Sid's Fishbowl
A proud member of the reality-based community (aquatic division)
Saturday, October 30, 2004

Matthew Yglesias raises a profound issue:
According to the Bush campaign, "anything that makes people nervous about their personal safety helps Bush."

Are people who think this way likely to improve, or degrade the personal safety of the American people? It's a question that, I think, answers itself.

UPDATE: Senator McCain says the video was "very helpful to the president."

Again, can a group of people who believe the continued existence of the threat is vital to their political viability be relied upon to eliminate -- or even reduce -- the threat?
Answers? I got nothing.

Scorpio indulges in some free verse:
Tommy Franks.
In charge of the war.
Ran it from Florida.
Responsible for orders on what to guard.
Responsible for Tora Bora.
Screwed it up.
Thinks he did great.
Campaigning for Bush.
That figures.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Just saw him on the NewsHour.

"As many people have pointed out, there were between 650 and a trillion ... 650 million and a trillion tons sitting out there. We destroyed at least 400 million tons. So this is 0.1% of the munitions sitting out there in that country. ... To me, this story has been vasly overblown."

Will someone put David Brooks in a small room and explain to him the difference between thousands, millions, billions, and trillions?

"A trillion tons of munitions..."?

My God, this man is a shameless hack. He has just increased the amount of arms in Iraq by one thousand times. Maybe even one million times.

Moron. Just a fucking moron.

Brad DeLong has a good roundup of the latest bullshit:
There's something really, really wrong--really UnAmerican--going on here. In America we pledge allegiance to the United States of America. We swear to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. We do not swear ourselves to individual politicians.
Billmon is back. Reality must prevail. I refuse to believe that the American people are such morons that they will fall for a cheap stunt like this.

All together now: WHY is Osama bin Laden alive today?

You know those tons of explosives from al Qaqaa? They were just a drop in the bucket. Knight-Ridder does some more mighty fine reporting:
Far more ordnance lost in Iraq, sources say

The more than 320 tons of missing Iraqi high explosives at center stage in the U.S. presidential election are only a fraction of the weapons-related material that has disappeared in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion last year.

Huge amounts of arms and ammunition were stolen from military sites, and there's ''ample evidence'' that Iraqi insurgents are firing looted weapons at U.S. troops and using stolen explosives in car bombs and improvised explosive devices, said a senior U.S. intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

U.N. officials also are concerned about the disappearance of sensitive equipment and controlled materials that could be used to develop nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.

''If this equipment is finding itself on the open market, then anybody with money can buy it,'' said Dimitri Perricos, acting head of the U.N. Monitoring and Verification Commission, or UNMOVIC, the U.N. weapons inspection agency.

The CIA has convened a ''mini task force'' of experts to assess precisely what equipment is missing and what threat it could pose if it fell into the wrong hands, said two U.S. officials.

In a new disclosure, the senior U.S. military officer and another U.S. official, who also spoke on condition that he not be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter, said that an Iraqi working for U.S. intelligence alerted U.S. troops stationed near the al Qaqaa weapons facility that the installation was being looted shortly after the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003.

But, they said, the troops took no apparent action to halt the pillaging.

''That was one of numerous times when Iraqis warned us that ammo dumps and other places were being looted and we weren't able to respond because we didn't have anyone to send,'' said a senior U.S. military officer who served in Iraq.
No wonder there's a bloodbath. American soldiers were ordered to recover Saddam's cash, seize his palaces, and protect the Oil Ministry at all costs. Apparently, these other details, like giant munitions dumps, just fell through the cracks.

From a commenter at MaxSpeak:
These remind me of the plain vanilla (non celeb) fellow I heard making call in comments to a radio show last night. He claimed that it could not be the case that President Bush has lied about anything to do with Iraq, because if he had, he would be impeached. Since he is not being impeached, it follows that he has not lied.

I kid you not.
Must. Stop. Brain. Hurting.

Jerome at MyDD has the story on GOP voter suppression in Ohio. Go read the whole thing, especially the transcript of the election board hearing, which ended in a Republican lawyer advising his client, who had brought the complaint challenging duly registered Democratic voters, to stop testifying and "exercise her privilege against self-incrimination."

From another mailing list I belong to comes this firsthand report from Cleveland, which backs up the story:
You know how the Republicans are pre-emptively challenging new voters whose "registration mail" was undeliverable? Total distortion. That is not what happened.

What happened was that they picked up a list of newly registered voters (which is perfectly legal) and then sent each one a registered letter.
(That costs a few bucks per letter.) The ones who -refused- delivery were put on their suppression list.

"Catherine Herold, the first voter challenged at the hearing, told the board that she believes that she was on the undeliverable list because she 'refused the letter when she saw that it came from the Republican Party.'
She and many others expressed anger that their eligibility had been challenged - which could force them to vote by provisional ballot on Nov. 2."

So in the media it sounds like (and I thought they meant) hey, that little folder you just got a couple days ago, that's the thing that came back undeliverable, must be something wrong. No. The thing that came back is a registered letter from the Republican Party, with (it seems) an identifiable return address, and people just said fuck no, I'm not signing for that, it can only be trouble.

On that basis and nothing more, the Republicans challenged the registrations. THAT is where the hearings for TENS OF THOUSANDS of new voters came from. Based on people refusing to sign for mail from the Republican Party.

The Summit County Board of Elections, at their VERY FIRST hearing, with the VERY FIRST challenged voter, got the Republican apparatchik on the witness stand and asked her just how she knew this Catherine Herold was not eligible to vote. They told the apparatchik to quit fucking around if she didn't want to get indicted for election fraud.
Once again, in this election, Democrats are trying to get people to vote. Republicans are trying to prevent people from voting. Which one sounds like a free country?

Thursday, October 28, 2004

President Kerry speaks:
“This week’s revelations about the missing explosives speaks to the president’s continuing misjudgments in Iraq. According to the commanders on the ground, our forces were not ordered to secure a weapons dump in Iraq where 380 tons of explosives were stored. Now, the president’s former chief weapons inspector says it’s likely that these explosives are being used against our own troops. The president’s shifting explanations and excuses demonstrate, once again, that this president believes the buck stops anywhere but his desk.

“Lately, George Bush has been invoking the name of John Kennedy. But can you imagine President Kennedy, in the wake of the Bay of Pigs, standing up and telling the American people that he couldn’t think of a single mistake he’d made? That he would do everything again exactly the same way? Mr. President, John Kennedy was a leader who knew how to take responsibility for his actions.

“Mr. President, it’s time for you to take responsibility for yours. Our troops in Iraq are doing a heroic job – the problem is our Commander-in-Chief isn’t doing his.

“Yesterday, George Bush said, ‘a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your commander in chief when it comes to your security.’

“I agree.

“George Bush jumped to a conclusions about 9-11 and Saddam Hussein.

“He jumped to conclusions about weapons of mass destruction and rushed to war.

“He jumped to conclusions about how the Iraqi people would receive us.

“He not only jumped to conclusions – he ignored the facts.

“Here are the facts, the bottom line, about these weapons: they’re not where they’re supposed to be – they’re not secure.

“Well, guess what, according to George Bush’s own words, he shouldn’t be our commander in chief. I could not agree more.”
I approve this message, too.

Bush says he has no idea when the explosives at Al Qa Qaa went missing. We need to do a full investigation. In a speech in Pennsylvania, he said:
"Our military is now investigating a number of possible scenarios, including that the explosives may have been moved before our troops even arrived at the site..."

"This investigation is important and it's ongoing," he said, "and a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your commander in chief."

The exact timing of the disappearance of the explosives is critical to the political arguments of each campaign. Mr. Kerry's contention that the administration did not adequately secure the country and was unprepared for the war's aftermath presumes that the explosives disappeared after the fall of Saddam Hussein on April 9, 2003, as officials of the interim Iraqi government say.

Mr. President, your own weapons inspector, David Kay, said the explosives were indisputably there a few weeks before the war and probably weren't removed in the weeks just before the invasion:
I must say, I find it hard to believe that a convoy of 40 to 60 trucks left that facility prior to or during the war, and we didn't spot it on satellite or UAV. That was because the main road to Baghdad from the south was a road that was constantly under surveillance.
Yes, I recall that Secretary of State Powell had lots of satellite pictures of trucks. A convoy of trucks moving from a known weapons site might have raised some alarm, yes? And then there's this EXCLUSIVE EYEWITNESS NEWS report, complete with video, from an embedded reporter:
A 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew in Iraq shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein was in the area where tons of explosives disappeared.


