasion of his passing.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Look, I'm as anti-Bush as they come. But Dan, when the woman you're interviewing--the woman who would have typed the memos--says that they're not real, they're not real. I consider that the proof that we've been looking for, and the memos have been proven to be forgeries. (Incidentally, the argument that the memos represent real memos that once existed is interesting, but beside the point; if the original story had Dan Rather interviewing Killian's secretary, and her saying that she once wrote memos that said this or that, that would be one thing. But as Josh Marshall rightly notes: "The word is out and about now that the CBS Bush National Guard memos are not forgeries but rather recreations of actual documents authored by Lt. Col. Killian....There's a word, though, for these sorts of recreations, if that's what they are: forgeries.")

The stupid thing about Memogate is that the memos, while interesting, didn't tell us much we didn't already know. Indeed, had "60 Minutes" run the interview with Barnes, and only the interview with Barnes, that would've been more than enough to bring up all the other ancillary issues.

But by steadfastly standing by memos that are bogus, CBS is slowly shredding any credibility they might once have had--and, for what it's worth, undermining what new information they have unearthed. I don't think this is because CBS is "liberal" (athough they do seem to have run into the journalistic buzzsaw that is "too good to check." Seriously, didn't anyone at 30 Rock see Shattered Glass?) I think it is because they are trying desperately to get away with not admitting they were had.

This is absurd. They were had. If CBS had simply admitted as much, this story would've gone away, people would've had a good chuckle, and this would be done. Now, though, I think it's clear that the damage will be much more severe. And while I think it may be over the top to call for Rather's resignation, it's not completely out of the question. CBS has nobody to blame but themselves.

(And yes, my lefty colleagues, it is true that Sean Hannity ran the "Kerry/Fonda" photo as real, and never retracted the story. Yippee. I would expect that CBS is held to higher standards than FOX. And while three rights may make a left, two wrongs don't make a right.)

The Kern Has Turned

I pretty much figure the CBS Documents are fake; yes, there's a theoretical possibility they could be real, and interestingly, a former secretary for the Colonel in question says that the documents, while fake, "reflect real documents that once existed," whatever that means.

But there is another document that has come to light, one that--funny--the Bush administration had failed to issue when it issued every single document. The document appears authentic (there's no question it wasn't made in Word, and it has Bush's signature on it.) And the document...well, George, you've got some 'splainin' to do:

"I desire to enter undergraduate pilot training as an officer of the Air National Guard, and in consideration therefore (including the expenditure of extensive public funds), do hereby agree that upon successful completion thereof I will serve with my parent ANG unit as directed by the unit commander, unless sooner relieved by competent military authority, for a minimum period of five (5) years. I do hereby further agree and consent to my being ordered to active duty for the remainder of any unfulfilled portion of such minimum obligation as may be determined by my unit commander or the Secretary of the Air Force to be in the national interest."

(Date) 29 May 1968 (s) George Walker Bush

Interesting. Because, as we all know, Bush did not serve a full five years after training--as agreed to in this document. His training concluded in June of 1970.

Interestingly, while this document was a part of Bush's file--and while it was in fact referenced by other documents released in February--it somehow didn't make it into the public's hands at that time.

Of course, there are kerning issues here, and I'm sure that will set the right atwitter. But this should lay to rest the idea that Bush fulfilled his obligation to TANG.

Happy Endings

Phil Geddes is a jerk. Oh, he didn't do anything illegal when he fired his employee, Lynne Gobbell, for having a John Kerry bumper sticker on her car:

"We were going back to work from break, and my manager told me that Phil said to remove the sticker off my car or I was fired," she said. "I told him that Phil couldn't tell me who to vote for. He said, 'Go tell him.' "

She went to [Geddes'] office, knocked on the door and entered on his orders.
"Phil and another man who works there were there," she said. "I asked him if he said to remove the sticker and he said, 'Yes, I did.' I told him he couldn't tell me who to vote for. When I told him that, he told me, 'I own this place.' I told him he still couldn't tell me who to vote for."

Gobbell said [Geddes] told her to "get out of here."

