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Step off, old man!
Monday, 2 August 2004
Republican reality show
This comes from the online "Newsweek". In a nutshell, Illinois Republicans have to come up with someone to run against rising star Barack Obama. If they don't, he'll be free to travel around the country to campaign for Kerry and Edwards. Here it is:

July 31 - Here's the script: Find a dozen or so people with dreams of being a big-time politician. Stage an audition--each contestant makes a pitch to a panel of political pros. Do a Q and A. See how they think on their feet. Test their sound-bite skills. Check for skeletons in the closet. Finally, the panel huddles and picks a winner. The prize: running for the United States Senate. Sound like reality TV? Actually, this is how the Illinois Republican Party will select its nominee next week to face mega-star Democrat Barack Obama. But if it was realty TV, the show might be called, "Who Wants to be a Sacrificial Lamb?"

Political odds-makers wouldn't give any Republican a ghost of a chance to beat Obama, who dazzled the Democratic convention in Boston last week. But the GOP has got to find somebody. "Essentially, they've got to find a very wealthy person with a big ego," says Paul Green, a Chicago political insider, "who's willing to spend a lot of money to lose big." The first GOP nominee, Jack Ryan, withdrew after details emerged about his visits to sex clubs with his reluctant former wife. The Republicans tried to convince some former governors and other bigwigs to run. They wouldn't touch it. Then they went after Da Coach, former Bears' helmsman Mike Ditka. He shared a few of his political views--he was against gay marriage but in favor of public hangings--but the Levitra pitchman ultimately punted. The Republican troubles were worsened by Ryan's dallying in making his withdrawl official. The party couldn't nominate a candidate until he filled out the paperwork, a delay that peeved the party leaders. "It took him five weeks to fill out a form that took about a minute to complete," says Mary Alice Erickson, vice-chairwoman of the State Republican Central Committee.

The would-be candidates will make their pitches at the spiffy Union League Club in Chicago. The prospects will be appear before 19 Republican bosses. "They'll be put in a holding room, and then called in one by one," Erickson says. "Each will make a presentation and we'll ask questions. Then we'll go into executive session and hopefully come to a consensus."

The Republicans asked interested job-seekers to send in a bio. From that pool--the GOP won't say how many put in for the job--the party picked about a dozen. Among the prospects are dairy owner Jim Oberweis, who lost to Ryan in the primary and antagonized the White House along the way, chiefly by ripping President Bush's plan to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants. Other contenders include retired Air Force Major Gen. John Borling, Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth Gorman as well as some wealth entrepreneurs, including John Cox and Chirinjeev Kathuria. Some party leaders have been trying to recruit Orion Samuelson, a retired farm news broadcaster beloved in the corn belt. Samuelson says he might consider the race, but made it plain he wasn't about to spend any of his own money on it.

Republican leaders insist the race is still winnable, once they actually find a candidate. But even the GOP brass can't seem to keep from gushing over Obama. Judy Barr Topinka, the state treasurer and head of the party, told reporters: "With Barack Obama, I like the man. He's absolutely a charmer. And I'm proud of the fact the Democrats gave him a starring role at the convention." Republicans in Illinois say they'll survive. They've been through worse ordeals. In the mid-90s, scrambling to find a GOP candidate to face the powerful Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, they settled on Ray Wardingly, who was known professionally as "Spanky the Clown."

Posted by brettdavey at 10:35 AM EDT
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Convention bounce BS
I was viewing these post-convention polls with some skepticism. Even the one that looked best for Kerry -- the Newsweek poll-- only showed him with a small bounce. I figured that was because of the divided country and the fact that so many voters have already made up their minds.

Turns out that half of the Newsweek poll was conducted before Kerry made his Thursday night speech. This is from:

You'd think these TV bozos, since they have 24 hours a day to fill, could slip in a little sentence that half of the poll was done before the speech. Nah. Too much work. Here it is:

"Newsweek is first out of the box with a poll and story on Kerry's bounce from the convention. There's just one slight problem: the data they report in the story don't really measure Kerry's bounce at all.