Using GPS technology and talking with members of the 101st Airborne 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS determined our crew embedded with them may have been on the southern edge of the Al Qaqaa installation, where that ammunition disappeared. Our crew was based just south of Al Qaqaa. On April 18, 2003 they drove two or three miles north into what is believed to be that area.

During that trip, members of the 101st Airborne Division showed the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew bunker after bunker of material labelled explosives. Usually it took just the snap of a bolt cutter to get in and see the material identified by the 101st as detonation cords.

"We can stick it in those and make some good bombs." a soldier told our crew.

There were what appeared to be fuses for bombs. They also found bags of material men from the 101st couldn't identify, but box after box was clearly marked "explosive."

In one bunker, there were boxes marked with the name "Al Qaqaa," the munitions plant where tons of explosives allegedly went missing.

Once the doors to the bunkers were opened, they weren't secured. They were left open when the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew and the military went back to their base.

"We weren't quite sure what were looking at, but we saw so much of it and it didn't appear that this was being secured in any way," said photojournalist Joe Caffrey. "It was several miles away from where military people were staying in their tents."

[Hat tip to the Bob the Blaster in the comments at Pandagon.]

Digby's right:
There must be something in the water this year in Beantown. The Yankee machine had the Sox down and they battled their way back and back and back to get into the series. And then they won with authority, dammit!

That righteous Boston mojo took them all the way and it's going to take John Kerry right through next Tuesday. And he's going to win with the same decisiveness that the Red Sox won the series. No bullshit and no question about who won.

And a certain faux Texan is going to get a chance to run for the office he always wanted --- baseball commissioner.
I approve this message.

Update: Kenneth S. Baer has another suggestion:
If George W. Bush loses this election, he will face a career crisis not seen since his days as a failed oil wildcatter before he was elected governor of Texas. But like all confused job seekers, Bush should follow his passion, which is clearly bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq. That is why if John Kerry is elected president, he should appoint Bush to be his ambassador to Iraq.
Well, OK. But Dick Cheney would have to be Vice-Ambassador, wouldn't he?

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Dear Andy,

Congratulations. Your latest column in The New Republic is a well-reasoned, if somewhat tortured, analysis that is fair to Kerry, generous to Bush, and ultimately quite convincing.

Welcome to the reality-based community.

Your buddy,


PS: Oliver Willis thinks you're a dickhead.

Damn. The boy is talented, to be sure, and the video is riveting. It makes Fahrenheit 9/11 look like an episode of Sesame Street. Be sure to watch all the way to the end.

From the director: "Two years ago, this video would not have been approved by a single record label. A year ago it would never had the possibility of being played on television. But with the changing tide of public sentiment marked by the success of our last video for Chronic Future, an anti-war message that made it into rotation on TRL we think it might just have a chance."

The DesMoines Register is doing great work:
Tight security and screening at President Bush's campaign events in Iowa has led to at least five arrests, frightened one teenager, and caused several other people to be turned away when they failed to voice support for the president.

While some were protesters, others were escorted out of events or told to leave because they were wearing buttons or T-shirts for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.


One of the latest incidents came when John Sachs, 18, a Johnston High School senior and Democrat, went to see Bush in Clive last week. Sachs got a ticket to the event from school and wanted to ask the president about whether there would be a draft, about the war in Iraq, Social Security and Medicare.

But when he got there, a campaign staffer pulled him aside and made him remove his button that said, "Bush-Cheney '04: Leave No Billionaire Behind." The staffer quizzed him about whether he was a Bush supporter, asked him why he was there and what questions he would be asking the president.

"Then he came back and said, 'If you protest, it won't be me taking you out. It will be a sniper,' " Sachs said. "He said it in such a serious tone it scared the crap out of me."

Sachs stayed at the event, but he was escorted to a section of the 7 Flags Events Center where he was surrounded by Secret Service and told he couldn't ask questions. "I was just in a state of fear," he said. "I was looking at the ceiling and I didn't know what to expect, I was so scared."

Ronayne said he wasn't aware of what happened to Sachs and declined to comment further. "To the best of my knowledge, no one's lives have been threatened at an event," he said.

Sachs' situation is the latest in a string of stories in which Iowans attending Bush campaign events said they've been made to feel unwelcome.

Other incidents include five protesters arrested outside an event in Cedar Rapids; black and Hispanic students frisked in Davenport; and two people denied admission in Dubuque because they either didn't support Bush or were affiliated with someone who didn't.

Iowa's stories are similar to those being told around the country. According to media reports, Missouri students were in tears after they were removed from a Bush rally because they were wearing Kerry buttons. Others in Minnesota and Wisconsin were asked to leave Bush rallies because they had Kerry T-shirts or stickers.

Thursday night, police wearing riot gear fired pepperballs at protesters gathered at a hotel in Jacksonville, Ore., where Bush was scheduled to eat and sleep after a campaign speech. No one was injured, but two were arrested on charges of failure to disperse. Participants questioned the police intervention because they said they weren't violent or disrupting traffic.
I was in high school when Nixon was President. I thought he was bad, but these guys are much, much worse.

This "final analysis" the day before the 2000 election illustrates how screwed up polls are. The source is RealClear Politics, whose home page could be a case study in How to Design an Ugly Web Page. Anyway, read this analysis, which went into excruciating detail to make this confident and supremely wrong prediction:
George W. Bush will be elected President of the United States tomorrow by the American people. But the last minute Gore push in some polls has perhaps given enough liberal Democrats hope to not waste their vote on Nader.

The real debate is not who is going to win the election, but whether Bush will win 308 electoral votes or 474 electoral votes. The media's fantasy of Bush winning the popular vote and losing the electoral college is not going happen. The worst case scenario for a Bush victory will be a 2-3 point win in the popular vote and 10-20% more than the necessary 270 EC votes.
In this prediction, Gore was going to do a Dukakis, winning a few northeastern states and getting blown out by George W. Bush. RCP said the result would be Bush 51.2, Gore 41.9, Nader 5.8. The polls in 2000 consistently showed Bush with a lead ranging from comfortable to huge. The actual popular vote was, you might recall, a little different, and so was the outcome in the Electoral College.

Four years ago, Gallup said Bush was going to win by 9 points or more. This year, the corresponding Gallup poll has Bush up by five points. Other recent polls show Kerry taking a slim lead.

Everyone makes predictions. I believe in my heart that John Kerry will win by a decisive margin next Tuesday. But the important thing to remember is this is not a spectator sport. It's a participant sport, and there are going to be a lot of people on the field this year, many of them for the first time, making a lot of noise.

Be there.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Today, President Bush spoke with Charlie Gibson on Good Morning America:
Bush, in an ABC interview broadcast Monday, was asked about the possibility of a terrorist attack on the United States before the election, a threat the administration has repeatedly raised. "We don't have actionable intelligence to say there's an attack, and of course if we did, we'd be moving heaven and earth to stop it," the president said.
Remember the last time President Bush said that? It was April 11, 2004, while the 9/11 Commission was hearing testimony.
Q Mr. President, could you tell us, did you see the presidential -- the President's Daily Brief from August of '01 as a warning --

THE PRESIDENT: Did I see it? Of course I saw it; I asked for it.

Q No, no, I'm sorry -- did you see it as a warning of hijackers? And how did you respond to that?

THE PRESIDENT: My response was exactly like then as it is today, that I asked for the Central Intelligence Agency to give me an update on any terrorist threats. And the PDB was no indication of a terrorist threat. There was not a time and place of an attack. It said Osama bin Laden had designs on America. Well, I knew that. What I wanted to know was, is there anything specifically going to take place in America that we needed to react to?

As you might recall, there was some specific threats for overseas that we reacted to. And as the President, I wanted to know whether there was anything, any actionable intelligence. And I looked at the August 6th briefing, I was satisfied that some of the matters were being looked into. But that PDB said nothing about an attack on America. It talked about intentions, about somebody who hated America -- well, we knew that.

Yes, Dave.
Two days later, at a rare presidential press conference:
THE PRESIDENT: Had there been a threat that required action by anybody in the government, I would have dealt with it. In other words, had they come up and said, this is where we see something happening, you can rest assured that the people of this government would have responded, and responded in a forceful way.