"I asked him if I was fired and he told me he was thinking about it," she said. "I said, 'Well, am I fired?' He hollered and said, 'Get out of here and shut the door.' "
She said her manager was standing in another room and she asked him if that meant for her to go back to work or go home. The manager told her to go back to work, but he came back a few minutes later and said, "I reckon you're fired. You could either work for him or John Kerry," Gobbell said.

"I took off my gloves and threw them in the garbage and left," Gobbell said.

Not illegal. Obnoxious. Ridiculous. Sort of anti-American. But what the heck, it's his company, and if he wants to bar speech from one side of the aisle at his company, he can do that.

But of course, it's bad publicity. So Geddes was quietly trying to rehire his former employee in order to quash the bad publicity.

Unfortunately for him, she's got another offer:

Through an intermediary, he offered Gobbell an apology and said she could have her old job back. But Gobbell said she wouldn't return without some written guarantee that Geddes wouldn't turn around and fire her once he was out of the spotlight. Then, late this afternoon, Kerry himself phoned Gobbell. "He was telling me how proud he was that I stood up," Gobbell told me. "He'd read the part where Phil said I could either work for him or work for John Kerry. He said, 'you let him know you're working for me as of today.' I was just so shocked."

Gobbell accepted Kerry's job offer, "so I reckon I'll be working for John Kerry."

Good. Because this is the type of person we all should want working for us--and I would say that if the parties were reversed. Good for you, Ms. Gobbell, for standing up for your beliefs--and good for you, John, for rewarding her.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Bush Paid Off Barnes to Keep Guard Story Quiet

We all know that Fmr. Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes (D-TX) says he pulled strings to get George W. Bush into the Texas Air National Guard. And we all know that the Bush campaign is unhappy with Barnes because he's telling people that, after years of silence on the matter. (You may have forgotten Barnes' interview with CBS in all the discussion of typeography, but Barnes flatly stated that he interceded for Bush.)

What you may not know, however, is why Barnes was silent until now.

Well, here's the story:

In 1994, George W. Bush was elected governor of Texas by a whisker. By that time, Barnes had left office to become a big time corporate lobbyist. To an influence peddler like Barnes, having damning information on a sitting governor is worth its weight in gold – or, more precisely, there’s a value in keeping the info secret.


Here's what happened. Just after Bush's election, Barnes' client GTech Corp., due to allegations of corruption, was about to lose its license to print money: its contract to run the Texas state lottery. Barnes, says the Justice Department document, made a call to the newly elected governor's office and saved GTech's state contract.

The letter said, "Governor Bush ... made a deal with Ben Barnes not to rebid [the GTech lottery contract] because Barnes could confirm that Bush had lied during the '94 campaign."

In that close race, Bush denied the fix was in to keep him out of 'Nam, and the US media stopped asking questions. What did the victorious Governor Bush's office do for Barnes? According to the tipster, "Barnes agreed never to confirm the story [of the draft dodging] and the governor talked to the chair of the lottery two days later and she then agreed to support letting GTech keep the contract without a bid."

Can you say quid pro quo? If this story is true, it means that George W. Bush violated the trust of the citizens of Texas when he was their governor. It means he used the power of his office to benefit himself, by keeping embarassing information from the public. Were he still Governor, it would be an impeachable offense. And if true, it means Bush is the worst type of person to be President--a corrupt man, more interested in himself than the people he serves.

Pandagon has more.

Poll Watch

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

Investors Business Daily/Christian Science Monitor/TIPP, September 7-12, 899 Registered Voters (674 Likely Voters), MOE +/- 3.5%

Likely Voters
John Kerry (D) 47%
George W. Bush (R) [I] 47%

John Kerry (D) 46%
George W. Bush (R) [I] 46%
Ralph Nader (I) 3%

Registered Voters
John Kerry (D) 46% (+2)
George W. Bush (R) [I] 44% (unc)

John Kerry (D) 45% (+2)
George W. Bush (R) 43% (unc)
Ralph Nader (I) 3% (unc)

Newsweek, September 9-10, 1003 Registered Voters, MOE +/- 4%

Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 50% (-4)
Kerry/Edwards (D) 45% (+2)

Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 49% (-3)
Kerry/Edwards (D) 43% (+2)
Nader/Camejo (I/3P) 2% (-1)

Zogby America, September 8-9, 1018 Likely Voters, MOE +/- 3.1%

Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 47% (+1)
Kerry/Edwards (D) 45% (+1)

George W. Bush (R) [I] 46% (unc)
John Kerry (D) 42% (-1)
Ralph Nader (I) 2% (-1)
John Badnarak (L) 1% (+1)

Time, September 7-9, 1013 Registered Voters, MOE +/-3%

Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 51% (+1)
Kerry/Edwards (D) 39% (-3)

Okay, so you've got four polls. In those polls, Bush is either losing by 2%, winning by 2%, winning by 5%, or winning by 12%.

Where are the polls grouping? Well, closer to zero than 12.

So the Time poll is an outlier and can be discarded. Bush probably has a small lead--on the close order of 3%. This is very much a toss-up race, and it's going to be an interesting sprint to the finish.

Thursday, September 09, 2004
Are the CBS Docs Genuine?

Hell, I don't know.

The Washington Post gives some evidence that they may not be, and while I find it hard to believe that CBS would run these documents without checking their veracity, I find it hard to believe that anybody let the Swift Boat Vets on the news.

A few things:
  • I won't be surprised if the documents turn out to be forgeries--I must confess, when I first saw them I wondered if they might not be. (They look like Word documents. Sorry, Left Blogistan, but they do.)
  • If they are forgeries, then...Jesus H. Christ, how bad is this forger? I mean, if I were going to forge documents to give to "60 Minutes," I can tell you that the first thing I'd do is track down an old typewriter. I know, it's not easy in this go-go Jet Set age, but they're around--I think you can find some at FedEx Kinko's. (Tin-foil hat take: yep, they're forgeries--forgeries by Bush/Cheney '04--so bad that they discredit all attacks on Bush's Guard stint. Hey....)
  • By the same token, Josh Marshall opines, "It is of course worth noting that the White House is the only player here with ready access to the president. If they had some confidence that the underlying claims contained in the documents were not valid, then presumably they would have more confidence in doubting the documents' authenticity."
  • And of course, these could be outright smears, distortions, and lies. Which would make us all even from the whole SBVAK debacle. Truce?

Finally, one sentence from the ABC story sticks out: "Many Democrats are worried that if they are found to be forgeries, it will be a setback for Sen. John Kerry's campaign to defeat Bush in November. "

Why would that be? Did John Edwards slip these documents to Dan Rather? Did John Kerry use the printer in the grassy knoll? The Swift Boat Vets were lying up one side and down the other--did any Republicans worry that the lies would be a setback for Bush?

The sad fact is, I would expect that this will be a setback for Bush even if the documents are shown to be forgeries. Sadly, what those Americans paying attention heard was something bad about Bush's service. If they hear these documents were fakes, they'll be mad--at CBS. Maybe.

More likely, they won't hear it, and if they do, they won't quite connect the dots. Hey, John Kerry was proven to be telling the truth about 95% of what he's said about his service in Vietnam--an how many Americans now think he was a terrible soldier?

The only way this affects Kerry negatively is if his campaign has a tie to the alleged forger. If not, CBS has egg on its face. And we all move on.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004
Poll Watch

Via Josh:

ICR Poll, September 1-5, (MOE and No. of voters forthcoming):

Likely Voters

Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 46%
Kerry/Edwards (D) 46%
Nader/Camejo (3P) 4%

Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 48%
Kerry/Edwards (D) 47%

Registered Voters

Kerry/Edwards (D) 47%
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 46%

Well, that was quick. And that squares well with the Rasmussen poll, too.

Looks like the incredible, amazing Bush bounce was too good to be true. And this is before the latest allegations about Bush's service, or lack thereof, during Vietnam.

Fasten your seatbelts, folks.

Sauce for the Gander

As Ted Stryker once said, "Foot's on the other hand now."

All of a sudden, it's George W. Bush who has to answer for what happened thirty-five years ago. All of a sudden, it's George W. Bush who has to disprove allegations against him that are, in all likelyhood, impossible to disprove. All of a sudden, it's George W. Bush's every utterance that's being parsed.

