The Mahablog: Truth and the Bush Administration

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saturday, october 30, 2004

O'Briens for Kerry
seantara2.jpgTara O'Brien supports John Kerry for President, and so does my son, Sean.

9:53 pm | link

Digby says that the Bushies have known about the new bin Laden tape for a while but tried to suppress it.  I agree with Digby's analysis of how the Bushies are trying to play it: "a modified 'Mary Cheney' --- shock and outrage that Kerry allegedly politicized the issue, when he actually didn't . . . . The Bush campaign is going to try to wrap Kerry in a straightjacket with one of their phony, sanctimonious coordinated fits of the vapors."
I just saw Chimpy speaking live on MSNBC. There's a lot of tension behind his face. The Chimp is not good at hiding his emotions.
David Talbot, writing in Salon, says Richard Holbrooke won the first round in the spin battle.
The video, Holbrooke told Wolf Blitzer, "raises the troubling question about why this grotesque mass murderer is still out there" thumbing his nose at America. As Blitzer tried to counter by pointing out that polls show most Americans think Bush will do a better job of protecting them against terrorism, Holbrooke quickly shot back, "If Bush is so much more effective, why is bin Laden still on the loose?" ...
For a response from the Bush camp, Blitzer turned to the AEI's Danielle Pletka, who seemed overwrought and unable to look directly at the camera. The Bush advisor took immediate exception to bin Laden's hurtful taunt that the president had spent a bit too long listening to the story of the pet goat on the morning of Sept. 11. "I'm glad to hear that Michael Moore is giving aid and comfort to the enemy," she snapped, her eyes darting everywhere but at the camera.
To tell you the truth, I don't think the video is going to make much of a difference on Tuesday. Some on the Right Blogosphere are now rallying around the notion that Osama's video amounted to a surrender. I don't think most Americans are that fond of Kool-Aid, however.
As I see it, the only down side of the video for Kerry is that it is taking attention away from the missing explosives. Via Suburban Guerrilla, the Boston Globe says UN weapons inspectors pressed the U.S. "coalition" for permission to return to Iraq and monitor weapons sites. Permission was denied.
Be of Good Cheer Department: The New York Times has a story about voters switching sides from the last election -- People who voted for Bush in 2000 now voting for Kerry; people who voted for Gore in 2000 now voting for Bush. Kerry is ahead in the "switcher" poll, 11 percent to 7 percent. And Democratic pollster Mark Mellman says many more people are switching from Bush to Kerry than the other way around. And this Kos diarist analyzes the polls and predicts an Electoral College victory for Kerry, 311 to 227, with a narrow popular vote win also.
I've got some new Tara O'Brien photos, but you'll have to come back later to see them.
Update: This guy predicts Kerry 307, Bush 231, and a popular vote win for Kerry. 

10:26 am | link

friday, october 29, 2004

Effects of Kool Aid on the Brain
This is what happens when your brain is replaced by a Karl Rove implant.
After being so certain for the past three years that Osama bin Laden had been atomized by the blast of a daisy cutter in Tora Bora, I admit to some disappointment that he’s still consuming oxygen and frightening small children.

But look on the bright side. Instead of never knowing the truth, now we may get to see this creature captured or killed for good and all.

If Bush is re-elected.

The author has a brain disease. That's the only rational explanation for thinking that after three years of failure, Bush is somehow the only man on the planet who can bring bin Laden to justice.

Here we see some kind of delusional paranoia: 

Osama’s latest speech was an eerie echo of many of John Kerry’s campaign points; the “My Pet Goat” reference, the references to Bush “deceiving America,” etc. So far I’ve only seen excerpts from the speech; I’ll bet that when a full transcript comes out there will be even more examples of this disturbingly parallel viewpoint.

What's he saying here? That Kerry and bin Laden have the same speech writer? Vast numbers of us have been going on about "My Pet Goat" for months, years even. Are we all in cahoots with bin Laden? There are some who say bin Laden must've seen Fahrenheit 9/11, or at least read about it, which is possible. I don't know if bin Laden speaks any English.
But what we're looking at with this blogger is not partisanship. It's pathology.