I mean, one of the things about Elisabeth's question was, I step back and I've asked myself a lot, is there anything we could have done to stop the attacks. Of course, I've asked that question -- as have many people of my government. Nobody wants this to happen to America. And the answer is that had I had any inkling whatsoever that the people were going to fly airplanes into buildings, we would have moved heaven and earth to save the country -- just like we're working hard to prevent a further attack. ...
The briefing, of course, was the August 6 PDB headlined, "Bin Laden Determined To Strike in US."

He's trotting out the exact same excuses that he and Condi used to say they weren't reponsible for the attacks of 9/11. Feel safer?

Over at The American Street, Julia picks out this quote from an AP story on the catastrophic failure to secure 380 tons of explosives in Iraq:
At the Pentagon, an official who monitors developments in Iraq said U.S.-led coalition troops had searched Al Qaqaa in the immediate aftermath of the March 2003 invasion and confirmed that the explosives were intact. Thereafter the site was not secured by U.S. forces, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Her comment:
We checked to see that there were almost four hundred tons of explosives used in manufacturing nuclear weapons, ascertained that there were almost four hundred tons of explosives used in manufacturing nuclear weapons in a stockpile and then left, leaving almost four hundred tons of explosives used in manufacturing nuclear weapons unguarded.

The mind reels. It really does.
Oh yes, it does.

The best endorsement of the year comes from the DesMoines Register. I'm going to anger the copyright gods by posting the entire thing here:
About half of Americans have lost confidence in President Bush, yet many hang back from embracing the alternative. That's unfortunate, because Senator John F. Kerry is a wise and decent man who has the makings of a fine president.

Still, there's little wonder that voters have doubts. Most of what they think they know about the senator comes from a masterful job of 'defining the opposition' carried out by the Bush campaign and its surrogates before most people got a chance to know the real Kerry.

So Americans were introduced to Kerry the flip-flopper. Kerry the softie on defense. Kerry the wild-eyed liberal. Kerry the appeaser who will let terrorists attack America.

It's sad that an incumbent president chose to employ so much of his vast campaign resources to tear down his challenger, and not to cite his own accomplishments or to move the nation ahead. But perhaps that's precisely the difficulty the president faces.

His presidency has been one of bold leadership undermined by a failure to achieve meaningful results. The resolute leader Americans rallied behind after Sept. 11, 2001, sidetracked the country into a mess in Iraq. The fiscally responsible, compassionate conservative Americans thought they elected, the man we hoped would improve schools, lower the cost of health care and find more jobs, has failed to do so and instead run up an unprecedented national debt.

The president, whose swagger in adversity and plain-folks straight talk can be so appealing, has failed to see the reality of the problems or outline a road map for progress for the next four years.

National polls show the president's disapproval numbers hoving near 50 percent.

Now it is time to take the next logical step and recognize John Kerry as someone who could do better. It's time to see Kerry as the person he is, not as the caricature created in the president's campaign ads.

Kerry won the presidential debates because the man Americans saw on live television differed from the caricature. Americans saw a thoughtful, experienced, exceptionally well-informed candidate who cares deeply about his country and its people.

They didn't see Mr. Perfect. Kerry tends toward wordiness and overexplanation. His positions on some issues - such as being nearly indistinguishable from Bush on Iraq - are unsatisfactory. His New England reserve comes off as aloofness. It takes time to gain an appreciation of him.

A search for the real John Kerry should focus on his 22 years in elective office - unblemished service as Massachusetts lieutenant governor and U.S. senator. The strongest indication of his success is that the people of Massachusetts - the cradle of American liberty - chose four times to elect him to the Senate.

Yes, Kerry is liberal. But what's to fear from a liberal president? That he would run big deficits? That he would increase federal spending? That he would expand the power of the federal government over individuals' lives? Nothing Kerry could do could top what President Bush has already done in those realms.

Kerry is not the stereotypical liberal in any case. According to the "Almanac of American Politics," Kerry is "more respectful of economic free markets" and more inclined to an expansionist foreign policy than other liberal Democrats. He has been a champion of small business. He was an early supporter of the conservative Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit-reduction act.

An overview of Kerry's 20 years in the Senate shows a conscientious lawmaker, popular with the home-state voters. Kerry's legislative interests have run to investigating government wrongdoing, strengthening law enforcement, securing health care for children and preventing nuclear proliferation. He has a strong record on the environment.

Most interesting - and relevant to Nov. 2 - Kerry has a reputation for being able to work across party lines. He worked well with Republican Gov. William Weld for the common good of Massachusetts. He worked with Republican Senators John McCain and Bob Smith on POW/MIA issues.

That's a key quality, especially in an angrily polarized America. Of President Bush's shortcomings, the most disappointing is the betrayal of his promise to be a uniter. America should be united at times like these - and was for a shining moment after 9/11. But the president let that slip away, deepening divisions by adopting a my-way-or-the-highway cocksureness on both domestic and foreign affairs.

It can be assumed that the next president, be it Bush or Kerry, will do everything in his power to make America safe from terrorism. That's job No. 1, and the American people will stand for no less. But on the broad range of other issues, Kerry has more to offer. He is in touch with the middle class. He is better informed on health care and has sound ideas for creating jobs. He understands that protecting the environment need not be a drag on the economy but can be a great boon as new energy technologies are developed.

By nature, he is more of a uniter than Bush.

It won't be easy. The partisans on neither side will go silent on Inauguration Day. If Kerry wins, those who have been attacking him will do their best to undermine his presidency. The same will be true on the other side if Bush is re-elected.

But Kerry, we believe, has a better chance of overcoming that anger. It is the nature of the man to listen and to respect others. He does not tend toward vindictiveness or in-your-face triumphalism. There is a dignity about him. We have watched him from early in the Iowa caucus campaign through a grueling general-election campaign in a battleground state. We have seen Kerry grow and develop in presidential qualities to the point we're confident in recommending him as a person of common sense and decency - a leader who has what it takes to bring Americans back together.
Spread the word.

This is mind-boggling:
Huge Cache of Explosives Vanished From Site in Iraq
The Iraqi interim government has warned the United States and international nuclear inspectors that nearly 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives - used to demolish buildings, make missile warheads and detonate nuclear weapons - are missing from one of Iraq's most sensitive former military installations.

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

The White House said President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, was informed within the past month that the explosives were missing. It is unclear whether President Bush was informed. American officials have never publicly announced the disappearance, but beginning last week they answered questions about it posed by The New York Times and the CBS News program "60 Minutes."
And the New York Times is letting the Bush Administration off easy, as Josh Marshall has pointed out in a super series of posts. You could start with this one and then scroll down:
The material seems to have been missing since some time shortly after the US invasion of Iraq in March/April 2003. So this isn't something that just happened. It probably happened some eighteen months ago.

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

And all this on top of the fact that IAEA officials have told journalists from several news outlets, including the Nelson Report, that the Bush administration not only failed to notify the IAEA of this while the US was still the occupying power but has pressured the Iraqis not to inform the IAEA both before and after the July 1st handover of power.
This is more than 750,000 pounds of explosives, ladies and gentlemen. High explosives. The Times story notes: "The explosives missing from Al Qaqaa are the strongest and fastest in common use by militaries around the globe. The Iraqi letter identified the vanished stockpile as containing 194.7 metric tons of HMX, which stands for 'high melting point explosive,' 141.2 metric tons of RDX, which stands for 'rapid detonation explosive,' among other designations, and 5.8 metric tons of PETN, which stands for 'pentaerythritol tetranitrate.' The total is roughly 340 metric tons or nearly 380 American tons. ... The bomb that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 used less than a pound of the same type of material, and larger amounts were apparently used in the bombing of a housing complex in November 2003 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the blasts in a Moscow apartment complex in September 1999 that killed nearly 300 people." You could set off 100 bombs a day for 20 years with a cache this size.

