Tuesday, August 31, 2004

I can't believe...

...they did it. I mean, my expectations for Republican behavior is so low that while I figured that I'd have a generally dull level of disgust throughout the RNC, I never imagined they could actually spike my internal outrage meter. This story did it, though.
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Delegates to the Republican National Convention found a new way to take a jab at Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's Vietnam service record: by sporting adhesive bandages with small purple hearts on them.

Morton Blackwell, a prominent Virginia delegate, has been handing out the heart-covered bandages to delegates, who've worn them on their chins, cheeks, the backs of their hands and other places.
As the brother, son and nephew of men who have earned the Purple Heart in service to our country, I'm afraid that the words to express my outrage fail me at this point.

As I contemplate the 6497 US troops that have been wounded in the war (and the 975 dead) that the bastards who mock them are celebrating this week...well, words fail...

In harm's way...

...even at home.

Apparently the Republican Party has decided to put 144 active duty military personnel at jeopardy under the Uniform Code of Military Conduct. Amazingly, they seem to be proud of it. Putting troops in harms way seems to be a GOP specialty, no matter where they are.

Alterman has the scoop.

The RNC convention week is boasting that it has 144 active duty military delegates at the convention or three percent of the total. That information can be found here.

Meanwhile, according to DOD Directive 1344.10, which can be found here this is a violation of the code of military conduct. It explicitly says:

A member on active duty shall not...

Participate in partisan political management, campaigns, or conventions (unless attending a convention as a spectator when not in uniform).
As Eric points out, the GI's at Madison Square Garden have been specifically ID'd as delegates, not spectators.

If you see a squad of MPs descending on the convention floor, it may not be a color guard...

UPDATE: On reflection, Eric retracts...
According to our man Bateman, whom we should have contacted in the first place, the Republican Party is not in violation of the U.S. military’s rules on the participation in party politics by active duty military, owing to the reserve status of the delegates.
His link to the RNC website is broken, so I don't know if they said active duty when they meant reserve, or said active reservist just to confuse, or if Eric was right in the first place.

I just hope no well-meaning if misguided GI gets busted because these guys put him in jeopardy...

The greater the desperation...

The more he's flip flopping away.

"I don't think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that the — those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world."

George W. Bush, Today Show, 8/30/04

"But make no mistake about it, we are winning and we will win."

George W. Bush, American Legion Convention, 8/31/04
I guess the confusion is understandable. No one else can make much sense out of Bush's 'War on (some) terror' policy either. One thing is clear, though. Whatever the possible outcome of the WOST may be, we're losing battle after battle in Iraq, and giving up more and more ground.

In the wake of the siege that has now established Najaf as a 'no-go' zone for American forces, the New York Times carried this dispatch.
While American troops have been battling Islamic militants to an uncertain outcome in Najaf, the Shiite holy city, events in two Sunni Muslim cities that stand astride the crucial western approaches to Baghdad have moved significantly against American plans to build a secular democracy in Iraq.

Both of the cities, Falluja and Ramadi, and much of Anbar Province, are now controlled by fundamentalist militias, with American troops confined mainly to heavily protected forts on the desert's edge.


The situation across Anbar represents the latest reversal for the First Marine Expeditionary Force, which sought to assert control with a spring offensive in Falluja and Ramadi that incurred some of the heaviest American casualties of the war, and a far heavier toll, in the hundreds, among Falluja's resistance fighters and civilians. The offensive ended, mortifyingly for the marines, in a decision to pull back from both cities and entrust American hopes to the former Baathists. ...
Lambert at Corrente adds a chilling note.
Note that the stories are datelined "BAGHDAD," meaning that Najaf and Fallujah are probably too dangerous for reporters to travel to. Implying that the situtation is, if anything, worse than described in this article.
The situation is, in fact, FUBAR.

Monday, August 30, 2004


I don't know what else to call it at this point.

Juan Cole extends the web of conspiracy coming out of the Bush/Rumsfeld Department of Defense and draws a conclusion that should frighten every American.
Franklin's movements reveal the contours of a rightwing conspiracy of warmongering and aggression, an orgy of destruction, for the benefit of the Likud Party, of Silvio Berlusconi's business in the Middle East, and of the Neoconservative Right in the United States. It isn't about spying. It is about conspiring to conscript the US government on behalf of a foreign power or powers.
Looks like Bush is right about one thing.

Our country is facing a threat that the oceans can't protect us from.

It's time to unmask McBush...

I'm very hopeful for a number of positive outcomes in this year's elections. President Kerry, Majority Leader Daschle and Speaker Pelosi are all real possibilities, and each prospect is worth every ounce of energy we can devote to it.

There's another outcome I'm hopeful about, too. I hope this is the year that all Democrats can finally wrap their minds around the idea that John McCain is not our friend. He's not a GOP moderate. He's not a useful ally. Whatever his personal history with George Bush may be, when push comes to shove he's a Bush Republican, who will honor no principle that might interfere with the reelection of the man who he looks to for leadership.

Don't take my word for it. Take his.
...asked why he is not willing to use his leverage with the Bush campaign to force a condemnation of the anti-Kerry ad, McCain said, "I'm just not sure that in the grand scheme of things that should determine whether I support the president's reelection or not. If I threatened him with some kind of retaliation, that obviously would have some impact on his reelectability."
Oh, sure, he says he disagrees with Bush policies that are bankrupting America. He says he's uncomfortable with Bush's drive to put bigotry in the Constitution. He clucks disapprovingly when Bush slanders a man that McCain calls a friend.

But damned if he'll do or say anything that might have and "...impact on his reelectability.

Don't believe him? Ask his operative, John Weaver, who will tell you what he told the LA Times.
"He supported [Bush's] election in 2000 and campaigned very hard for him, and people don't seem to remember that," said McCain political aide John Weaver. "While he has some significant policy differences [with Bush], at the end of the day, he is a member of the same tribe."
"...the same tribe." The tribe whose chief must be defended regardless of the cost to the country.

John McCain is a shameless Republican hack, plain and simple. He is not our friend. And this year, it's time for every Democrat to face the facts.

Yeah for our guy!

