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Sunday, October 31, 2004
Signs and Portents

Green Bay 28, Washington 14. Since 1936, every time the Redskins have lost their final home game before the election, the incumbent has lost.

As a Vikings fan, I hate that Green Bay won. But not as much as usual.

Polling Report
Final Edition

Yes, there will be polls out tomorrow, but this is the last time we'll highlight them here.

So without further ado...

(All via

Democracy Corps (D), October 29-30, 500 Likely, MOE +/- 4.4%

John Kerry (D) 48% (-1)
George W. Bush (R) [I] 47% (unc)

FOX News/Opinion Dynamics, October 29-30, 1,200 Likely, MOE +/- 3%

John Kerry (D) 47% (+2)
George W. Bush (R) [I] 46% (-1)

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

American Research Group, October 28-30, 1,258 Likely (1,500 Registered), MOE +/- 2.8% (2.5%)

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

Kerry/Edwards (D) 48% (48%)
Bush/Cheney (R) 48% (48%)
Nader/Camejo (I) 1% (1%)

Reuters/Zogby Tracking, October 28-30, 1,200 Likely, MOE +/- 2.9%

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

Washington Post Tracking, October 27-30, 2,615 Likely, MOE +/- 2%

Kerry/Edwards (D) 48% (unc)
Bush/Cheney (R) 48% (-1)
Nader/Camejo (I) 0% (-1)

So you say you want a close election...weeeell, you know....

It's safe to say the bin Laden tape didn't alter the course of the elections. The polls show remarkable stability, with a very, very slight lean for Kerry. Of course, the Rule of Incumbents suggests that this is very good news for John2.

As for the electoral college, Ohio seems to be swinging away from Kerry...but Florida seems to be swinging away from Bush.

Could we be looking at another 2000? Yes, we could...either John Kerry or George W. Bush could win this election without winning the popular vote.

But I suspect we aren't. My gut tells me that we'll see the same 3-4% swing to the Democrats as we did in 2000. A 3-4% swing--heck, even a 1-2% swing--would give the election decisively to John Kerry.

At this point, with everything so close, it's going to come down to the ground game. I'll go with the Democrats in a ground war--and I will tell you tomorrow just how much John Kerry will win by.

Saturday, October 30, 2004
Wonkette Nails It
Ooops: He's alive. And he's condemning Bush. Which of course means that he wants Kerry to win. Unless he really wants Bush to win and is just by default endorsing Kerry in order to get people to vote for Bush out of spite. But then again, if we're smart enough to figure that out, then maybe Osama knows that, too and he really wants Kerry to win, and is endorsing Kerry so that people will at first learn toward voting for Bush but then think that's what Osama wants. . . So confusing.
Heh. Nice Princess Bride reference, too.


Josh Marshall gets letters, and he responds:

Overall, though, the letters again struck me with what is one of the Democrats' greatest weaknesses: their vulnerability to getting knocked off stride by the rush of events, their tendency to fret that all is lost, almost to indulge in it, when the car hits a simple bump in the road.

Whether this OBL tape represents no-bump, a bump, or something more damaging than a bump, I don't know. But reactions can dictate and shape outcomes, especially in such a context as this where perception is the essence of the matter.

Exactly. I remain unperturbed; I think that the OBL tape cuts both ways. He's breathing, which hurts Bush, and he's anti-Bush, which hurts Kerry. (He's anti-Kerry too--"Your security is not in the hands of Kerry, Bush, or al-Qaeda" doesn't sound like a bouquet to the challenger--but he was harder on GDub.) In the end, I think Bush gets an ephemeral one-point bounce which dissipates almost immediately.

Indeed, I think when it's all said and done, John Kerry will win.

It's gonna be close--but Kerry will win.

Friday, October 29, 2004
The Whims of a Madman

So Osama bin Laden said some stuff today.

I don't care.

Oh, I have to care, because this man was the guy who decided to murder 3,000 innocent civilians in New York and Washington and Pennsylvania, the guy who has murdered far more than that in his pathetic life. We have to listen to what this maniac says, because he's a maniac.

But we don't have to care what he says, and I don't.

Mitch Berg is already advancing the loathsome argument that because bin Laden seemed more anti-Bush than anti-Kerry, that we would give Osama "victory" by electing Kerry.

In a word: bullshit.

We would be giving Osama victory by giving a good goddamn what he wants, and reacting at all. If you're for Kerry, stay for Kerry, if you're for Bush, stay for Bush, if you're not sure, it's time to decide--but not based on the venomous statements of a madman.

Three years ago, we had this man pinned down in a cave, and we let him go so we could get ready to invade Iraq. That has influenced grealy my opinion of the present administration.

But I'm not more anti-Bush because this guy wants to say something. I don't give a damn what he wants.

Indeed, one of the great fallacies that Mitch is falling into is the idea that Osama "wants" anything like what we want. If Bush loses, is John Kerry going to turn our nation into an Islamic Caliphate? If not, I'm willing to bet Osama isn't going to be a big John Kerry fan.

Indeed, one can advance the argument that bin Laden wants Bush to win--and that he attacked Bush so that Americans would rally 'round the President. And you know what? Bush supporters shouldn't peel off from their guy for that reason either.

Terrorists want you to react to them. They gain power when you take them seriously, and take action based on them.

You can kill terrorists. You can scatter their networks, bring leaders to justice.

But you can't negotiate with them, and you can't base your life on what they want.

I will vote for John Kerry because unlike George W. Bush, I think he's serious about wanting to kill Osama bin Laden.

But I felt that way before I ever saw this tape. And nothing this lunatic says is going to change my mind.

We Have Sent You Up The Bomb

I haven't commented much on the al Qa Qaa debacle because I wanted to see how it played out. While there have been some wild stories of Russian paratroopers spiriting the weapons away, the most consistent line from the administration--and its supporters--has been that Saddam took the explosives away before the war ever started.

My favorite quote comes from Donald Rumsfeld:
First reports are almost always wrong, and people who use hair-triggered judgement to come to conclusions about things that are fast moving frequently make mistakes that are awkward and embarrassing.
Awkward. Embarassing.

Enter KSTP-TV.

Now, KSTP is a local icon, and for those of you who don't know, KSTP leans right. Oh, it's not FOX News, but it is more GOP-friendly than most. When Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) visited Iraq, he brought KSTP reporters along. When KSTP hired their new anchor, they went with veteran anchor Cindy Brucato, who had left KSTP to serve as press secretary for Gov. Arne Carlson (R-MN).

KSTP isn't a part of the SCLM--which makes their report so much more damning.

KSTP's embedded reporter was in al Qa Qaa after the fall of Baghdad. Here's what he says he saw:
[O]n that day, there were bunker after bunker after bunker of explosives, tons of them, that were unguarded. We went in and looked at some of them. I don't have the sort of expertise to tell you whether or not those were exactly what they're talking about when they say that these -- how many odd tons of explosives went missing.

Now, that in and of itself wouldn't be so damning.

Except he had the video to prove it.

Ha-ha! Your position has been usurped!

What does David Kay--George W. Bush's handpicked weapons inspector--have to say?
Well, at least with regard to this one bunker, and the film shows one seal, one bunker, one group of soldiers going through, and there were others there that were sealed. With this one, I think it is game, set, and match. There was HMX, RDX in there. The seal was broken. And quite frankly, to me the most frightening thing is not only was the seal broken, lock broken, but the soldiers left after opening it up. I mean, to rephrase the so-called pottery barn rule. If you open an arms bunker, you own it. You have to provide security.

How does the right react to incontrovertable evidence?

Well, they pretend it doesn't show what it shows.

Meanwhile, with their case in tatters, the pentagon brings forth a soldier who did destroy some munitions, maybe at al Qa Qaa, but none of it had anything to do with the HMX or RDX, but he said things like "200 tons," so maybe people will be dumb enough to buy it.

Fine. There are none so blind as those who will not see.

But it's not becoming "increasingly clear" that these weapons were at al Qa Qaa after Saddam's fall. They were there. We don't know where they are now.

In the end, I think Andrew Sullivan sums it up nicely:
The very fact that they still don't know what happened - or even when the site was looted - by itself proves negligence with respect to this issue. And it's worth reiterating that this is no indictment whatsoever of the troops. They were doing what they were told. The only people scapegoating the troops are, yes, the Republicans.
Incompetence. Deceit. Blaming everyone but the President. The Bush administration in microcosm.

And you wonder why I'm backing Kerry.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004
27 Outs Away

And so the Cardinals fall down 3-0 to the Boston Red Sox. If they want to come back, they'll have to look to the history books.

Only once in baseball history has a team come back from a 3-0 defecit. That plucky team--the 2004 Boston Red Sox--was made up of legendary figures such as Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, the affable David Ortiz. And of course, the Sox had subtracted Nomar Garciaparra, whose mid-season trade put the Hex of Nomah on the Chicago Cubs, causing them to simply give up.

