Tuesday, August 31, 2004


This is something I just discovered. Back in 2002, Michael Kranish of the Boston Globe wrote about how Harken Energy bailed out George Bush by buying his failing company, Spectrum 7. The part that surprises me is that Harken was a George Soros company.
"President George Bush's business affairs remain in political focus, with the billionaire United States investor George Soros quoted as saying that Harken Energy bought a Texas oil company run by Mr Bush in 1986 because 'we were buying political influence'.

Mr Soros owned nearly one-third of Harken at the time the deal was done.

Mr Soros, who is one of the world's most powerful financial market players, was offering a reason why Harken bought Spectrum7, a failing oil company that was then run by Mr Bush.

In an article posted on the Web site of the magazine The Nation, David Corn, the magazine's Washington editor, said he happened to run into Mr Soros at a party recently and asked him why Harken had bought Mr Bush's company.

'I didn't know him,' Corn quoted Mr Soros as saying. 'He was supposed to bring in the Gulf connection. But it didn't come to anything. We were buying political influence. That was it. He was not much of a businessman.' "
In fairness to Mr. Soros the Spectrum 7 deal was not a Soros initiative. His executives made that decision. But it gives you an idea of why Soros is working so hard to get Bush out of office. He knows something about his true abilities (or lack thereof).

Justice Department Censors Supreme Court Quote about Censorship

If this wasn't true, it would be funny.

Sadly, No!: Now that's an accomplishment!

Bush's number one accomplishment is false. But maybe that's the real story. The only way an accomplishment can be posted is by cooking the figures.

Saletan gets it

In Being There - What does 9/11 tell us about Bush? Nothing he says:
"The ultimate testament to Bush's manhood, supposedly, is the two wars he launched. As McCain put it, 'He ordered American forces to Afghanistan' and 'made the difficult decision to liberate Iraq.' But the salient word in each of those boasts is the verb. Bush gives orders and makes decisions. He doesn't take personal risks. He never has.

I don't mean to be unfair to Bush. Vietnam was a lousy war. He wanted a way out, and he found it. But isn't it odd to see Republicans belittle the physical risks Kerry took in battle while exalting Bush's armchair wars and post-9/11 photo ops? Isn't it embarrassing to see Bob Dole, the GOP's previous presidential nominee, praise Bush's heroism while suggesting that Kerry's three combat wounds weren't bad enough to justify sending him home from Vietnam?

Watching the attacks on Kerry and the glorification of Bush reminds me of something Dole said in his speech to the Republican convention eight years ago. It was 'demeaning to the nation,' Dole argued, to be governed by people 'who never grew up, never did anything real, never sacrificed, never suffered and never learned.'

You tell me which of this year's presidential candidates that statement best describes."

Swing Voters

Digby takes a shot at those still on the fence.
"These people cannot connect their own lives to the actions of the government in any coherent fashion. And they either love being seen as 'above partisan politics' or they simply don't get the warring philosophies of the two parties. Their decision making process is incomprehensible and I'm not sure how you can fashion a message for them that makes any sense. They don't make any sense.

As Tom Tommorrow pointed out, it's frightening that the fate of the nation and perhaps the world relies on these people. They literally don't know their own minds. "

25 Things We Now Know Three Years After 9/11

Reference Link

It can't be that easy

Is it really this easy to get a Republican incumbent congressman to drop out of the race? Just allege that he is gay? No one ever told us!

Hey, Doc! Who was that good-looking fellow I saw you with last night!

Latest Soros smear

Soon to be appearing at right-wing outlets everywhere. "Soros gives money to liberal causes so drugs will be legalized." Started by Hastert and repeated yesterday by Gingrich. Let's see who is next.

Update: Gingrich statement is essentially correct. I don't doubt that he said it to reflect negatively on Mr. Soros. The fact is that Soros is a strong proponent and supporter of replacing the criminalization of drugs (which has its problems) with a "harm-mitigation" approach to drug use. So instead of characterizing the comment as a smear I guess I should thank Newt for the publicity for the cause.

Too Bad--1

It's too bad that SBVT supporters are recipients of $40 million government grants and long-time Republican supporters. And they tend to be coy about the fact of their support.

Military at convention

In violation of the code of military conduct.
Why are the Republicans encouraging our soldiers to violate the Uniform Code of Military Justice and its stated rules of political engagement? And why for goodness sakes, aren’t these rules being enforced?

Update: In turns out that the soldiers are within their rights because they are reservists not on active duty. My apologies to them.

Aircraft Speed Record

New record for jet-powered aircraft, Mach 7. Previous record, Mach 3. Not too shabby.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Rinse and Repeat

Digby has some pointed words for IC 2 shenanigans.
"Once again we see a marked 'impatience' with the unfortunately cumbersome working of democratic government. That this may have happened for the second time in twenty years featuring many of the same people is a pretty clear indication that letting bygones be bygones will not do when dealing with this sort of traitorous, undemocratic behavior. The stakes are a hell of a lot higher now that they ae crashing airplanes into NYC skyscrapers. If there is an immediate lesson to be gleaned by the people, perhaps the simplest is that when you have a stupid and easily manipulated man at the head of the government, his minions and courtiers spend all their time jockeying for position and finding shortcuts to get their way. If Kerry happens to win he really must bite the bullet and see that this is investigated and people are brought up on charges. It's completely unbelievable that these same players came back into government and ran their game all over again. Unbelievable."

Friday, August 27, 2004

What is it going to take?

What is it going to take to put these Swift Boat critics back where they crawled from? As always Bob Somerby takes the press to task about its abysmal reporting on this issue. He also summarizes the latest holes in the SBVT web of mis-truths.
So let’s go to the scoreboard again, the one we toted on Monday. Every crewman on Kerry’s boat says they were under hostile fire. Rassmann, the man whose life was saved, says there was hostile fire too. And now, three different crewmen from two other boats have also come forward to describe hostile fire. Let’s make sure we recall who they are. You won’t hear about them on cable:

1. Wayne Langhofer, PCF-43 (skipper: Dan Droz). Reported by the Washington Post, 8/22/04.
2. Jim Russell, PCF-43 (skipper: Dan Droz). Reported by the Associated Press, 8/23/04.
3. Robert Lambert, PCF-51 (skipper: Larry Thurlow). Reported by the Mail Tribune, 8/26/04.