11:18 pm | link

This is Bin Laden, look at his head noddin'
The new Osama bin Laden video is all over the news. I'd like to see a transcript, although frankly I'm less interested in what bin Laden says than in what effect, if any, his reappearance might have on voters.
There's speculation that the video might create a "rally round the President" effect. Digby says,
The media narrative is gelling that this bin Laden tape totally benefits Bush. Chris Matthews and the bunch have that glassy eyed, pre-orgasmic, reach-for-the-codpiece look and they are very excited about the prospect of Bush doing another metaphorical landing on the carrier. The security moms are panting with barely leashed desire. My gorge rises with every minute of this.
Chris Matthews and the bunch thought Bush smashed Kerry in the second debate, too.  
Seems to me this serves as a reminder that Bush didn't fulfill his September 11 promise to get bin Laden and "bring him to justice"? As Atrios says, "Nice job with the whole 'dead or alive' thing."

Juan Cole writes,

Does the appearance of the video help or hurt Bush? It is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it is a painful reminder that Bush dropped the ball, left the fight against al-Qaeda half-finished, and ran off to the Iraq quagmire, so that Bin Laden is still at large 3 years after he killed 3000 Americans and hit the Pentagon itself. That can't be good for Bush. On the other hand, because so many Americans confuse Bush's swagger and aggressive instincts with being "strong on terrorism," any big reminder that al-Qaeda is out there could actually help W. It shouldn't, but it may well.

Matthew Yglesias thinks the video will help Bush:

I think liberals trying to argue that this bin Laden tape won't help Bush are probably fooling themselves. Bush will be helped, it's pretty obvious that Bush will be helped, and OBL is certainly aware that this stunt will help Bush. This is because, of course, OBL likes Bush in office just fine. Not especially because of anything relating to Tora Bora, but because the Bush administration's policies have, at every turn, served bin Laden's agenda of increasingly unifying disaffected folks throughout the Islamic world around jihadist ideology while fragmenting the western powers. OBL is not an idiot. On the contrary, he's long ago emerged as the greatest propagandist and opinion-manipulator of the 21st century and he's trying to get what he wants.

I don't see it, though. Bin Laden might have good reason to want to keep Bush, but that doesn't tell us anything about how American voters will react. Josh Marshall is skeptical, also.

But Billmon speaks! I'm happy to see him post a blog, even if I don't entirely agree. He writes,

By plastering his face over every TV in America for the next couple of days, he's given Bush a priceless gift -- a boogeyman with which to frighten that last sliver of undecided voters into rejecting change. Al Qaeda, it seems, has evolved into one hell of an effective 527 organization.

Steve Soto at The Left Coaster thinks Kerry needs to air a new ad about the video.

You guys must hit this hard in time for the weekend chatfests and to steer the focus towards the fact that this guy is still alive and quite healthy. I know that you have already shot your last round of commercials, but can them, and cut together an immediate 30-second spot for distribution in all the battleground states. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. I would suggest a 30-second spot which opens with the new tape of Osama today, and with a voice over which asks the question "Why Is This Man Still Alive?", and then a morphing into a video of Bush saying that he doesn't spend much time thinking about Osama. The commercial will close with a on camera statement from Kerry saying that "He shouldn't have been allowed to escape at Tora Bora. And invading Iraq obviously did nothing to stop him. If I'm elected president, Osama won't have much time to shoot any more videos."

Wow, I agree. That would kill Bush.

Maxspeak has a translation, sort of.

8:08 pm | link

Reader Appreciation
Bruce K says to watch this video of the Pentagon's press conference today. It really is pathetic. One wonders why they bother.
Except ... rightie bloggers and rightie newsies have predictably taken up that pathetic, threadbare little scrap of an excuse as a collective butt cover. The point of that mid-day Pentagon farce was to keep the True Believers in line. So that's why they bothered.
One rightie blog known by the initials LGF and to which I prefer not to link, complained --

A rather curious fact is noted by LGF reader Art2Gecko; despite the Pentagon’s press conference more than an hour ago revealing that up to 200 tons of ordnance was removed and disposed of at the Al-Qaqaa ammo dump by the US Army 3rd Infantry, I can’t seem to find any mention of the press conference on the front pages of,, MSNBC, or ABC News.