WA-8 gets some attention at OurCongress.org, and Upper Left's primary pick shines in a report that outlines his recent endorsements from the King County Journal and the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

The Journal has a pretty conservative slant as a rule, but its influence in the heart of the 8th CD is undeniable, so their nod is a definite leg up for Alben over perennial candidate Heidi Behrens-Benedict and radio talker Dave Ross. One comment from the Journal, in fact, could be read as an indirect slap at Ross, who'd shown no particular interest in electoral politics before he was recruited by State Party Chair Paul Berendt as a late entry to the race.
Alex Alben, who retired at age 45 from RealNetworks, has spent considerable time researching and understanding the complex issues that confront the district.
As opposed to Ross, who wouldn't give up his radio job until a filing deadline forced his hand, and whose principle interest has been the ratings book rather than eastside issues.

The PI seems to love our guy.
Alben brings passion, intellectual firepower and the fresh perspective of a former high-tech executive. He has the potential to be a pragmatic but distinctly Democratic representative who would suit the district well.
That pretty well sums up the Upper Left endorsement rationale, too. While I might prefer a liberal firebrand in a perfect world, Alben fits the 8th, and can win in the 8th.

And a question for Chairman Berendt - does your job description really include providing usefull pull quotes for Republican ad campaigns?

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Searching for an honest politician...

...and apparently finding one!

Legendary California pol Jess Unruh famously described an honest politician as one who could "...take their money, drink their liquor, screw their women and vote against 'em in the morning." In other words, taking the right stand regardless of the inducements that might inspire you to do otherwise.

I view this note from soccerdad at The Left Coaster in that light...
As has been detailed here, former speaker of the Texas House Ben Barnes helped Bush avoid the draft and get into the National Guard. There may be more to the story. Greg Palast, a reporter for the BBC, is reporting that Barnes exacted some payback from Bush when the later became govenor of Texas.

Barnes called Bush and asked for a "favor", to renew the contract of GTech to run the Texas state lottery. Gtech was about to lose the contract because of corruption. After Barnes called Bush the decision was reversed and GTech got the no bid contract. Barnes got $23 million from GTech.
Whatever favors were requested and granted, when Barnes visited the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial and reflected on the aid he'd given to George W. and other offspring of influential families in their efforts to avoid sharing the risks of citizenship with those whose names are carved into The Wall, he did the right thing.

He took the Bush bucks and spoke the truth anyway.

I think Jess would be proud of him.

I am.

Blog boast...

Yep, we're feeling pretty proud of ourselves here at Upper Left World Headquarters tonigh, having noticed that earlier this evening an Upper Lefty from Spokane logged in and pushed the page view meter to 40,000.

Fitting blogging into a mix that already includes a day job, political and community activism, free lance music journalism and some semblance of a family and social life isn't always easy, but knowing folks come here and come back makes it worth doing for me, and I hope it makes it worth tracking down for you.

And that's the other thing we're feeling pretty proud of around here - you!

An informal poll at ULWHQ is unanimous. Upper Left readers are morally and intellectually superior beings.

And the hardy few who contribute their hard earned to help keep the lights on around here? They are like unto the gods. And it's never too late to join our pantheon of dieties...just click here.


One reason that I've paid relatively little attention to polling, and especially national polling, in the Presidential race so far is that I've been in general agreement with Chris Bowers' contention that "...any national poll that includes Nader should not be taken seriously." Since most polls have insisted on treating the Nader campaign as though it were somehow more serious than other third party efforts, despite his trouble getting on the ballot in so many places, even with organized Republican assistance and a variety of illegal and unethical approaches, they've been suspect in my view.

Bowers takes jacks his judgement up a notch at MyDD, and once again I can't help but agree. In a post titled National Trial Heats Including Nader Now Utterly Preposterous, he points out that
Ralph Nader is now officially off the ballot in thirteen states: AZ, CA, GA, ID, IN, IL, MD, MI, MO, OK, NC, SC and TX. While thirteen states may not seem like a lot, these states tend to be rather large, and actually make up 42.8% of the population of the entire United States. These thirteen states gave Nader 32.9% of his vote in 2000. When all is said and done, the former number will probably pass 60%, and the latter will probably pass 50%.
Ralph Nader may be a marginal element in a handful of state-level races, but his continued inclusion in the national polling, or the national media, for that matter, is indeed preposterous. He's not a national candidate. Compared to Nader, the Greens and Libertarians are mainstream this year, and when's the last time you saw them included in a poll?

Sunday Supplement

Because some things can't wait until Wednesday...

As the story about the Israeli mole in the Defense Department, now generally acknowledged to be Iran anylyst Larry Franklin, unfolds, Josh Marshall, Laura Rozen and Paul Glastris offer more information about the wider scandals coming out of the office of Franklin's boss, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, the number three man at DoD, in a piece for the Washington Monthly.
Franklin, along with another colleague from Feith's office, a polyglot Middle East expert named Harold Rhode, were the two officials involved in the back-channel, which involved on-going meetings and contacts with Iranian arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar and other Iranian exiles, dissidents and government officials. Ghorbanifar is a storied figure who played a key role in embroiling the Reagan administration in the Iran-Contra affair. The meetings were both a conduit for intelligence about Iran and Iraq and part of a bitter administration power-struggle pitting officials at DoD who have been pushing for a hard-line policy of "regime change" in Iran, against other officials at the State Department and the CIA who have been counseling a more cautious approach.
It's quite a cast of characters. There's Ghorbanifar of Iran-Contra fame, our on again, off again man in Iraq, Ahmed Chaliabi, Franklin, of course, and Michael Ledeen, also connected to Iran-Contra and more recently noteworty as the father of Simone Ledeen, who joined the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq and found herself in charge, without apparent qualifications, of the country's $13 billion budget.

The story is still emerging, but the range of interelated scandals and investigations is already Byzantine in its complexity. Digby, for instance, finds that...
...many interconnecting webs seem to lead to and through the forged Niger documents, Chalabi, "Clean Break" and Valerie Plame. It's got the earmarks of a John LeCarre novel and if it weren't so incredibly dangerous it would be amusing.
That, I suspect, barely scratches the surface.

The real subject of our Scorecard interest, though, is Doug Feith himself. His apparently intimate connections to almost everything that has gone wrong with Bushco defense and foreign policy simply boggles. Why does this man still have a job?