The Red Sox were down 3-0 to the New York Yankees in the ALCS. This, of course, was back when the Yankees were the class of the American League, and the defending AL Champs. The Red Sox rallied through two extra-inning games to pull to within 3-2, then rode the emotional high of Curt Schilling's "bloody sock" game through to a series triumph.

Can the Cardinals emulate those Red Sox of yesteryear? It seems unlikely. Then again, the Red Sox surrendered nearly twenty runs in Game 3 of their series; anything's possible.

Indeed, somewhere off in the distance, the Baseball Gods rumble.

Perhaps they are preparing to square one city's debt.

Or perhaps they are preparing to make that city keep paying--in the most ironic and dreadful way imaginable.

Monday, October 25, 2004
Poll Watch
Momentum Edition

We're in the home stretch, and at this point, it's anyone's ballgame.

In a tie race such as this, the final momentum shift may well be decisive.

So let's see where we are....

Rasmussen Tracking, October 22-24, 3,000 Likely Voters, MOE +/- 2%

John Kerry (D) 48.4% (+1.2)
George W. Bush (R) [I} 46.4% (-1.2)

Reuters/Zogby Tracking, October 22-24, 1,200 Likely Voters, MOE +/- 2.9%

George W. Bush (R) [I] 49% (unc)
John Kerry (D) 45% (-1)
Ralph Nader (I) 1% (unc)

Washington Post Tracking, October 21-24, 1,631 Likely Voters, MOE +/- 2.5%

Kerry/Edwards (D) 49% (+1)
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 48% (-1)
Nader/Camejo (I) 1% (unc)

ABC News Tracking, October 21-24, 1,631 Likely Voters, MOE +/- 2.5%

Kerry/Edwards (D) 49% (+1)
Bush/Cheney (R) 48% (-1)
Nader/Camejo (I) 1% (unc)

Los Angeles Times, 881 Likely Voters, MOE +/- 3%

Kerry/Edwards (D) 48% (+3)
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 48% (-3)
Nader/Camejo (I) 1% (-1)

Looking at these polls, two things are evident:

1. The race is still very, very close.
2. The momentum seems to favor John Kerry.

Aside from the Zogby poll, which shows a slight gain for Bush, all other polls show movement for Kerry. And the one-day movement doesn't show nearly the whole story; Kerry has gained between two and four points in most of the polls over the past week, and he has taken his first lead in the Bush-friendly Rasmussen poll since August 23.

His WaPo lead is the first since October 13. His ABC lead is the first since the tracking poll started. Only Zogby shows no movement to Kerry, and even there, Bush's lead is inside the MOE.

And remember, these polls came out before the news today of 380 tons of missing explosives. (More on that debacle later.)

All in all, things appear to be moving toward John Kerry. With a week and a few hours to go, that may tell the tale.

Sunday, October 24, 2004
O Brave New World

I'm not sure whether this awes or terrifies me....
A University of Florida scientist has grown a living “brain” that can fly a simulated plane, giving scientists a novel way to observe how brain cells function as a network.

Just remember that you read this here first when the cyborgs take over.

The Rumsfeld Doctrine

Righty bloggers are fond of saying that we can't vote for Kerry because he isn't serious about fighting terrorists abroad.

As opposed to the ever-serious Bush administration:

Some 350 tons of high explosives (RDX and HMX), which were under IAEA seal while Saddam was in power, were looted during the early days of the US occupation. Like so much else, it was just left unguarded.

Not only are these super-high-yield explosives probably being used in many, if not most, of the various suicide and car bombings in Iraq, but these particular explosives are ones used in the triggering process for nuclear weapons.

In other words, it's bad stuff.

What also emerges in the Nelson Report is that the Defense Department has been trying to keep this secret for some time. The DOD even went so far as to order the Iraqis not to inform the IAEA that the materials had gone missing. Informing the IAEA, of course, would lead to it becoming public knowledge in the United States.

But wait, there's more!
Despite pressure from DOD to keep it quiet, the IAEA and the Iraqi Interim Government this month officially reported that 350-tons of dual-use, very high explosives were looted from a previously secure site in the early days of the US occupation in 2003. Administration officials privately admit this material is likely a primary source of the lethal car bomb attacks which cause so many US and Iraqi casualties....Since the explosives went missing last year, sources say DOD and other elements in the Administration sought to block the IAEA from officially reporting the problem, and also tried to stop the new Iraqi Interim Government from cooperating with the IAEA. But finally, on Oct. 10, the Iraqi’s formally notified the IAEA, and on Oct. 15, the IAEA formally notified the Bush Administration. In press guidance prepared for release in the event news got out, but not released until today, when requested by The Nelson Report, State Department spokesmen confirmed the Iraqi government and IAEA report dates, and that 350 tons of dual use high explosives could not be accounted for. State says DOD has now authorized the Iraq Survey Group to investigate the situation, which, by all accounts, took place in April, 2003.
So in other words, the Bush administration has known about this for over a year. And in that time, the insurgency has had access to 350 tons of high-grade explosives.

And this was evidently not something that the administration felt like sharing with the American people, the IAEA, or...well, anyone.

Why? Simple. Because it was embarassing for the administration.

Josh Marshall breaks it down:

As I've noted, the White House and the Pentagon have known for more than a year that this stuff had gone missing. But the White House, according to TPM sources, has known that this story was coming for at least ten days. Again, not just the underlying facts -- that the stuff had been stolen and was being used against American troops (they've known that for more than a year) -- but the fact that this story was going to break in the not too distant future. And they've been going to great lengths to try to push it back until after the election.

As another administration source told Nelson, "What the hell were WE doing in the year and a half from the time we knew the stuff was gone, is obviously a huge question, and you can imagine why no one [in the Administration] wants to face up to it, certainly not before the election."

Another told Nelson, "You would be correct to suspect that politics, or the fear of politics, played a major role in delaying the release of this information."

It's a story that really brings together the adminstration's two cardinal sins: dishonesty and incompetence.

And what other stories are they trying to push back until after November 2nd?

Whatever they can, Josh. Whatever they can.

Bush Worried About Ohio, Florida

So Says the Washington Post:

GOP officials who talked to Bush-Cheney campaign leaders said the leaders have grown more worried about Ohio, Florida and other key states where Bush lacks a lead with just 10 days until the election. A poll by Ohio University's Scripps Survey Research Center, completed Thursday night, found Kerry leading 49 percent to 43 percent among registered voters, with a margin of error of five percentage points.


One Republican official described the mood at the top of the campaign as apprehensive. " 'Grim' is too strong," the official said. "If we feel this way a week from now, that will be grim."


The Republican official said polling for Bush showed him in a weaker position than some published polls have indicated, both nationally and in battlegrounds. In many of the key states, the official said, Bush is below 50 percent, and he is ahead or behind within the margin of sampling error -- a statistical tie.

"There's just no place where they're polling outside the margin of error so they can say, 'We have this state,' " the official said. "And they know that an incumbent needs to be outside the margin of error."

There are all sorts of odd scenarios out there, but Bush cannot win without Florida. If Florida and Ohio go to Kerry, Bush would need to sweep Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota.

We're getting to the point where the polls are of limited effiacy--there are enough polls on both sides that we know the race is too close to call. But anecdotally, at least, even Karl Rove has acknowledged that Bush will likely lose unless he has a 3-4 point lead going into election day, simply based on the Rule of Incumbents. And that doesn't factor the anecdotal evidence that the Democrats are poised for a huge turnout.

Right now, based on the facts on the ground, things look good for Kerry. But it's still very, very close, and time's growing very, very short.

Saturday, October 23, 2004
The Official BotML Endorsements

I promised these Friday, but got a bit behind. Here are my official endorsements for the 2004 elections.

And before I go further, a bleg: I'm still trying to figure out who to support for Lakeville Mayor, City Council, and School Board. Most of you should know this, but I'm a moderate, fiscally sane Democrat. If anyone would like to persuade me, I'm all ears. Post a comment, or email me at

And now, without further ado...the endorsements!

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and Sen. John Edwards (D-NC)

Our nation is going through a time of crisis. We find ourselves involved in a war that we did not choose, and another war that we did; our economy seems to be recovering, but slowly and fitfully, and in a way that does not seem to be improving the lot of the middle class and the poor; our health care system is a shambles; and finally, we continue to fight over basic civil rights and social protections.

The candidates offer a stark contrast in style and manner, and a clear option: John F. Kerry, the junior Senator from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

In his thirty-odd years in public service, Kerry has proven himself as a leader. He served his country admirably in Vietnam, then returned to speak out against a war that was brutal and pointless, a war that will be remembered as the first war America ever lost.