This is called "paranoia," I believe. All of those news pages linked to the story. MSNBC carried it live, I'm pretty sure. Basically, LGF is pissed because the newsies didn't hype the story as much as the righties want it hyped. But considering how embarssing that press conference seems to anyone but a Kool Aider, not hyping it amounts to doing the Bush Regime a favor.

Sea Raven recommends this op ed by Jonathan Chait in the Los Angeles Times. Chait discusses the "morbid hilarity" of Bush's ever-changing excuses for the lost explosives.

On to the question of "Assam the American" and whether he's Karl Rove in disguise -- does anyone have any photos? :-)

6:27 pm | link

Good Reads
I don't have a transcript of the Pentagon's most recent explosives excuse, but this news story explains it. Juan Cole says the press conference was embarassing to Bush. Josh Marshall points out that the White House and career military are not pushing the same talking points.
If it's Friday, it's time for Paul Krugman.

The story of Al Qaqaa has brought out the worst in a campaign dedicated to the proposition that the president is infallible - and that it's always someone else's fault when things go wrong. Here's what Rudy Giuliani said yesterday: "No matter how you try to blame it on the president, the actual responsibility for it really would be for the troops that were there. Did they search carefully enough?" Support the troops!

But worst of all from the right's point of view, Al Qaqaa has disrupted the campaign's media strategy. Karl Rove clearly planned to turn the final days of the campaign into a series of "global test" moments - taking something Mr. Kerry said and distorting its meaning, then generating pseudo-controversies that dominate the airwaves. Instead, the news media have spent the last few days discussing substance. And that's very bad news for Mr. Bush.

More Paul Krugman! Treat yourself to this interview in Texas Monthly!
On the one hand, the ruling party really doesn’t believe in democratic norms. They’ve been trying to rig the election in a number of ways, and they’ve rolled out [the idea] that a vote for John Kerry is a vote for the terrorists, in effect. That’s a deeply undemocratic thing, and if they win, they will try to institutionalize that. On the other hand, if they lose and the records are opened—it’s pretty obvious that it will be devastating. So it’s a weird moment. You feel like people are noticing the nakedness of the emperor—finally—but either just at the last minute or maybe not quite in time.
Be sure to read what Professor Krugman says about the Bush budget.
Dan Froomkin describes tension on Air Force One. Bob Herbert says Bush is letting down the troops. Scott Lehigh writes about Bush's aversion to facts.
2:46 pm | link

We Shall Overcome
By enormous preponderance of evidence, we now know that the explosives of al Qa Qaa were removed after the U.S. invasion in March 2003. 
The Right Blogosphere remains in denial, of course. I've yet to find one rightie blogger who has admitted Bush blew this one. This fellow came close, but managed to wiggle out of it. Kos documents that the Bushies themselves are campaigning in denial mode. News Hounds ("We Watch Fox So You Don't Have To") comments on the Bushies' continually changing spin.
Day 1: Diminish importance (380:400,000)
Day 2: Question motives of IAEA and NYTimes
Day 3: Repeat 1 and 2; question existence of weapons at location to begin with
Day 4: Reinforce doubt of weapons' existence at the location, claim Saddam moved them, (where?), mock Kerry for believing NYTimes and IAEA and not the Bush gang. Obfuscate, smear, deny, stall.
Unfortunately we're going into the weekend and there's no news done on the weekend in America, and by Monday we'll be bombing the sh*t out of Fallujah.
I agree with that last sentence. If Bushies' internal polls over the weekend show him losing, Fallujah is toast.
Update: I believe the Pentagon is about to trot out some evidence that the al Qa Qaa exolosives were destroyed. I am about to head out the door and can't stick around to monitor. Will be back later.
10:45 am | link

Household Survey Sees 100,000 Iraqi Deaths

The Associated Press
Friday, October 29, 2004; 3:03 AM

LONDON - Researchers have estimated that as many as 100,000 more Iraqis - many of them women and children - died since the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq than would have been expected otherwise, based on the death rate before the war.

Writing in the British-based medical journal The Lancet, the American and Iraqi researchers concluded that violence accounted for most of the extra deaths and that airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition were a major factor. [Read more.]