For that matter, why does his boss, Donald Rumsfeld, still have a job? Is his supervision of Feith part of the "superb" performance George Bush is so appreciative of?

If Rummy has known about the corruption, deception and espionage that seems to be standard operating procedure in Feith's office, criminal liability may well ensue. If he hasn't known about the activities of one of his chief deputies, his incompetence is manifest.

And with Feith reporting to Rumsfeld, and Rumsfeld accountable only to Bush, there are no more than two (and possibly fewer) degrees of separation between this den of un-American - indeed, anti-American - activity and the White House.

The explosive potential of this story can't be overestimated. Stay tuned...

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Hope springs eternal...

...here in the Upper Left, where our most prominent daily paper has come to its senses, somewhat belatedly...

Kerry for President
Four years ago, this page endorsed George W. Bush for president. We cannot do so again — because of an ill-conceived war and its aftermath, undisciplined spending, a shrinkage of constitutional rights and an intrusive social agenda.

The Bush presidency is not what we had in mind...
One would hope not (though I'm left somewhat astonished that they expected any better...)

Ben Barnes is ashamed...

...of using his influence as Lt. Governor of Texas to get George Bush his cushy billet in the National Guard, but you know that. News of his video confession has spread pretty far and wide. If you haven't seen it (or, like me, are working with a relatively antiquated 'puter and slow dial up), Atrios has a full transcript.

More than his confession of shame, though, I was struck by this part of Barnes' remarks.
"But I admired even more the fact that he came back talking about Vietnam and what a mistake it was. A matter of fact he talked about it so much that he got the FBI looking at him and got on Richard Nixon's list. And that took, that takes a lot of courage of a young man who particularly has an interest in politics and that wants to serve this county to go get on the President's black list. And I know a little bit about that because I got on Richard Nixon's black list also, and that's a story for another time. But it's, it's incredible that John Kerry, uhh, had the courage to go do that."
It is incredible that Kerry had the courage to do that. It's also incredible that some people can go around saying that John Kerry's entire life has been a calculated scheme to rise to the highest office in the country. How does that fit with his anti-war activities, which gave him an FBI jacket, made him a target of the most vindictive White House of the 20th Century (granted, a mild time compared to what we've seen so far in the 21st), and provided fuel for scurriolous attacks in campaign after campaign every since?

Well, it doesn't fit at all. In fact, whatever his youthful ambitions may have been, Kerry undertook his anti-war activities knowing that they were controversial enough to undermine those ambitions, possibly -even probably - putting a life of public service out of reach. He did it because it was the right thing to do, and doing the right thing when there's personal risk involved is indeed courageous. Of course, the professional risk involved in opposing the war paled in comparison to the physical risk of his heroism while serving in war, but it was an expression of courage, nonetheless.

It's that kind of repeated courage - and there are subsequent examples as well - that confirms Barnes' judgement when he said...
"And I tell you, for the Republicans to jump on John Kerry and say that he's not a patriot, after he went to Vietnam and was shot at and fought for our freedom and came back here and protested against the war - "he's a flip flopper." Let me tell you, John Kerry is 100 times a better patriot than George Bush or Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld."
Or most any of us, for that matter.

It's time we put a real American hero in the White House.

Maybe it goes without saying...

...to folks who visit places like Upper Left, but I'm glad someone with a bigger soapbox than this is saying it. Richard Reeves couldn't be more clear...
The core issue is this: Our president is incompetent. He is not a good president.
...and he backs it up with ten telling points, fleshed out in detail worth the time to explore in full.

Let me count the ways:

(1) He has divided the country...

(2) He has divided the world...

(3) He is leaving no child or grandchild without debt...

(4) He campaigns as a champion of smaller government, but is greatly increasing the size and role of government...

(5) He is diminishing the military...

(6) He is diminishing scientific progress...

(7) He is diminishing the Constitution of the United States...

(8) He has surrounded himself with other incompetents...

(9) He has been unable or unwilling to deal with declining employment...

(10) He is, as if by design, destroying the credibility of the United States...
It's hard to make the case much better than that. It's important to make it constantly.

Another after action report...

...from the New York Times.
The main winners are Ayatollah Sistani and Mr. Sadr, a fiery but low-ranking cleric who is a hero to millions of poor, young and unemployed Iraqi Shiites. Baghdad and Washington, once eager to escalate this confrontation, exit from it somewhat diminished. Najaf, meanwhile, lies shattered, and hundreds of Iraqis, including many of Mr. Sadr's armed followers, have been killed.
"Somewhat diminished" seems to be a somewhat understated description of the condition of the US Forces and the puppe...err...interim government in Iraq, especially in light of this note.
The agreement also calls for all American and other foreign military forces to be withdrawn from Najaf and Kufa, to be replaced by Iraqi police, whose readiness and reliability remain untested.
With Fallujah, that's three important cities where US troops are now officially unwelcome (it's unclear that there's anyplace outside Baghdad's 'Green Zone' where they're actually welcome, and Iraqis aren't particularly welcome there). Where US troops can't go, of course, the Allawi goverment holds no sway.

Bit by bit, the countryside is falling out of our control. Day by day, Americans are dying in an increasingly fruitless occupation. Meanwhile, Bush finally concedes that he made "a miscalculation of what the conditions would be" in post-war Iraq.
But he insisted that the 17-month-long insurgency was the unintended by-product of a "swift victory" against Saddam Hussein's military, the Times reported.
Bush said his strategy had been "flexible enough" to respond. "We're adjusting to our conditions" in places like Najaf, the paper quoted him as saying.
Of course, we're also told that it's remnants of Saddam Hussein's military that are responsible for much of the resistance in Iraq, so it's difficult to grant much credence to the notion that our "victory" was either swift or complete. And while the insurgency may have been unintended (as in "no one expects the Spanish Inquisition..."), it was totally predictable. Any military incursion that deliberately leaves the flanks and rear of the invading force unsecured is clearly inviting a responding insurgency.

And the conditions we're responding to in places like Najaf? And Kufa? And Fallujah? And Sadr City? One word for those conditions is "defeat."

Another is FUBAR.