After his service in the Navy, Kerry went on to become a prosecutor, and later Lt. Governor of Massachusetts, before finally winning a seat in the Senate. There, Kerry led a probe into BCCI--a bank with ties to the terrorist networks that would later fund al Qaeda. Kerry took on the role of Senate Prosecutor in Residence, bringing BCCI to justice, and working with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to close the book finally on the POW/MIA issue.

Kerry developed a record of skepticism of US military involvement abroad--one engendered as a Navy Lieutenant in a questionable war. But his record was not so peace-addled as has been painted by the Republicans. Indeed, most of Kerry's decisions to "gut" our military and intelligence operations can be explained by our time in history; while al Qaeda is a grim menace, they do not represent the grave, omnipresent, and lethal threat that the Soviet Union did. When the Soviet Union fell, it was inevitable that our military and intelligence operations would contract--and indeed, Kerry supported a reduction in strength of a lesser degree than well-known peaceniks like then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney.

Nevertheless, Kerry recognizes that we face a new and lethal threat in al Qaeda. He has pledged to "destroy" the terror network, keeping his focus on those who have actually attacked America. He has noted serious weaknesses in America's homeland defense, and pledged to rectify the situation. He has also promised to use our military to hunt down and kill Osama bin Laden. Some may suggest that this represents a "flip-flop," but indeed, our current president pooh-poohed nationbuilding and the spread of democracy in 2000. If 9/11 "changed everything" for George W. Bush, why can't John Kerry draw new conclusions too?

On domestic policy, Kerry clearly outshines his opponent. The federal debt has been skyrocketing over the past four years, and the size of government continues to grow under the control of the spendthrift Republican party. While I am under no illusion that Sen. Kerry shares my skepticism about increasing the size of government, the fact that the House is almost certain to remain in Republican control for the near-term means that the rate of spending is far more likely to be curtailed under a Democratic administration than a Republican one; indeed, George W. Bush has shown himself to be profligate in spending, and worse in paying for his outlays.

Republicans are fond of suggesting that Democrats are more against Bush than for Kerry. This is not entirely true, but there can be no doubt that the current inhabitant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is an excellent reason to support the challenger.

George W. Bush campaigned in 2000 as a "uniter," but has presided over the most divisive four years of my lifetime. This is so much more tragic, given that the country has never been more united than it was in the aftermath of 9/11. Had President Bush reached out across party lines to craft a bipartisan approach to the War on Terror, I have no doubt that Bush would be cruising to reelection now, and that many Democrats would be supporting him.

Instead, the Bush administration chose partisan advantage over the good of the country. Karl Rove boasted that the War on Terror gave the Republicans an electoral advantage. The Bush administration coopted the Department of Homeland Security--originally a Democratic proposal--and used it to paint patriots like Max Cleland as soft on terror.

Then came Iraq.

The Bush administration wasn't just wrong about Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction. They knew--or had reason to know--that Iraq simply did not represent the kind of threat that was claimed. We committed troops to battle a nation that was not one of the top ten hotspots in the world. We all know the results: over a thousand Americans dead, a nation beset by bombings and guerilla warfare, and the antipathy of most of the world, including erstwhile staunch allies such as Germany and Spain.

Yes, Saddam Hussein is out of power now, and it's nice to see such a truly evil man deposed. But the world is filled with evils we are not addressing--in Sudan, for example, genocide is taking place at levels that would warm the cockles of Slobodon Milosovec's heart--and Saddam was not uniquely evil.

Again, our President had the opportunity to come clean when it became apparent that WMDs did not exist in Iraq. Again, had the president simply admitted that no WMDs existed in Iraq, he would probably be winning. Again, he chose to lie, to claim that Iraq had "Weapons of Mass Destruction program-related activi[ty]." He still speaks of Saddam giving weapons to terrorists as if there were weapons to be given.

Over and over, this administration chooses to "happy-talk" its way through. Bombings in Fallujah? Look at the new schools? No WMDs? Hey, Saddam wanted weapons! No Osama bin Laden? Hey, we caught Saddam!

And yet the truth will out--sooner, rather than later. The next four years are primed to be difficult. Nether Sen. Kerry nor President Bush has adequately explained their exit strategy for Iraq--because there's no simple exit strategy available. All signs point to things getting worse in Iraq before they get better--if, indeed, they ever get better.

Meanwhile, Iran is developing a nuclear program, and America can't deal with that militarily because we are pinned down in Iraq.

Over the next four years, we need a president capable of dealing with the realities of the world. George W. Bush has proven singularly adept at avoiding reality. In a dangerous world, we have a choice between a realist and an optimist. I like optimists. But right now, we need someone who sees the world as it truly is, not someone who sees what they want to see. I'll take the realism of John Kerry.

CONGRESS, MN-2: Councilwoman Theresa Daily (DFL-Burnsville)

Sometimes, endorsements are all about the candidate running--they exude strength and resolve, they seem destined to be leaders.

This is not that kind of endorsement.

Oh, Theresa Daily has acquitted herself well on the Burnsville City Council, and she's run a solid race in a GOP-leaning district. But the truth is that I would endorse a jelly donut ahead of the current occupant of the office, Rep. John Kline (R-MN).

There are honest Republicans, men and women who truly believe in their causes, fight for their country, and work to make America great. They think deeply, work honestly, and give good meaning to the word "leader."

Then, there's John Kline. He carried the nuclear "football" as a marine, and...well, that's it. He carried the football. Now, that's great--but it doesn't qualify you to serve as a representative.

Kline has represented his district as a generic Republican, voting with the majority almost all the time, showing no great intellectual curiosity or strong leadership.

There are good Republicans in the second district. The Chief of Staff to Gov. Pawlenty, Dan McElroy, would make an excellent representative. I would like to see Theresa Daily beat John Kline to free up someone--anyone--else for a shot. And if Daily could somehow hold the district, so much the better.

CONGRESS, MN-3: Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-MN)

In the decades he's served Minnesota in Congress, Jim Ramstad has developed a reputation as a thoughtful, moderate, principled representative. Ramstad is the type of politician who could be both a disciple of archconservative Vin Weber and a friend of ultraliberal Paul Wellstone--in other words, he's the type of representative every one of us deserves, and too few of us have.

I would love to see Congress tilt toward the democrats, but not at the expense of Jim Ramstad. Indeed, I hope Ramstad serves until he wishes to retire.

Then I hope a DFLer wins.

CONGRESS, MN-6: Patty Wetterling (DFL)

Patty Wetterling's story is well-known by most Minnesotans: her son, Jacob, was kidnapped in 1989, never to be seen again.

Many, perhaps most people would fold up under such a shock; indeed, I can't even think about such a thing happening to my daughter, and I can't imagine wanting to live another day if it did. But Patty Wetterling did the best thing she could: she fought for tougher penalites for kidnappers, pushed the AMBER alert system, worked as a freelance advocate for families of kidnap victims, and talked directly with families struggling through the same problems her family had faced.

To say that Wetterling's work was commendable is to sell it short.

How has Rep. Mark Kennedy (R-MN) reacted to Wetterling's presence in the race? By running misleading attack ads.

Of course, running misleading attack ads is what Kennedy has done best in his time in office. He did so against then-Rep. David Minge (DFL-MN) in 2000, and against radio magnate Janet Robert in 2002 (who, in fairness, was running misleading attack ads of her own). In his four years in office, Kennedy has been another nameless, faceless GOP drone, though a personable one. Kennedy is being touted as Sen. Mark Dayton's (DFL-MN) biggest rival in two years, which would be appropriate--two do-nothings against each other.

But Kennedy has done nothing to indicate that he belongs in Congress between now and then. Wetterling has shown some weakness on some of the issues, but her heart is unquestionable--and that is more important.

MINNESOTA HOUSE 36A: Mark Solomon (DFL-Lakeville)

Mark Solomon is the kind of candidate the DFL should run more often. Bright, charismatic, and hard-working, Solomon is running a moderate and sensible campaign for the statehouse. He rightly focuses on education as our state's most pressing need, and has derided the gridlock of last year's session.

That gridlock is in no small part the work of his opponent, Rep. Mary Liz Holberg (R-Lakeville), who last year authored the anti-Gay Marriage amendment that scuttled any chance at a bonding bill. Holberg was responding, no doubt, to the wave of thousands of gays rushing to Lakeville to get married--except, of course, no such wave existed. There are thousands of schoolchildren in Lakeville, but their welfare was not of paramount importance to the archconservative Holberg.

District 36A being what it is, it will be tough for Solomon to unseat Holberg. But he's running his race the right way, and issuing a strong challenge to the incumbent.