Hardy har har har.

At issue: George W. Bush's successful dodge of the Vietnam war by joining up with the National Guard. Yes, yes, we've been all over this, but CBS's report tonight gives us new information, specifically contemporaneous memos from Col. Jerry Killian, then-Lt. Bush's Commanding Officer. The best lines are from a memo entitled "CYA":

Staudt has obviously pressured Hodges more about Bush. I’m having trouble running interference and doing my job. Harris gave me a message today from Grp regarding Bush’s OETR and Staudt is pushing to sugar coat it. Bush wasn’t here during rating period and I don’t have any feedback from 187th in Alabama. I will not rate. Austin is not happy today either.

Well, that's pretty straightforward. And it pretty much answers affirmatively that Lt. Bush was not doing his job during that time.

Now, I've stated on more than one occasion that this isn't a big deal (though Bush has lied several times about his service, or lack thereof, I'm willing to forgive him. After all, it's not like other people are dredging up 35-year-old events in John Kerry's life and checking to see if his memory was absolutely perfect. Oh, wait....) But if John Kerry's campaign has been all about Vietnam, what about George W. Bush? I know it was, like, eighteen months ago, but do you all remember the aircraft carrier? The flight suit? The leaks that the President had actually taken the controls of his plane just like he did during Vietnam? Yes, Bush wants desperately to forget "Mission Accomplished" today, but he opened the door to scrutiny on that day.

Oh, and one more time: George W. Bush also opened the door when he began attacking John Kerry's war service. I don't for a second think that this election should be decided based on Vietnam. But if that's the debate George W. Bush wants to have, well, my guy wins.

Oh, and Glenn? You can pooh-pooh this if you want. But guess what? This is no more, and no less, a legitimate story than the SBVAK story. And I'll believe the Bush campaign has released "all" records when the AP stops suing--and magically finding more records.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004
Dulce et Decorum


"The noblest fate that a man can endure is to place his own mortal body between his loved home and war's desolation."

--Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers

Thank you. Your sacrifice for your nation will never be forgotten.

Bush Shirked Duty--CBS

So tomorrow night, CBS will run an interview with Fmr. Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes (D-TX), the man who pulled strings to get George W. Bush into the Texas Air National Guard.

But interestingly, Josh Marshall says that's not all:

The big news won't be how Bush got into the Guard but how he blew off his duties once he got there. Again, new documents -- stuff that is clear and straightforward and apparently puts beyond any debate or doubt that the now-President blew off the duties that he said, as recently as this year, that he fulfilled.

And you know, I would say that events of 35 years ago should be off-limits, but Bush opened the door by saying he did his duty, and by landing on that aircraft carrier. If he didn't want people looking at his service, why make it a centerpiece of the campaign?

Do we really want a coke-addicted deserter running our country?

I can't believe I'm losing to this guy.

You can't make it up.

Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB/GYN's aren't able to practice their love with women all across the country.

--George W. Bush

Bush Used Cocaine In 1990s: Kelley

According to Kitty Kelley, her upcoming book The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty will state that George W. Bush used cocaine while at Camp David, during the time his father was President.

Now, Bush has previously claimed that he hadn't used any recreational drugs since the early 1970s. Do we really want a liar and a cokehead in charge of our country?

Monday, September 06, 2004
Poll Watch

All via Polling Report:

CNN/USA Today/Gallup, September 3-5, 926 Registered Voters, MOE +/- 4%

Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 48% (+2)
Kerry/Edwards (D) 46% (unc)
Nader/Camejo (I) 4% (unc)

Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 49% (+2)
Kerry/Edwards (D) 48% (unc)

Rasmussen Tracking, September 3-5, Tracking Poll

Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 48% (unc)
Kerry/Edwards (D) 47% (+1)

Newsweek, September 2-3, 1,008 Registered Voters, MOE +/- 4%

Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 52% (+10)
Kerry/Edwards (D) 41% (-8)
Nader/Camejo (3P) 3% (unc)

Time, August 31-September 2, 1128 Registered Voters, MOE +/- 3%

Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 50% (+7)
Kerry/Edwards (D) 42% (-9)


You can put these numbers into the slice-o-matic, and you come to one answer:

Bush is ahead. But God only knows by how much.