It's a sad state of affairs...

I suppose, but I can't be the only one who finds it completely unremarkable that Israel has a spy operating out of Doug Feith's shop in the Pentagon. Feith, one of the worst of Rummy's cabal of neo-cons and one of the best of Ahmed Chalabi's pals, may or may not be personally implicated, but I suppose it's also a sad state of affairs that I find myself somehow hoping that he is.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Celebrating diversity...

California Congressman Richard Pombo is excited to be in New York.
"My favorite landmark in New York City is the Statue of Liberty. America is a country of immigrants - people who came here seeking hope and opportunity. That's what the Statue of Liberty stands for, and when you look at it you realize anything is possible."
Hawaii Govenor Linda Lingle offers another view.
"My favorite landmark in New York City is the Statue of Liberty. America is a country of immigrants - people who came here seeking hope and opportunity. That's what the Statue of Liberty stands for, and when you look at it you realize anything is possible."
Guess it's not only great minds that think alike...

And all this Republican adoration of a gigantic French idol. What's up with that?

(tip o'the torch to The Stakeholder)

"Muqtada al-Sadr is free...

...to go anywhere he likes. He is as free as any Iraqi citizen."
That's how Qasim Dawoud, Iraqi Minister of State for Military Affairs describes the outcome of the siege of Najaf.

Here's what Juan Cole has to say...
I think the big losers from the Najaf episode (part deux) are the Americans. They have become, if it is possible, even more unpopular in Iraq than they were last spring after Abu Ghuraib, Fallujah and Najaf Part 1. The US is perceived as culturally insensitive for its actions in the holy city of Najaf.

The Allawi government is also a big loser. Instead of looking decisive, as they had hoped, they ended up looking like the lackeys of neo-imperialists.

The big winner is Sistani, whose religious charisma has now been enhanced by solid nationalist credentials. He is a national hero for saving Najaf.

For Muqtada, it is a wash. He did not have Najaf until April, anyway, and cn easily survive not having it. His movement in the slums of the southern cities is intact, even if its paramilitary has been weakened.
"...the big losers from the Najaf episode...are the Americans."

Another military defeat for American forces, not because the troops don't have the ability or the will to achieve victory, but because Bush,Rumsfeld & Co. have put them in an impossible situation. And they'll be facing the same fighters and the same weapons again, you can be sure, and very likely the same outcome.

Dexter Filkins reports for the New York Times...
As the fighters did not surrender themselves, neither did they surrender their guns, which the agreement permits them to keep. Instead, they took the machine guns and rocket launchers with which they had defended the shrine and loaded them onto donkey carts, covering them with blankets and television sets and sending them away. Hours later, Mahdi fighters still dressed in the signature black uniforms could be seen stacking rocket launchers into crates and pushing them into roadside shops.
And there's this...
After the bitter fighting with U.S. marines, many Mehdi militants still breathed defiance Friday.
"We will support whatever Ayatollah Sistani and Sayyed Moqtada have agreed. But we will still slit the throats of the Americans," said one militiaman, Hussein Taama.

Another held an AK-47 rifle which he said was his personal weapon that he would not give up: "I will keep this warm and wait for Sayyed Moqtada's order."
FUBAR, folks.

Completely FUBAR.

It's Friday...

...so I may as well get this out of the way right off the top.

The talented and lovely Miss Audrey Hepcat in her role as Office Manager/Queen of All She Surveys at Upper Left World Headquarters...

(Sorry about the web-cammy quality of the picture...if it really bothers you, perhaps a solution could be found here.)

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Blog biz

A quick note on a couple of site updates. I've taken the FreeFind search off the sidebar, partly because it's been a bit buggy for me, and mostly because the new Blogger header has a better than adequate site-specific search function from Google (and is an vast improvement in both function and esthetics over the old ad header they used to throw up there.) Try it out.

Also, I've added yet another feed from the DCCC, The Blogging of the Congress. Do I seem like a total D-Trip whore? Well, it's only because what they do is so important, and they do it so well. Try that out, too.

OK, one more time...

...and I won't say it again (today, anyway...).

Don't panic.

A few days ago I noted that the alarms that seemed to go off all over the blogosphere when a CBS poll noted a drop in Kerry support among veterans might be premature without a closer look at the internals.

Eric Boehlert provides that service at Salon (you're all subscribers now, right>).
But perhaps what received the most press play as proof positive that the Swift boat charges were hurting Kerry was a separate, subset finding from that same CBS poll. It showed support for Kerry among veterans had fallen from 46 percent right after the convention in late July, to 37 percent in the wake of the Swift boat allegations. Solid proof, right? Well, it would be more solid if the CBS poll of veterans wasn't based on such a skimpy sample size of just 165 respondents, giving the survey a whopping margin of error of between 7 and 8 percent. That means of the 165 vets polled nationwide by CBS, roughly 15 fewer expressed support for Kerry between the July and August surveys.
So remember, don't p...oh yeah. No more today.

It's like deja vu all over again...

I was totally unsurprised, I'm afraid, to see Bush handle the effort of Max Cleland to deliver a letter from nine military veterans in the US Senate with as little class and as much stupidity as possible.

Granted, it was a stunt, but Bush's stubborn snubbing of a heroic American made it a more successful one than it might have been. Did they really think that a photograph of Cleland's wheel chair being blocked by Texas state troopers was the best visual they could hope for at BC04? Are things really that desperate for Bushco?

Well, good, then.

Still, the letter's worth a read, and Seeing The Forest has the full text. There's a lot of fine words, but it does strike a note that seems strangely familiar...
Our outrage over these advertisements and tactics has nothing to do with the tax code or campaign finance reform efforts of this nation. Our pain from seeing these slanderous attacks stems from something much more fundamental, that if one veteran’s record is called into question, the service of all American veterans is questioned.
Yep. An injury to one is an injury to all.

Poor President = people in poverty

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Some 1.3 million Americans slid into poverty in 2003 as the ranks of the poor swelled to 35.9 million, with children and blacks worse off than most, the U.S. government said on Thursday in a report sure to fuel Democratic criticism of President Bush.
Well, they got that right. First up with some well deserved criticism was Soon-To-Be Speaker Pelosi.
"The choice is clear - between the Republican policies that are making life harder for those who are struggling to make ends meet, or the Democrats' plan to help hard-working Americans join the middle class."
The Stakeholder has the full devastating statement.

