July 11, 2004
9:01 PM CST
I've been very confused about these stories coming out of Afghanistan regarding Jonathan Idema, the freelance jailer who was dangling prisoners by their feet. I mean, what the hell? Is this a weird hobby or what? Josh Marshall has a few interesting questions over at Talking Points Memo.
Evidently, U.S. officials have entertained the notion of postponing Election Day in the event of a terrorist attack very close to the election, as happened in Madrid in March. My first reaction is that this would fall under the heading of "well, then, the terrorists will have won" should an attack postpone the 11/2/04 election. However, this might be something worth considering in future legislation. I'd just rather it not be done in haste and in secret. We've had quite enough of that the last few years, I think.
The upcoming 9/11 Comission report is said to dismiss Iraq-al Qaeda ties. If true, this would be a serious blow to the administration. My guess is that the report will be getting a lot of attention in the coming months. Remember, this is the comission that BushCo didn't want in the first place, then stonewalled until it became clear that the public WAS paying attention...
Finally, a little more evidence that Florida isn't quite ready for 11/2. This time, it's the Touchscreen Voting equipment. According to a review sponsored by the AP and other news organizations, there was about a 1% undervote rate in the 3/9 Democratic presidential primary. That's 8x the undervote rate in the same election on paper ballots.
July 10, 2004
11:05 PM CST
After the well-deserved global ridicule that Florida received for the 2000 election, you'd think they'd be extra careful for '04. Wrong. This Palm Beach Post editorial lays out just a hint of what they've been up to. Again.
Meanwhile, the Senate Select Committe on Intelligence critique of prewar intelligence (full report, 23.4 MB pdf; report conclusions, 1.9 MB pdf) is out. And the CIA is in hot water. According to the report, the CIA "knowingly skewed its reports to fit its convictions about an Iraqi nuclear threat."
If you click through to page two of this interesting little article, you'll see that someone named Joe is largely to blame. Seriously. It was all Joe's fault.
- WINPAC [the CIA's Center for
Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control] analysts gave briefings to U.N. inspectors about potential weapons
sites and were enormously influential because they provided their assessments to
inspectors and policymakers. Among them was the centrifuge analyst, on whom
the Washington Post reported last August and identified only as "Joe."
The Senate report said he was the principal author of a CIA analysis from April
10, 2001, excerpted in Friday's report, which said that the tubes "have little use
other than for a uranium enrichment program" to build the core of a nuclear
That was flatly incorrect, and an Energy Department intelligence unit explained
why in detail the following day in a report titled, "Iraq: High-Strength Aluminum
Tube Procurement," according to the Senate report. It said the tubes were "only
marginally large enough" for use in uranium enrichment and had other specifications
"not consistent with a gas centrifuge end use." The rotor casing would be only one
of many parts required for a centrifuge, yet "we have not seen related procurement
Well, I'm glad we got to the bottom of that. Thanks, Joe. I wonder why he was so intent on proving those tubes were for uranium enrichment???
July 9, 2004
11:51 PM CST
I finally saw Fahrenheit 9/11 yesterday, not that the local commercial monopoply GKC Theatres would dare show it. What can I say? Powerful movie. Biased? Yes, guilty as charged.
But after reading some of the snits that this has generated, it has obviously touched a nerve. Some of the "debunking" web sites I've seen seem to shoot countless holes in the movie's facts, until you notice that a vast majority of the links are not to what you would call reputable sources. And until you notice that a number of Moore's opinions and questions are counted as "facts".
As hard as it is for some people to understand, NOBODY can claim that their opinions are "correct". That's why they're called opinions. And Moore's opinions are no more inherently correct than Bush's, or yours, or mine, or Bugs Bunny's. But some opinions DO have more weight than others, and that weight is largely based on the facts that are given to support them.
I now see what all the rabid foaming is all about. This is "fire in the hole!" time. And the hard right is extremely pissed off that someone from the left finally had the nerve to give the tired conservative op-ed industry a lesson in how it's done. Which is why so many nits are being picked (e.g. "CBS called Florida for Bush before Fox, but F9/11 clearly states other networks followed Fox's lead", etc.)
At the heart of it, Moore is a guy who makes films, and he used the tools available to him to make his point. Which is exactly what all of the talk radio hosts, cable news pundits, administration spinmasters, etc. do day in and day out. It's what they do for a living: they take their best shot and hope the numbers are good as a result so they can continue to do it. Just like MM. This time out, they happen to have gotten smoked. Because this is about something MUCH bigger than what these folks are used to dealing with...
July 8, 2004
11:19 PM CST
Ken and I finally went to see F9/11 today. Ouch.
July 7, 2004
10:22 PM CST
My, that didn't take long, did it? In Sen. Edwards' home state of North Carolina, you can tell Kerry's (first) choice for running mate is getting under Bush's skin. You know that snipey, pissy, snakelike way he has of acting when getting cornered? Well, it was on display when a reporter pressed just the right button:
Bush had cordially welcomed the freshman senator to the race hours after Kerry announced his choice of running mate, but when asked here how Edwards would stack up against Vice President Cheney, he snapped: "Dick Cheney can be president. Next?" Then Bush pivoted away from his questioner and toward the next one.
Hmmmm. This is not the way Bush behaves when he feels he's in control of a situation. So he doesn't like the comparison between Sen. Edwards and V.P. "GFY" Cheney. Well, he shouldn't. And he should watch the remarks about Edwards' experience, because careful scrutiny is being placed on his OWN experience for the job. And he's been AT the job for 3.5 years now.