These men join Kerry’s entire crew and Rassmann in saying there was enemy fire. Meanwhile, Newsweek’s John Barry reported yesterday that Lambert’s Bronze Star citation describes “small-arms and automatic weapons fire from the river banks.” There was no chance that this account could have come from Kerry, he said.
Nor is this the only incident in which Kerry has received recent support. On Sunday, the Chicago Tribune’s William Rood wrote a front-page essay supporting Kerry’s account of the Silver Star incident, in which Kerry saved the lives of his crew. Aside from Kerry himself, Rood is the only surviving officer who witnessed the events of that day. Rood complained that the Swift Boat Vets were “armed with stories I know to be untrue.” He twice mentioned John O’Neill by name, directly contradicting his accounts of this incident. (In today’s New York Times, the widow of that day’s third officer also supports Kerry’s view. More below.)
Now about that one holdout:
All Kerry’s crewmates admired his leadership. Except for one hold-out—Steve Gardner:

BRINKLEY (3/9/04): Every sailor who served under Lieutenant John Kerry on Swift boats PCF-44 and PCF-94 have gushed about his poise under enemy fire. They tell stories of his rescuing a Green Beret from drowning, killing a Viet Cong sniper, and saving 42 Vietnamese civilians from starvation. To paraphrase Ernest Hemingway they claim that in combat Kerry exemplified “grace under pressure.” But PCF-44 Gunner’s Mate Stephen M. Gardner—in a long telephone interview from his home in Clover, South Carolina—has a starkly different memory. “Kerry was chickenshit,” he insists. “Whenever a firefight started he always pulled up stakes and got the hell out of Dodge.”
What do the other crew member have to say about Gardner?
(According to Brinkley, Gardner “was nicknamed ‘The Wild Man’ by his crewmates for his hair-trigger penchant for firing M-60s into the mangrove thicket.”) No, Brinkley’s view can’t be taken as gospel. But as pundits watch Gardner’s rants on TV, can they avoid a sense of unease with this man whose accounts they’ve helped peddle?
Somerby then comments on how Gardner rolled Deborah Norville:
But on last night’s program, Norville displayed almost no knowledge of any part of the Swift Boat affair. And Gardner, of course, took total advantage. “Were you anywhere close to Cambodia?” His answer was absurdly disingenuous:

GARDNER (continuing directly): Well, let’s clarify what you just said. John Kerry has already admitted that he was not in Cambodia when he was—on Christmas of 1968. He was setting in the city of Sa Dec, which is a small town fifty-some miles from the Cambodian border. Now that’s in his words, from his diary.

And yes, that is in Kerry’s diary. Kerry spent the evening of December 24 in Sa Dec, as Brinkley notes in Tour of Duty (page 219), quoting Kerry’s journal. But as Gardner knows—though Norville does not—Brinkley spends the ten previous pages describing the rest of that “memorable” day. Were they anywhere close to Cambodia? The answer to Norville’s question was quite simple—yes:

BRINKLEY (page 209): Christmas Eve, 1968, turned out to be memorable for the men of PCF-44 though not in the jingle-bells sense folks were enjoying back home. The only concession to the holiday spirit was that morning’s rare breakfast of scrambled eggs, after which the crew headed their Swift north [from Sa Dec] up the Co Chien river to its junction with the My Tho only miles from the Cambodian border.
And furthermore:
For the next ten pages, Brinkley—quoting from Kerry’s journal—describes the firefights the crew engaged in that day. For Wasser, the combat this day was life-changing (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/26/04)—and yes, these events took place “at a bend just as they were approaching the Cambodian border” (page 214). Were they anywhere near the Cambodian border? The answer was simple—yes, they were. And Gardner, who was on the boat that day, knew they hadn’t just sat in Sa Dec. But knowing that Norville was unprepared, he played the grinning blonde for a fool. But then, as we’ve noted all week long, this is the nightly pattern on cable. Swift Boat Vets make misleading, false or irrelevant statements. Millionaire hosts gaze off sweetly off into air.
Of course, there is the testimony of the other living officer, Rood. And finally there is word from the third officer who was present but never made it out of Vietnam, Daniel Droz.
JUDITH DROZ KEYES (8/27/04): On Feb. 28, 1969, my husband was the commander of one of three Swift boats traveling the Dong Cung in Vietnam to carry troops and supplies upriver [Silver Star incident]. The events of that day, and what happened almost two weeks later on another Swift boat patrol [Bronze Star incident], have become a source of controversy in the presidential campaign, with a group of veterans saying that John Kerry did not deserve the medals he won for what he did then. I know my husband thought otherwise.

“I know my husband thought otherwise,” she says, referring to O’Neill’s nasty accounts of the Bronze and Silver Star events. She describes a letter she received from her husband, and personal conversations they had two weeks before his death.

Yes, Daniel Droz died in Vietnam. And last Sunday, O’Neill went on This Week and lied about Droz, right in Stephanopoulos’ face. But can your “press corps” smell a dissembler? Stephanopoulos gazed into air as O’Neill lied about the honored dead.
Like I've said before, truth tends to accumulate evidence over time while lies tend to fall apart. I'm glad that at least some folks in the media have been doing their job to bring the truth out. When this all started, it was all he-said/they-said. But one by one independent witnesses have come forward in support of Kerry's version of the events. Meanwhile, IIRC, every one of the SBVT folks has been demonstrated to be already in the Republican camp before they came out with their versions.

And furthermore, their whole premise is bogus. Does it really make sense for Kerry to volunteer for in-country duty just to fabricate tales in order to pick up a few medals so he could go back and start a political career iv the VVAW? That's really what SBVT are asking the world to believe. If you are going to propose an alternate history it should at least be plausible and this is definitely not.

Now can we get back to some issues? Like poor judgement that will most likely kill 1000 of our servicemen before the elections are held. Or embarrassing predictions about how many jobs a tax cut would create. Or a prescription drug bill that primarily benefits pharmaceutical companies. Or a completely irresponsible management of the country's finances by reducing revenues and expanding spending. Or a shifting of the tax burden away from people for whom money is only a way to keep score and towards people who have to work two jobs to pay the bills. Or to the watering down of real scientific input to regulations and decision-making. Or to a major rollback of environmental regulation and enforcement. Or to a lapse of enforcement of existing regulations in our financial markets. Or convenient paralysis in an energy crisis that allowed friendly corporations to practically steal from consumers.

Can we?

Ben Barnes confession

Dayyim Ben, Testify! A video in which he admits he got Bush into TANG when he was Lt. Gov. He apologizes.

From Josh Marshall we get the text:
Let’s talk a minute about John Kerry and George Bush and I know them both. And I’m not name dropping to say I know ‘em both. I got a young man named George W. Bush in the National Guard when I was Lt. Gov. of Texas and I’m not necessarily proud of that. But I did it. And I got a lot of other people into the National Guard because I thought that was what people should do, when you're in office you helped a lot of rich people. And I walked through the Vietnam Memorial the other day and I looked at the names of the people that died in Vietnam and I became more ashamed of myself than I have ever been because it was the worst thing that I did was that I helped a lot of wealthy supporters and a lot of people who had family names of importance get into the National Guard and I’m very sorry about that and I’m very ashamed and I apologize to you as voters of Texas.

Update: More from the video from Atrios,
Cut to Interview:
"John Kerry volunteered to go to Vietnam. And that was a pretty courageous thing, because John Kerry could have gone on and gotten another degree. He was in a position where he didn't have to go to Vietnam. I admired that so much, that he went. But I admired even more the fact that he came back talking about Vietnam and what a mistake it was. A matter of fact he talked about it so much that he got the FBI looking at him and got on Richard Nixon's list. And that took, that takes a lot of courage of a young man who particularly has an interest in politics and that wants to serve this county to go get on the President's black list. And I know a little bit about that because I got on Richard Nixon's black list also, and that's a story for another time. But it's, it's incredible that John Kerry, uhh, had the courage to go do that. And, you know, I think he deserves to be in Profiles of Courage for his service in Vietnam. But I also think, and I'm not upset with him at all that he came back and, and, talked about Vietnam and said that we were wrong. And I think he deserves equally as much credit for that as he does fighting. We should not look upon anyone that disagreed with our Vietnam policy as being unpatriotic. As we should not look upon anyone today that disagrees with our policy, or our lack of policy in Iraq. I am very unhappy with Republicans that want to make anyone that questions this administration's policy in Iraq is, is not being a freedom loving American."

