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Step off, old man!
Friday, 1 October 2004
Debate recap
When you watch an event, your impression is usually shaped by what you saw, combined with what the media says you saw. On occasion, your conclusion and the media's are the same. That's what happened last night.

Even the most hardcore Bush supporter is having a hard time claiming their man won last night. Bush's body language was awful; he came across as petulant and simply bothered to be there. He squirmed like his body was possessed by aliens.

If possible, his rhetoric was worse.

How can a sitting President struggle to fill up two minutes of airtime answering a question? I know Bush is not an academic or a historian, but shouldn't the Commander-In-Chief be able to talk for two whole minutes about the subject that is supposed to be his strong point?

And Bush, more than once, asked for extra time to speak and had nothing to say.

During this closing arguments, I said the media spin was going to be "Kerry needed a knockout and didn't exactly get one." Sure enough, minutes later, Tim Russert said pretty much the same thing.

Can someone tell me what the hell a debate knockout is? Does one guy have to either cry, roll up in a fetal ball, or crawl across the stage to kiss the other guy's feet?

The final analysis? People who support Kerry are sticking with him and Bush supporters aren't going to abandon their guy either. Forget about the committed voters. Put yourself in the boots of an undecided voter expecting a windsurfing, Jane Fonda-loving, Massachusetts elitist. Instead what they saw was a smart guy who looked a helluva lot more presidential than the guy who currently holds the office.

Posted by brettdavey at 9:30 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 1 October 2004 9:31 AM EDT
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Thursday, 30 September 2004
Questions for Kerry
A couple people have asked me if I have any questions for Kerry. Hey, I don't pretend to be "Fair and Balanced" like those shills at Fox. Anyway, here go a couple questions I would ask Kerry:

* Why should someone from the South vote for a Massachusetts liberal?

* As a US Senator, do you have any insight into Saudi Arabia's involvement in 9-11 that you aren't able to share with the American people? If elected, would you urge an investigation into the Saudi's involvement?

* Do you think it is possible that Osama Bin Laden is already under wraps and his capture will be announced in the next five weeks? Your wife recently said it wouldn't surprise her if that was the case.

* How would you deal with North Korea and Iran?

* What did you learn in war that would make you a more effective Commander-In-Chief than the President?

* What place does your religion play in your pubic decisions? Would your faith lead you to govern differently than President Bush?

* Was John Edwards the most qualified Vice Presidential candidate available or was he put on the ticket because he is a Southerner?

* Do you agree with the proposed law that will allow the US to ignore UN rules by outsourcing torture to other countries?

* If you could have set the rules for this debate, what would they have been?

That's it. The fix is in tonight because of the ground rules Bush insisted on. I hope Kerry just gives the rules the finger and starts firing quesitons at Bush.


Posted by brettdavey at 5:01 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 29 September 2004
Sixteen good questions
Some web sites are asking readers to come up with debate questions they would like to ask the President. Most responses are pretty inane, in essence, the type of questions no moderator would ever ask a candidate.

These questions are pretty good and come from Thomas F. Schaller, Executive Editor of www.gadflyer.com. I'd love to see at least one of these asked on Thursday. But I ain't holding my breath. Here they are:

On December 21, 2002, in the Oval Office with then-CIA director George Tenet, you expressed shock to Mr. Tenet that the evidence regarding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was so thin. Yet just five weeks later, in your State of the Union address, you showed little if any doubt whatsoever that Iraq was a certifiable threat. What new information came to your attention that changed your mind so dramatically in just a few weeks during January 2003?

Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz projected that, by the summer 2004, the United States could be down to as few as 30,000 troops in Iraq. It's now autumn 2004, and we still have almost 140,000 troops there. Was the administration wrong in its projections about how well the war would go? Looking forward, if you are re-elected how many troops can we expect there to be on the ground in Iraq one year from now?

More than a third of our troops stationed in Iraq are reservists. Though good and loyal Americans, part-time reservists are less familiar with up-to-date military methods and technologies, and they are not as in good physical shape as full-time personnel. Many are assigned to duties for which they are not specifically trained. They also suffer greater displacement risks because they have to leave their regular jobs, homes and families when called to serve. Do we have too many reservists serving in Iraq, and what are your troop rotation plans for the coming year?

In 2003, Americans accounted for 84 percent of the fatalities in Iraq, but in 2004 Americans have accounted for 93 percent of all fatalities. In 2003, the average number of casualties, including those wounded, was about 8 per day; thus far this year the average is more than 18 per day. The average number of daily attacks on American soldiers has risen lately to 70-plus per day, and the number of American fatalities in Iraq have gone up every single month since the sovereignty handover at the end of June - with July higher than June, August higher than July, and September now higher than August. How is this progress?

You said in 2000 that you were against nation-building. Now you boast that we are building schools and opening firehouses in Iraq. Isn't this nation-building, and if so, does that mean you've changed your opinion about nation-building? If re-elected, how much of the American taxpayers' money do you plan to spend building schools and other facilities in Iraq next year?

In the final weeks before the war, the Iraqi government submitted a nearly 12,000-page report on its weapons development. Citing national security reasons, the United States redacted about 8,000 words from that document. Now that Saddam Hussein is gone, can you tell us what information was so sensitive it had to be removed from that dossier?