And the report has even more bad news for Bushco.
The number of U.S. residents without health care coverage also rose last year to the highest level since 1999 and incomes were essentially stagnant, the Census Bureau said.
Unfortunately, bad news for Bushco is even worse news for millions of Americans. The good news is that we can do better.

He's still there...

...but there's less reason than ever.

The New York Times opines...
That was a service to the public, but the civilian panel did an enormous disservice by not connecting those dots and walking away from any real exercise in accountability. Instead, Pentagon officials who are never named get muted criticism for issuing confusing memos and not monitoring things closely enough. This is all cast as "leadership failure" - the 21st-century version of the Nixonian "mistakes were made" evasion - that does not require even the mildest reprimand for Mr. Rumsfeld, who should have resigned over this disaster months ago. Direct condemnation is reserved for the men and women in the field, from the military police officers sent to guard prisoners without training to the three-star general in Iraq.


Still, the civilian panel said the politicians had only indirect responsibility for this mess, and Mr. Schlesinger made the absurd argument that firing Mr. Rumsfeld would aid "the enemy." That is reminiscent of the comment Mr. Bush made last spring when he visited the Pentagon to view images of American soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners and then announced that Mr. Rumsfeld was doing a "superb job." It may not be all that surprising from a commission appointed by the secretary of defense and run by two former secretaries of defense (Mr. Schlesinger and Harold Brown). But it seems less a rational assessment than an attempt to cut off any further criticism of the men at the top.

And John Kerry's right (again)...
"It's not just the little person at the bottom who ought to pay the price ... the buck doesn't stop at the Pentagon," he said.


He renewed his call for Rumsfeld to resign "for failure to do what he should have done" and said Bush should conduct his own investigation into the decision making that led to the penal abuses. Kerry called in May for Rumsfeld's resignation over the abuse scandal and said at the time he had urged Rumsfeld to quit months earlier due to miscalculations on Iraq.
The petition is still there. If you haven't signed it yet, do it now.

Dole's just being Dole again...

While I'm not an advocate of the notion that Bob Dole deserves any of the "respected elder statesman status" he's been accorded in some circles (whatever his personal qualities may be, he's always been a cutthroat GOP hack politically), even his friends are dismayed by the latest expression of his dark side.

Noel Koch is someone who has accorded Dole high stature, but in Koch's case, it's somewhat understandable. As a Special Assistant to Richard Nixon and an Assistant Secretary of Defense for Ronald Reagan, he's somewhat more comfortable in the realm of GOP hackdom than the average bear. As a Vietnam veteran, though, he's calling Dole out.
I spent a year in Vietnam and came home without a scratch. My brother served two tours in Vietnam, earned three Purple Hearts (and was hospitalized, and does draw disability -- weird yardsticks used to measure John Kerry's alleged shortfall), and yet spent far less time than I did in-country. Indeed, his first "tour" lasted about 15 minutes, ending on the beach near Danang in the midst of the U.S. Marines' first amphibious assault in Vietnam.

Time in-country, how often a man was wounded, how much blood he shed when he was wounded -- it is hurtful that those who served in Vietnam are being split in so vile a fashion, and that the wounds of that war are reopened at the instigation of people who avoided serving at all. It is hurtful that a man of Bob Dole's stature should lend himself to the effort to dishonor a fellow American veteran in the service of politics at its cheapest.
Hurtful, perhaps, but hardly surprising. There's no more point in expecting Bob Dole to be ashamed of his slander against John Kerry than there was for John McCain (who has his own behavior to account for this year) to expect George Bush to be ashamed of his slander against McCain's own record. Some people are simply beyond shame.

They're shameful, though, nonetheless.

I mean it. Really.

Don't panic.

The latest data point that's got the doubters in a dizzy is a new LA Times poll that shows that Kerry's slipped a couple of points in the wake of the Swift Boat Liars leaky raft.

Or not.

First of all, there may be more meaningless measures of a Presidential election than a national poll, but I'm having a lot of trouble coming up with an example. (Perhaps the combined wisdom of the blogosphere would be a good one.) While Presidential elections take place nationwide, they are not national elections, and state by state polling continues to favor Kerry by an increasing margin.

Secondly, a poll of registered voters is, given the realities of voter turnout in these United States, a fairly inaccurate measure of likely outcomes. That's why many pros turn to measures of 'likely voters,' though that kind of survey presents its own set of problems.

Finally, given the MOE, the poll in question, which is reported to show Kerry moving from a 2% advantage to a three point deficit, might be just as accurately be interpreted as showing Bush moving from a four point advantage to a three point deficit.

In other words, the poll doesn't measure an electorally meaningful outcome and what it attempts to measure is too close to call.

And we're still winning in the counts that matter.

So Don't Panic.

Meet The New Boss.

Via Juan Cole (who may just as well change his first name to "The Invaluable"), Christopher Allbritton's account of a press conference (attendance at which was, umm, pressed on the press) held by the police chief of Najaf, Ghalib al-Jazairi.
"The Shrine would be stormed tonight, he said, and we would be allowed to get on a bus and go visit it tomorrow to see the damage the Mahdi Army had done to it. The Sistani protesters in Kufa were really Mahdi guys and they had to be killed. Oh, and thank you for coming. A few of us put up a fight, demanding why they couldn’t just invite us down for a presser instead of kidnapping us. Oh, no, the commander said, that must have been a mistake. I just asked them to bring you to me… There was no order to brandish weapons, push journalists around and fire into the air. One cop, a lieutenant, just smiled at us when we pointed our fingers at him and said he was the one leading the raid, yelling and pointing his side arm at us. These are Najaf’s finest. They’re like the old regime, only less disciplined."
Way New™ brand sovereignty by Bushco®.

Same as the old boss.

Update: The also invaluable Jeanne has more at Body and Soul. No summary could do her justice. Go there now.

"Why would they say that?"