Let's review the facts:
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency knew about this cache of weapons and had it under seal while Saddam was in power. Any attempts to move, transfer, or use these explosives would have been observed. An international coalition might have seen any such movement as justification for military action. In military terms, it was not useful to Saddam Hussein's government.
  • During the invasion of Iraq, no one in the Bush administration or the U.S. military made it a priority to secure this cache of weapons. Instead, they were taken away by persons unknown.
  • The Iraqi insurgency has almost certainly been using these explosives to create car bombs and roadside explosive devices to kill occupying soldiers (1,100+ Americans, so far) and Iraqi citizens. It takes as little as a pound of this stuff to create the sort of bombs that have been going off with such devastating effect in Iraq.
  • The Bush Administration knew about this a year and a half ago and has been actively attempting to cover up the story since then. Why? Because they have made the Middle East, and the world, less safe. The Times again: "'The immediate danger' of the lost stockpile, said an expert who recently led a team that searched Iraq for deadly arms, 'is its potential use with insurgents in very small and powerful explosive devices. The other danger is that it can easily move into the terrorist web across the Middle East.'" Does anyone think this stuff isn't moving all over the Middle East right now?
Donald Rumsfeld once famously said, "Freedom is messy." Well, the truth is messy, too, and it has a way of leaking out, as it has done here.

Juan Cole asks:
If Bush cannot even protect our troops from explosives at a sensitive facility in a country he had conquered, how is he going to protect the American public from terrorists who have not even yet been identified? ... I just don't feel any safer with Bush in the White House. Maybe it is just me.
No, it's not just you, Dr. Cole. In any sane world, this is, at best, incompetence and mismanagement on a catastrophic, colossal scale. At worst, it is criminal. We didn't guard the hospitals, the power plants, the art museums, or the warehouses filled with explosives. How can anyone say with a straight face that Iraq or the world is better off today?

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Ex-EPA chief raps Bush on policies:
The Bush administration has turned its back on public health and given the international community "the back of its hand" in dealing with global environmental policy, a prominent Republican campaigning for Sen. John Kerry said Tuesday. Russell Train, hired by President Nixon in 1973 to lead the fledgling Environmental Protection Agency, urged a small crowd at College of the Atlantic to vote for Democrat Kerry in the Nov. 2 presidential election.

Train held his brief talk in Bar Harbor, headquarters for Acadia National Park, and COA, which focuses on environmental studies.

Train received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George H.W. Bush in 1991 for his lifelong commitment to environmental and wildlife protection.

A lifelong Republican, Train said he has been "shocked and saddened" at how quickly the current administration has "turned back the clock" on environmental protection.

"This has been a radical - and I emphasize radical - rollback of environmental protection laws [and regulations] ... that all too often favor the interests of special interest polluters over the general public," Train said, "with extremely serious impacts on public health."
As a member of my hiking group noted this morning, our grandchildren will be paying for the damage to the environment done in a few short years by this terrible President.

The Poor Man has the storyboards from the Bush campaign's new "Wolves" ad.

Warning: Fully consume any drinks before reading.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Blogger tells me that this is a red-letter day. This is the 666th post since this blog opened for business. To honor the occasion, I present a short excerpt from Item 10 on a list called The Twelve Signs Of The End Of The World:
Preparations will be made for the coming of Antichrist, called the son of perdition and the beast. Preceded by false prophets and false signs and wonders, Antichrist will be a master of illusion, of "shock and awe," taking away people's freedom, but making them think that they have been freed.
Sound like anyone we know?

Josh Marshall has an excellent question:
Now, you'll remember from the 9/11 commission hearings earlier this year that the National Security Advisor is, or should be, the quarterback when the country faces a heightened or imminent threat of terrorist attack. She's the one who pulls together all the various threat reports and makes sure all legs and arms of the national security apparatus are working in unison.

If this whole 'al Qaida disrupting the democratic process' is on the level then we're entering the red zone right about now. We're ten days out from the election.

So why is the National Security Advisor, Condi Rice, out hitting the campaign trail?

Think about that for a second. Is there any possible good answer? Either all the effort to hype an election day al Qaida threat is just another effort to use the White House's control over the intelligence community as a campaign asset or Rice is shirking her duties at a moment of acute national peril.
So which is it? Will any member of the press ask?

You know, if you're going to have a debate about the role of government in science and the ethical implications thereof, you should try to be ethical in your argument. Sadly, this doesn't always happen. Case in point:

Jesse at Pandagon links to a post from BeldarBlog and says: "Correct me if I'm wrong, but is this guy comparing stem-cell research to the Holocaust?"

As it turns out, Beldar did exactly that. He quotes a Reuters reporter who covered Senator Kerry's speech on technology yesterday, and then says:
Dubya would have sided with the Gypsies, the mentally retarded, and the Jews against Hitler's sterilization and genocide. Whatever one thinks of abortion, whenever one thinks meaningful human life begins, it's ugly - outrageous - to compare human embryos to typewriters and buggy whips.
Yes, it would be outrageous to make that comparison. Except it never happened. Although the Reuters story was sloppy, it made no such comparison, and none was in the original speech.

In the comments at Jesse's site, Beldar plays outraged and innocent, and to his credit he back-pedaled on the accusation in an update to the original post. But he is actually engaging in the worst form of intellectual dishonesty, taking two out-of-context quotes and trying to make a connection between them. He strongly implies that Kerry compared human embryos to buggy whips and ignored the ethical implications of stem cell research. This is simply not true, and to make this implication is dishonest. Here's the full quote from Kerry's speech:
From nanotechnology to artificial intelligence, we know where the next generation of high-paying jobs will come from: jobs that pay, on average, 70 percent more than other jobs. Yet, George Bush has been so obsessed with cutting taxes for the wealthy that our investments in creating those jobs are dying on the vine.

This President has proposed cutting the National Science Foundation budget for research and development, cutting the EPA research budget, and cutting the Veteran’s Affairs research budget. He’s proposed cutting the Manufacturing Extension Program that business uses to develop new processes by 90 percent. This week, we learned that America has fallen to 13th in the world in broadband coverage. Broadband is critical to our long-term growth, but this president has proposed cutting the Agriculture Department’s Rural Broadband budget, which brings the internet to America’s small towns and rural communities.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has said that to make good on all his campaign promises, the President would have to cut research funding at 21 of 24 federal agencies. And as the 9th largest recipient today of federal R&D funding among the 50 states, Ohio will be one of the hardest-hit states of all.

You get the feeling that if George Bush had been President during other periods in American history, he would have sided with the candle lobby against electricity, the buggy-makers against cars, and typewriter companies against computers.
What was missing? Oh yes, the reference to human embryos, which was in another section of the speech.

The Reuters report was fuzzy-headed in the extreme. Senator Kerry's actual remarks weren't. It appears that our Conehead correspondent didn't actually go and read the source material but instead relied on a flawed news report, based on a tip from a right-wing hack at the Corner.

Friend Beldar, you might want to read these remarks from Senator Kerry. Pay special attention to this section:
Kerry today said we must continue in our nation’s great ethic of discovery and push the boundaries of medical exploration. While providing strict ethical oversight, he said we must do everything we can to make sure doctors and scientists keep learning and researching stem cells to find cures and treatments.

“Above all, we must look to the future not with fear, but with the hope and the faith that advances in medicine will advance our best values,” Kerry said. “America has always been a land of discovery – of distant horizons and unconquered frontiers.”

Recognizing that with progress come ethical concerns, Kerry said we can resolve them with goodwill and good sense.

“Believe it or not, there was a time when some questioned the morality of heart transplants,” Kerry said. “Not too long ago, we heard the same kind of arguments against the biotechnology research that now saves stroke victims and those with leukemia.”
Goodwill and good sense. Now, there's a concept. The trouble is, the supporters of President Bush are doing too much of this sort of casual mudslinging. It's almost as if Karl Rove wants this sort of thing.

Update: While I was writing this post, Jesse was updating the original to make the exact same point about the irony of using a profoundly dishonest argument while ostensibly defending ethics.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

ESPN has the best one line-review:
In hindsight, perhaps it was a mistake for the Yankees to raise a "Mission Accomplished" banner above their dugout after Game 3.

Update: Best live-blogging of ALCS Game 7 is from The Poor Man:
... 8-1 in the 7th, Sox threatening. I accept on an abstract, intellectual level that it is physically possible for the Red Sox to win this game. Prediction: Yankees win 43-43* in the 104th inning when Zombie Babe Ruth leaps from his grave beneath the pitcher's mound and eats Manny Ramirez's brain seconds before he can score the winning run.