Your Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, signed a memorandum authorizing the use of dogs to interrogate prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Did you know about this memo at the time it was issued, and whether or not you did, do you condone this technique? And if you don't condone it, why did you not know about it or ask for Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation once you learned about him signing it?

According to a recent government accounting, $8.8 billion of the approximately $150 billion appropriated thus far in Iraq - roughly six percent - cannot be accounted for. What happened to this $8.8 billion in taxpayer monies? If we hope to stabilize Iraq and move it toward democracy, can we afford to have six percent of the money go missing?

You often say that free societies are peaceful societies. But in the fight against terrorism you have developed cooperative, even cozy relationships with many societies, especially Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, that are neither free nor egalitarian countries. How do you explain this contradiction, and will you press leaders of these countries to enact democratic reforms?

You have said that, had you or anyone else in the Administration had "any inkling" that al Qaeda was preparing to attack the United States, you would have "moved heaven and earth" to stop them. Didn't the Presidential Daily Brief entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike In U.S." that you received on August 6, just five weeks before the attacks - and which mentioned hijacking of planes and New York City specifically - provide at least some "inkling" of a pending attack?

We know now that at least nine of the September 11 hijackers passed through Iran, not Iraq, before coming to the United States. We know that Iran has a more developed nuclear program than Iraq, and it is now rejecting requests by the world community to halt progress toward reaching nuclear capability. And we also know Iran is an undemocratic theocracy. Should we have toppled Iran, not Iraq, in 2003?

Vice President Dick Cheney continues to insist that there are connections between Iraq and the September 11 attacks, but you corrected him earlier this year to say there are not. Is there a connection, and can you cite for us what, in your view, is the single best piece of evidence linking Saddam Hussein directly to Osama bin Laden?

Your former counterterrorism adviser, Richard Clarke, has criticized your efforts in Afghanistan, saying you only devoted about 11,000 troops there - an amount not much larger than the Manhattan police force. After initially proclaiming that you wanted Osama bin Laden "dead or alive," you later said you don't really think about him that much. Did you send too few troops to Afghanistan, and are you focused on Osama's capture?

What was your Administration's response to the ethnic violence in Sudan? If humanitarian atrocities justify going to Iraq, don't they justify sending American troops to Sudan, and if not, why not?

Prior to September 11, your Administration proposed a missile defense system, which you are still promoting now. How would missile systems defend against hijackers with box-cutters or suicide bombers? Given that, as you often say, the world changed forever on 9/11, should we abandon Cold War-era systems like missile defense and spend the money differently to best ensure national security when fighting against shadowy networks instead of nation-states?

If re-elected, will you ask Colin Powell to continue to serve as your Secretary of State?

Posted by brettdavey at 8:43 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 29 September 2004 8:44 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 28 September 2004
Good question
Michael Tomasky from the "American Prospect" has an interesting strategy for Kerry: attack on the Osama Bin Laden issue. He also answers the question, "If you do so, what happens if Bin Laden is captured before the election?", with this answer, "If he's captured, Bush wins anyway."

Here's what he says:

"Now, beginning with this Thursday's debate, Kerry should strike right at the dark heart of Bush's national-security failures. Where, he should ask, is Osama bin Laden? We sent about 12,000 troops to Afghanistan. We removed the Taliban, but the man who orchestrated the September 11 attacks and then delivered to the world a videotape gloating about them slipped away. Then -- boom -- we sent 130,000 troops to Iraq, which was somehow more important than getting the man who killed 2,700 Americans. Bin Laden still circulates.

Can you imagine the furor from the Limbaugh/FOX News corner if a President Gore hadn't captured the 9-11 malefactor by now (and had diverted resources to go after someone else instead? And how about if -- remember this one? -- anthrax packets had been sent to congressional Republican leaders and Gore's Justice Department hadn't yet nabbed a culprit?)? There should be blind outrage afoot in this country that bin Laden hasn't been captured or killed. And Kerry should stoke it.

I can already hear the nervous Democratic operatives: Ooh, that's too risky. What if we capture bin Laden between now and November 2? The argument is cut out from underneath Kerry. Well, that's inarguable. But guess what? If we capture bin Laden between now and election day, Bush wins anyway, no matter how you slice it and no matter what Kerry did or did not say. So the risk involved in talking directly and aggressively about bin Laden -- Kerry began to do so at Temple University last Friday, but the invocations weren't at the center of that speech -- is in fact rather minimal. From the Kerry campaign's point of view, the possible bad political outcome (Bush captures bin Laden, wins election) would have happened anyway, while the possible good political outcome (nation finally focuses on why this man is still at large, Bush put on defensive) will come only if Kerry starts asking the question."


Posted by brettdavey at 10:09 AM EDT
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Monday, 27 September 2004
Debate week; Dempsey-Tunney; Bush on O'Reilly
* Modern presidential debates never live up to the hype. You're always hoping for the Perry Mason moment when a suspect breaks down on the stand ("That's right I killed her. And I'd do it all over again!") It never happens in real life, but it's fun to think about. This week's debate won't be much different. There may be a few zingers, but not much else.