Cut back to him speaking to the audience:
"And I tell you, for the Republicans to jump on John Kerry and say that he's not a patriot, after he went to Vietnam and was shot at and fought for our freedom and came back here and protested against the war - "he's a flip flopper." Let me tell you, John Kerry is 100 times a better patriot than George Bush or Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld."

Ginsberg under the microscope

A strict reading of the Rules of Professional Conduct of the DC bar places SBVT attorney Ben Ginsberg in violation of a couple of them. (via Atrios)

He's poisoning pregnant women!

In another one from Josh, he tries to follow up on what nasty things the Democratic-flavored 527s have been saying about Bush. The thing that keeps popping up is the "poisoning pregnant women" thing. Josh finds that the ad in question is one from MoveOn that connects the following dots:

.Coal-fired power companies are major contributors to the 2000 Bush campaign.
.These power plants are also major mercury contributors to the local water supplies.
.Bush is seeking a relaxation of mercury-contamination standards.
.Mercury can cause birth defects and learning disabilities.

In a discussion about the ad on CNN, Karenna Gore Schiff makes the comment "I think that this policy does put babies at risk, because mercury is a very potent neurotoxin."

All these are true statements and are proper points to consider in the debate about mercury standards and regulation to remediate the problem. But when this goes through the Bush spin machine it comes out as "poisoning pregnant women".
...Republicans are having difficulty -- willful or otherwise -- in distinguishing between negative and/or hard-hitting ads and ones that peddle demonstrable falsehoods -- i.e., smears. (You know, it's that old, hard distinction between 'mean' and 'untrue'.) And, frankly, everything I've seen thus far lends credence to my assumption.
and later ...
"But it seems pretty clear to me that the Bush camp is lying almost as much about the Democratic independent expenditure ads as they're lying in the smears they're running about John Kerry's military service."
Let's be very clear. I've heard no one grossly exaggerate and mischaracterize the SBVT claims as the Republicans have had to do to the MoveOn claims to come up with something to be upset about. I guess "keeping us from relaxing mercury standards" just doesn't have the bite that "poisoning pregnant women" has. One should begin to wonder whether the Republican side has any real case to object at all when they have to go to such lengths to trump one up.

As I've said before it's Rinse and Repeat.

Democrats! This is their achilles heel! They can't get any traction on real issues so they have to gin up their outrage. We don't need to argue our side of the case. We just need to keep exposing the frivilousness of theirs.

Swift detritus

If one were to allow that everything the SBVT is indeed true (and I don't think for moment that it is) that would mean, in Josh Marshall's words:
"...Kerry made sure he could get into 'Nam to string together a few bogus injuries so he could head back to the states and crank up the political career?"
Now that's pretty darn clever of him, don't you think?

Where the shadows lie

From Scott Rosenberg:
You can find the heart of the president's subterfuge in that tenebrous adjective. Shadowy, of course, is bad. Shadowy is covert. Shadowy is dark. Shadowy is scary. Shadowy is al-Qaida.

Bush wants us to associate these qualities with all 527s. But the charge doesn't stick. Certainly, it's fair to apply it to the Swift Boat Veterans group, which emerged out of nowhere, fired its fusillade against John Kerry, and only then began to be exposed as an entity funded and organized by close associates (and in some cases actual officials) of the Bush campaign.

That qualifies as "shadowy" in my book. But the most prominent 527 on the other side of the political field is MoveOn.org -- and calling MoveOn "shadowy" is absurd. The group is the very model of a transparent organization. Its every decision is planned and vetted openly online. Its sources of funding are well-known. Its history dating back to the Clinton impeachment saga is fully chronicled. If the Swift Boat Veterans group were a true grassroots operation with a track record like MoveOn's, we wouldn't be having this argument today: If millions of Americans were genuinely outraged about John Kerry's war record the way millions of MoveOn supporters are outraged about George Bush's presidential record, Kerry would never have made it to the primaries' starting gate.

But the Swift Boat Veterans aren't a mass movement, they're a political dirty trick. And the immediate issue with them -- the reason people are demanding that Bush repudiate them -- is not that they're a 527. The problem is that the group's charges are false.

There's a legitimate debate worth having over whether 527s represent a good or a bad thing in the McCain-Feingold campaign finance era. But the Bush campaign isn't truly interested in that issue. Having surreptitiously and effectively launched a smear campaign against its opponent from the cover of a 527 organization, the Bush team now petulantly insists, "Everybody does it and everybody should stop!" The childishness of the tactic speaks for itself.

Family Income Down, Poverty Up

Call it the Bush Effect. The distribution of incomes heads south.
The big news was that real median household income actually fell 0.1 percent -- from $43,381 to $43,318 -- during the fairly robust recovery in 2003. And ever since the beginning of George W. Bush's presidency in 2000, median household income has dropped a whopping 3.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the poor get poorer and the rich get richer. The poorest 20 percent of U.S. households saw their average income decline 1.9 percent between 2002 and 2003. The wealthiest 20 percent, for their part, enjoyed a 1.1 percent increase in average income over the same time.

Bitter Medicine

A couple of books that look like good reading.
These stories about the unholy alliance between the pharmaceutical industry, researchers, and doctors may have seemed, to the casual observer, like nothing more than isolated blips. Sad to say—as these surprisingly bare-knuckled books by the last two editors-in-chief at the New England Journal of Medicine make clear—such accounts provide a mere glimpse of the corruption of medical science.

Home Computers Aid Efforts To Develop New Medications

If I allow my home computer to be used to sift drug compounds will I get a cut of all that money that flows into big pharmaceutical companies?

Vast New Energy Source Almost Here

Titanium oxide ceramics, sunshine, and water could be a big source of hydrogen fuel in the not-too-distant future. Australian scientists expect to develop the key material in about 7 years. The process would have no moving parts and emit no greenhouse gases.

Thursday, August 26, 2004


How about this for a strategy? Let MoveOn bank up a bunch of truthful but critical anti-Bush ads. Then let one out every time a truly "shadowy 527" runs a smear about Kerry. After each one makes the initial splash, wait for Kerry to condemn it. When he does, drop it and wait for the next negative ad. Kerry will be clearly in opposition to the tactics of negative campaigning yet there will be no ground ceded to Karl Rove. You could even publicly announce that such is your plan. When the negative ads stop coming from the Bush surrogates, MoveOn also stops. In this way the political debate will be not so much controlled as it is trained.

Swift boat memories

This Bush supporter confirms Kerry's Swift boat account.
Robert E. Lambert doesn’t plan to vote for John Kerry.