It could be 1%, but it probably isn't. It could be 11%, but it probably isn't. Most likely, it's in the 4-6% range that I predicted pre-speech. (I suppose there's another possibility: the two 1% polls were the most recent, so maybe Bush had a huge initial bounce that disappeared by the end of the weekend. I doubt it, though).

We'll see as more polls filter in exactly where things stand. My guess is that Kerry has some work to do--but this race hasn't been ended, not by a long shot.

UPDATE: Rasmussen says that Bush is probably ahead by 4-5%. Your honor, the defense rests.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

So is GDup really up by 11%, as the Time and Newsweek polls seem to indicate?

Well, it could be. After all, both polls taken during the same timeframe show similar results, so they can't be discounted--indeed, my maxim is that you look at what the majority of polls are doing.

Then again, the robots over at Rasmussen show this as a one-point race.

Two men say they're Jesus; one of them must be wrong.

FWIW, Josh Marshall says internal polls on both sides show a four-point Bush edge.

That feels right. I though Bush gave a good speech on Thursday, but not enough to move the needle as much as the two newsweeklies' polls seem to show.

That doesn't mean that we on the left should jump up and down, pointing fingers; it's clear that Bush had a successful convention, and a more successful one than Kerry. And I think I know why.

We, the American people, are a bunch of damned liars.

We always say we want high-minded discourse, respectful rhetoric, a campaign free of rancor. For the most part, that's what the Democratic party embraced at their convention.

The RNC, by contrast, was a hate-filled broadside on John Kerry.

And it worked.

The lesson is clear: it's time to take the gloves off. It's time to take shots at the lousy job Dear Leader has done in his four years in office. It's okay to be personal, it's okay to be nasty, and if shadowy liberal 527s want to lie about Bush, well...hey, I don't know anything about that, and I'm sure John Kerry doesn't either.

I'd rather have an honest debate--but it's clear that the other side wants a war.

Well, if it's war they want, it's war they shall get.

As for me, we'll see what the next few polls show. If Bush is really up 11%, then it's going to be tough to beat him. But it just doesn't square with anything we've seen in the race so far. My gut tells me he's up by 4-6%--and that if John Kerry wants to close that, it's time to stop pussyfooting around.

Friday, September 03, 2004
Poll Watch

So inevitably over the next few days we'll see whether there's a "Bush Bounce" out of the RNC. So it behooves us to see where we sit today....

(all via Polling Report)

Zogby America, August 30-September 2, 1001 likely voters, MOE +/- 3.2%

Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 46% (+3)
Kerry/Edwards (D) 44% (-6)

Bush (R) [I] 46% (+3)
Kerry (D) 43% (-3)
Nader (I) 3% (+1)

American Research Group, August 30-September 1, 1,014 Registered Voters, MOE +/- 3%

Kerry (D) 48% (-1)
Bush (R) [I] 46% (unc)

Kerry (D) 46% (-3)
Bush (R) 45% (unc)
Nader 3% (unc)

ABC News/Washington Post Poll, August 26-29, 775 Likely Voters, MOE +/- 3.5%

Kerry/Edwards (D) 48% (-1)
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 48% (+1)
Nader/Camejo (I) 1% (-1)

So what do we see? Well, some definite movement in Bush's direction in advance of the RNC--which is unsurprising, as Kerry was being battered by the swiftie smears throughout this timeframe. The Zogby poll has already been spun as showing a "bounce," but of course the Zogby poll was (a) before Bush's speech, and (b) the first Zogby poll since before the Swift Boat ads began airing. It simply shows the same move toward Bush that other polls have shown.

What will the near-term polls show? I'd expect to see a four-to-five point Bush lead by this time next week, which will slowly decay back to a tie. It may decay sooner or later, depending on how effectively the Kerry campaign can train its sights back on the President.

Mitigating factors include the fact that much of the most key of swing states, Florida, was evacuating while the President spoke. It is questionable whether they were interested in anything other than getting out of the way of the hurricane.