Check this out. Newsweek's last poll before the convention was on July 8-9 and Kerry led Bush, 51-45. In the current poll, conducted July 29-30, Kerry leads Bush, 52-44. From this they conclude Kerry got a "baby bounce" from the convention (1 point on support level, 2 points on margin or, if you look at their Kerry-Bush-Nader data, 2 points on support level, 4 points on margin).

But, as their story sheepishly admits, half of their poll was conducted on Thursday night, before Kerry had delivered his acceptance speech! Moreover, their results differ on the two nights, with Kerry leading by 2 points in the pre-acceptance speech data and by 10 points in the post-acceptance speech data.

What possible excuse can there be for presenting these data as measuring Kerry's bounce from the convention, when the effect of the most important event of the convention isn't included in half the data? Perhaps there is one, but I can't think of it.

And that's not all that's wrong with their bounce measure. To make their sin even more egregious, the previous poll they use as a point of comparison is way too long ago (July 8-9) to be a real before/after comparison. What if the race was closer before the convention than it was on July 8-9? Then using July 8-9 as a point of comparison would further contribute to understating Kerry's bounce from the convention.

And in fact that appears to be the case. In the Gallup poll, Kerry was leading 51-44 on July 8-11 but only 49-45 on July 19-21. So using July 8-9 as the comparison period probably knocks several more points off Kerry's bounce.

In short, Newsweek's analysis is totally bogus. Before we pronounce on the bounce, I suggest we wait until we've got some data that actually measures it."

Posted by brettdavey at 9:00 AM EDT
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Raise the terror warning, Bush attacks
* Like others, I always raise an eyebrow when the terror alert is raised. It always seems to happen when there is bad news for the administration or good news for Kerry. Is it politically motivated? Who knows?

What strikes me is that no reporter asks the obvious question: Explain the process under which the terror level is raised. Who has input? Who makes the final call? Is it the President?

Remember a couple months ago when Ashcroft called a press conference to discuss a new terror threat and Ridge didn't even know about the press conference? Makes you wonder. Don't hold you breath to see if any reporters ask how these decisions are made.

* This is from the Sunday NY Times about the President's plan to attack Kerry in August.

"Mr. Bush's aides said they were determined to use the weeks ahead to highlight Mr. Kerry's 20-year record in the Senate, using votes he has cast and what they described as his lack of accomplishments to portray him as ineffective, ideologically out of step, and a slacker for missing crucial votes while campaigning.

"He has 20 lost years," Mr. Dowd said. "It's amazing." Mr. Kerry's voting record - he has cast more than 6,000 votes in all - has long been considered vulnerable by Democrats and Republicans, not just because it can be characterized as liberal, but also because it is so vast and touches on so many complicated and politically fraught issues over so many years."

I love Dowd's quote, "He has lost 20 years." I thought he was referring to GW Bush from his post-college years to when he quit drinking. Let's see his accomplishments over those two decades: may have gone AWOL, busted for drunk driving, ran a bunch of businesses into the ground, and traded off his family name.

If I was Bush, I'd try and lose those 20 years too.

Posted by brettdavey at 8:35 AM EDT
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Friday, 30 July 2004
The $87 billion question
Enough of this BS about Kerry not voting for the $87 billion. Did you know Bush was threatening to veto this bill, even though it was his own bill, if there were provisions where Iraq had to repay any of the $87 billion?

Wow. He must hate the troops.

Posted by brettdavey at 10:40 PM EDT
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Moore is to Goebbels what O'Reilly is to Hitler
John Podesta, Clinton's former chief of staff and the head of the Center for American Progress, was on O'Reilly tonight. He was giving O'Reilly a hard time because he had compared Michael Moore to Joseph Goebbels. O'Reilly, with all the faux innocence he could muster, answered that he wasn't comparing them; he was just defining, in a very professorial fashion, what propaganda is.

Really, he couldn't be more of a jackass.

Podesta did alright but he looked like an uptight liberal as O'Reilly tried to laugh it off. I thought he should have asked O'Reilly if it was OK to compare Karl Rove to Joseph Goebbels since they're both propagandists.