But the Eagle Point man challenges claims by a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that there was no enemy fire aimed at the five swift boats, including the one commanded by Kerry, on March 13, 1969 on the Bay Hap River in the southern tip of what was then South Vietnam.
From his account it is also clear that Kerry could not be the sole source of the accounts used to hand out the medals for that day. People received medals for actions that day that Kerry didn't know about. Lambert says that medal decisions were made at higher levels where any single report would be corroborated by other reports.

Newsweek confirms this point that witnesses other than Kerry had to have filed corroborating reports for Thurlow to get his medal.

Global Warming is Real

Even the current administration thinks so.

Simulations of global temperature both with and without human factors show that since 1960 there has been a clear human-driven upward trend.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

God is Not a Republican. Or a Democrat.

Brother Dean exhorted us to take back our party and our country. Sorjourners exhorts us to take back our faith.:
"We are not single-issue voters.

We believe that poverty - caring for the poor and vulnerable - is a religious issue. Do the candidates' budget and tax policies reward the rich or show compassion for poor families? Do their foreign policies include fair trade and debt cancellation for the poorest countries? (Matthew 25:35-40, Isaiah 10:1-2)

We believe that the environment - caring for God's earth - is a religious issue. Do the candidates' policies protect the creation or serve corporate interests that damage it? (Genesis 2:15, Psalm 24:1)

We believe that war - and our call to be peacemakers - is a religious issue. Do the candidates' policies pursue 'wars of choice' or respect international law and cooperation in responding to real global threats? (Matthew 5:9)

We believe that truth-telling is a religious issue. Do the candidates tell the truth in justifying war and in other foreign and domestic policies? (John 8:32)

We believe that human rights - respecting the image of God in every person - is a religious issue. How do the candidates propose to change the attitudes and policies that led to the abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners? (Genesis 1:27)

We believe that our response to terrorism is a religious issue. Do the candidates adopt the dangerous language of righteous empire in the war on terrorism and confuse the roles of God, church, and nation? Do the candidates see evil only in our enemies but never in our own policies? (Matthew 6:33, Proverbs 8:12-13 )

We believe that a consistent ethic of human life is a religious issue. Do the candidates' positions on abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, weapons of mass destruction, HIV/AIDS-and other pandemics-and genocide around the world obey the biblical injunction to choose life? (Deuteronomy 30:19)"

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Read this list of Bush-Cheney distortions of Kerry's words and see how these people campaign. If you can't argue with a person's point, distort into something you can argue with. Rinse and repeat.

Questions, Questions

Yeah, what The Poor Man said.
"There are two major objections to pressing the issue on Bush's military service: first, that it doesn't matter because it was a long time ago, and secondly, that it doesn't matter because it is making too much of a big deal out of military service. The first one is easily dismissed: while the behavior ended thirty years ago, the lie is ongoing. As to the second: I don't think that military service should be mandatory for Presidents, and I don't think that we should select our leaders based on who won the most medals (I don't believe we are ready for a President Mary Lou Retton). But military service, particularly combat service, is a part of a person's biography, and, if we want to take the measure of a person, we can look there for evidence of physical and moral courage. Or, physical and moral cowardice. Issues which are surprisingly relevant today."

Bad Press

Standard Right-Wing Fogging Technique.

1. Have one of your hacks ask an apparently pointed question but include some false fluff details in it.
2. The respondent then gives a categorical denial that can be tossed into the echo chamber.
3. In fact the main point of the question is not deniable but because of the fluff you now have a sound bite that sounds like a denial of the main point.

Rinse and repeat.

Some Thoughts on Health Care

Brad Delong shares. (Just in case anyone happens to be really interested in issues in this campaign.)
In this context, it is heartening to see that John Kerry's healthcare advisers have been thinking hard about steps forward. They are, alas, only baby steps: even proposals that look big from a federal budget perspective are small, given that America will spend $8,000bn on healthcare over the next five years. But they are steps forward.

The most important element is that Mr Kerry's people have dusted off a clever idea from Stuart Altman of Brandeis University: the government reinsures private insurers and HMOs by constructing a “premium rebate” pool to pay annual healthcare bills over $50,000. This greatly diminishes the cost to insurers and HMOs of covering the really sick, and diminishes their incentive to make sure they do not provide insurance to anyone who needs it. Insurance rates fall and, as they fall, the incentive for the healthy to go uninsured falls. It is a serious and clever proposal for the government to do something - spread risk - for which it has, potentially at least, a powerful comparative advantage. It is a government programme that would significantly diminish the market failures that gum up the private-sector portion of the healthcare-financing system.

It is a Kerry idea. But why is it not a Bush idea, too? What reason does a Bush administration have for existing, if not to lay the foundations for the market system to work its powerful magic? And what does the Bush campaign need more right now than credible proposals to show that it is serious about improving opportunity for Americans, not just millionaires?

GOP Delegates Meet With Anti-Bush Signs

New York prepares for the RNC.

Ghost war

A measure of the man is what he has attempted to do for the country as a whole.
"Some thought Kerry was overdoing his Vietnam credentials with his theatrics of 'reporting for duty.' But Kerry was on to an essential truth about the America that emerged from Vietnam: That duty begins when you open your eyes in the dark face of reality. It is the same truth with which he closed his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee 33 years ago:

'We wish that a merciful God could wipe away our own memories of that service as easily as this administration has wiped away their memories of us. But all that they have done, and all that they can do by this denial, is to make more clear than ever our own determination to undertake one last mission: To search out and destroy the last vestige of this barbaric war; to pacify our own hearts; to conquer the hate and fear that have driven this country these last 10 years and more. And more. And so, when, 30 years from now, our brothers go down the street without a leg, without an arm, or a face, and small boys ask why, we will be able to say 'Vietnam' and not mean a desert, not a filthy obscene memory, but mean instead where America finally turned, and where soldiers like us helped it in the turning. '

'One last mission': The turning is still in progress."

Skilled Labor in High Demand

Here's an issue a prospective candidate should address. How do we produce more skilled workers who can take the jobs for which employers are actually hiring?

10 Nobel economists endorse Kerry

When it comes to economist intellectual muscle, it's on Kerry's side.

It's Scooter!

It looks like Scooter Libby outed Plame. Just as many had speculated.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Moral Cowardice

Josh Marshall nails Bush with the C-word.
"If there's a problem, he denies it or finds someone else to take the fall for him.

Everyone has these tendencies in their measure. No one is perfect. But they define George W. Bush.

The same sort of moral cowardice that led him to support the Vietnam war but decide it wasn't for him, run companies into the ground and let others pay the bill, play gutter politics but run for the hills when someone asks him to say it to their face, those are the same qualities that led the president to lie the country into war, fail to prepare for the aftermath and then refuse to take responsibility for any of it when the bill started to come due.

That's the argument John Kerry needs to be making. And he needs to make it right now."

Time for a new google-bomb, Coward.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Perhaps too much credit

Given the known Karl Rove modus operandi, the Kerry campaign had to know that the opposition would do anything but campaign on the issues. They had to know that the only tool BC04 has is the personal slur. So if you know the enemy is going to fight dirty, what do you do? You make sure that he makes his attack on your turf.