About the methodology: In September, investigators went to 33 neighborhoods spread evenly around Iraq. From these, they randomly selected clusters of 30 households to sample. Of these, 808 households participated. Each household was asked how many people lived in the home and how many births and deaths there had been since January 2002. The numbers were compared to birth and death rates in the 15 months before the invasion.

I noticed that infant mortality is considerably higher since the invasion. Just thinking about giving birth and caring for a newborn in a war zone makes me weep. A newborn who dies because his stressed-out mother isn't lactating and can't get formula is just as dead as one killed by bombs, but probably wouldn't be counted as a "war" death in the Official Numbers.

Does someone want to explain again how the people of Iraq are so much better off now because we invaded them? 

8:23 am | link

thursday, october 28, 2004

Somebody's Confused
Zogby has been going around telling anyone who'll listen that this is Kerry's election. I had friends at the Daily Show taping today, and Zogby was on. To great cheers in the studio audience, Zogby declared Kerry the winner.
Pollster John Zogby surprised the political world back in April with a long-range prediction that John Kerry would defeat George W. Bush for president. On Monday this week, Zogby told me, he changed his mind. He now thinks the president is more likely to be re-elected because he has reinforced support from his base, including married white women.
Wow, should I trust Kos, or a lizard? Hmmmm ...
9:24 pm | link

Evidence Mounts
A New York Times story quotes Iraqi eyewitnesses who say that looters stormed the al Qa Qaa facility after the Americans stormed through and left in unsecured.
This testimony fits well with this video.
While you're here, be sure and take the poll at right.
Dan Froomkin's Washington Post column is a fun read. You'll enjoy it. 
3:18 pm | link

All Things Are Possible
It's the solar eclipse/Grand Quintile, I tell you. If the Sox can sweep the World Series, anything is possible now.
And people are feeling optimistic. Or pessimistic, depending on who you are rooting for. Behold:
A Republic pollster says the only way Bush can win will be if fewer minorities turn out this year than they did in 2000, when the stakes were far lower.
Americans living abroad are registered to vote in record numbers.
Sydney Blumenthal has already started a victory dance -- not prematurely, I hope.
A U.S. District Court judge in Ohio killed the GOP's scheme to deprive 35,000 newly registered voters of their right to vote.
There may be no greater indicator of a struggling Bush campaign than the fact Shrub's been reaching out to Democrats for their votes. Until very recently, the Bushies seemed to think they only needed to energize their base. Suddenly, the base seems to be wobbly.
Be sure to read Big Biz Bails on Bush on BOP News.
This is no time to be complacent, but I do think we have reason to hope.
Other Stuff:
Molly Ivins addresses my question of a couple of days ago, which is why so many people still support Bush.
Juan Cole quotes an Iraqi science minister who says the missing al Qa Qaa explosives could not possibly have been moved before the invasion.
Catblogging hits the mainstream press.
To help make a difference, register with VoterCall and make some calls to get out the vote.
Don't miss the "One Finger Victory Salute" video.
6:57 am | link