My wife had a better one. Podesta should have compared O'Reilly to Hitler. You know, nothing personal, but they're both bullies. Let's see if O'Reilly would take that personally. I mean, it's just an illustration of what a bully is.

Posted by brettdavey at 10:38 PM EDT
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MSNBC dustup?
Was there some kind of on-air dustup between Joe Scarborough and Howard Fineman? If anyone saw this, drop me a line.

Posted by brettdavey at 11:49 AM EDT
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I agree with Joe Scarborough!
I sometimes wonder how much of a show these media commentators are putting on, especially when they're conservative. I mean, O'Reilly can't be like that all the time, can he? And there seems to be two Joe Scarboroughs, the conservative one with his own show and the more thoughtful one who provides pretty insightful commentary when he's on a panel.

I thought Kerry did well with his speech last night, although I was a little surprised that the media was so ga-ga about it. Scarborough pointed out afterwards that it seemed rushed, probably in deference to the one hour that the networks had allotted. Throughout the whole speech, I was saying the same thing. Brokaw afterwards said that NBC would have run over the one hour to stay with the speech. Did Kerry's people know that? Even if they didn't, they should have shortened his speech by 10 minutes. This was the climax of the convention and to deny the delegates and attendees the chance to explode at certain points of the speech was a minor mistake.

Still, it's not that big of a deal.

This morning, I saw Kerry and Edwards at a morning rally. I think they've boiled it down to this: their optimism and hope vs. Bush's constant fear-mongering. Will it work? I'm starting to believe it will. I think Kerry is underrated and I don't think he's lost an election in 30 years.

Bush. One term. Just like his old man.

Posted by brettdavey at 11:48 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 30 July 2004 11:50 AM EDT
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Thursday, 29 July 2004
Kerry's war footage
It's amazing that there are no checks and balances anymore when it comes to what get on the air. Last night on CNN, Jeff Greenfield quoted the Drudge Report as saying that Kerry brought his camera to Vietnam so he could have footage of himself as a war hero when he ran for office later. Drudge also accused Kerry of re-enacting war scenes to make himself look like a hero.

Here's the truth from

"On September 7, 2002, The New York Times' current executive editor and then-columnist Bill Keller took up the issue of Kerry's wartime films and debunked the reenactment charge, which he wrote that he believed at first: "[R]elying on a report in the usually dependable Boston Globe, I mocked him for pulling out a movie camera after a shootout in the Mekong Delta and re-enacting the exploit, as if preening for campaign commercials to come."

Simply not true, Keller found after sitting through 40 minutes of footage in Kerry's office. Contrary to Drudge's assertion -- which apparently quoted O'Neill's upcoming book -- that Kerry would "reenact combat scenes where he would portray the hero," Keller wrote:

The first thing to be said is that the senator's movies are not self-aggrandizing. Mr. Kerry is hardly in the film, and never strikes so much as a heroic pose. These are the souvenirs of a 25-year-old guy sent to an exotic place on an otherworldly mission, who bought an 8-millimeter camera in the PX and shot a few hours of travelogue, most of it pretty boring if you didn't live through it.

Keller also wrote that, according to the Swift Boat Sailors Association, "a group of veterans who manned" the kind of riverboat that Kerry commanded, "lots of enlisted men did the same." Former Senator Max Cleland (D-GA), a strong Kerry supporter who lost three limbs in Vietnam, told Keller that he has hours of film from his service in Vietnam, which, Keller wrote, "he has had edited into a three minute meet-the-senator video."

Remember, these were the same people who morphed war hero Cleland into Osama Bin Laden during a commercial.

To them, nothing is important except power. Honor never, ever even enters into the equation. And for the most part, they know they're lying and they don't care.

Truly despicable.

Posted by brettdavey at 8:27 AM EDT
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Convention wrapup
It's depressing watching these 24 hour news jackasses try to fill airtime. OK, granted, there isn't much real news that comes out of a political convention, at least not nowadays. But to allow spinmeisters to spit out their pre-scripted spiels without challenge is sad.

This morning on CNN, I saw Rudy Guliani and within the first minute, he accused the Dems of an "extreme makeover" and called Kerry and Edwards two of the most liberal members of the Senate. Rudy, we know you have a brain in your head. Please use it.