Also mitigating is the reaction of the pundocracy. I was surprised this morning to see the pundits largely panning Bush's speech. Even Jonah Goldberg said it was weak in the first half. I've already given Bush a passing grade on the speech (he's not a Reaganesque orator any more than Kerry; judging by the standards of Bush, he did well), but I always admit I could be wrong. If the ultimate judgement is that Bush failed to deliver, the bounce may be less.

Breaking News

Fmr. Pres. Bill Clinton rushed to hospital, will undergo quadruple bypass surgery.


Thursday, September 02, 2004

Well, it was GDub's night, and he didn't blow it; his speech wasn't awe-inspiring, but it was a solid, workmanlike effort that hit the right notes. Yes, he failed to give any real substance on domestic policy (and what substance he gave certainly sounded like an expansion of government), and yes, he failed to show any sign that he recognizes Iraq didn't work out as advertised. But his speech was decent. I expect that Bush will have a small-but-statistically-significant lead out of this convention.

I also predict it will be the last lead he holds.

Rolling the Dice

The more interesting story, though, was John Kerry, who in no uncertain terms showed he's ready to fight. He took the attack directly to Bush and Cheney, even taking a shot at Cheney's five deferments.

I don't know if it's the right strategy--he could appear mean. But the GOP has been fairly successful at turning this election into a referendum on John Kerry. Since Kerry isn't the President--and George W. Bush is--Kerry needs to turn this around, and put the onus back on Bush.

It's a gamble that could pay big--or could cost everything. I don't know if it's warranted yet. But it will be interesting to see what the next few weeks hold.

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

White House Chief of Staff Andy Card says:

''It struck me as I was speaking to people in Bangor, Maine, that this president sees America as we think about a 10-year-old child," Card said. ''I know as a parent I would sacrifice all for my children."

Sorry, Mr. Chief of Staff, but I'm thirty years old, I've got a daughter of my own, and I am an adult. As are the rest of the voters. We're not ten, and the President shouldn't be treating us like we are.

This does explain a lot, though, like why the GOP seems to be ignoring all those big, scary numbers and explanations and stuff.

GOP III: The Bloodening

Night three for the GOP, and let me say it right now:

Worst night of a convention for either party since 1992.

It wasn't just Zell Miller's speech (we'll get to that), it was his dual meltdowns on "Hardball" and on CNN. When you're a sitting senator, no matter how annoying Chris Matthews is, you should not challenge him to a duel. Ever. Under any circumstances. Period.

Matthews is a hard questioner, and he was asking tough questions, trying to force Miller to back up his arguments that Kerry was going to allow France to sieze the United States' military weaponry and that the UN was going to regulate the ability of our military to use spitballs. Miller blustered, compared himself to Michele Malkin (Zell: Michele is not the sharpest tool in the shed), and threatened to fight Matthews. Tweety, for his part, egged the Senator on, well-aware that it was great television.

By comparison, Miller's meltdown on CNN was more prosaic--he simply got his ass handed to him by the SCLM.

But the conventions are all about speeches, and here we go....


I didn't see every speech given, but I had to tune in for Sen. Frothy Mixture (R-Man on Dog), who essentially told me that since I'm divorced, I'm personally destroying the country. Thanks, Rick!

Then it was on to the endless cavalcade of lesser lights (The Governor of Hawaii! The Attorney General of Nevada! Women who own small businesses! Elaine Chao!) The only thing of interest was that Elaine Chao was there, in her role as Secretary of Labor, which was odd, because when it was announced that Colin Powell was going to skip the RNC we were told it was because cabinet officials never went to conventions.

Give 'em Zell

The biggest speech of the night, though, was given by Sen. Zell Miller ("D"-GA). The Republicans, of course, will try to claim that Zell is a Democrat. I'm a Democrat, I work with Democrats, Democrats are friends of mine. Zell, you're no Democrat.