wednesday, october 27, 2004

Signs III
More astrology -- I don't keep close track of astrological happenings as a rule and had no idea what an unusual time this is.  A few hours after tonight's lunar eclipse we'll be treated to an extremely rare phenomenon called a Grand Quintile. A Grand Quintile occurs when five planets (or the moon) at about the same distance from each other form a circle, resulting in a pentagram. The last Grand Quintile formed in 1941, which we might recall was a significant year.
It is unfortunately the case that people who write about astrology churn out prose that is murkier than swamp water. I've been reading astology sites until my head hurts to find out which planets are involved and where they will be positioned. I finally found a chart for tomorrow for New York City (scroll down, right-hand chart).
Looks like moon in Taurus in the first house, Saturn in Cancer in the third house, Jupiter in Libra in the sixth house, Pluto in Sagittarius in the eighth house, and Uranus in Pisces in the eleventh house. The houses, of course, are different in different parts of the world.
Mars and Venus are conjunct Jupiter, which must be significant because all of these astrology sites keep going on about it. There was a Grand Quintile on October 1 also (left-hand chart), which was a better Grand Quintile because that was my birthday. On the left-hand chart there are a bunch of planetary things bunched up in Libra, but that's broken up a bit in the right-hand chart.
A Grand Quintile occuring so soon after an eclipse is very rare. The last one occurred in the year 141 CE.
Some astrologers have noted there was a partial solar eclipse in mid-October, in between the two GQs, which they thought was significant. I'd like to know if there were ever any GQs in the same year as a Transit of Venus? Seems rare to me.
If you go back to the "Mundane Implications" page sited above, under the charts there is a discussion of the GQs and the presidential election. The author says that these GQs represent "outworkings" of the Uranus-Pluto conjunction of the mid-1960s. Hmmm.The author also says, "The key axis in these GQs is represented by Saturn opposed to the midpoint of Uranus and Pluto."
I found a natal chart for John Kerry, which is interesting as nearly everything on it is in the upper, "public" part of the chart. The boy's got sun in Sagittarius, moon in Gemini, Sagittarius rising. But lookee at Saturn conjunct moon and opposite sun. Hmmmmm.
Bush's natal chart is lopsided in favor of the left side, which signifies something but I can't remember what it is. Bush has Saturn conjunct sun in Cancer in the twelfth house. Moon is in Libra in the third house, Leo rising.
I'm not sure what all this signifies, but it's interesting.
2:37 pm | link

Biggest Howler of the Millennium
I just heard Bush say this on CNN (may not be an exact quote, but it's close):
"A person who jumps to conclusions without knowing all the facts is not someone you want as commander in chief."
Can we say "cooked intelligence"? "Aluminum tubes"? "Mushroom cloud"? "Uranium from Africa"?
This was Bush's first remark on the missing explosives. His excuse amounts to "we don't know what happened and maybe the explosives were gone before the invasion," and "Senator Kerry is being mean and criticizing our noble troops for losing the explosives."
More later.
Update: I just heard a replay -- here's a correction to the wording of the quote:
"A political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not someone you want as your commander in chief."
That's the exact quote, I believe.
11:33 am | link

Bottom Line
"We would be a lot safer if we hadn't gone to war."
-- Peter W. Galbraith
That's the one message I wish Bush supporters could get through their thick skulls.
Here's the context, from an op ed in today's Boston Globe:

I supported President Bush's decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein. At Wolfowitz's request, I helped advance the case for war, drawing on my work in previous years in documenting Saddam's atrocities, including the use of chemical weapons on the Kurds. In spite of the chaos that followed the war, I am sure that Iraq is better off without Saddam Hussein.

It is my own country that is worse off -- 1,100 dead soldiers, billions added to the deficit, and the enmity of much of the world. Someone out there has nuclear bomb-making equipment, and they may not be well disposed toward the United States. Much of this could have been avoided with a competent postwar strategy. But without having planned or provided enough troops, we would be a lot safer if we hadn't gone to war.

Bush likes to answer criticism of the war by saying the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power. (You can see it, can't you? Bush leaning over the podium, jaw jutted out, face contorted by that bullying leer, proclaiming that the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power. But, 'scuse me -- is that not an example of a "global test"? We have to do this because it's good for the world, never mind what it costs or what American priorities might be? Maybe somebody should tell Shrubby the world thinks it would be better off without HIM in power. Maybe he would do the right thing and resign.)
But I digress. Mr. Galbraith says he went to see Paul Wolfowitz in 2003 and told him there was a massive security problem in Iraq. Materials known to be dangerous, from uranium to vials of black fever virus to weapons-making machinery, were being looted and carried off while U.S. troops stood nearby, without orders to stop it.
Mr. Galbraith doesn't say how Wolfowitz reacted, other than "Pentagon leaders did nothing."
Mr. Galbraith does say a lot of the looted stuff probably ended up in Iran, "which has had allies and agents in Iraq since shortly after the US-led forces arrived."
Outrage du jour: Read Kevin Drum.
8:23 am | link