Back in the spring the SBVT had tipped their hand. I wouldn't be surprised that some bright person in the campaign thought that since Kerry had a slam dunk on the Vietnam department, why not tempt the Bushies to attack down that trail? The whole "band of brothers" scenario could have been a subtle baiting of the trap. What better way to demonstrate your ability for leadership in a tough fight than to obliterate the opposition by suckering them into a successful ambush? It demonstrates your skill and exposes their incompetence in one fell swoop.

It would be nice to think the Kerry campaign was actually that heads-up. But even if they didn't plan it that way, they have certainly executed it as if they had.

Mr. Bush's Vietnam Era Activities

So, Mr. President, what were you doing while John Kerry was collecting Purple Hearts? Scroll down for the transcript of an NPR interview with the people who actually did see him in Alabama.
We all know by now that Bush did not even do his full service with the Texas Air National Guard, absenting himself to work on the Alabama senate campaign of Winton "Red" Blount. Whether he was actually AWOL during this stint is unclear. But it is clear that not only did Bush slack off on his National Guard service, but he also slacked off from his campaign work.


I sure hope the indictments on the outing of Valery Plame come out before the election. But if they don't I'm still confident that the American people will have done the right thing by then anyway. I see a scenario where some of these guys go from the White House to the Big House.

Anatomy of a smear

It says a lot about the integrity of Kerry's critics and the value of their criticisms when the only ammunition they have are quotes that have been edited to distort their original meaning. I sense a pattern here and I hope that the American public gets wise to it soon. Why should we elect a president who can only campaign against a contorted view of his opponents words? Is it too much to ask that he face the issues in a straight-forward manner? Most importantly, what does it say about the kind of man Bush really is?


The Bush White House only has poor excuses on the economy but no plan.

Miracle on Probability Street

"Miracles" are actually much more common than we think.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

The Case of the Missing Swift Vet

It appears that a vet in one of the SBVT ads is a member of a Bush campaign steering commitee. Or at least was...until someone noticed. Only then was his name dropped from the Bush website.
Could the mere presence in a Swift Vets ad of a member of a Bush campaign steering committee be considered evidence of coordination between the Bush campaign and the anti-Kerry vets? Perhaps, perhaps not, but it should be of interest to the FEC and the Kerry campaign’s attorneys.

Get Back to the Issues

Great new ad from the Kerry camp. America can do better, indeed.

Friday, August 20, 2004

A New Model

Andrew Tobias points to a recent column by Matt Miller that lays out a model for progressive governmental action.

He uses the example of Hurricane Charley and disaster relief to point out that our society regardless of political persuasion as no problem with providing relief to innocent victims of natural disasters.

Much of what is on the progressive agenda is also in fact disaster relief for innocent victims. Disasters like broad-based unemployment and innocent victims like poor children.

Charley and this history of social progress offer hope by reminding us that deep down, many conservatives are merely liberals waiting to be awakened. They just need a little help connecting the dots when the accident of birth or hand of Fate is less dramatically (but no less truly) a "disaster."

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Open Thread. Subject: Age of Dinosaurs

Time for a little back and forth.

Follow the Money

Kerry fought in the War on Terror back in 1991. Bush, unwittingly, was aiding the other side.

As the presidential campaign enters its final stretch, Kerry's BCCI experience is important for two reasons. First, it reveals Kerry's foresight in fighting terrorism that is critical for any president in this age of asymmetrical threats. As The Washington Post noted, "years before money laundering became a centerpiece of antiterrorist efforts...Kerry crusaded for controls on global money laundering in the name of national security."

Make no mistake about it, BCCI would have been a player. A decade after Kerry helped shut the bank down, the CIA discovered Osama bin Laden was among those with accounts at the bank. A French intelligence report obtained by The Washington Post in 2002 identified dozens of companies and individuals who were involved with BCCI and were found to be dealing with bin Laden after the bank collapsed, and that the financial network operated by bin Laden today "is similar to the network put in place in the 1980s by BCCI." As one senior U.S. investigator said in 2002, "BCCI was the mother and father of terrorist financing operations."

Margins of Error

Reference Link. How to really interpret poll numbers and margins of error.

Technology vs. Torture

New technologies promise to obliterate the arguments for the necessity of torture. In other words we are quite close to true lie-detection capabilities. Time to activate the 5th-amendment watchdogs.

Protests help pass environmental laws

"Taking to the streets to demonstrate and protest is more effective than working inside the system to influence the passage of pro-environmental legislation in the United States, according to a new study analyzing the impact of the environmental movement. The study also found that a pro-environmental bill has a much better chance of being approved by Congress when Democrats are the majority party, but contrary to public perception, a bill's odds of passage actually decrease slightly under a Democratic president."

Synthetic drug offers malaria hope

Finally a product to deal with a disease that kills more that a million people each year.

Leukaemia risk for kids living near petrol stops

Another reason to move away from a petroleum-based transportation system.

Paradoxically, African Railroad Keeps Habitat Intact

When a series of cyclones buried large portions of a railroad in Madagascar it was doubtful that resources could be found to repair it. But a cost-benefit analysis showed that only the railroad could save the forest. Without it local farmers would turn from cash crops that needed to be shipped to slash-and-burn subsistence farming in the forest. Because of that analysis donor groups were found that made the railroad repair possible.

Global Warming in National Geographic Magazine

The September issue of the National G focuses on what we know and what we don't know about global warming. Glaciers that have been around for thousands of years are disappearing. How much are we to blame?

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Energy Technology

A couple of quick hits on the energy front.

Thin Film Fuel Cells May Obsolesce Large Electric Plants

Glass Coating Reflects More Heat At Higher Temperatures

Veterans Battle Over the Truth

A definitive account of Kerry's Swift Boat actions is in the LA Times. The SBVT should fold their tent and quietly go home.

Spy vs. Spy?

Josh Marshall flags a theory by Hasain Haqqani that the Naeem Noor Khan name-leak was not so much bumbling by the White House and Pakistani administrations as a deliberate counter-counter-espionage move taken by al-Qaida sympathizers inside Pakistan's security organization. Interesting.

But also troubling if the White House was able to be duped into taking the fall for it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

The rape continues

While all eyes are on the horse race the Bush administration is quietly setting environmental progress back by decades.

Science takes the hindmost....

It seems that industry lobbyists have found a way to legally ignore science that doesn't go their way. The Data Quality Act was snuck into the 2000 appropriations bill. It works out that the act is written such that the people who may know the most about a particular bit of environmental issue can have their studies ignored in the regulatory process. Essentially the only voices heard will be the ones of industry. Mother Earth better brace herself.

Presidential General Election Results

Reference link. (Gore won the popular vote)

Light-Activated Glue Holds, Releases in a Flash

In fixtures for machining vacuum can only hold light loads and magnets can only hold ferrous materials. But an instant set and release glue seems intriguing.

Future Heat Waves

As if to punctuate what is happening on the global climate front, we have this.

Technology Already Exists To Stabilize Global Warming

While it can be argued whether humans are significant contributors to global warming, as glaciers and polar caps melt it is certain that something is happening out there. This article from some Princeton scientists points out that we have the means at hand to do something about it. The human component of CO2 emissions can be brought under control and stabilized at the current levels with technologies that we have today. Furthermore, this strategic shift will open up new areas for economic activity. All we need is the will to do it.
"If we decide to act, we will need to reduce carbon emissions across the whole global economy," said Socolow, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. "Fortunately, we have the tools to do this, especially if we think in terms of 50-year campaigns, not instant solutions."