... Same score, Derek Lowe, pitching a one-hitter, is pulled for relief pitcher Pedro "New York is my Daddy" Martinez, pitching on 3 minutes' rest. Prediction: Yankees win 324-8 in 9 innings. Pedro's arm falls off. At the exact moment that the game ends, Fenway Park is hit by a comet.
Is this the October Surprise?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

OK, He tells Bush one thing, and then he tells Pat Robertson something completely different. At least, that's what Pat Robertson told Paula Zahn on CNN:
I met with him down in Nashville before the Gulf War started. And he was the most self-assured man I ever met in my life.... He was just sitting there, like, I'm on top of the world, and I warned him about this war. I had deep misgivings about this war, deep misgivings. And I was trying to say, Mr. President, you better prepare the American people for casualties.

"Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties."
Well, I said, it's the way it's going to be. And so, it was messy. The lord told me it was going to be, A, a disaster and, B, messy. And before that, I had deep, in my spirit, I had deep misgivings about going into Iraq.
You know, I think some of those Iraqis were getting a completely different story from God as well. I'm beginning to think that maybe our President isn't getting good advice from upstairs.

PS: 1100+ dead Americans. Well over 10,000 dead Iraqis. More than 8000 wounded Americans. Only God knows how many Iraqis have been wounded, and apparently he's not telling the President.


Uggabugga says:
A number of bloggers have embraced the charge that Bush is not part of the reality based community.... We agree that much of what Bush does is not reality based, but saying so does not give the listener an idea of what Bush is for. A better charge, in our view, is calling the president 19th Century Bush. It's a snappy phrase (matches the well known '20th Century Fox') and it discribes where Bush is heading this country. Bush is trying to dismantle many of the developments that made the last hundred years The American Century."
Antitrust laws. Direct election of Senators. The progressive income tax. Social Security. Separation of church and state. The right to privacy. Abortion rights. Poof. All gone (or on their way to being phased out) in a second Bush term.

An excellent, well-documented list.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Every American should demonstrate their patriotism with firm statements of resolve. Be sure to ask your Republican friends to take the Patriot Pledge!

(You'll want to be there when they figure it out.)

Media Matters for America is underwriting a shareholder lawsuit aimed at Sinclair:
Media Matters for America (MMFA) announced today that it is underwriting the costs of a shareholder action, demanding that Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc., provide equal time to those 'with views opposed to the allegations' in the anti-Kerry film Stolen Honor, which Sinclair plans to air between October 21-24, in prime time, on all 62 of its stations reaching up to 25 percent of U.S. TV households.
Maybe they could look into this investment, which was reported in the Baltimore Business Journal:
January 29, 1999
Sinclair buys big chunk of technology company

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. bought a 32.1 percent stake in Acrodyne Communications Inc., a supplier of VHF and UHF television transmitters. Sinclair paid an average of $3.18 per share, including warrants to buy more stock, for 1.4 million shares of Acrodyne. Officials said the market for new digital transmitters could be great once television stations start upgrading their digital technology.
As of this morning, Acrodyne shares were trading at 25 cents a share, a 92% loss. Interestingly, an October 4, 2004 press release from Acrodyne announcing a "dramatic power savings" when a Sinclair-owned station used its new transmitter technology does not mention that Sinclair holds a substantial ownership position in the company. I'm not a securities lawyer, but that sure does seem like it's withholding material information. I mean, someone considering whether to invest in Acrodyne based on this positive test might want to know that the station doing the test stands to gain if the results are positive. Right?

If I were a Sinclair stockholder, I would be really pissed off right now. And I would sure be looking carefully at this list of companies they've invested in.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Hey, you live by the smear, you die by the smear. A press release from Sinclair claims someone sent out a phony e-mail purportedly from the CEO:
BALTIMORE, Oct 15, 2004 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- Sinclair Broadcast Group is notifying the public of an email spoof that attempts to make the recipient believe that they are receiving an email from Sinclair's CEO David Smith. The email is entitled, 'Update on Kerry POW Film and FEC Ruling.' Recipients should ignore and delete any such correspondence. Sinclair would also urge that any purported communication coming from a Sinclair executive or employee be confirmed as authentic.

Sinclair is in the process of tracking the sender of the email spoof and will determine whether to proceed with civil charges. Anyone found to be creating, forwarding, or posting such false emails may also face civil action.
Heh. If only they were as diligent with the stuff they broadcast.

If you've received a copy of this thing, send me a copy, wouldja?

Kerry can't sue, because he's a public figure. But this guy can and will. The Baltimore Sun is in front of this story too:
A Vietnam veteran filed a libel lawsuit today claiming he was falsely portrayed as a fraud and a liar in a film criticizing Sen. John Kerry's anti-war activities.

Kenneth J. Campbell, now a professor at the University of Delaware, said in the suit that 'Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal' combines footage of him appearing at a 1971 war protest with a voice-over that claims that many of the supposed veterans who took part in the event were later 'discovered as frauds' who 'never set foot on the battlefield, or left the comfort of the [United] States, or even served in uniform.'

The suit said viewers would be left with the perception that Campbell had lied about his military service.

Campbell attached copies of his military records to the suit, showing that he received the Purple Heart medal and eight other medals, ribbons and decorations for his service as an artillery forward observer in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969.

The suit names the film's producer, Carlton Sherwood, and his company, Red White and Blue Productions, as defendants.

'The defendants' malicious, reckless and scandalous misrepresentations and falselight presentations of Dr. Campbell were done with the specific intent to defame Dr. Campbell and place him in a false light, and with a reckless and outrageous disregard for the truth,' Campbell's attorney wrote in the lawsuit.

Campbell's lawyer also threatened legal action against Sinclair Broadcast Group, the Maryland-based owner of 62 television stations that has announced it intends to pre-empt regular programming to broadcast 'Stolen Honor' two weeks before the election. The 42-minute film is critical of Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate, and his anti-war activism after he returned home from Vietnam three decades ago.
Oh, and Sinclair's stock is down nearly 7% today so far.

I believe the boats have been turned to shore and fire is raking Sinclair from all directions.

From the Baltimore Sun:
The Washington bureau chief for Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group's news division angrily denounced his employer last night for plans to air an hourlong program that is to include incendiary allegations against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry for his anti-war activism three decades ago.

"It's biased political propaganda, with clear intentions to sway this election," said Jon Leiberman, Sinclair's lead political reporter for more than a year. "For me, it's not about right or left -- it's about what's right or wrong in news coverage this close to an election."

Repeated efforts to reach Sinclair officials for comment last night proved unsuccessful.


Leiberman spoke out yesterday after a mandatory staff meeting attended by Sinclair's corporate news division at company headquarters in Hunt Valley.

"I have nothing to gain here -- and really, I have a lot to lose," Leiberman said. "At the end of the day, though, all you really have is your credibility."


Leiberman said he was anguished by his decision to speak out. But, he said, the influence of commentator Mark Hyman and Chief Executive David D. Smith has been devastating. "There is going to be a concerted effort on the part of my colleagues to make this as balanced a program as they can," Leiberman said. "But the selection of the material -- dumping it on the news department, and giving them four days, and running it this close to the election -- it's indefensible, in my opinion."

Leiberman said he told Sinclair's vice president for news, Joseph DeFeo, that he would not contribute to the program and that DeFeo suggested the reporter could lose his job.
That took guts. If Sinclair fires this guy, I predict that there will be a line of people waiting to hire him.

Update: Oliver Willis says Sinclair fired Lieberman this afternoon.

Via Buzzflash, this blast from the not-so-distant past - specifically, a New York Times article originally printed on January 25, 2001:
Republican Unity Coalition: It was a first for gay Republicans. Last week's inaugural events included a breakfast honoring the Republican Unity Coalition, a new political group that includes gay members of the party. The master of ceremonies at Friday's celebration was a respected Republican elder, former Senator Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming, a close friend of both the Bush and Cheney families.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Simpson noted, "Not one of us doesn't have someone close to us who is gay or lesbian." Then he invoked Mary Cheney, the daughter of the vice president, who attended the inauguration with her partner. Mr. Simpson said that after Ms. Cheney said she was a lesbian, her father, Dick Cheney, "protected and loved her as his very special, special daughter."
Well, slap me on the tail fins and call me a fighting betta! Isn't that almost exactly what Kerry said in the debate last week about Mary Cheney? When he said it, mom Lynne Cheney called him a "bad man" and papa Dick said he turned into an "angry father" just thinking about it.