tuesday, october 26, 2004

Boom or Bust?
I've done some web surfing and some channel flipping, and so far my sense of things is that the explosives scandal (boomgate?) is getting the public's attention.
NBC and MSNBC, and I understand CNN also, keep trying to slip some excuses for the Bushies under the door. For example, they've floated the theory that the explosives were removed before the invasion, possibly by Saddam himself; therefore, the Bushies are not responsible.
Two separate questions: First, is this claim credible? Second, even if it isn't credible, will it be believed?
Josh Marshall has noted in several posts that U.S. troops who moved through the area in April 2003 didn't search for the explosives and cannot say if the explosives were there or not. Apparently it's a large, complex facility, and all kinds of stuff could have been there in April 2003 without anyone noticing.
The IAEA is certain the explosives were in place on March 8, ten days before the invasion began. Moving the explosives would have taken a fleet of large trucks and probably more than ten days. Surely prewar surveillance would have noticed such an enterprise, especially since the facility was suspected of housing WMDs.
So it's unlikely the explosives were removed before April 2003, but even if they were, they'd probably still be at al Qa Qaa and under IAEA supervision were it not for Bush's stupid invasion.
(Today's Altercation reviews the Bushies' incredibly casual attitude about securing dangerous materials in Iraq. There are clever sixth graders who could have planned better than the "best and brightest" in the Bush Administration.)
It's too soon to say if this scandal is having an impact on swayable voters. However, that combined with the news of the additional $70 billion?  Drip, drip, drip ...
Liberal Oasis thinks the Bushies are panicking and mishandling the damage control.
While channel flipping today I caught a glimpse of Pat Buchanan implying that the New York Times and CBS News were stirring up the explosives controversy to hurt President Bush. Can't teach an old dog new tricks, eh, Pat? He seemed to be complaining that Sixty Minutes would air a report this Sunday, but there's nothing about it on the Sixty Minutes web page.
You can see the new Kerry ad about the missing weapons here.
8:49 pm | link

What's Wrong With Us?
I've been struggling with an opinion piece I want to send to Scoop of New Zealand. I want to explain how George W. Bush could possibly be in position to win an election after his disastrous record as President.  This is what I've got so far.

As I write, George W. Bush is up by one to eight points in most national polls, depending on which poll you choose to believe. I understand that Bush’s popularity in the U.S. has astonished the world, who cannot see what Americans see in him. For the record, I don’t see it, either. In a rational world, Bush would be a week away from a crushing defeat. But in a rational world, by now vast mobs of torch-carrying citizens would have besieged the White House and demanded Bush’s head on a pike.


For four years I’ve watched for a tipping point – a moment at which public opinion would finally turn against Bush. Instead, there’s been only a slow erosion of Bush’s formerly sky-high popularity. Pollsters say that a majority are unhappy with the direction of the ship of state and dissatisfied with Bush’s performance.


Yet Bush is up by one to eight points in national polls.  


For four years I’ve watched damning news stories about the Bush Administration break upon the electorate like ocean waves pounding a granite cliff. Revelations of open and obvious corruption and incompetence steadily roll in, one after another. Yet the cliff stands. I no longer expect otherwise.

The question is, of course, why do so many Americans have their heads up their butts and can't see what's going on?


We all know that Bush's bedrock of support comes from religious nutjobs and right-wing jingoists. But that's not the whole story. Those people by themselves could swing a few southern states, but IMO by themselves they couldn't give Bush a 50-50 chance of winning an election.


I think there's a fuzzy muddle of voters who are neither holy rollers nor hard-core superpatriots but who sorta kinda think they will vote for Bush, anyway, maybe. Or maybe not. This is partly because they don't follow news enough to know what's going on, and of course news media, especially television, does a lousy job of educating voters, anyway.


By means of disciplined, mind-numbing repetition of talking points -- Kerry is a flipflopper; Kerry is too liberal; Bush has resolve -- the Right has been able to imprint their basic message onto this group. And the Swift Boat campaign didn't help.


But consider this: For the past few days, I've been hearing that increases in Bush's overall popularity numbers have been coming out of states that were going to go for him, anyway. Instead of getting 55 percent of the vote in Georgia, for example, maybe now he's at 60 percent. But in the battleground states where Kerry is actually competing, and the various 527s and PACs are running ads, Kerry has been creeping ahead.


IMO what's happening is that Red State voters are still getting the Bush message. They're getting it from Faux (and other) News and radio ranters like Limbaugh and Ingraham. But they're not getting Kerry's message unless they get it through blogs or Air America radio.