The "extreme makeover" line is a staple of the Republican attack on Kerry. And the most liberal tag is severely misleading, based only on last year's National Journal rating. A five year average from the National Journal paints a much more moderate picture.

I heard on the news this morning that for the second straight year, incomes have gone down in this country. Friday, it will be announced that we now have a record deficit. The White House is going to spin it that the projected deficit was much worse. That's pathetic but it's all they have.

It's understandable why Bush is not running on his record. That's because it stinks. The Republicans control the Congress and the White House. Their plans for this country have taken effect. We can all see the results.

I thought Edwards was good last night. He had a few bright spots and I'm looking forward to Kerry tonight.

To backtrack for one minute, is there a more sad group of losers than the folks on "Fox and Friends"? I don't even know their names, but they are a spineless collection of weenies who are so glad to be on TV that they will parrot whatever the Republican talking point of the minute is. This morning, they were ragging on Kerry's skills as a speaker.

Yo people! Your guy can't even put together a coherent sentence. And he's not interested in even the minor complexities of any issue. This is as complex as he can get: "They hate us for our freedom!"


Posted by brettdavey at 8:18 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 28 July 2004
Teresa Heinz-Kerry's restraint
Since the mainstream media blows so bad, here's a little piece from Joe Conason about the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and its history of slandering Teresa Heinz-Kerry. Here it is:

"The innocuously named newspaper has long served as the weapon of Richard Mellon Scaife, its founder and publisher. His name is now synonymous with the campaign of hate and calumny focused on the Clintons during the 1990?s, but to Ms. Heinz Kerry, his methods were familiar long before he achieved any national notoriety. During the decades of her marriage to the late Senator H. John Heinz III, she knew Mr. Scaife as part of the rarefied circle of very rich local families whose names adorn museum galleries and university buildings.

Although both men were Republicans, Heinz tended to be moderate and occasionally even liberal, while Mr. Scaife was increasingly conservative, attracted to conspiracy theories and aggressive extremism. Years before her first husband?s death in 1991, Teresa Heinz came to feel that Mr. Scaife had misused his newspaper to punish her and her husband for dissenting from right-wing Republican orthodoxy. Since her marriage to John Kerry in 1995, the hostility of the Scaife press and the outfits funded by Scaife foundations toward her has been nothing short of vicious.

A few days after the Massachusetts Senator and his wife celebrated their second Christmas together, the Tribune-Review ran a column suggesting that Mr. Kerry had been enjoying a "very private" relationship with another woman. There was no byline on the story and no evidence to support the salacious insinuation. There was nothing to it, in fact, except pure malice.

When fresh accusations about her husband?s fidelity erupted earlier this year in the right-wing press, Ms. Heinz Kerry could scarcely have been surprised that the smear?s most eager purveyors included Internet sites financed by Mr. Scaife and his family foundations. Those "news sources" have also impugned Mr. Kerry?s patriotism, maligned his military service and distorted his voting record. They happen to be operated by the same discredited scribblers who once tried to convince America that Bill and Hillary Clinton were murderers and drug smugglers.

Meanwhile, Ms. Kerry herself is hardly exempt from the angry fantasies emanating from Mr. Scaife?s strange universe. Last spring, a Scaife-funded "research group" sent out a study that accused her of covertly financing violent radicals of various kinds, including Islamists, through the straitlaced Heinz foundations that she controls. There was absolutely no basis for that tale?as the right-wing sleuths could have learned by making a single phone call. The Heinz money they had "traced" through a San Francisco group had actually gone in its entirety to support anti-pollution projects in Pennsylvania.

Those are only a few brief examples among dozens. The Scaife disinformation conglomerate has churned out nastiness about Ms. Heinz Kerry by the carload for years, and finally she talked back. The guy she scorched last Sunday was meant to take that message back to his boss in Pittsburgh?a man who has deserved the brunt of such refreshing candor for a long, long time."

Jeez, it's a wonder she only told him to "Shove it..."

Posted by brettdavey at 3:46 PM EDT
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