World Series Preview

Boston Red Sox vs. St Louis Cardinals

Boston Red Sox
98-64, AL Wild Card, American League Champions

Why You Should Root For the Red Sox

Because they have a chance to lift the curse. Because David Ortiz is a gifted hitter, a legit AL MVP candidate, the ALCS MVP, and a guy who will still go hang out at a barbershop in Jamaica Plain. Because of Curt Schilling's bloody sock. Because they came back from 0-3 down against the Yankees, and there's no way that they did that just to go out in the series. Because some day, somehow, the Baseball Gods need to square their debt with Boston--and now is the time.

Why You Should Root Against the Red Sox

Because you're a bitter, bitter Yankees fan. Because the curse is a great thing, and once it's gone, it's gone for good. Because you live in St. Louis and/or the surrounding metropolitan area.

Saint Louis Cardinals
105-57, National League Central Champions, National League Champions

Why You Should Root For the Cardinals

Because they have the most fearsome lineup in baseball--and yes, Yankees, that includes you. Because St. Louis loves the team as much as any team in baseball--and yes, Red Sox and Cubs fans, that includes you. Because they won the most games of any team in baseball this year, and excellence should be rewarded. Because they may have won the second-most series in baseball, but their more recent trips have been filled with disappointment.

Why You Should Root Against the Cardinals

Because you're a Cubs fan. Because you're a Royals fan. Because the Cardinals have won the second-most series of any team, and it's time to share the wealth. Because there is no curse of Jack Buck. Because Budwiser is a tasteless, pointless beer, and the Cards play in Busch Stadium. Because this year, it isn't about the Cardinals.

My Prediction: I've said all along that the Cardinals are vulnerable against a team with great pitching. The Red Sox have it--sort of. If the Schilling in this series is the Schilling of Game 6, the BoSox finally win. I can't beleive we've come this far just to see the Sox falter again. Then again, I'm not primarily a Red Sox fan. Boston in Six.

Wolf Packs for Truth

They told us we were shooting a Greenpeace commercial!

Lies and the Lying Liars....

One of the most salient criticisms of Bush's prosecution of the War on Terra is what happened in Tora Bora. Rather than go in with overwhelming force, the administration chose to use the Northern Alliance, which...well, didn't capture Osama bin Laden.

Of course, that's a devastating charge, one which the GOP has been quick to pooh-pooh. "He wasn't there," they say. "You all are overstating the case," they say.

So let's see what the Bush administration had to say about this in, say, April of 2002:

The Bush administration has concluded that Osama bin Laden was present
during the battle for Tora Bora late last year and that failure to commit U.S.
ground troops to hunt him was its gravest error in the war against al Qaeda,
according to civilian and military officials with first-hand knowledge.

Josh Marshall has the goods. Really, guys, stop lying, okay? If I trusted this president, I might feel less anger toward him. As it is, however, he's looking positively Nixonian.

Friday, October 22, 2004
Pay the Man His Money

Go give these people some money. And watch the ad. It's a lot scarier than Bush's new puppies ad.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

BoSox Beat Evil Empire!

By the way, here's an opening line a liberal can love:
In hindsight, perhaps it was a mistake for the Yankees to raise a "Mission Accomplished" banner above their dugout after Game 3.

Heh. Indeed.

In all seriousness, the Red Sox victory was the second-greatest upset of my lifetime, topped only by the Miracle On Ice. It may be the greatest comeback in the history of sport.

And the good guys finally won one.

Okay, I still don't get why Pedro pitched the seventh. But oh well. David Ortiz (say it with me, Twins Fans: David !@$$@ Ortiz!) wins the ALCS MVP.

Now, it's on to the series, against either the St. Louis Cardinals (the best team in baseball this year) or the Houston Astros (the hottest team in baseball down the stretch.) I still say it's going to be MA vs. TX in a battle of clichés--but we shall see.

For now, have fun Boston. You just beat the Yankees. And you did it with style.

This may be the year.

And if it comes for you, maybe, just maybe, it will someday come for my Cubbies.

You gotta believe.

Poll Watch
Top-Line Edition

All via

Democracy Corps (D), October 17-18, 1,001 Likely Voters, MOE +/- 3.1%

John Kerry (D) 50% (unc)
George W. Bush (R) [I] 47% (unc)

FOX News/Opinion Dynamics, October 17-18, 1,000 Likely Voters, MOE +/- 3%

George W. Bush (R) [I] 48% (unc)
John Kerry (D) 43% (-2)

NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Hart-McIntuff, October 16-18, 1,004 Likely Voters, MOE +/-3.4%

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

Reuters/MSNBC/Zogby Tracking, October 16-18, 1,200 Likely Voters, MOE +/- 2.9%

John Kerry (D) 45% (unc)
George W. Bush (R) [I] 45% (unc)
Ralph Nader (I) 2% (+1)
David Cobb (G) 1% (unc)

So take these four polls together, and you get this average:

George W. Bush (R) [I] 47.0%
John Kerry (D) 46.5%

In other words, it's a tie.

Of course, we're playing with Likely Voter scenarios, which don't necessarily have the most accurate track record.

We can all get dazzled by polls, but what all of these polls--yes, even the FOX poll--are showing is a race that is too close to call.

Look, if polls show your candidate getting beat by five or six percent going into election day, does that mean he's going to lose? Ask Gov. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, who was leading by about that margin in 1998. He lost to Jesse Ventura.

Any race within 5% is still winnable. Any race within .5% is beyond too close to call. I still think these numbers favor Kerry--but it's going to be a bumpy landing.

So hang in there--and any errant Bush supporters reading this, you hang in there too. It's going to be a fun one to watch.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004
esruC ehT esreveR

If you're rooting for the Yankees in game 7, you're not a baseball fan. You're not an American. You may not even be human.

The heart that the Boston Red Sox has shown in clawing their way back--from three outs away from being swept to a single elimination game--cannot be overstated. And the heart that future AL Cy Young Runner-Up Curt Schilling showed in pitching game 6 without tendons in his leg--that was the gutsiest postseason performance by a pitcher since Black Jack Morris pitched ten shutout innings to lift the Twins to the '91 title.

4-2, beyatches. Red Sox Nation, everyone outside of the Bronx is on your side. Let's win this one.

And then, if Houston beats St. Louis--it's a Massachusetts vs. Texas series! Now what would the media have to say about that? Hmmm.....

Poll Watch
State Polls Edition

Well, it's two weeks to the general election. The top-line polls are very weak Bush, by a margin of about 1-2%.

But we all know that the top-line polls don't mean diddly squat. For one thing, at this point in the 2000 election, the top-lines were leaning strongly for Bush; Bush didn't even win the national vote.

More to the point, Bush lost the popular vote. He won the presidency.

So we're back to looking at the toss-ups....

Arkansas (10), Survey USA, October 15-17, 617 Likely Voters, MOE +/- 4%

George W. Bush (R) [I] 51%
John Kerry (D) 46%

Colorado (9), CNN/USA Today/Gallup, October 14-17, Likely Voters, MOE +/- 4%

George W. Bush (R) [I] 51%
John Kerry (D) 45%
Ralph Nader (I) 1%

Florida (27), Survey USA, October 15-17, 601 Likely Voters, MOE +/- 4.1%

John Kerry (D) 50%
George W. Bush (R) [I] 49%

Iowa (7), American Research Group, 600 Likely Voters, MOE +/- 4%

John Kerry (D) 47% (+1)
George W. Bush (R) 47% (-1)
Ralph Nader (I) 2% (+1)

Minnesota (10), Strategic Vision (R), October 12-14, 801 Likely Voters, MOE +/- 3%

John Kerry (D) 48% (unc)
George W. Bush (R) [I] 45% (-1)

New Hampshire (4), Suffolk University, October 14-17, Likely Voters, MOE +/- 4.9%

John Kerry (D) 46%
George W. Bush (R) [I] 41%
Ralph Nader (I) 1%

North Carolina (15), Survey USA, October 10-14, Likely Voters, MOE +/- 4%

George W. Bush (R) [I] 50%
John Kerry (D) 47%

Ohio (20), Rasmussen Reports, October 12-16, 537 Likely Voters

John Kerry (D) 47% (unc)
George W. Bush (R) [I] 47% (-2)

Pennsylvania (21), Survey USA, October 15-17, 619 Likely Voters, MOE +/- 4%

John Kerry (D) 51%
George W. Bush (R) [I] 45%

Wisconsin (10), Rasmussen Reports, October 14, 500 Likely Voters

John Kerry (D) 48%
George W. Bush (R) [I] 47%
Michael Badnarik (L) 1%
Ralph Nader (I) 1%

Based on the data we've got here, the electoral college would be as follows:

John Kerry (D): 283
George W. Bush (R) [I]: 228
Undecided: 27 (Ohio, Iowa)

This also assumes that Bush wins one of Maine's four electoral votes.