Or, as Sully notes:

I kept thinking of the contrast with the Democrats' keynote speaker, Barack Obama, a post-racial, smiling, expansive young American, speaking about national unity and uplift. Then you see Zell Miller, his face rigid with anger, his eyes blazing with years of frustration as his Dixiecrat vision became slowly eclipsed among the Democrats. Remember who this man is: once a proud supporter of racial segregation, a man who lambasted LBJ for selling his soul to the negroes. His speech tonight was in this vein, a classic Dixiecrat speech, jammed with bald lies, straw men, and hateful rhetoric. As an immigrant to this country and as someone who has been to many Southern states and enjoyed astonishing hospitality and warmth and sophistication, I long dismissed some of the Northern stereotypes about the South. But Miller did his best to revive them. The man's speech was not merely crude; it added whole universes to the word crude.

Anyhoo, Zell got up and immediately started to...well, lie his tail off and try to scare small children:

Time after time in our history, in the face of great danger, Democrats and Republicans worked together to ensure that freedom would not falter. But not today.

Motivated more by partisan politics than by national security, today's Democratic leaders see America as an occupier, not a liberator.

And nothing makes this Marine madder than someone calling American troops occupiers rather than liberators.

Now, one might note that Bush himself has referred to the United States as an occupying force in Iraq, because that's what we are. Occupation is a content-neutral word; it simply refers to the fact that (at least through the end of July) the United States held extranational territory under our military control.

But by all means, since you're going to be mad about that, continue:
Never in the history of the world has any soldier sacrificed more for the freedom and liberty of total strangers than the American soldier. And, our soldiers don't just give freedom abroad, they preserve it for us here at home.

For it has been said so truthfully that it is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, not the agitator, who has given us the freedom to protest.

It is the soldier who salutes the flag, serves beneath the flag, whose coffin is draped by the flag, who gives that protester the freedom to abuse and burn that flag.

Our nation owes a great debt to the soldiers who have defended it against provocations, both domestic and foreign. But who argues that? I love soldiers--love them so much that I don't believe they should be sent into harm's way on a whim.

And for Jebus' sake, who's been burning flags?

Senator Kerry has made it clear that he would use military force only if approved by the United Nations.

Kerry would let Paris decide when America needs defending.

I want Bush to decide.

Now this is just a flat-out lie. And I note it only to note the lie.

Sully has the goods:
Miller might have found some shred of ancient rhetoric that will give him cover on this, but in Kerry's very acceptance speech, he declared the opposite conviction - that he would never seek permission to defend this country.

Miller's speech crossed the line. He was vicious, he played fast and loose with the truth, and moreover, his tenor was not one of unity. At one point during his "Hardball" meltdown, Matthews asked Miller if he thought his speech had helped unify the country, as Bush had pledged he would in 2000. Miller's response was about John Kerry.

The speech was a mistake; it's red meat for the base, but so was Pat Buchanan's '92 speech. The best the Republicans can hope for is that Miller will be tagged as a Democrat, but come on. Miller's made such a career of being an apostate Democrat that nobody in the media or with a shred of knowledge will buy it. And the fact is, Miller was speaking in prime time at the Republican National Convention.

Go Cheney Yourself

It seems odd to say this, but I must: Dick Cheney gave the most sober, most serious, and best speech of the convention. Oh, sure, he went after Kerry, but that's what Vice Presidents are supposed to do. Dick didn't really wow anyone, but he didn't do anything horrible either.

Indeed, while there was some cognative dissonance to the speech (now we invaded Iraq to rid Libya of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Perhaps next we'll invade Trinidad and Tobago to rid Syria of their chemical weapons. Hey, whatever works.) Cheney did just fine. Unfortunately for the GOP, Cheney's speech was book-ended by Miller's rant and his meltdowns.

Irrational Kerry Hatred

Three days in New York, and the Republicans still haven't told us why we should support George W. Bush. They've ripped John Kerry, sure, but that seems odd. There is no optimism in New York, only hatred for the left, hatred of the Democrats, hatred of Kerry. Tomorrow, no doubt, Bush will put on a smiley face. But I think it may be too late. I've seen the soul of the GOP, and it is rotten. I do not think Bush will win in November, but if he does it will be only forestalling the inevitable; the GOP of 2004 has the whiff of the Democratic party of 1976, a party with no ideas, whose moment has passed; a party beholden to special interests held together by an attachment to power and a fear of those in the opposition. Jimmy Carter won in 1976, but the party would not truly revive for almost twenty years. The GOP is at that point now; the near-term future for the Republicans is grim.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004
RNC Night Two

Thank you, Zell Miller.