I guess this means that Alan Simpson has been off the Cheneys' Christmas card list for the last three years, right? Oh wait, I forgot: It's OK if you're a Republican! Especially if you're part of the "Wall Street wing." The Times story continues:
While social conservatives argue that civil rights for gay people amount to special treatment, the Wall Street wing of the party has already begun instituting equal rights and benefits for gays in the private sector.

Few Republicans better exemplify that change than Mary Cheney. Until last year, she was a corporate-relations manager for the Coors Brewing Company whose duties included convincing gay men and lesbians that Coors was not anti-gay and was offering its gay employees many of the benefits other corporations give them. She was an aide to her father in the campaign and now plans to attend business school in Colorado.

Coors sponsored last week's inaugural breakfast celebrating Republican gay men and lesbians, along with Microsoft, Verizon and Pfizer.
And I promise, this is the last time I will write about this stupid non-issue.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

The amazing thing about Jon Stewart's appearance on Crossfire yesterday is that he stayed relentlessly on message. Carlson and Begala never seemed to realize that he had come on their show to deliver a serious message of their utter craven hackery.

Compare and contrast:

The Daily Show pretends to be a comedy program. In reality, it delivers large helpings of truth with astute analysis on the side.

Crossfire pretends to be a news show. In reality, it is a sordid piece of political theater that amplifies partisan deceptions and launches them into the marketplace of ideas daily.

Our news media are hurting America. I can't wait to see what The Daily Show does in the next few weeks.

Ron Suskind's article in tomorrow's New York Times Magazine, "Without a Doubt", is remarkable. It's long, long, long, but a must-read for anyone who cares about the future of the world.
Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and a treasury official for the first President Bush, told me recently that ''if Bush wins, there will be a civil war in the Republican Party starting on Nov. 3.'' The nature of that conflict, as Bartlett sees it? Essentially, the same as the one raging across much of the world: a battle between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true believers, reason and religion.

''Just in the past few months,'' Bartlett said, ''I think a light has gone off for people who've spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do.'' Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush's governance, went on to say: ''This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can't be persuaded, that they're extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he's just like them. . . .

''This is why he dispenses with people who confront him with inconvenient facts,'' Bartlett went on to say. ''He truly believes he's on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence.'' Bartlett paused, then said, ''But you can't run the world on faith.''
Unfortunately, it looks like we may be on the verge of getting exactly what our Resolute Leader wants:
Associated Press: "On Friday, the Association of Muslim Scholars, a Sunni group with ties to some insurgents, called upon political parties to withdraw from the government to protest bloodshed in Fallujah, Samarra and other cities.

In a separate statement read Friday in Sunni mosques in Baghdad and elsewhere, Fallujah clerics threatened a civil disobedience campaign across the country if the Americans try to overrun the city.

The clerics said if civil disobedience were not enough to stop a U.S. assault, they would proclaim a jihad, or holy war, against all U.S. and multinational forces "as well as those collaborating with them."

They insisted that the Jordanian-born al-Zarqawi was not in Fallujah, claiming his alleged presence "is a lie just like the weapons of mass destruction lie."

"Al-Zarqawi has become the pretext for flattening civilians houses and killing innocent civilians," the statement said.
Oh my goodness. Read the part in Suskind's article where a "senior adviser to Bush" explains how the Bush White House works:
The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
Whoa. I don't know about you, but I always thought that maintaining a firm connection to reality was the best way to survive in the, you know, real world.

This is truly scary stuff. Pure madness. Whatever cave he's in, Osama bin Laden is praising Allah for sending George W. Bush out to bring on the holy war he always wanted.

Friday, October 15, 2004

The Poor Man has a transcript of Jon Stewart's appearance on Crossfire. He went on with a single message to Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson: "Stop, stop, stop, stop hurting America." Best moment? Stewart to Tucker Carlson: "You know what's interesting, though? You're as big a dick on your show as you are on any show."

Oh, man. This guy is awesome. Totally awesome.

Update: Ezra at Pandagon links to this video clip of the whole show. He says:
Speaking of our, er, underwhelming press corps, you really must watch this video of Stewart smacking down Begala and Carlson. Unlike other copies of the encounter, this one is a crystal-clear recording of the whole segment. The balls it took for Stewart to walk onto the Crossfire set and, without a smile, without irony, and without faltering, inform them that their show epitomized all that plagues the's a pretty astonishing performance.
I agree. Watch it. The best political commentators in America through the past century have often been comedians: Will Rogers, Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce, George Carlin. Jon Stewart's name belongs on this list.

William Gibson is blogging again after a one-year hiatus. He leads with this joke:
President Bush goes to an elementary school to talk about the war.

After his talk, he offers to answer questions. One little boy puts up his hand and the president asks him his name.

'I'm Billy, sir.'

'And what's your question, Billy?'

'I have three questions, sir. Why did the US invade Iraq without the support of the UN? Why are you President when Al Gore got more votes? And whatever happened to Osama Bin Laden?'

Just then the bell rings for recess. Bush announces that they'll continue after recess.

When they return, Bush asks, 'OK, where were we? Question time! Who has a question?'

Another little boy raises his hand. The president asks his name.

'I'm Steve, sir.'

'And what's your question, Steve?'

'I have five questions, sir. Why did the US invade Iraq without the support of the UN? Why are you President when Al Gore got more votes? Whatever happened to Osama Bin Laden? Why did the recess bell go off twenty minutes early? And what the heck happened to Billy?'
The real knee-slapping funny part, of course, is that this is an old joke about the Soviet Union. And it applies perfectly to America under George W. Bush.

President Bush's top political aide, Karl Rove, testified on Friday before the federal grand jury investigating whether anyone in the administration illegally leaked the name of an undercover CIA officer.

White House spokesman Trent Duffy confirmed Rove's testimony but gave no other details of the proceedings, which are secret.
Apparently, he didn't use the word lesbian, so it's not all that important.

In other news, Osama bin Laden hasn't said the word lesbian lately, either, so he remains unimportant. Nothing to worry about, America. Stay tuned for another terror alert.

Powerful stuff.

Media Matters for America reviews: "MMFA has viewed Stolen Honor and can confirm that it is filled with lies and smears against Senator John Kerry."

Many details follow.

The Swift Boat gang? Liars. There's plenty of documentation that establishes the inaccuracy of virtually every sleazy claim they've made, and now ABC News has the rest of the story, from halfway around the world:
Nightline traveled to Vietnam and found a number of witnesses who have never been heard from before, and who have no particular ax to grind for or against Kerry. Only one of them, in fact, even knew who Kerry is. The witnesses, all Vietnamese, are still living in the same villages where the fighting took place more than 35 years ago. A Nightline producer visited them and recorded their accounts of that day. The accounts were subsequently translated by a team of ABC News translators.
The Nightline report shreds every charge that John O'Neill and his pack of paid character assassins came up with. The story also notes without comment, this report from a Vietnamese villager who witnessed all the events on that fateful day:
Back in Tran Thoi, villager Nguyen Van Khoai said that about six months ago he was visited by an American who described himself as a Swift boat veteran and told him another American from the Swift boats was running for president of the United States. Nguyen said the man was accompanied by a cameraman.

"They say he didn't do anything to deserve the medal," Nguyen said. "The other day, they came and asked me the questions and I said that the recognition for the medal is up to the U.S.A."

He said that, after they met, the Swift Boat veteran and the cameraman turned around and went back down the river. "Nightline" has not been able to identify the men.
Apparently, John O'Neill was on Nightline last night, and nearly went ballistic on Ted Koppel. It's a shame that all of America can't be forced to watch this man try to defend his slimey actions.

And then there's the Swift Boat Liars' new partner, Carlton Sherwood, who produced the 40-minute attack ad that Sinclair plans to broadcast. I wrote previously about this guy's shadowy past. Digby had a similar story, and Josh Marshall did an excellent piece as well. A tipster who goes by the nom de blog "jus' walkin' the dawg" sends these additional juicy details:
According to the bio on the website of his mercenary shop, the WVC3 Group, Carlton Sherwood "served as Special Media Advisor to the Secretary of the Navy during the Reagan Administration".

Who was the Secretary of the Navy? Why, of course, it was James Webb, who now sits on WVC3's advisory board.