Now, needless to say, Kerry's lead in, for example, Florida is much too narrow to give the state to him with anything resembling confidence; nevertheless, Kerry's position is very solid. For one thing, the Rule of Incumbents suggests that Kerry will gain 2-3% from the final polls. That 2-3%, if applied across the board, would be decisive, giving Kerry Ohio, Florida, Iowa, and even potentially giving him a shot in North Carolina. Of course, a minor shift to Bush would also be decisive, giving Bush Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Iowa, and potentially Minnesota.

Two weeks to go and it's way to close to call. Right now, I'd handicap this election very, very weak Kerry. The next two weeks will tell the tale.

Friday, October 15, 2004
Better Man Than I

Look, I don't see anything wrong with what Kerry said about Mary Cheney--even if, as I am willing to concede, Kerry may have been attempting to subtly depress the vote on the right.

But I'm not conservative, and I'm not gay, so you might think I have no standing to decide whether Kerry's comments were offensive or not.

So I defer to Even the Conservative Andrew Sullivan, who is both gay and conservative:

[James Tarranto] says that Kerry was pandering to the anti-gay parts of the Democratic base, by letting the last few souls on earth know, in an entirely positive way, that the vice-president's daughter is openly gay. And the way Kerry "gay-baited" was to say that homosexuality is not a choice, that he supports equal rights for gay couples, and that Mary Cheney helps prove that being gay isn't a choice. That'll rile 'em up in the trenches, won't it? Seriously, I've called out anti-gay statements by Democrats in the past; and have a long record of sniffing out homophobia and the use of it, wherever it's coming from. Certainly my record is, shall we say, more substantial than Taranto's in this regard. And I fail to see how Kerry's remark could be understood in any conceivable way as gay-baiting. It never occurred to me when I heard it. It does not occur to me now. You know what is based in gay-baiting? Implicitly, clearly, shamelessly: the Bush-Cheney campaign. The GOP has a nutty candidate in Illinois who called Mary Cheney a "selfish hedonist" - but Dick Cheney wasn't an "angry dad," then. Lynne Cheney didn't call that "tawdry." So Bush runs the most anti-gay national campaign ever and it's his opponent who gets tarred as a homophobe! Brilliant, even by Rove's standards. And when it comes to gay-baiting, there are few as practised as Rove. The sheer nerve o these hypocrites never ceases to amaze.
Indeed. Sullivan's site is a must-read given this tempest in a teapot. I'd encourage those on the right who are "outraged" to read it--except I rather suspect that the "outrage" we're hearing belongs in quotation marks.

Thursday, October 14, 2004
Let Them Eat Education

Dana Stevens noted Bush's odd fixation with No Child Left Behind:

The most egregious example of the education non-answer was after Schieffer's question about the fate of the minimum wage. After Kerry promised to fight "tooth and nail" to raise the wage from $5.15 to seven dollars, Bush ignored the question entirely, using his 90 seconds to muse about how the No Child Left Behind act is "really a jobs act when you think about it." Right, because the wee tots being educated now may someday grow up to have jobs—provided they don't starve to death in the interim because their parents have no jobs now. Gotta love a piece of social policy with a 20-year delay built in.



So the right is all hot and bothered because John Kerry "outed" Mary Cheney.

Now, never mind that Mary Cheney has been "out" to all of America since 2000; why is Kerry's mention of Cheney an insult?

Is being gay something to be ashamed of?

I mean, I sure don't care whether you're gay or straight. It's nothing you chose.

I mean, who would care about Mary Cheney's sexuality other than the religious r--


John Kerry, you magnificent bastard. I salute you.

Let's cut to the chase: Kerry was absolutely using Cheney's sexuality here. Is there something ooky about that? Yeah, probably. But guess what? We're nineteen days from Election Day. George Bush flat lied about his feeling on Osama. Kerry's subtle dig here is hardly the most egregious sin committed in this election.

On FOX, they were all atwitter, wondering if Kerry would have to apologize tomorrow. And say what? "I'm sorry your daughter's gay?" Nobody on the left gives a tinker's damn about Mary Cheney's sexuality, other than to shake our heads sadly at her continued support of her father's boss. The right--now they may care and be upset.

But Josh Marshall makes the point best. If Mary Cheney were a paraplegic, and Kerry had referenced that fact, nobody would've cared. It wouldn't be anything to be ashamed of. Cheney's "outing" is only shameful if one would be ashamed to have one of "them" in the family.

So Kerry managed to get in a dig at Bush among Bush supporters while having the remark pass by unremarkably to Kerry supporters and, I suspect, to moderates as well.

Well played, Mr. Kerry. Well played.

UPDATE: Avowed homosexual Andrew Sullivan doesn't care:
Mary Cheney is out of the closet and a member, with her partner, of the vice-president's family. That's a public fact. No one's privacy is being invaded by mentioning this. When Kerry cites Bush's wife or daughters, no one says it's a "low blow." The double standards are entirely a function of people's lingering prejudice against gay people. And by mentioning it, Kerry showed something important. This issue is not an abstract one. It's a concrete, human and real one. It affects many families, and Bush has decided to use this cynically as a divisive weapon in an election campaign. He deserves to be held to account for this - and how much more effective than showing a real person whose relationship and dignity he has attacked and minimized? Does this makes Bush's base uncomfortable? Well, good.

Ex-zag-ger-A-shuns and Lies

Almost immediately in the debate, George W. Bush was challenged by John Kerry:
Six months after he said Osama bin Laden must be caught dead or alive, this president was asked, "Where is Osama bin Laden?" He said, "I don't know. I don't really think about him very much. I'm not that concerned."
George W. Bush zinged back:
Gosh, I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those exaggerations.

Well, one would hope so! After all, for Bush to say he wasn't concerned about the man responsible for killing 3,000 Americans would be horrible. It would show a callow disregard for the deaths of Americans, and it would all but highlight the President's lack of focus on the War on Terror.

Bush had the goods on Kerry. He lingered over "exaggerations," stretching the word to thirty-eight syllables. How great for him! Bush told the truth about what a liar John Kerry was.

Except, of course, that Bush was lying, and Kerry told the truth:

Q But don't you believe that the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead or alive?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him.

Remember Dick Cheney's lie about meeting John Edwards?

That's nothing compared to this.

Because George W. Bush admitted that he didn't care about Osama bin Laden. And thanks to his gaffe tonight, the press now has license to play that tape over, and over, and over again.

Every damning word.

How will that play in the heartland? Among swing voters?

I can tell you how it plays with me.

And there are still those on the right who wonder why we've lost faith in this President's focus.


Kevin Drum rounds up the post-debate polls:
Interesting. Those are even bigger margins than the first debate, which was a Kerry blowout.

That would seem ominous for our Preznit.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The debates are over, and it's a Kerry sweep.

Oh, tonight wasn't a blowout by any stretch of the imagination. Kerry was fine, and Bush was mostly okay. But Kerry didn't need a blowout tonight. He has the momentum--he just took the lead in the WaPo tracking poll, and between the Rule of Incumbents and liberal passion, even a tie in the final polls would favor Kerry.

George W. Bush worked hard, and he did seem less annoying than at previous debates. But he didn't answer many questions throughout the evening--over and over, he seemed to come back to No Child Left Behind. Minimum Wage? I passed NCLB. Jobs? I passed NCLB. Crime? I passed NCLB.

It wasn't a big thing, but it was telling: whenever an economic question came up, Bush dodged the question. He had no answer--which pretty neatly summed up the last four years.

Kerry had his share of clunkers too--he was a bit wonky, which isn't a crime, and he failed to answer a few questions, too. But he seemed even-keeled, calm, and at ease. He seemed presidential.

Our current President did not.

A writer to Sully's blog noticed a parallel to 2000:
One of the main criticisms directed at Gore during the 2000 debates - and rightfully so - was that, with each change of venue, Gore changed his approach, fueling an impression that nobody knew the 'real' Al Gore. First he was the condescending sigher. Then subdued to the point of sleep inducement. Then back on the attack. They were widely varying performances. Will swing voters note the same of Bush in 2004? In the first debate, all grimaces and discomfort. The second, an aggressive attack dog. Third, that lovable guy with the goofy grin (how many times did he direct it at Bob Schieffer after answering a question, displaying again that southern confidence in its power?). Do we know the real George Bush?
I don't know. But I do know this: Bush looked out of his depth in all three debates. I don't know that John Kerry will make a great president. But I know Bush's record, and I know what I've seen out of him the past four years.

Over the next nineteen days, there will be highs and lows for both campaigns. But I think tonight's debate was the last hurdle. John Kerry will win this election. It may be very close; it may be a blowout. But in the end, Kerry will defeat George W. Bush.