Monday, August 16, 2004

Breakdown of Kerry Contributors

In the NYT.

Cannabis extract shrinks brain tumours?

Tumors may be less likely in pot smokers...but how could you tell?

Carbon nanotubes eliminate manufacturing woe

Carbon nanotubes in polypropylene prevents "die-swell" as the liquid polymer exits an extruder. Result will be a much quicker time-to-market for new products. Currently manufacturers must make numerous trial-and-error adjustments for each die and each type of material. The nanotubed doped material is much more predictable.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Josh's Take on Drum (below)

Voting for the war resolution was not remotely the same thing as going to war at the first possible opportunity.

Forcing inspections meant seeing what inspections would yield. And seeing what inspections would yield was the best insurance against getting ourselves into the current situation and finding that the WMD, which constituted the premise for the whole endeavor, didn't even exist.

To extend our baseball analogy, Bush went to the plate knowing he was going to swing at whatever pitch he got.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Iraq positions

Kerry's consistent position on the war: pressure, inspections, process, and allies. And Bush's failures:
But Bush blew it: he failed to rally world opinion, he failed to get the Arab world on our side, he failed to let the inspections process run its course, and he failed to plan properly for the postwar occupation. The result is a loss of American power and prestige, a diminished chance of Iraq becoming a pluralistic democracy, and an al-Qaeda that's been given a second lease on life thanks to George Bush's Queeg-like obsession with Saddam Hussein.

Flip-flop, Bush-style

It's OK to tell the media that you will have your people cooperate with the investigation. Then say nothing as they all lawyer up and clam up before they are questioned.

A Mother's Search Ends

She lost her son when he was 2. But found him when his picture was shown on TV...as the latest Oregon soldier to die in Iraq.

We need to make sure this war is worth the cost.

Friday, August 13, 2004

A Brief History

Lest we forget, the following is a brief history of Bush economic policy as gleaned from Paul Krugman's "Great Unraveling"

October, 2000
Assumed a $4.6 trillion surplus (most optimistic)
Stated that "nearly a trillion" to go for new programs. $474.6 billion in published campaign material. (verbal exaggeration)
Stated a quarter or $1.3 trillion to tax cuts. (4.6 / 4 = 1.15, 4.6 / 1.3 = 3.5) So actually is more than a third to tax cuts.

February, 2001
Now assuming a surplus of $5.6 trillion (where did that extra trillion come from?)

Pre Tax Cut
Payroll tax , flat rate of 15.3% on all income up to $70,000. Main tax for 4 out of 5 families.
Income tax, < 10 % for most families, but 30% for $1,000,000 or more.
Inheritance tax, only applies to estates of $675,000 or more (1,350,000 for couples). Only 2% of estates pay any tax

Post Tax Cut
Payroll tax, untouched.
Income tax, rate reduced across the board but greater proportional rate reduction on the high end.
Inheritance tax, under attack but not gone yet.
Clinton years disprove the premise that taxes are a drag on economy. Lower brackets get income tax reduction but they are still paying a 15.3% payroll tax that millionaires see as a 1% tax. This is clearly a tax break for rich folks, the poor folks get crumbs.

March, 2001
Congress Joint Tax Committee runs the numbers on the Bush tax cut plan. It is now a $2.5 trillion tax cut instead of $1.3 trillion.
Since these cuts are phased in, Bush also asks for a 100 billion in immediate cuts. Pushes total tax cut up towards $2.6 trillion.
Bush states that 17.4 million small business owners and entrepreneurs will benefit by dropping top rate from 39.6 to 33 percent. But only 1 million people actually pay at the top rate, few of them small business owners. Only 1 percent of small business owners will benefit. (Such candor from our leader)

May, 2001
Gas prices are up. Bush says the 100 billion cut is the answer. Poorest people who are most affected will see none of it.
Tax legislation is signed. It is full of gimmicks to keep it looking affordable. Even though biggest cuts are put late in the plan and the repeal of inheritance tax put off to 2010, they still needed to sunset the whole thing in 2011 to bring in.

June, 2001
Enron-driven electricity prices are up. Bush says no short term answers but drilling for oil in ANWR is the answer. Also says 100 billion cut will help people buy electricity.

August, 2001
Congressional Budget Office reports that the surplus is gone and a deficit is looming.

December, 2001
Deficits clearly projected in the future. That's without considering a recession or military spending.

February, 2002
Bush proposes an additional $600 billion in cuts. Military costs are increasing but not in proportion to the actual threat from Al-Qaida.

February, 2003
In the 2001 budget, a $262 billion surplus in 2004 predicted.
In the 2002 budget, a $14 billion deficit in 2004 predicted.
In the 2003 budget, a $307 billion deficit in 2004 predicted.
Similar deficits predicted for years following 2004.
Bush is asking for a $674 billion tax cut immediately and a $1.5 trillion cut over the next decade.
It's so bad that the OMB has stopped issuing 10-year projections and only offers 5-year ones.

The Big Squeeze

David Sirota has an article up that looks at three areas where the foxes are guarding the henhouses.
We technically have a representative government, but it is far less like democracy than like WWE wrestling -- entertaining theater with colorful characters, much fanfare, and a few body slams, but ultimately a rigged outcome. Industry no longer needs to lobby hard for regulatory rollbacks, because many of its own lobbyists have been appointed federal regulators. Congress openly admits that business writes many of the most important pieces of legislation. The White House slaps an official seal on memos from corporate executives and labels them “presidential policy initiatives.” The vice president is permitted to own shares of stock in a company for which he coordinates government contracts. And the Oval Office is occupied by a man whose major life experience was not public service but money-losing business deals (that somehow seemed to just make him richer and richer). In short, the government is now a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate America.

Kerry's confusion over Cambodia

Another criticism of Kerry's Vietnam statements gets shot down. Turns out Kerry was correct in saying that he went into Cambodia. He was ferrying some clandestine missions there. The last time he publicly spoke of it was 18 years ago.

Like President, like web site

Watch out. The GeorgeWBush.com website is mis-stating Kerry's proposal on increasing taxes. (Surprise?) Kerry has said he would restore the top two rates. He has also said that only those above $200,000 would be affected by the changes. The website is implying that since the second highest rate used to kick in at $147,000 Kerry's increase would affect those people also. Given Kerry's statements it's obvious that he would split the rate category and only apply the increased rate to those above $200,000 and leave the rest alone. One wonders about the reasoning capacity of those who would think otherwise.

Tax Burden Shifts to the Middle

The WaPo has the details.

The high middle income share went from 18.7% of the burden to 19.5%. The high income share went from 64.4% it 63.5%. In a perfect world, what should the relative percentages be?

A Clear Position

Eric Alterman suggests the following clear position on Iraq:
1. President Bush misled the country and the Congress into war and has conducted it incompetently.

2. The war also turns out to have been a dangerous diversion in the war against terrorism.

3. Even though we were misled, and even though we would be better off working with our (former?) allies to conduct a truly effective global war against terrorism, in Afghanistan and at home, we have no choice but to try to clean up this mess we’ve created.