Frankly, I smell fear. Don't get me wrong, it will be very, very close. But Team Bush KNOWS that they aren't really in control of their own destiny at this point. Too much hinges on a fragile economy, events in Iraq, potential terrorist activity here and abroad (hey--sorry--THEY'RE the ones constantly bringing it up!), and even things like oil supply and the odd ill-placed f-bombs by one or more administration top dogs in moments of frustration.
Later in the same piece from the Washington Post, the calling card of this administration's lack of planning and foresight:
The Bush-Cheney campaign had not appointed a state leadership or begun developing a grass-roots organization in North Carolina, but it now plans to do so.
They do it in their foreign policy, they do it in their economic policy, and they even do it in their campaign. "What If" is definitely not in their vocabulary...
July 6, 2004
11:09 PM CST
By now, everyone has heard: it's Kerry-Edwards going up against Bush-Cheney. Good choice. Not only does it put NC at least into play, it also adds a very good campaigner and a relative outsider to the ticket. It may even make a difference in some states with razor-thin margins. And I think John Edwards makes a very nice contrast to Dick "GFY" Cheney.
Cheney may make a good attack dog for the faithful, but the clips I saw of his weekend appearances were, to put it mildly, a bit rabid. Here's my prediction: Edwards will be perceived by many swing voters to be a conventional running mate. After all, prior to today, their main history together was as relatively cordial opponents.
"GFY" Cheney, on the other hand, is one of the main faces on the Bush administration: as the old joke goes, President "Vice President" Cheney. It's part and parcel of the perception that Cheney is perhaps the most involved and most powerful vice president ever. Every time his mug shows up, it will remind a lot of people of a lot of negatives. Tied directly to Bush.
In other words, VP candidates could make a larger difference than usual in this one. And it's pretty clear which one has a LOT of baggage hanging around his neck.
The Bush campaign is already painting this as a "flip-flop" (?) and "...one of the most divisive and out of the mainstream tickets for President. Never before has the Democratic Party chosen the 1st and 4th most liberal members of the United States Senate to represent it in a Presidential campaign."
First of all, there are official rankings of "most liberal" (or "most conservative", or "most off-key", or "most in need of a good nose hair trimming") members of the Senate? Or did you just pull those numbers out of Karl Rove's ass?
And second of all, let me counter with this: never before has the Republican Party chosen a failed businessman/mass executioner and a shady ex-CEO with a penchant for dropping the f-bomb on the Senate floor to represent it in a Presidential campaign. Twice.
July 5, 2004
11:07 PM CST
While Bush was working his magic in West Virginia, Cheney was also stumping in swing states (notably, OH and PA). As Bush's official attack dog, Cheney did his job and spent most of his time either taking jabs at Kerry or preaching the "never made a mistake" mantra of the administration. But is he doing more harm than good? Even The Daily Show finds it easy to poke holes in Cheney's credibility:
"Comedian Jon Stewart has made repeated use of a clip of Cheney denying to an interviewer last month that he had made a statement connecting Iraq to the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, followed by a clip of Cheney making the statement on NBC's "Meet the Press" two months after the attacks."
Shifting gears, CNN has a lengthy piece regarding Fahrenheit 9/11 and Michael Moore. Nothing groundbreaking, but it nicely brings things up to date. Personally, I hope to see the film this week, possibly Wednesday. It's hell living in a conservative community where the commercial outlets are afraid to screen this movie...
And finally, as a person who makes a living working with databases, I found this article quite curious. In all my years on the job, I have never heard of a database that risked data loss or corruption simply by making a backup/copy of it. And yet, that was the excuse given for not fulfilling a freedom of information request for info regarding lobbying by foreign governments. Re-reading the article, the first four words provided the necessary clue: "A Justice Department database..."
July 5, 2004
12:04 PM CST
President Bush made a campaign speech in Charleston, W.Va. yesterday in which he wrapped himself in the flag, claimed to be doing God's work, and gave a hint as to what's wrong with his so-called "war on terror". His 24 minute speech under the state Capitol dome dealt almost exclusively with the War-on-Terror/Iraq/Afghanistan thing, since it's clear that this is the BIG issue in this campaign. He knows it, Kerry knows it, and we know it.
With the largely ceremonial handover of power in Iraq, he has signaled he's willing to take a gamble that, however this turns out, it might turn out better than where we're at today. Hopefully even to the point of providing some good news by, say, late October.
In the coming months, we'll try to have it both ways by claiming that Iraq is a sovereign nation as we tug the puppet strings to varying degrees. And we'll claim to be fighting for "full, free elections" while making certain an asterisk is attached that carries the disclaimer "as long as it results in the government that we'd like to see". I seriously doubt that, for example, an Islamic Republic would be allowed to stand should a majority of the nation decide that's what they wanted.
Anyway, in his speech, Bush had this to say: "We made a decision, you see: We will engage these enemies in these countries and around the world so we do not have to face them here at home." (emphasis mine)
In Afghanistan, he may have had a point, in that the Taliban were very closely tied to al-Qaeda. Together, they turned the unfortunate nation into a repressive hellhole rife with terrorists and terrorist training centers. But Iraq? One could hardly compare Iraq with Afghanistan as a terrorist base, but that's what the Bush White House has done since 9/12 and continues to do.
Yes, there were terrorists there before the invasion (which can be said of virtually any nation, including the U.S.) Much was made of the death of Abu Nidal, for instance, and what it might have signaled. Al-Qaeda involvement, maybe, perhaps? Doubtful, but that's what the administration was spinning at the time.
No doubt, since the invasion there are many more foreign terrorists currently in Iraq, though it's unclear how many of the "insurgents" are actually foreigners. It's fairly obvious, though, that there ARE a lot of non-Iraqi fighters currently on the ground there. Why? Simple: because we invaded and served as a predictable magnet for jihadists. In other words, we brought them there.