Polling Report
State Polls Edition

We all know that the real deciding factor in this election is not the topline polling number, but the state-by-state polls. So while it's fun to watch the horserace number, let's not forget that if the popular vote was the determining factor in presidential elections, the right would be griping about President Gore right now.

So with that in mind, what are the battleground states doing? Here's a quick look....

Florida, Mason Dixon, October 4-5, 625 Registered Voters, MOE +/- 4%

George W. Bush (R) [I] 48% (unc)
John Kerry (D) 44% (-2)

Iowa, Chicago Tribune, October 8-11, 500 Likely Voters, MOE +/- 4%

George W. Bush (R) [I] 47%
John Kerry (D) 45%

Minnesota, Chicago Tribune, October 8-11, 500 Likely Voters, MOE +/- 4%

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

Missouri, Survey USA, October 2-4, MOE +/- 3.8%

George W. Bush (R) [I] 49%
John Kerry (D) 47%

Nevada, Survey USA, October 1-3, MOE +/- 4%

George W. Bush (R) [I] 50%
John Kerry (D) 46%

New Hampshire, American Research Group, October 3-5, 600 Likely Voters, MOE +/- 4%

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

Ohio, Chicago Tribune, October 8-11, 500 Likely Voters, MOE +/- 4%

John Kerry (D) 49%
George W. Bush (R) [I] 45%

Wisconsin, Chicago Tribune, October 8-11, 500 Likely Voters, MOE +/- 4%

John Kerry (D) 47%
George W. Bush (R) [I] 43%

Based on these current numbers, the current electoral breakdown is....

John Kerry (D) 268
George W. Bush (R) [I] 266
Ralph Nader (I) 0
Tied 4

So if you look at the electoral math, essentially the entire race for the presidency comes down to New Hampshire.

Of course, it's not quite that simple; any or all of these swing states could flip before the election. Bush's two-point lead in Iowa is tenuous, but no more so than Kerry's two-point lead in Minnesota. Missouri seems well within reach for Kerry, but Ohio is not out of reach for Bush.

Essentially, the Electoral College is behaving as one would expect it to in a very close national race. The math still favors John Kerry--the Rule of Incumbents would suggest that New Hampshire, Iowa, and Missouri should go to Kerry. But the race is so close that a minor pertubation in the ground rules--a bad Kerry stumble tonight, a Roveian dirty trick--could swing all of these states into Bush's column.

It's going to be a crazy twenty days, and incidentally, let's all realize this: there is a very real chance that we could be looking at 2000 all over again.

Ist die eine Kartoffel in Ihren Hosen? Oder sind Sie glücklich, mich zu sehen?

So one of the big righty complaints about Kerry's Iraq plan is that he can't make it happen. "Old Europe will never help Kerry!" they scoff. "They're a bunch of cheese-eating surrender monkeys! Freedom fries! Paris Business Review!"

Well, maybe France won't help out President Kerry.

But Germany? They just might....

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

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

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

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

Hmm. Now, Germany isn't exactly saying that they will send troops for Kerry--but they aren't ruling it out. And they pretty much are ruling it out for Bush.

But I'm sure that doesn't mean anything. Right?

The Saddest Song of All Time

I believe that blogging is, above all else, a very personal endeavor, and if I can't pass along random thoughts from time to time, what good am I as a blogger?

That said, I think it's certain that Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" medley is the most beautifully sad song ever recorded.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Follow The Money

So why would the nation's second-largest owner of local television stations risk alienating half the country to aid George W. Bush's reelection?

As Pat Buchanan--ahem, Deep Throat once said: "Follow the money."

How many media companies just happen to to jointly own a subsidiary that just happens to be teamed with a former Enron exec who just happens to get a face-to-face meeting with the President of the United States who just happens to give this company a lucrative contract in Iraq?

I know, it's not a blowjob, but Jebus, didn't they think anyone would check this out?

Monday, October 11, 2004

I just followed off an angry missive to KMWB, letting them know that I was done watching their station, and would start boycotting not just the station but their advertisers until and unless the Sinclair group's decision to force local affiliates to run an anti-Kerry hit piece was reversed. I urge any other liberals out there to join in this protest. I don't know that we can stop Sinclair, but we can hurt them, and that alone is worth the effort.

More With The Funny

The Wacky Morning DJ Says "Democracy's a Joke"

I didn't comment on the "Don't Vote" billboards that showed up in Minneapolis because, before I knew anything about them, I knew what they were: a stupid teaser ad campaign for a radio station.

Indeed, finding out that the ads were a teaser for crappy top-40 station KDWB was, if anything, even less surprising, given that the same station did the same basic ad a few years ago--only that time, it was an "Ugly Kids" teaser, with unfortunate class photos of the same DJ, Dave Ryan.

The left, sadly, went slightly berserk during this go-'round, suggesting that Big Brother Clear Channel, the owner of the billboards and KDWB, was somehow seriously suggesting that people not vote in the upcoming election.

Now, Clear Channel is nothing if not right-leaning, but come on. There is a 0% chance that Clear Channel would really be urging people not to vote. The level of opprobrium that would be engendered would be off the charts.

No, it was a wacky bit. At least it's over. And it did give me an excuse to quote the band Cake, so it's not all bad.


Look, I think it's growing increasingly clear that George W. Bush is lying.

Here's a quote from John Kerry:

We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance. As a former law enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and
fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life.

Well, yeah. That seems reasonable enough. While we all dream of a world with no terror, no murder, no rape, we also are all adults here. We can't stop every terrorist just as we can't stop every thief.

What we can do is marginalize them, reduce them from people worth fighting wars against to sad, peripheral figures, disdained by both sides.

Would it be better to eliminate all terrorists? Of course. But unless you believe this world is perfectable, reducing terrorism to "something you continue to fight, but...not threatening the fabric of your life" seems like a laudable, reasonable, and achievable goal.

So how does George W. Bush respond to this? Well, here's what Marc Racicot, Bush's campaign chair, has to say:

[Kerry said] that the war on terrorism is like a nuisance. He equated it to prostitution and gambling, a nuisance activity. You know, quite frankly, I just don't think he has the right view of the world. It's a pre-9/11 view of the world

Yes, that's exactly what he said, except he didn't say that at all.

Again, Kerry said that he wants to make terrorism into a nuisance activity, not that he thinks terrorism is a nuisance activity. The former formulation is not just a distortion of what Kerry said; it's an outright lie about what Kerry said.

Winston Smith responds in typically brilliant fashion:

Of course it does no good to argue with these people because none of them believe what they are saying. One would have to be dimwitted in the extreme--far more dimwitted even than Gillespie or Racicot--to interpret Kerry's words as they allegedly do. Or you'd have to have an exceptionally tenuous grasp of the English language. This is obvious and intentional distortion. Lying, that is. Lying about what Kerry said, and about the clear intent of his words.

Nevertheless, he comes up with the proper reductio ad absurdum of the Racicot position: "I suppose if Kerry had said that he wanted to reduce pollution to 1975 levels Racicot and Gillespie would accuse him of thinking that it was 1975."

Not only that, but they'd suggest that Kerry's "1975" thinking proved he was incapable of fighting the war on terror--since in 1975, al Qaeda didn't exist.

How can we trust a man to fight al Qaeda who doesn't think they even exist yet?

Better question: how can we trust people so willing to lie about what their opponents say?

Christopher Reeve, 1952-2004

Politicizing Iraq

Oh how, oh how can our troops fight for a candidate who believes the election is more important than success in Iraq?

I'm talking, of course, about George W. Bush:

The Bush administration plans to delay major assaults on rebel-held cities in Iraq until after U.S. elections in November, say administration officials, mindful that large-scale military offensives could affect the U.S. presidential race.

Although American commanders in Iraq have been buoyed by recent successes in insurgent-held towns such as Samarra and Tall Afar, administration and Pentagon officials say they will not try to retake cities such as Fallouja and Ramadi — where the insurgents' grip is strongest and U.S. military casualties could be the highest — until after Americans vote in what is likely to be an extremely close election.

Will the right react with outrage? I don't think so.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Via Sully, a joke:

Q: How many Bush officials does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: None. There's nothing wrong with that light bulb. It has served us honorably. When you say it's burned out, you're giving encouragement to the forces of darkness. Once we install a light bulb, we never, ever change it. Real men don't need artificial light.

Thursday, October 07, 2004
For The Record

Attacking any campaign headquarters is wrong, and I condemn this reprehensable behavior.

To anyone on the left who thinks this is some kind of "coup"--sorry, Charlie. This just plays into the hands of the right, and lets them try to distract from the most recent news about Iraq. It's something that Karl Rove would want you to do.

Huh. You don't think....

...I mean, he did bug his own office....

...nah. Couldn't be.