4. But we should try and do so as quickly, inexpensively and painlessly as possible, so we can begin to repair some of the damage that’s been done to our nation’s reputation and get on with the business of defending the nation with the help and cooperation of our allies, as well as freeing up the resources we need to protect our homeland.
Sounds good to me.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Medicare Comment

Kevin Drum on the Medicare drug bill.
The Medicare bill is practically a model of the Bush administration at work: an initially reasonable idea made unrecognizable by deep frying it in a witch's brew of bloated spending, dishonest accounting, fealty to big corporate contributors, crackheaded movement conservative ideology, and just plain incompetence. If Bush ends up losing the election partly as a result of a revolt of seniors over this bill, it will be poetic justice.

By Karen Hughes no less

Karen Hughes records a Bush lie:
...who'd have thought that loyal George W. Bush aide Karen Hughes would be the one to catch the President fibbing about a supposed varsity letter? In her new book, 'Ten Minutes From Normal,' Hughes recounts a conversation with Bush after Russian President Vladimir Putin grilled him on his Yale days.

'President Putin knew you had played rugby, but he didn't have the context. I mean, you just played for one semester in college, right?' Hughes said.

Bush corrected: 'I played for a year, and it was the varsity.'

Yesterday, a Yale spokeswoman confirmed that there's no such thing as varsity rugby at Yale - not when Bush was an undergrad in the 1960s and not today.
What does it say about a person when he exaggerates merely to puff up his image? It's a small thing I grant but what it shows about his character I find disturbing.

Shop the Vote

Daniel Gross profiles Costco and Wal-Mart as standins for Kerry and Bush respectively. Costco is winning.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

O'Reilly-Krugman, Oh what sport!

Media Matters gives the highlights of this timeless matchup. And finds that Paul was wasting his time.

Oil for Food Scandal

The allegation that Saddam Hussein gave bribes and kickbacks to the UN officials and other diplomats is beginning to unravel. As Josh Marshall notes:
that charge stems entirely from a series of documents discovered by members of Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress.

Those documents have yet to be given to the Volcker investigation and may never be. Perhaps this criticism of the UN was premature.

Bush Science

If you value science over political ideologies please note how the Bush administration has dealt with science issues:
# Suppressing an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study that found that a Senate bill would do more than a White House-sponsored bill to reduce mercury contamination in fish.

# Demanding that EPA remove a section of a report on climate change. This came about after administration officials suggested adjustments to emphasize the scientific uncertainties, a move that agency scientists resisted.

# Posting information on government Web sites despite objections from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) staff. For example, according to former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services Patrick Fagan, the National Cancer Institute posted on its Web site that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer. The information was later removed.

# Placing controversial people in scientific positions. For example, the president recommended that the Food and Drug Administration's Reproductive Health Advisory Committee be chaired by obstetrician-gynecologist W. David Hager, who has written that scripture readings can ease premenstrual syndrome. Hager did not become chair, but he was appointed to the panel.

# Stacking scientific advisory panels by eliminating people who supported Bush's 2000 election rivals (according to testimony taken during a hearing held by Democrats on the House Science Committee), or picking others who lacked scientific credentials, but who supported the president's views.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Why Kerry Will Lose The Election ???

Just blogging this one for reference after the election when this chucklehead will be completely discredited.

Japanese Nuclear Plant Accident

Four Japanese workers have been killed by a steam leak at a nuclear power plant. Even if no nuclear functions were involved, it's not good news for the industry.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

So That's Why Our Soldier Are Dying in Iraq

Doug Feith explains it all in an OpEd in the Washington Post. He lays out the full argument in all its fallacious certitude. Joshua Micah Marshall explains the fallacies.

For me the scariest part is the last line of the Post article,
The writer is undersecretary of defense for policy.
It's truly frightening that this is the kind of thinking that actually goes on at the highest level of our government.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Today's Orange

My take on the recent security revelations is that we have an unfortuitous combination of interests. The Bush administration had a need to strengthen its case for the orange alerts. Certain folks in Pakistan who are AQ sympathizers had an interest in burning a captured operative that was spilling his guts. So they got what they wanted by giving Bush what he wanted.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

The Case for a Federal Marriage Amendment

Yes, there is a case that can be made for a Federal Marriage Amendment. But it may not be what you think.
Civil marriage for Americans needs to be protected in the Constitution of the United States of America for all Americans, but especially to protect the individual and mutual rights of my life partner and children to be a family with me. In a democracy, laws exist first and foremost to protect the rights of individuals. In the opening words of the Declaration of Independence under which our nation was founded, we proudly state that: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness".

I want my right to marry under the legal definition of civil marriage recognized in all the states of America, and I want all of the attendant rights and benefits that protect my family and assets legally and financially to be guaranteed at the federal level, and in all the states of the United States of America. I am a red blooded American just like you are, no more and no less.

America, I am not waiting for you to "allow" me to marry only if we "call it something else" and only in certain states. You will not tell me that I am not American enough to be married to the person I will be with for the rest of my life, or that my children are to be raised as second class citizens, or that I somehow deserve less than any other American merely because the person I love is not of the opposite sex.

I am a child of this nation and I claim these rights with as much certitude and force as you claim yours, and if you try to deny me I will fight for those civil rights, because to do anything less for my family would not be American.

Swift Boats

Here's a link to John O'Niell's chapter and verse on the Swift Boat allegations.

And here's what Kerry's Vets have said at various times in their own words. It comes down to who you are going to believe. When Kerry contacted his old crewman to counter some allegations that were made about him in the 1996 Senate campaign, they overwhelmingly came to his aid despite having had no contact with him in the intervening years. They could have declined. Whatever may have actually happened back in Vietnam, these men saw John as the real deal hero. They were closest to him when things went down and they should know. That matters to me.

Vietnam Veterans Buy Ads to Attack Kerry

From the NY Times article.

"A doctor, Louis Letson, repeats accusations he made in newspaper interviews this spring that Mr. Kerry did not deserve his first Purple Heart because his wounds resulted from a ricochet off friendly fire, saying in the advertisement, 'I know John Kerry is lying about his first Purple Heart because I treated him for that injury.' The Kerry campaign pointed out yesterday, as it had previously, that another doctor, J. C. Carreon, signed Mr. Kerry's treatment record.

Mr. Hoffman said the group was spending $500,000 to run the advertisement but would not say how long it would be on the air; a Kerry aide said the buy was far smaller, $156,000 in seven smallish markets like Green Bay, Wis., and Toledo, Ohio, suggesting it was a 'vanity buy'' intended to attract news coverage."

This ad is the same discredited tactic used to smear John McCain in 2000 done by many of the same people. Their statements have been effectively countered before but that doesn't faze them. As someone famous tried to say, "Fool me once...."

Aiming for John Kerry's Purple Heart

The opposition is renewing the claims against Kerry's service they made back in May but they are shooting blanks.

"several of the same officers now criticizing Kerry had written strongly positive evaluations of him as a young lieutenant decades ago."

"Kerry's first wound occurred on Dec. 2, 1968, which was the very first night he went on a swift boat patrol. Although several witnesses who were present that night remember that Kerry's arm was creased during a firefight with National Liberation Front guerrillas, a former commander who wasn't there has claimed that there was no report of enemy fire."