But in states where the voters actually get a chance to look at Kerry directly -- not through right-wing news filters -- they're moving in his direction.


This leads me to more questions. Why is it so hard for the candidate of one of the two dominant political parties to present himself to the American people? I read from several sources that many voters saw Kerry for the first time during the debates. But the man has been running for president for months. He's been the nominee-presumptive since at least early March. Why hadn't people seen more of him? Is it because the voters weren't paying attention? Or because news media ignored him? Is it the fact that most political coverage is done by party hacks and not journalists?


Several recent news stories revealed that Bush supporters are less likely to understand current events than Kerry voters. What does that say about Bush supporters? What does that say about news media?


You are a bright group, and I hope you will share your thoughts.

11:26 am | link

Watch This Space
I'm trying to wrap my head around news coverage of the Iraq explosives issue -- the QaQaa Ca-Ca, as it were. Are the newsies getting the story right, and will it impact the election?
I'm workin' on it.
Meanwhile, you might enjoy this prediction of a Kerry victory one week from today.  And since it's Tuesday, it's time for Paul Krugman.
8:16 am | link

monday, october 25, 2004

William H. Rehnquist Hospitalized
The U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice is hospitalized with thyroid cancer, CNN says. He's in intensive care right now. No word yet on whether he plans to retire from the court soon. However, he's 80 years old, and it's a good bet he's going to retire eventually.
This is a big reminder of why our futures depend on a Kerry victory next week. Justice Rehnquist won't be the only SCOTUS member to retire in the next four years. 
12:03 pm | link

Blown Up, or Just Blown?

This is a follow up on yesterday's "Why We're Screwed" post on the missing 350 tons of high explosives:

This story has the potential to break the presidential race wide open, if it’s reported. So, is it being reported?

I flipped on the “Today Show” this morning to see now N BC News would deal with it. The answer is, not well. After several minutes of campaign news, Ann Curry read a couple of sentences about the explosives that implied the explosives were stolen recently and it was Iraq’s fault. She made no connection between the explosives and recent insurgent bombings that killed both U.S. soldiers and Iraqis.

On the positive side, the New York Times has a big, in-depth, above-the-fold front-page story about the explosives. The Times makes it clear the explosives were stolen some time last year because there were insufficient U.S. troops to keep them secure.

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

The White House said President Bush’s national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, was informed within the past month that the explosives were missing. It is unclear whether President Bush was informed. American officials have never publicly announced the disappearance, but beginning last week they answered questions about it posed by The New York Times and the CBS News program “60 Minutes.”

(I didn’t see “60 Minutes” last night, but I haven’t heard that the program had a segment on the missing weapons. Before the election, maybe?)

Most other news outlets, such as the Washington Post and CNN, picked up an Associated Press story on the weapons. The opening grafs of the AP story give the impression that, somehow, Iraq lost the explosives recently – “The Iraqis told the agency the materials had been stolen and looted because of a lack of security at governmental installations.” You have to read a few paragraphs further to find out that the explosives were stolen some time last year while the U.S. was supposedly in charge.

As of this writing – Knight Ridder, which has given us some excellent reporting this year, doesn’t have it yet. Reuters doesn’t have it yet.

Josh Marshall, who broke the story on the web yesterday, is also disturbed by the coverage so far.

If you go to the MSNBC website, the headline on the al Qa Qaa story reads: “Paper: Iraq tells U.S. of missing explosives.”


… The material seems to have been missing since some time shortly after the US invasion of Iraq in March/April 2003. So this isn’t something that just happened. It probably happened some eighteen months ago.

What’s more, the Times piece notes explicitly that Iraqi officials say they told Jerry Bremer about this last May. By definition, that means that the US government knew about this almost six months ago, and while it was still the occupying power.

And all this on top of the fact that IAEA officials have told journalists from several news outlets, including the Nelson Report, that the Bush administration not only failed to notify the IAEA of this while the US was still the occupying power but has pressured the Iraqis not to inform the IAEA both before and after the July 1st handover of power.

Are those facts covered by “Iraq tells U.S. of missing explosives"?

The New York Times makes it clear that this was another Bushie screwup.