At any rate, even if you're Rove-appointed stooges, I still condemn the behavior.

To everyone: don't steal signs, don't attack cars, show some respect for those on the other side of the aisle. Because if you don't, they'll be whining about it.

The Best Album In The History of Mankind

How can one be sad when this album exists?

We Shouted Out, "Who Killed the Kennedys?"

I'm a lone gunman guy myself, but this Slate interview with E. Howard Hunt is...well...odd:

Slate: I know there is a conspiracy theory saying that David Atlee Phillips—the Miami CIA station chief—was involved with the assassination of JFK.

Hunt: [Visibly uncomfortable] I have no comment.

Slate: I know you hired him early on, to work with you in Mexico, to help with Guatemala propaganda.

Hunt: He was one of the best briefers I ever saw.

Slate: And there were even conspiracy theories about you being in Dallas the day JFK was killed.

Hunt: No comment.

I'm not sure I know what to think.

A Bad Week For George

Kevin Drum has the rundown. A couple days' worth:

  • Later Monday: The CIA agrees with Rumsfeld. The linchpin of the administration's case for collaboration between Saddam and al-Qaeda has been Saddam's alleged "harboring" of terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, but a CIA report concludes that it probably didn't happen. "The evidence is that Saddam never gave Zarqawi anything," said an official who read the report.

  • Tuesday: Paul Bremer admits that the administration made a big mistake by not having enough troops in Iraq. "The single most important change -- the one thing that would have improved the situation -- would have been having more troops in Iraq at the beginning and throughout" the occupation.

    When his statement becomes public, Bremer complains that his remarks were "off the record." For its part, the Bush administration tries to claim that Bremer was lying, but is forced to backtrack almost immediately when it becomes apparent that Bremer did ask for more troops as far back as July 2003.

It feels like there's been a seismic shift in this election, doesn't it? Heck, the latest AP/Ipsos poll has Kerry up 50%-46%. I think that might be a little high...but given the week George has had, maybe not.

Two weeks ago, Kerry wasn't done...but man, it sure felt like he was.

Today, I'd say his odds of winning are better than even.

We should've learned our lesson back in Iowa. You can't write John Kerry off. Somehow, he finds a way to claw his way back into it. We shouldn't make that mistake again.

Howard Fineman Nails It

Yes, Howard Fineman. No, really:

As things now stand, Bush is left with only one argument and justification for having launched a war that has cost 1,000 lives, $150 billion and whatever goodwill America had won in the aftermath of 9/11. His last-resort reason: Saddam Hussein might have developed weapons that he might have given to terrorists that might attack the United States. And even that reasoning is undermined by the new report of the Iraq Survey Group, which says that Saddam's capacities, whatever they might have been, were withering, not "gathering," under the weight of inspections.

Yeah, that's about right.

Delicious Yellow Cake

VRWC blogger Mitch Berg once wrote:

You can bet that if when the Hussein/Al Quaeda connection, and the full story about WMDs, finally is told, these bilious, hate-drenched cowards will wiggle away from their statements faster than you can say "Yummy Yellowcakes".
Well, now the full story about WMDs and the Iraq-al Qaeda connection has been told. And it isn't we "bilious, hate-drenched cowards" who have to apologize.

There were no WMDs in Iraq. Indeed, while Mitch continues to cling to the idea that because Saddam wanted WMDs, he was just as dangerous as a leader with WMDs...well, come on, Mitch. Bush said Saddam was developing nuclear weapons; he wasn't. Bush said Saddam had stockpiles of weapons--"materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin[.]" He didn't. He didn't have any weapons of mass destruction.

Was he "gaming the system," hoping that maybe he could reconstiute a program when sanctions ended? Probably. Then again, since the sanctions were set by the UN Security Council, it would've required action by the UN Security Council to lift them. Were we planning to let that resolution slide through, you know, ever? Of course not. As long as sanctions were in place, and inspectors were inspecting, Saddam was not a threat--not at all.

So a thousand Americans are dead, and for what? To topple an evil dictator? Fine and dandy, but I can think of six or seven evil dictators who should've gotten the gas pipe before Saddam. Kim Jong Il, for example, is a level of evil that Saddam can only dream of, and he actually has nuclear weapons. Besides, if we were going to topple Saddam, shouldn't we have actually prepared to stabilize the country after his ouster? (Oh, I forgot, we were welcomed with flowers and palm fronds. What, we weren't?)

We toppled Saddam because he wasn't living up to the letter of the UN resolutions? Well, that's worth a thousand lives.

As for the Saddam-al Qaeda connection...come on, please. Don't make me laugh. Iraq may have had fewer ties to al Qaeda than any other Muslim nation save Turkey. Iran has greater ties, Syria has greater ties, Saudi Arabia damn sure has greater ties.

We were wrong to invade Iraq. Absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, we were wrong.

Now, that doesn't mean we should begin an immediate pull-out; that would make things even worse than they already are. No, we're stuck with the task of stabilizing Iraq.

But the people who stuck us with that task were wrong. They were wrong about Iraq having WMDs. They were wrong to short-circuit the inspections process. They were wrong about the level of troop strength needed to pacify the country. They were wrong about Ahmed Chalabi. They were wrong to put deBa'athification above security. They were wrong to dismantle the Iraqi army. And they have continued to lie, to obfuscate, and to dissemble ever since the war began.

I do not know that John Kerry will be a better president than George W. Bush. But I cannot believe he would be worse. On this fundamental issue, George W. Bush has been wrong over and over again--and so have those who continue to blindly support him.

And for those of us who called him wrong--I wish like anything that I was the one who had to wiggle away from my statements. I wish that I could believe that over a thousand Americans had died for a just cause. I wish that George W. Bush had hit a nerve center for al Qaeda. I wish Iraq was the right war at the right time.

But it wasn't. And for that reason, more than anything, we must defeat Bush. You cannot lead a nation to war under false pretenses and be rewarded for it.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Reverse The Curse

Everyone knows that the Boston Red Sox have been cursed ever since Harry Frazee, then the Sox' owner, sold Babe Ruth in order to finance No, No Nanette. Everone knows that Frazee then proceeded to sell off the proud Red Sox to the Yankees for financial gain. Everyone knows that this is the genesis for the curse that haunts the Red Sox to this day.

And everyone is wrong.

In a masterful article on, Glenn Stout tells us why everything we think we know about Harry Frazee is wrong. It's a story of misunderstanding and anti-Semitism, of Henry Ford and the gentiles-only American League, of whispering campaigns and just plain bad luck. And it's a must-read for anyone who thinks they know why the Red Sox just can't catch a break.


Yes, we've all found it amusing that Dick Cheney cited in the debate when he meant to cite all, is an instant referrer to

Just in case you're new 'round these parts, George Soros is not George W. Bush's biggest fan.

But this is a misstatement; Cheney was citing to show that Halliburton had done no wrong, no matter what the nefarious John Edwards had to say. It's just too bad that he gave out the wrong address, or else the American People would've gotten the true story. After all, in the Vice President's own words:

Well, the reason they keep mentioning Halliburton is because they're trying to throw up a smokescreen. They know the charges are false.

They know that if you go, for example, to [sic], an independent Web site sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania, you can get the specific details with respect to Halliburton.

So what does have to say about Halliburton and Cheney? Well...

Cheney got our domain name wrong -- calling us "" -- and wrongly implied that we had rebutted allegations Edwards was making about what Cheney had done as chief executive officer of Halliburton. In fact, we did post an article pointing out that Cheney hasn't profited personally while in office from Halliburton's Iraq contracts, as falsely implied by a Kerry TV ad. But Edwards was talking about Cheney's responsibility for earlier Halliburton troubles. And in fact, Edwards was mostly right.

So Cheney was misrepresenting what was saying. That would me out here...starts with an "l," rhymes with "guy...."

I'm stumped.

UPDATE: Cheney also said he's at the Senate every Tuesday. Except, as noted by Dave the Pro, Cheney has only presided over the Senate twice in the past four years. The last Tuesday that Cheney presided was November 19, 2002. (The acting Presiding senator from the previous week? Sen. Dean Barkley [IP-MN], meaning that in his two months in the Senate, Sen. Barkley presided over the Senate half as many times as Cheney has in the past three-and-a-half years.)

So who's showing up in the Senate? And who's shirking his duties? And who is lying? Dick Cheney's lying, that's who.

UPDATE PART DEUX: Joe Gandelman isn't a partisan, which makes his site well-worth reading. His take:

It is NOT only Democrats who raise both eyebrows over this. This is not easily explained away with logic. Mr. Cheney chose to make a startling charge in the middle of a nationally televised debate. And he's not wrong on just one count...but on THREE.

Yeah, that's the problem for Dick. Especially when you have, you know, pictures of the meetings.