That was the response of the Brilliant and Beautiful Bride of Upper Left after accidentally viewing a few minutes of jabber on Faux News a couple of nights ago. She happens, being a daily consumer of at least two newspapers and this blog, to be an exceedingly well informed citizen, so it was quickly apparent to her that the only news to be found on Citizen Murdoch's network was that there were no facts being reported.

Her question was a good one, and as usual, The Oracle...ahem, I mean Digby, has the answer...
"They just lie" is the assumption from which you must begin when one of these "stories" starts to percolate.
They just lie.

You might call them lying liars, even. You might even say "They are the most crooked, lying group I've ever seen." Someone beat you to it, though...

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

We've got to stop meeting this way...

Some stories are scandals and some are just outrages. And some scandals are outrageous, like this week's entry, the 56th on the Upper Left Scandal Scorecard.

One thing I don't think has changed since my days in the Army is what we knew as the 'three M's of morale' - you just don't mess with a soldier's meals, mail or money. That's why I find the results of a GAO audit of the Defense Department payroll accounting so distressing.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Army Reserve payroll procedures for activated soldiers are so convoluted that mistakes occurred in 95 percent of the cases examined by congressional auditors, the Government Accountability Office said Monday.

Soldiers sent to Iraq and Afghanistan have had to spend a year or more straightening out problems affecting their pay, allowances and tax benefits, the GAO said.


The GAO found the payment system was so "error-prone, cumbersome and complex that neither (the Defense Department) nor, more importantly, Army Reserve soldiers themselves could be reasonably assured of timely and accurate payments."
A 95% error rate in military pay? For men and women under fire? For troops whose tours are extended and discharges postponed? And you wonder why retention rates are dropping like a rock.

To the GAO, it's "error-prone, cumbersome and complex." For the troops it's morale sapping mistreatment.

At Upper Left, it's a scandal, and the list grows again.

Digby's right...

...as usual.
I would just add that I think the "Kerry waited too long" CW that's forming is a media driven excuse that lets them off the hook. They know that they are responsible for allowing these assholes to be taken seriously at all and instead of taking responsibility for failing at their job they are blaming the victim. It's an old story with these guys. "Oh he should have fought back a week earlier." Well, if the press were in the business of journalism instead of bloodsport entertainment, they would have investigated these guys before they gave them hours and hours of airtime to spread their filthy little psychodrama all of over airwaves. The people who waited too long were the journalists.
For those still fretting about how the campaign has handled the Swift Boat Liars for Bush, well, someone out there seems to think Kerry's doing alright.
A new Zogby poll commissioned by the Wall Street Journal shows Kerry ahead in 14 of 16 battleground states, giving him a commanding lead in electoral college projections.

"Adding the 152 votes from the 14 states that Mr. Kerry leads in the latest poll gives him a total of 324 electoral votes. (That's his highest total yet in our analyses of Zogby's polls, topping the previous high of 322 electoral votes that he had in on July 12.) Mr. Bush's two states have 25 electoral votes and give him a total of 214."

Have I mentioned lately that panic doesn't seem to be an appropriate response at this time?


Well, then...

Don't Panic.

Who's laughing now?

John Kerry made an appearance on The Daily Show, to the delight of many, but, if he was paying any attention at all, the certain dismay of W. There was plenty of 'funny ha-ha' to be had, but a bit of 'funny hmmmm...', too.

For instance, isn't it kind of 'funny' that John Kerry has to appear on a comedy show in order to get a discussion of serious issues?
"...George Bush doesn’t wanna talk about the real issues. I mean, what’s he gonna do? Come out and say we lost 1.8 million jobs? Four million Americans lost their healthcare. We’re going backwards on the environment. We angered everybody in the world."
I was particulary impressed with Kerry's take on a couple of points. For instance, he puts a spin worth repeating on the so-called 'decisiveness' that's supposed to be one of Bush's positive attributes...
JON STEWART: to watch when when— this President will come out sometimes and say— you know, “I’ve been a strong leader,” only because he’s been decisive. And I guess what you’re saying is anybody can make a decision. It’s the right— it’s making the right decision.

JOHN KERRY: Yeah. I mean, it doesn’t help you to be stubborn in the wrong decision. I think the President’s stubborn. He stubbornly has made the wrong economic decisions. And the result is you got four million people who have lost their healthcare. The middle class is actually paying a higher tax burden today than they were when George Bush began. And the wealthiest Americans are paying less. Now he’s stubbornly moving America in a direction where we’re outsourcing jobs. The jobs we’re creating pay $9,000 less on average than the jobs we’re losing. He stubbornly sticks to his policy in Iraq even though everybody can see that we need other troops on the ground. We need to take the American stamp of occupation off of this effort, bring the world to our side. I mean, there’s so many choices the President has sort of stubbornly gone down that I think is the wrong path.
...and offered an intriguing setup for the fall debates...
JOHN KERRY: Well, that’s the test of debates. I mean, look, the President has won every debate he’s ever had. People need to understand that. He beat Ann Richards. He beat Al Gore. So he’s a good debater.
Spin those expectations, Karl.

One of the best takes on the show comes from athenae at First Draft.
"...I do think he was himself, which is really, really smart. He could have fallen all over himself trying to look hip and genial, and he didn't. He's deeply comfortable in his own skin, and I'm starting to think that maybe the fact that not everybody is comfortable with him is a failure to appreciate on our part, rather than a failure to communicate on his.
Having seen Kerry on the stump in formal and informal settings, from a crowd and one on one, that's been my consistent impression as well. Agree with him or not, John Kerry knows who he is and seems to like who he is. I think that's a key to the resiliance that makes him such a strong campaigner under pressure. If it takes a setting like The Daily Show to put that across to a broader audience, he should grab every similar opportunity available.

The Rat's trapped...

...at least in Round 1. The Stakeholder reports:
A state judge has ordered that the sign-up period be re-opened for the Nov. 2 election in Louisiana's 5th Congressional District, where incumbent Rep. Rodney Alexander first signed up as a Democrat, then switched to the Republican party just before the qualifying deadline.

Judge Allen Edwards did not set a date for the new sign-up period, saying it will happen only after appeals which are likely have been exhausted.

A lawyer for the Louisiana Democratic Party filed the lawsuit aimed at either forcing Alexander to run as a Democrat or getting him kicked off the ballot altogether. The lawsuit cites a Louisiana law stating: "no candidate shall change or add his political party designation ... after he has qualified."