Sen. Miller ("D"-GA) was supposed to be the guy who would show that Democrats could support George W. Bush too.

Instead, Zell looked like a lunatic.

Even better, he followed his speech up with two disastrous interviews on CNN and Hardball--where Zell Miller challenged Tweety to a duel.

If there was any doubt before that this is the Hate Kerry convention, they've been erased. The GOP opened itself up tonight as a group that loathes Kerry--not that they loathe Kerry qua Kerry. They'd loathe Edwards or Clark, too. They'd despise Dean. Hell, if Zell Miller was the Democratic nominee, these guys would find a way to paint him as a traitor to the nation.

More Dick Now!

Cheney's speech will be overshadowed by Miller's twin meltdowns on CNN and MSNBC. As for the speech itself, aside from the massive cognative dissonance it caused, and the fact that evidently we went into Iraq to disarm Libya, it was as good a speech as he could give.


I'll get into the Zell speech in a minute, but Tweety is currently eviscerating him. Five minutes ago, CNN did the same. He was over-the-top.

GOP Day 2

Well, it's day two of the RNC, and I guess I should actually post some thoughts or something....

Irrational Kerry Hatred

If the DNC was the "Bush Hatred" convention, the RNC is the "We want to f---ing kill that sumbitch from Taxachusetts" convention. The "Purple Heart Bandaids" are merely the worst of the attacks. Indeed, if I didn't know better, I'd think that Kerry was the incumbent and Bush the feisty challenger--which, I suppose, is what BC04 wants.


Gov. Schwartzenegger's speech was fine, and low in content. We love freedom! We supported Nelson Mandella (except when we were calling him a socialist and backing the white minority leadership of South Africa, but we'll gloss that)! We supported...that guy in Tienanmen Square with the tank and stuff! Not, you know, with anything concrete, but boy, that guy was cool! Dick Nixon is a good guy! The economy is great, you girliemen! Terminator! Predator! The Sixth, I mean, Terminator 2: Judgement Day!

Really, it was an okay speech for what it was--a rallying cry for patriotism. But Ahnuld, as a Democrat, I've got to tell you--I love freedom too, and I'm even a fan of free markets. You can claim a monopoly on those virtues, but I can claim to be dating Charlize Theron, too.


Jenna and Not-Jenna's speech, however, was terrible. I mean, really, really, bad. Embarassingly bad. Lame humor, "we're adults but we're kewl" attitude that seemed crafted in an aniseptic lab, Not-Jenna saying in a droning monotone "ourparentstaughtusvalues...." Blech.

The videotaped lead-in from GDub was...well, ridiculous. (Did you notice that all the batters were batting left-handed so you could see they were wearing #43? Get it?) Either be there to introduce your wife, or don't. It was a moment that just didn't work.

And Laura Bush's speech confirms my belief, fostered during THK(the audience is listening)'s speech: potential-and-current-First Ladies should not be speaking. They hold no office. They're married to someone who is running. I care what George W. Bush and John Kerry think. I don't give a damn what Laura Bush thinks. (And for the record, when a woman is running for President I won't give a damn what her husband thinks, either.)

As for her speech itself...oddly dispassionate, fairly competent, will resonate like sound in a studio that's been well-insulated.

Tomorrow night: Dick Cheney (who couldn't electrify a fishbowl with a car battery). I've got goosebumps already.


I was talking with a friend tonight who thought the RNC seemed sort of amateurish, and I'm inclined to agree. It just feels disjointed so far, and a bit hollow. People are making the case that Bush should be reelected...well, because.

It just doesn't feel like there's any real passion at this convention, other than a dislike for John Kerry. Indeed, if the story of the DNC was that the Democrats tried to avoid taking potshots at Bush, the story of the RNC is that Repulicans want to go after Kerry whenever possible. I don't know what that means, exactly--but I say bring it on.