Darth Vader v. Breck Girl

At first blush, I'd actually say Cheney won on points. It was sort of a blah debate, and it was not nearly as interesting in the Twins-Yankees matchup--but Darth seemed better.

I emphasize seemed, because there's one thing you just can't do in debates, and that's to tell an outright lie.

And Cheney lied, and lied, and lied some more.

Now this is not the most consequential of Cheney's lies, but it's the one that's the most fun--and the one that's the most devastating. At one point, Cheney made a big deal out of the following:
Now, in my capacity as vice president, I am the president of Senate, the presiding officer. I'm up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they're in session.

The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight.

Wow, that's a devastating attack. It seems to show John Edwards doesn't show up in the Senate very much.

Too bad it's a demonstrable lie:

VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY DELIVERS REMARKS AT NATIONAL PRAYER BREAKFAST FEBRUARY 1, 2001 SPEAKER: VICE PRESIDENT RICHARD B. CHENEY: Thank you. Thank you very much. Congressman Watts, Senator Edwards, friends from across American and distinguished visitors to our country from all over the world, Lynne and I honored to be with you all this morning.

So Cheney is a liar. And if the Democrats have any testicular fortitude, they'll be calling him on it for days on end.

Heck, the GOP won't let "global test" go. Why should we let Cheney get away with lying?

If the Democrats jump on Cheney effectively, that will be all anyone will remember of this debate. Now, don't get me wrong; I expected the Vice Presidential debate would effect approximately three votes nationwide before, and if the Democrats follow through on this, that might push the bar up to ten. But we need to pound Cheney like he pounds us. He's earned it.

Monday, October 04, 2004
2004 Guide to the Major League Baseball Playoffs

Yes, it's an election year, and yes, there's a war on. Nevertheless, the playoffs are starting, and in what has become a tradition here at the BlogOModLeft, it's time to break down the playoffs. As always, this breakdown doesn't go into who has a better lefthanded pinch-hitter during day games when the wind is blowing in--it's more about who's playing, who you should root for, and why you should care.

American League

Divisional Matchup: Boston Red Sox vs. Anaheim Angels

Anaheim Angels
American League West Champions, 92-70

Why You Should Root For Anaheim

Because the Angels scratched and clawed their way to the AL West title. Because they were willing to suspend 100-RBI man Jose Guillen for being a clubhouse nightmare, rather than simply let his tantrums slide because he could hit. Because they win as a team. Because the rally monkey is hilarious. Because they were so bad for so long.

Why You Should Root Against Anaheim

Because they're owned by Disney. Because they just won the World Series two years ago. Because they used to be the California Angels, but changed their name--well, nobody really knows why. Because the rally monkey is getting old. Because they don't have any good starters. Because they're playing the Red Sox.

Boston Red Sox
American League Wild Card, 98-64

Why You Should Root For Boston

Because their fans deserve it. Because they have David Ortiz, a likeable, cheerful DH who's become one of the game's most fearsome hitters. Because they traded Nomar Garciaparra when he got to be a clubhouse malcontent--and it turned their season around. Because they've been struggling for so long, and come so close, only to break their city's heart. Because of Curt Schilling, a Cy Young candidate who also frequents team chatrooms. Because their fans' most vivid playoff memory is no longer Bill Buckner muffing a grounder, but Grady Little telling Pedro Martinez, "Yeah, I think you can get a few more outs."

Why You Should Root Against Boston

Because some things in life are certain: the sun rises, young boys and girls fall in love, and the Boston Red Sox don't win championships. Because of Manny Ramirez, the immensely talented and annoying BoSox outfielder. Because they still couldn't get past the Yankees to win their division.

My Prediction: The Red Sox have great starting pitching, and a decent bullpen. The Angels will have to beat Pedro or Curt at least twice. Not likely. Red Sox in 4.

Divisional Matchup: Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees

New York Yankees
American League East Champions, 101-61

Why You Should Root For The Yankees

You shouldn't. The Yankees are evil, evil right down to their black hearts which pump not blood like yours or mine, but a thick, oily sludge. They've won too much. They're too arrogant. And Jason Giambi "just happens" to have a tumor on his pituitary gland. I don't care if you're sleeping with Mariano Rivera. You should not be rooting for the Yankees.

Why You Should Root Against The Yankees

They have the highest payroll in baseball. Their owner is George Steinbrenner, and he's not the funny George Steinbrenner from Seinfeld, but the annoying George Steinbrenner who can't be happy with Joe Torre even though he does nothing but win. Because Jason Giambi is on steroids and everyone knows it. Because any team that wins more than a quarter of the championships over the last century should receive the karmic payback of not winning another series for two hundred years. Because it is your patriotic duty as an American, and if you're not American, it's your patriotic duty as a Canadian, Brit, German, or whatever nation you happen to be from to root against the Yankees.

Minnesota Twins
American League Central Champions, 92-70

Why You Should Root For The Twins

Because their team payroll is less than 1/3 that of the Yankees. Because Johan Santana is the best pitcher in baseball. Because the team didn't fold when rookie phenom Joe Mauer went down to a knee injury. Because the team has three Venezualan pitchers with more than ten wins. Because Torii Hunter fields his position better than any player in baseball. Because the Twins were slated for contraction before 2002, and have responded by winning three consecutive AL Central crowns.

Why You Should Root Against The Twins

Because now that the Expos have moved, they play in the worst stadium in baseball, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, which as a baseball stadium makes a really good football stadium.

My Prediction: The Twins have better pitching than the Yankees, and in the postseason, that means something. Johan Santana will go twice in five games; the Yankees will either have to beat him or get their wins against Radke and Silva. Not gonna happen. Twins in Four.

National League

Divisional Matchup: Houston Astros vs. Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves
National League East Champions, 96-66

Why You Should Root For The Braves

Because the Braves have built one of Major League Baseball's greatest dynastys, winning every Divisional crown since 1991. Because Bobby Cox is a class act, and a great manager. Because the Braves are still winning despite losing core players like Greg Maddux. Because that kind of greatness deserves more than one world championship.

Why You Should Root Against The Braves

Because the Braves have won every division title since 1991, but have only turned that into one World Championship. Because of the questionable "Tomahawk Chop." Because Atlanta got rid of Greg Maddux. Because Ted Turner has ever had anything to do with them.

Houston Astros
National League Wild Card, 92-70

Why You Should Root For The Astros

Because they scratched and clawed their way to an improbable wild card berth. Because Roger Clemens is a hall-of-famer who wasn't even supposed to be pitching this year, much less leading his team to the playoffs. Because the Astros have never won the big one--ever. Because they built the Astrodome.

Why You Should Root Against The Astros

Because Roger Clemens is an arrogant jerk. Because the Astros play in a stadium once named Enron Field. Because they're from Texas, and nothing good comes from that state. Because the Astros used to be called the Colt .45s, but changed their name to gravy train Lyndon Johnson's pork-barrel seizure of the space program. Because they gave up on the Astrodome.

My Prediction: All the Braves do is lose playoff series. Houston in Five.

National League Divisional Series: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Saint Louis Cardinals

Saint Louis Cardinals
National League Central Champions, 105-57

Why You Should Root For The Cardinals

Because Tony LaRussa is the smartest manager in baseball. Because the Cardinals were the best team in baseball this season, and greatness deserves to be rewarded. Because improbably, the Cardinals have turned Busch Stadium into a pretty, intimate ballpark. Because the Cardinals are even greater than the considerable sum of their parts. Because they never gave up on lefty Rick Ankiel, who is back after three years, finally starting to redeem himself.

Why You Should Root Against The Cardinals

Because nobody likes to root for Goliath. Because you're a Cubs fan. Because Tony LaRussa will be happy to tell you that he's the smartest manager in baseball.

Los Angeles Dodgers
National League West Champions, 93-69

Why You Should Root For The Dodgers

Because you still remember Kirk Gibson's mammoth shot. Because you have to respect the franchise that integrated baseball. Because the Dodgers have the best closer in baseball. Because the uniforms haven't changed. Because they held off the Giants, thus sparing us a few more weeks of Barry Bonds adulation.

Why You Should Root Against The Dodgers

Because they never should've left Brooklyn. Because they just don't inspire much feeling either way. Because Tommy Lasorda isn't managing there anymore. Because L.A. fans were leaving the ballpark in droves when Gibson hit his monster shot.

My Prediction: Saint Louis is vulnerable to a team with great starting pitching. Unfortunately for L.A., that's not a good description of the Dodgers. Saint Louis in Three.

As with last year, I'll quickly break down where I see it going from here: Twins beat the Red Sox in an epic seven-game series, Astros beat the Cardinals in five, and the Twins beat the Astros in six to hoist their third world championship banner. But we shall see, shan't we?