While the appeals are underway, the Louisiana D's have a chance to line up a pair of strong candidates for the seat. Why a pair? Under Louisiana's distinctive primary system, the top two vote getters go forward regardless of partisan ID. That means there's a chance to keep Alexander off the November ballot altogether, which seems like the sweetest possible outcome for Rodney the Rat.

And kudos to the Party for fighting back!

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Light at the end of the tunnel?

via Norbizness...
"The Moqtada militia is militarily defeated. We have killed scores of them over the last few weeks, and that is in Najaf alone," Brigadier General Mark Hertling, one of the top US commanders in charge of Najaf, told AFP. "Over the past several days, Moqtada's militia has lost much of their stomach for fighting," he said... "We have also destroyed their weapons stores and their offensive capability," he said. "What remains of them, which is a very small force, will take advantage of the governor's announcement to disperse if not disband."

Whoops, that was late May - early June of this year.
(Attentive readers will note that this isn't my first lift from Norbizness today, though it's the first so credited. If you're not checking in there, you're missing out. Heck, I could lift the whole blog straight from there most every day. Best snark on the net. Absolutely. Go there. Enjoy!)

Just in case...

...you're still clinging to the impression that you can believe a single thing the occupant of the White House has to say about his disdain for 527s or his commitment to campaign finance reform, remember this...
(GEORGE) WILL: In which case, would you veto the McCain-Feingold bill, or the Shays-Meehan bill?

BUSH: That's an interesting question. I - I - yes I would. The reason why is two - for one, I think it does respe - res - restrict free speech for individuals. As I understand how the bill was written, I I - I think there's been two versions of it, but as I understand the first version restricted individuals and/or groups from being able to express their opinion...
Of course, that's before he saw the progressive 527s on the horizon. In fact, painful as it is to admit, he was right then. Free people have a right to join together to exercise free speech, and to pool their resources in the effort. He just never imagined we could match the liars on his side with the resources needed to promote the truth on ours. Since the truth will, however glacial the pace may seem, inevitably out, now he wants to shut everybody up.

And did you notice that even a friendly journal can't make a guy with degrees from Yale and Harvard sound fluent in English? What's up with that?

Mixed emotions.

On the one hand, I'm glad that an underhanded slight on the military service of an American veteran is outside the realm of acceptable behavior in the contemporary Democratic Party. On the other hand, sometimes there'd be some satisfaction in giving as good as we get, especially when the last decorated veteran to benefit from our forbearance finds it so easy to maintain his position in the Republican sleaze machine.

One might think that he'd know better, but there's really no reason to believe that Bob Dole would behave better. He's been a GOP hit man for decades, so his latest slur on John Kerry is just a matter of running true to form. Still, as the Boston Globe points out,
"...Dole was given a Purple Heart for a leg scratch probably caused, according to one biographer, when a hand grenade thrown by one of his own men bounced off a tree. And while the serious injuries Dole sustained later surely came from German fire, did the episode demonstrate heroism on Dole's part or a reckless move that ended up killing his radioman and endangering the sergeant who dragged Dole off the field?"
The bottom line? Susan at Suburban Guerilla gets it right.
Bob Dole is a limp-dicked old party hack who should be ashamed of himself. Unfortunately, Republican leaders are singularly lacking in that humbling and human quality.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Far be it from me...

...to say I told you so, but Steve Soto at The Left Coaster adds a powerful data point to the Don't Panic file with this graph from PollingReport.com...

...and this excerpt from a post worth reading in full...
"...what we have here is an issue that is all hot air and no real electoral impact. It is in the GOP’s interest to keep this issue as hot as possible, but the truth is that after one week where the Swifties had the airways and the Mighty Wurlitzer all to themselves before the Kerry pushback, the best they could do was convince only one-fifth of those polled that Kerry didn’t deserve his medals, and these people already believed that Kerry was the anti-Christ anyway.

Remember this poll the next time you see a member of the Beltway media tell you how important this nonissue is to the campaign."
OK, I take it back.

I told you so.

Don't panic.

From the "other Washington..."

Last month it was my privilege to be featured in the 'virtual blog tour' at the DCCC's blog, The Stakeholder, and it's an equal if not greater honor to reciprocate with this guest shot (an Upper Left first!) from DCCC blogger extraordinaire Jesse Lee, who takes a look at an Upper Left Congressional race on the far side of my state, but near and dear to my heart...

WA-5: Ripe for the Picking

As a newcomer to Hill politics I’m being exposed to the “other side” of campaigning. Over the last few months I’ve come to see campaigns develop from the “testing the waters” stage to full-on top tier campaigns. One of those is Don Barbieri of WA-5. Don is an intimidating candidate: business and community leader, and family man. Don’s business skills and knowledge, acquired while running the family business for 25 years, rip to shreds bogus GOP claims to fiscal expertise (Barbieri was appointed by three Governors for the Economic Development Board). His history as a dedicated community participant demonstrates the values and common decency of Democratic ideals - standing in stark contrast with any Tom DeLay rubberstamps in training.

The unity and solidarity of the Democratic Party is evident in this race. While the GOP will not choose a candidate until September 14th, Don Barbieri stands as the Democratic nominee for this seat, having officially opened his candidacy on July 26th. His leadership as a youth in college and his commitment to the family business have earned him the respect of the community. His father founded WestCoast Hospitality Corp and upon retiring, Don took the company into a new, innovative direction. When he recently stepped down as President and CEO of the company, Don in turn left the company to his son, David. This is a man of the district, and you can see how effective his message is in his new ad .

Of such seats is a Democratic Majority made, and this is where we need people to get active in the opportunities in their area. Pay Barbieri a visit, spare a weekend if you can. Whereas the Presidential campaign deals in dollars and volunteers with numbers that boggle the mind, every last volunteer or dollar is significant in these races. WA-5 is ripe for the picking, but we need you to seal the deal.

Thanks, Shaun, for this opportunity.

Jesse Lee

Thank you, Jesse. They say the honor is to serve, which makes you one of the most honorable bloggers in the biz, and I heartily second everything you've said here.

Good question.