The International Atomic Energy Agency publicly warned about the danger of these explosives before the war, and after the invasion it specifically told United States officials about the need to keep the explosives secured, European diplomats said in interviews last week. Administration officials say they cannot explain why the explosives were not safeguarded, beyond the fact that the occupation force was overwhelmed by the amount of munitions they found throughout the country.

You have to read the Times story to appreciate the various excuses the Bushies are throwing out, including “we don’t think this is a nuclear proliferation problem” and “there was a lot of other stuff we didn’t lose.”

The IAEA called it “the greatest explosives bonanza in history.”

We can hope that more details will get into news coverage today.

Juan Cole has some good perspective on this story at Informed Comment.

9:33 am | link

sunday, october 24, 2004

Why We're Screwed
Update: The New York Times has the story. I believe it just went up on their web site.
7:29 pm | link

Signs II
This story from the Los Angeles Times deserves a close reading.
El Shrubbo pulled off some faux military helicopter-landing stunt in Lakeland, Florida, yesterday. From there he went to  Lakeland, Melbourne, and Jacksonville. Note this a few paragraphs from the top:
All four cities are in Republican areas, suggesting the campaign was aiming its message less at undecided voters than at the party faithful working to turn out Bush voters on Nov. 2.

Campaign workers estimated the crowd in Jacksonville at 50,000; however the stadium, which holds 76,877, was only half-full.
A crowd of 35,000 or so is still pretty impressive, I suppose. But yesterday Big Time bombed, big time:
At a sparsely attended rally in Farmington, N.M. — about 500 people left a high school gymnasium half-empty — Cheney said that 20 years ago, Kerry proposed "doing away with many of the major weapons systems that Ronald Reagan used to win the Cold War…. So, if John Kerry had been in charge, maybe the Soviet Union would still be in business," the vice president said.
(I'm going to overlook the fact that Dick's slippin' the old tether to reality. One of these days he's going to float away entirely, sparks fizzling out of his ears. I hope somebody's there to film it when it happens.)
This Washington Post article deserves a close reading, too.
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. ... 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."

We have reason to hope.
1:04 pm | link

One enormously underreported fact of Election 2000 is that at 9:26 pm eastern time, just after polls closed in Florida, Mercury came out of retrograde.
(Note: if "Mercury retrograde" doesn't mean anything to you, you might want to skip the rest of this post.)
I'm not saying the planet Mercury is responsible for the Florida fiasco, but it can't have helped, either. That was an unusually unstable moment, astrologically speaking.
I've been looking at a retrograde chart for 2004 for possible influences. The only remarkable aspect I see is that Uranus is retrograde in Pisces now and will be so until November 11. I interpret this to mean that nothing is as it seems. The election results could be a big surprise. On the other hand, Pisces might keep the results murky for a while.
There's an astrological chart for the 2004 election here. I don't see anything alarming, but maybe I'm missing something. Venus and Jupiter are conjunct in Libra in the second house, which might tell us that the outcome of the election will be beneficial for the economy. Sun in Virgo in the third house is trine moon in Pisces in the eleventh house, which seems to me to be a good thing. Maybe election day will be more harmonious than we anticipate.
10:08 am | link

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"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." --Theodore Roosevelt, 1918


The War Prayer

I come from the Throne -- bearing a message from Almighty God!... He has heard the prayer of His servant, your shepherd, & will grant it if such shall be your desire after I His messenger shall have explained to you its import -- that is to say its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of -- except he pause & think.

"God's servant & yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused & taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two -- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him who heareth all supplications, the spoken & the unspoken....

"You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the pastor -- and also you in your hearts -- fervently prayed, silently. And ignorantly & unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is completed into those pregnant words.

"Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe.

"O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended through wastes of their desolated land in rags & hunger & thirst, sport of the sun-flames of summer & the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave & denied it -- for our sakes, who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask of one who is the Spirit of love & who is the ever-faithful refuge & friend of all that are sore beset, & seek His aid with humble & contrite hearts. Grant our prayer, O Lord & Thine shall be the praise & honor & glory now & ever, Amen."

(After a pause.) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! -- the messenger of the Most High waits."

·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·

It was believed, afterward, that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

[Mark Twain, 1905]

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