Here's what could happen, however: Kerry could improve his standing by being seen as presidential. There are still a lot of people who don't know much about Kerry. If he stands up there and doesn't come across as too much of a windbag, he might benefit. He's disciplined too, so don't expect him to pull an Al Gore exhaling out of disgust. In a way, the time limit on the candidates will work in his favor. One of Kerry's biggest flaws is that he goes on too long. In a debate, he can't.

* This weekend, I was looking at some of my old boxing books. There was a story about the Dempsey-Tunney fights. Dempsey was a beloved brawler and a legend who -- most forget -- was accused of ducking out of serving in the military. Tunney was a college-educated man who loved to read and had been a war hero. Although Tunney clearly beat Dempsey twice, the public still never felt any affection for him. As I read more about their contest, it made me think of Bush-Kerry. And remember, even though the public wasn't crazy about him, Tunney won!

* Bush is on O'Reilly three nights this week. Some advance rumblings show that O'Reilly probably asked the President some tough questions. Whenever stuff like this happens, you hope for a Freddie vs. Jason showdown where the two evil entities destroy each other.

Again, it never happens.

Posted by brettdavey at 8:59 AM EDT
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Rove wins
Now that the Rove-instigated Memogate has struck, CBS has announced that they won't air a report that is already in the can that is critical about the WMD rhetoric before the invasion. A spokesman for CBS says it wouldn't be fair to air it so close to the election.

Wouldn't be fair? You're a fucking news organization!

Posted by brettdavey at 8:38 AM EDT
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Would you sign up?
Reports are that the number of innocent civilian casualties are growing in Iraq, as US-led forces strike against suspected insurgents.

Imagine this scenario for a minute: suppose the US was run by an insane dictator (insert GW joke here). As an average American citizen, you've felt the atmosphere of oppression, but never really experienced it. Now, another country comes in to free you from this dicator. In the process -- while they indiscriminately lob bombs into neighborhoods -- they kill your wife, father and three of your cousins. You have an opportunity to strike back against the invading country, who you believe came to help but has now killed five members of your family. What would you do?

If you don't think the invasion has created more terrorists, you've got your head up your ass.

Posted by brettdavey at 8:36 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 21 September 2004
Ask GW
There's a website called www.sweetjesusihatebilloreilly.com. By the url, you can probably guess the theme of the site. Anyway, O'Reilly is asking viewers to send in questions they would like to see the bed-wetting host ask the President when he interviews him later this week. The website suggests these for starters:

"Here goes:

* I know you're a decent man and are concerned about the civil rights of every citizen. I mean,
you've been there. Tell us, how were you treated all those times you were arrested?

* You claim to have served in the Alabama National Guard, but no credible witness says you
were there and a few insist you weren't. Can you name a single fellow guardsman you drove
drunk with or bought cocaine from during your tenure in Alabama?

* On July 14, 2003, you said, referring to Saddam Hussein, "We gave him a chance to allow
the inspectors in and he wouldn't let them in." Are you fucking retarded or what?

* You were famously captured on film dawdling in an elementary school after you heard
confirmation from your chief of staff that the country was under attack. Later that night, you told a worried nation, "Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government's
emergency response plans." What all concerned citizens want to know, of course, is what did
happen to that pet goat?

* Where's the budget surplus? Or, if you prefer, where's the budget surplus, dickhead?"

Posted by brettdavey at 12:52 PM EDT
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Wish I saw it...
This is from www.wonkette.com.

"A Wonkette operative sends along this (unofficial) transcript of last night's edition of Jeopardy. We're not sure the contestant got the answer wrong. . .

Double Jeopardy
Botswana for $1200

THE INHABITANTS OF BOTSWANA CALLED THE SAN ARE ALSO KNOWN BY THIS NAME THAT COULD APPLY TO CHENEY & ASHCROFT

Contestant 'Sam': Uh, what are Dick?

(Awkward studio laughter.)

Alex: No. . . "What are Bush men?"



Posted by brettdavey at 11:45 AM EDT
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Monday, 20 September 2004

I think people like Donald Rumsfeld because he is insane. I mean, he says stuff that makes Dick Cheney look like Phil Donahue. Even people like me find him amusing at times because he's so nuts.

This comes from www.democraticundergound.com

"We have an exciting new standard for American foreign policy! In recent weeks various reports have been released revealing the scope of prisoner abuse and torture in Iraq. According to one, "there have been about 300 allegations of prisoners killed, raped, beaten and subjected to other mistreatment at military prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay since the start of the war on terror." According to another, "commanding officers and their staffs at various levels failed in their duties and that such failure contributed directly or indirectly to detainee abuse."

But don't worry about it! See, here's what Donald Rumsfeld had to say about the torture scandals last week: "Has it been harmful to our country? Yes. Is it something that has to be corrected? Yes. Does it rank up there with chopping off someone's head off on television? It doesn't." And there you have it, folks. As long as something isn't as bad as chopping off someone's head on television, we can do it. Talk about lowering the bar..."

Posted by brettdavey at 12:36 PM EDT
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