On 8th Nov 2003, Sherwood appeared on the frankly barking Judicial Watch Report Radio Show. It is hosted by Judicial Watch's president, Tom Fitton, who spends much of the show indulging in paranoid right-wing rants. You can download that show (as an 80MB sound file) from here or here.

Sherwood had just got back from Iraq and was invited onto the show to talk (over the telephone) about the worsening security situation. There are two points of interest:

  • At 2m 10s into the show, Sherwood is introduced by the host. In addition to the standard biog, Fitton says "he's advised the President Bush" [sic]. Of course, Fitton could just have been wrong. I'm not clear if Sherwood was even on the line at that point. Anyhow, Sherwood certainly didn't correct him on this.
  • At 42m 12s into the show, Carlton Sherwood says this about US military casualties in Iraq:

    "Every time I get up in the morning and I turn on the cable news and I see that one or two more of our soldiers have been killed it's like a kick in the guts to me, personally. But it's also a double whammy because I know what soundbite's going to follow that. And you're right.

    It'll be some wannabe - a Presidential wannabe, or one of their aides, carping, almost gleefully, using your word, almost gleefully that, uh, this is one more evidence of a failure."
Which does not exactly square with Sherwood’s current claims of political independence: "I’m a political independent and always have been... This is not political, it is deeply personal."
We already know Sherwood gets office space and PR services from a well-connected RNC operative. He's been appointed by Bush to an advisory board in Pennsylvania. And he's a vice president with a company founded and run by former high-ranking CIA and Pentagon officials from the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations. Independent? Uh-huh.

And then there's Sinclair. Jay Rosen has a lengthy essay on why Sinclair is fighting so hard:
Sinclair Broadcast's inexact plan to air Stolen Honor in the weeks before the election is an unprecedented move, and it signals the arrival of a new combination in broadcasting: a political empire made of television stations.

Sinclair has been saying for some time that it intends to be that: something new on the American scene. The empire it has assembled so far reaches 25 percent of the U.S., and it can increase that portion by buying up more stations. Or more newspapers.

Will it be allowed to buy more stations? Will it be allowed to buy your local newspaper when it already owns your local Fox station? Ultimately that is a political question-- regulators, courts, Congress, the White House will decide. It has a great deal to do with who wins in November.


Sinclair wants something to do with who wins in November. And it's willing to take actions once unthinkable because the company thinks differently about what is permitted in political television. To risk a public fight over interference in an election is a major departure for a local broadcaster. Not only law, but broadly understood custom once prohibited it.


In a commercial empire it makes no sense to invite a storm like that. But what if a company were built for that sort of storm? A lot depends on how we define Sinclair Broadcasting: as a media company with a political agenda, or a political actor that's gotten hold of a media company and is re-shaping it for bigger battles ahead.

There are plenty of signs that Sinclair is a different animal. Supporters and critics of showing Stolen Honor should both understand that.
Read the rest. It'll make your blood run cold.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Remarkable. Ian Welsh explains the Kerry plan in plain English. I had seen these details before, but never laid out so well. If you know someone who is concerned about health care, send them this link.

Here are a few things 9/11 didn't change, just off the top of my head: it didn't change our Constitution, our laws, our history, or our traditions. It didn't change our need for access to healthcare, good jobs, and a strong economy. It didn't change the meaning of fairness, honesty, or truth. It didn't change our essential impulse to be good to each other. It didn't change our need to educate our children, nor did it diminish in any way the importance of a free press. 9/11 didn't make us any less obsessed with pop culture or with shopping or gossip. 9/11 didn't make us any less dependent on foreign oil. Our freedom to travel has been subject to small inconveniences, but not curtailed in the least. 9/11 didn't even change the fundamental safety record of airlines, for crying out loud; flying is still the safest way to travel.

(My wife makes a good point here: It is in times of greatest danger when our essential values are most called upon. We are not a free society only when it's easy. Our freedoms and our 'American character' is supposed to be what carries us through when the going gets rough.)

9/11 didn't change everything, but our response to 9/11 changed a lot. We are less safe, less respected, less liked, and less powerful. I, for one, am tired of hearing people repeat this worn phrase as prelude to shirking their responsibility or abusing their power. 9/11 did not change the essential character of American society or make us any less a democratic republic. If any of that happens, we will have done it to ourselves.
I can't add a word.

The Smoking Gun Web site is practically melting down as people read the sexual harassment complaint of a former employee against Bill O'Reilly. As the Web site notes, "Based on the extensive quotations cited in the complaint, it appears a safe bet that Mackris recorded some of O'Reilly's more steamy soliloquies."

The material in the complaint is stunning. And it's not just raunchy sex stuff, although there is lots of that. This quote has got to be making Fox executives nervous:
If you cross FOX NEWS Channel, it's not just me, it's Roger Alies who will go after you. I'm the street guy make loud noises about the issues, but Alies operates behind the scenes, strategies and makes things happen so one day BAM! That person gets what's coming to them but never sees it coming. Look at Al Franken, one day he is going to get a knock on his door and life as he's known it will change forever. That day will happen trust me.
If even 1% of these allegations are true, and especially if the tapes ever become public, O'Reilly is through. Wonder how he will possibly respond to this? Stay tuned.

Update: What will we tell the children?

Now we know why Karl Rove hates Al Gore so much. Gore invented the Internet [No he didn't! - Ed.], and the blogosphere has been using the infinite resources of the Internet to uncover all sorts of dirty tricks. The sleazy moves that worked so well in the past are now exposed practically in real time.

Case in point: A diarist at Daily Kos has found links that tie the Republican National Committee to a sweeping, nationwide voter fraud campaign. The ringleaders created a dummy company that posed as a nonpartisan "get out the vote" group, but they systematically destroyed voter registration forms they received from Democrats.
Found the following links which all seem to point to the same company that is suspected of tearing up Democratic voter registration forms in Las Vegas. It has set up registration drives in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Florida and Nevada and is accused of the same things in most if not all of these states. Sproul & Associates is a Republican consulting firm run by Nathan Sproul, former head of the Arizona Republican party and Arizona Christian Coalition.
Kos follows the links and concludes: "The Republican Party is funding these efforts. The link is direct and unambiguous."

In my home state, you get a duplicate copy of the voter registration form when you register. If enough Democrats hung on to their forms, there'll be plenty of evidence for a special prosecutor.

More good stuff at Change for America.

I don't really believe that this letter, ostensibly from George H.W. Bush, is real. But every word in it is true, and it would make perfect sense if it were. So in the interests of elevating the discourse, I pass it on:
Dear ****,

Just a note on your birthday. Bar and I often think of those wonderful times on the water back when the kids were young. At the end of a long life, your old friends become more important to you.It's been a good life, but this election has been a trial.

Loyalty requires public support for our son, which of course he gets, but you wonder whether reelection would really be the best thing. Maybe the family future lies in the younger brother, who has performed so splendidly in Florida.

The outlook in Iraq is appalling and maybe we should leave it for the other team to handle. Some of the choices made going in were terribly ill-advised, and I'm afraid that the team now in place is just not up to the job. Dick Cheney is not the man I remember. His face is twisted and you wonder whether ill health and his medication have affected his judgment. And Wolfowitz's kind should never be allowed in a serious policy position.

And you know that I think that a degree of religious belief is necessary, but some of the people my son relies on have gone far over the line on that.

I've stayed in the background. No other choice. But now I can't really talk to the boy any more, and Colin tells me he can't reach him either. I've lost good, old friends over this, and with several others it can get uncomfortable.

The stress of the job is greater now than it was during my day and we wonder whether his weaknesses haven't returned. His wife, God bless her, has been a real trooper. She keeps us posted and tries to keep a lid on things.We're hoping for the best.

Hope this hasn't been an imposition - if you can't talk to your oldest friends, who can you talk to? God willing, we should be able to see each other sometime in the next few months.


(via Seeing The Forest)

If all this stuff about Sinclair Broadcasting is confusing, I urge you to read Josh Marshall's latest article in The Hill. Here's the money quote:
Democrats are obviously in an uproar over this stunt. But it's not a free-speech issue or even a fairness issue. It's a massive instance of election and campaign-finance fraud done right out in the plain light of day.