Among the witnesses who does recall the firefight is Pat Runyon, a former crew member on Kerry's boat. He too spoke with Rupprath when the detective contacted him recently -- and told Dallas Morning News reporter Wayne Slater that he was stunned to find serious inaccuracies in a version of the interview that Rupprath later sent to him. The most damning mistake, Runyon said, was an insinuation that Kerry's injury had been caused by a flare rather than a bullet.

Sanders said he has heard lately from a pair of other Navy veterans interviewed by the detective. "They told me that he sent them transcripts [of their interviews] and that they told him that his version was a misrepresentation of what they said."

This is old news but today the opposition is getting all frothy about it. Witnesses give one story, people who weren't there give another, and there's a guy out there making stuff up. Now if you believe the sources of all this are credible then I can see why it might be of interest. But they prove that they aren't when lies and twisted stretches are promoted as unequivocal truth.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Why Bush is going to win?

This article is encouraging for Kerry's chances in the election. The views expressed by the author show how disconnected with reality some Bush supporters are.
Kerry now has 90 days to convince voters that a Bush victory in November would be, as his wife put it in Milwaukee on Monday, "four more years of hell."

The problem is, most Americans don't regard their lives as "hell" or Bush as Satan. The economy, after all, is not really in a Great Depression. In fact, it's doing pretty well. Iraq isn't Vietnam, and won't be unless there's a draft. The Islamic jihad against America isn't Bush's fault, either. A candidate who insists otherwise is bound to strike voters as detached from reality.

Kerry ought to know this, and he may. But his party is dominated, as it was in 1972, by people who talk only to one another and who are convinced that everybody despises Bush. They will judge Kerry by how hard he goes after the Crawford Beelzebub.

Right now the polls look even. But that's an optical illusion. The President has a Republican convention coming up and the power of incumbency to shape events between now and November. In other words, he's way ahead.

I really like the optical illusion argument. I wonder if he has ever heard of a tipping point.

After the Ball

The Plaid Adder has a hit.

Kerry Legislative Record Criticism Repellant

Kerry's record versus Cheney's

Media Bright Spot

Knight Ridder got it right while the rest of the herd was cowed.

Knight Ridder Washington reporters Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay received the Raymond Clapper Memorial award from the Senate Press Gallery for their coverage of the sketchy intelligence used to justify war with Iraq.


"Anytime the nation is about to go to war and commit itself to something that drastic, there ought to be a full and open examination of a case and everything ought to be out there for people to see and make judgements about," Hoyt says. "That really was not the case here."

"I think the failure of the media in general in covering this story," Landay says, "is as egregious as the intelligence failure."

Tales of torture

Whatever information may have been extracted from Gitmo detainees before may or may not have been useful. But the information that is coming out now is becoming a real problem for the administration.

Administration obstructing Supreme Court's terror decisions

Phillip Carter points out how this administration has made it clear by both its actions and its internal memos that it will contest the release of Gitmo detainees in every way possible. Sorta like how segregationists resisted Brown v. Board.

The issue here is not so much the detainees' rights per se (although the detainees might say otherwise) as the need to restore the U.S. commitment to the rule of law in the eyes of the world. To date, the United States has not been able to enlist many of its allies to help shoulder the burden of Iraq, and Sen. John Kerry is unlikely to do much better given the current state of animus toward the U.S. in the world. Treating the wartime detainees fairly by giving them a fair hearing before a neutral magistrate (as ordered by the Supreme Court) would go a long way toward rebuilding bridges with our allies abroad. American moral leadership on these issues will also help win hearts and minds in Iraq, where the parallels between the Abu Ghraib abuses by U.S. soldiers and Saddam Hussein's henchmen are all too easy to draw. But none of that will happen if the United States continues to drag its feet, kicking and screaming at every step of the way. Indeed, if the fight to implement Rasul takes as long as the fight for equality after Brown, then many of the detainees at Gitmo could die in captivity before they see their rights vindicated.

Halliburton's boss won't tell us

Joshua Micah Marshall on the SEC fine.

So here you have the Vice President of the United States. His company gets caught in about as clear a case of cooking the books to inflate profits as you can imagine during the time he was CEO. (His salary and bonuses are tied to company profits.) And he won't even go to the trouble of denying that he was aware of the wrongdoing.

Can we have some more aggressive reporting on this one?

Bush's grim poll numbers

As interpreted by William Saletan:

Given how close Kerry is to 50 percent, Bush can't afford to let Kerry solidify his support. But that's exactly what Kerry is doing. In ABC polls since June, the percentage of Kerry supporters saying there's a good chance they'll change their mind has fallen from 12 to 5 percent. That's two points lower than the percentage of Bush supporters who say the same. In ABC's pre-convention survey, only 72 percent of Kerry's voters supported him strongly. In the post-convention survey, that number has risen to 85—virtually equal to Bush's 86.

Four years ago, based on numbers less grim than these, I said Bush was toast. Gore had passed Bush, and I thought the numbers couldn't turn around. I was wrong. They could, and they did, and they could again. But this time, Bush is the incumbent. It's hard to imagine what he can say from here on out that's going to change people's minds about him. And it's hard to imagine what he can say about Kerry that he hasn't already said in scores of millions of dollars worth of ads. At the very least, it's Kerry's race to lose.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

He's doing it again

Bush's support of an intelligence czar is a complete sham.

Bottom line: the new director heads no agency, doesn't have cabinet rank, doesn't work in the White House, has no budget authority, and apparently has no reporting authority. In other words, he's just a figurehead.

This is a sham. If Bush doesn't like the 9/11 Commission's recommendations he should have the guts to say so. Instead, he and Rumsfeld have cooked up a transparent con: to the public at large it looks like he's acting decisively to take up the commission's recommendations, but anyone who knows how Washington works understands that he's really just giving them the finger.

This is a complete victory for the Pentagon. They'll be able to brush off this new director like a fly.

A good prediction

A year ago Joshua Micah Marshall had it right about the Democratic candidate. Kudos, Josh.

Good News, Bad News

The good news is that progress is being made on rolling up al-Qaida operatives. The bad news is that none of them are being found in Iraq nor are they from Iraq.

Big Chill, Explosive Epidemics

Basic research on sexual behavior is under fire by our current crop of activist prudes. Just as abstinence-only education leads to more STD and higher pregnancy rates, this effort is going to set back efforts to fight communicable diseases. One would almost think these so-called religious folks want bad things to happen to people. I only wish a way could be found to sue the Traditional Values Coalition for the damages they inflict by getting funding cut off to needed social research. The seeds of the Dark Ages are still with us.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Carville quote

via Delong:

You know, back in 2000 a Republican friend of mine warned me that if I voted for Al Gore and he won, the stock market would tank, we'd lose millions of jobs, and our military would be totally overstretched. You know what? I did vote for Al Gore, he did win, and I'll be damned if all those things didn't come true.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Niger Forgeries

From what Josh Marshall says the source of the Niger forgeries has been found. It looks like the so-called additional evidence that the British supposedly has is just a recycling of the same old doggy-doo.