Sinclair is shamelessly doing its part to corrupt and pervert the political process in this country. And they (and the puppeteers behind the scenes) should be held to account.
Still waiting for a network or major newspaper to pick this up.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

An announcement on the Sinclair Broadcast Group home page says:
We welcome your comments regarding the upcoming special news event featuring the topic of Americans held as prisoners of war in Vietnam. The program has not been videotaped and the exact format of this unscripted event has not been finalized. Characterizations regarding the content are premature and are based on ill-informed sources.

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry has been invited to participate.
Right. Senator, you're invited to appear in ... something. We don't know what yet. Can we count on you?

These people are morons.

Oh, and the DNC flack who was on the NewsHour tonight needs to go back to basic training.

No More Mister Nice Blog reports:
Sinclair Broadcast Group says Stolen Honor isn't a Bush campaign ad, but it ought to be noted that filmmaker Carlton Sherwood's Red, White and Blue Productions shares a mailing address and phone number with Quantum Communications in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The 'principal' of Quantum Communications (here he's called the CEO) is Charles R. Gerow -- a delegate to this year's Republican convention and a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association. Other items listed on Gerow's RNLA page:

Reagan/Bush Campaign Field Staff, 1980

Active involvement in numerous campaigns

Advance work in 6 Presidential campaigns

Alternate Delegate at Large, 1988

Dole for President, surrogate speaker,1996

Lawyers for Bush, 2000
More fingerprints that can be traced plausibly back to Rove.

Karl Rove, you've been busted.

You've read here and elsewhere about Sinclair Broadcasting Group, a fiercely right-wing company that controls 62 TV stations, many in swing states. They donate lots of money to Republican causes, and they recently decided to give a massive boost to the Bush campaign by preempting regular primetime programming in the days before the election to show an anti-Kerry smear piece produced by Carlton Sherwood, a former media consultant to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge (the Disinfopedia profile of Sherwood is temporarily offline but has some good stuff.) Oh, and Sherwood's group, POWs for Truth, just merged with the Swift Boat liars, for good measure.

So, Sinclair is prepared to give a major blast of propaganda to the Bush campaign. What's in it for them? Thanks to The Raw Story, we learn that a company called Jadoo Power Systems has been awarded a contract to develop power systems for the US Special Operations Command. No word on how much it was worth, but it must have been a big deal, because a Jadoo press release from 2003 brags that the company's president and CEO, Larry Bawden, personally briefed President George W. Bush on his company's technology.

It could have been old-school ties. A Fortune magazine profile from October 2003 notes:
Barely two years old, [Jadoo] has sold its fuel cells to Boeing; government agencies like the CIA, the Secret Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; and the U.S. Army. Earlier this year Jadoo placed in the business-plan competition at Harvard Business School, where vice president of business development Jon Berger, 30, earned his MBA this past spring.
Or maybe it was an Enron alumni gathering, The Fortune article continues:
Jadoo's president, Larry Bawden, 45, learned about fuel-cell technology at Aerojet, based in Sacramento, where he worked as director of fuel-cell products. In 1995, Aerojet sold off his unit, and Bawden left with a golden parachute. Embarking on an around-the-world boat trip with his wife, he got as far as Australia before some former colleagues called. They persuaded him to return to become a vice president at a fuel-cell company they were starting called PowerTek. They'd soon lined up a huge customer—the energy giant Enron—but unfortunately it was about to collapse.
So, who owns Jadoo?

The company's Investor Relations page lists only two "current investors":
Sinclair Ventures, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc....
Contango Capital Management was formed to bring capital to innovative entrepreneurs who are working hard to answer the energy challenges facing our world today and in the near future. Located in Houston, Texas, Contango Capital Management invests in early-stage technology-based and service companies in the energy industry...
Hey, this is interesting. Wasn't Enron located in Houston too? Why, lookie here:
John Berger
Managing Partner
Contango Capital Partners

Mr. Berger is a founding partner of the General Partner and its Managing Partner. Mr. Berger has over eight years of experience in the energy industry, during which he managed energy trading books for Enron Corporation and initiated development of the new Enron Premium Power Division. As a Manager, he made the previously unprofitable southeast short term trading operation for the Enron East Power Trading Division profitable by approximately $30 million over a two year period. Under his management, the southeast short term trading operation successfully administered the largest long-term customer deal in the industry, and increased the average daily volume in the southeast trading hub by ten times the former volume. Mr. Berger also managed the Enron Hourly Trading Desk, and operated a utility system in the southeastern United States. At Enron Energy Services he led and developed Enron's corporate strategy for new energy technologies and energy reliability financial products. In addition, Mr. Berger spearheaded development, investment, and partnership opportunities in fuel cell technologies.

During 2002 and 2003, Mr. Berger served as an advisor to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission where he drafted governance guidelines for the Regional Transmission Organizations and served as an advisor to the drafters of the Standard Market Design regulatory document that is currently before the United States Congress. He also advised the Commission on distributed generation, demand response, information gathering and application issues, investigations, and trade clearing/credit issues in the North American energy markets. Mr. Berger graduated cum laude from Texas A&M University with a B.S. in Civil Engineering. In 2003, he earned an MBA from Harvard Business School where he founded and organized the first annual Harvard Business School Energy Symposium and was a finalist in the 2003 HBS Business Plan Contest.
So a guy who got rich at Enron goes to work for the Bush Administration's Federal Energy Regulatory Commission during the period when they're investigating Enron. He gets an MBA at Harvard, founds a company backed with his Enron stash and some extra seed capital from Sinclair Broadcasting, and uses his connections to get a one-on-one meeting with the President. His company then gets a (presumably no-bid) contract from the Defense Department, thus (presumably) guaranteeing they'll hit their revenue goals this year and (presumably) greasing their skids for the company's planned IPO.

The President even had his picture taken with one of Jadoo's founders:

Connect all the dots. Enron. Harvard Business School. Sinclair. The Swift Boat liars. This is how Rove works. Unfortunately, he left too many tracks this time.

Will somebody please take this story to to the networks and put it on the front page of every newspaper in the country?

Update: Digby was working on the same story at the same time.

South Dakota's KELO reports:
...six people connected with the South Dakota republican party have resigned over questions surrounding absentee ballot applications.

The state director of the Republican Victory Program, Larry Russell is one of them, along with state republican party employee Eric Fahrendorf. Four independent contractors involved with the absentee ballot applications also resigned. They are Joe Alick, Nathan Mertz, Todd Schlekeway and Rachel Hoff.
Meanwhile, in Maine, Josh Marshall has the latest on a dirty-tricks scandal in which two high-ranking Republicans pled guilty last year:
The state Republican party hired an Idaho company to knock out the phones of the Democratic get-out-the-vote operation on election day by placing hundreds of automated hang-up calls to their phone banks. The whole episode might seem to be fading back into history were it not for the fact that a motion filed Friday in US District Court in Concord claims that a key player in the felonious scheme was none other than the man who now serves as the New England Chairman of Bush-Cheney 2004.
Oh, and let's not forget Tom DeLay. If there's any justice, he'll be indicted soon as well.

Why wait for the debate tomorrow night? Paul Krugman has a list of eight lies that Bush will tell:
Mr. Bush will talk about the 1.7 million jobs created since the summer of 2003, and will say that the economy is "strong and getting stronger." That's like boasting about getting a D on your final exam, when you flunked the midterm and needed at least a C to pass the course.

Mr. Bush is the first president since Herbert Hoover to preside over a decline in payroll employment. That's worse than it sounds because the economy needs around 1.6 million new jobs each year just to keep up with population growth. The past year's job gains, while better news than earlier job losses, barely met this requirement, and they did little to close the huge gap between the number of jobs the country needs and the number actually available.

Mr. Bush will boast about the decline in the unemployment rate from its June 2003 peak. But the employed fraction of the population didn't rise at all; unemployment declined only because some of those without jobs stopped actively looking for work, and therefore dropped out of the unemployment statistics. The labor force participation rate - the fraction of the population either working or actively looking for work - has fallen sharply under Mr. Bush; if it had stayed at its January 2001 level, the official unemployment rate would be 7.4 percent.
Oh, and even though the debate is about domestic issues only, which candidate do you think will mention Iraq first? Which one will refer to the war most often?

Monday, October 11, 2004

Memorable image from last week's debate:

Thanks, Hesiod

ABC News quotes John Kerry:

"Here I am in the state of New Mexico. George Bush is still in the state of denial. New Mexico has five electoral votes. The state of denial has none. I like my chances."

(Hat tip to Kevin at The American Street)