John Edwards wonders...
"Why would anyone support this new rule which could mean a pay cut for millions of Americans who have already seen their real wages drop again this year?"
...and no one seems to have a good answer, as confusion seems to be the only constant when considering the new overtime rules promulgated by the Bushco Department of Labor.

What do the rules mean?
"To be candid, no one knows," said Jerry Hunter, a labor lawyer at Bryan Cave LLP in St. Louis and former general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board during the first Bush administration.


The new rules are intended to limit workers' multimillion-dollar lawsuits, many of them successful, claiming they were cheated out of overtime pay for working more than 40 hours a week.

Retailers, restaurants, insurance firms and banks have been targets, and jobs in those places are generally exempted from overtime in the new rules. They include chefs, pharmacists, funeral directors, embalmers, journalists, insurance claims adjusters, low- and midlevel bank managers and dental hygienists.


Labor leaders say slight changes in wording could exempt millions from overtime pay. The Labor Department says duties are more clear and make status more certain, resulting in "few, if any" losing overtime.

The changes will prompt "a whole new round of litigation to determine what these phrases mean," said Baldwin Robertson, a Washington labor lawyer hired by Working America to answer workers' questions on its Web site.

As Salon points out, there's only one thing we know for sure...
...one thing is certain: Businesses and their lobbyists are loving it.
The real question for most Americans, of course, is "What does it mean for me?" The Stakeholder offers a handy checklist for the curious. If you...
manage and regularly direct the work of at least two employees and who can hire or fire other employees, or make recommendations on hiring and firing.


perform office or nonmanual work related to the management or business operations of an employer and who exercise "discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance."

or are you one who...

requires advanced knowledge in science or learning acquired by specialized instruction

or do you...

make sales away from an employer's place of business

or are you one of millions of...

Computer employees, which include computer systems analysts, programmers, software engineers and other similar skilled workers...
...Well, then those extra hours at work aren't overtime hours anymore. Sorry.

What do we do? We send the Marines...

...For might makes right,
And till they've seen the light,
They've got to be protected,
All their rights respected,
'Till somebody we like can be elected.

Tom Lehrer
What is clear is that this potentially decisive showdown began when and where it did because of serious lapses in the American military command structure in Iraq. As The Times reported earlier this week, the confrontation began when a newly arrived Marine Expeditionary Unit in Najaf started skirmishing with Moktada al-Sadr's Shiite militia without its officers first clearing that decision with top American commanders in Baghdad or with Iraqi political leaders.


This is not the first time a newly arrived Marine unit has rushed into a confrontation that was not thought through enough. Roughly the same thing happened last April in Falluja. The ultimate result was a costly American pullback that left the city a haven for insurgents. Americans now have to ask why the right lessons were not learned from that debacle and applied in Najaf. The fault lies less with the Marine Corps, which is, after all, trained to be America's most gung-ho fighting force, than with the faulty chain of command that left this politically sensitive decision in their hands.
Of course, if the Marines are trained to be America's most gung-ho fighting force, it's incumbent on their officers, and perhaps especially their field commanders, to be America's most disciplined. It's exactly because the Marines are trained to enter battle with almost reckless abandon, placing their mission above even their lives, that they should only be dispatched for the most clearly defined, carefully planned and fully justified missions.

Given the bellicose rhetoric, absence of sound planning and ill-concieved missions that are typical of the highest levels of command, though, including the Commander In Chief and his Secretary of Defense, qualities that have driven out the best of our General officer corps and replaced them with sychophantic clerks, it's not surprising that field discipline has collapsed with such disasterous results.
And what are the results of our latest misadventure in Najaf? Muqtada is still at large, his supporters still hold the Imam Ali shrine, and his hand appears stronger than ever.
Sadr City appeared more supportive of Sadr on Saturday than it did before the U.S. sweep and the Najaf standoff. Because much of the cleric's appeal to poor Shiites has been his willingness to stand up to the Americans, the U.S. operations here and in Najaf have only served to rally support for him. That is all the more true in Sadr City, where the Americans appeared to have received little or no help from Iraqi security forces or police.

"What he's doing in Najaf makes us stronger," said Khalid Jassim, a 39-year-old tailor who was talking with friends at a car repair shop as the sun set. "Everybody now is part of the Mahdi army."
FUBAR. Completely.

And if there's anything worse than what they've done to my Army, it's what they've done to my father and brother's Marine Corps.

You want fair and balanced?

We've got fair and balanced.

The Carpetbagger Report offers one side of the story...

After careful examination of the public record, I've compiled a comprehensive list of every Swiftboat Vet charge that has been proven true and/or been corroborated by independent sources. Here's the list, in its entirety:
(picture tumbleweeds rolling by)

...and here's the rest of the story.

That's fair. That's balanced. That's fact.

And that's why I'm Proudly Partisan.

Bust the Brass

dereliction (n.) - 1. Willful neglect, as of duty.

duty (n.) - 1. A course of action required by one's position.
I'm not simply distressed by the early reports about the military investigation of Abu Ghraib - I'm enraged.
...a combination of leadership failings, confounding policies, lack of discipline and absolute confusion at the prison led to the abuse. It widens the scope of culpability from seven MPs who have been charged with abuse to include nearly 20 low-ranking soldiers who could face criminal prosecution in military courts. No Army officers, however, are expected to face criminal charges.


The top command "shares responsibility for not ensuring proper leadership, proper discipline and proper resources," one defnse official said. "Command should have paid more attention to the issue. Signals, symptoms of abuse weren't fully vetted to the top."
As a former soldier, I believe that there are two essential compacts among soldiers. For the troops, the first duty is to do everything consistent with the mission to protect one another. For officers, the first duty is to do everything consistent with the mission to provide for and protect your troops.

A long string of officers in the Abu Ghraib chain of command, from the line officers on site to the general officers in the area command and the Pentagon, were clearly and criminally derelict in providing the training and supervision that might have kept their troops out of the jeopardy they now confront. Without excusing the behavior of any of the enlisted who are accused of crimes in the Iraqi prison camp, it's infuriating to see that the crimes are being compounded by yet another one - the failure to hold the chain of command accountable for their dereliction of duty.

Laying the entire affair on the shoulders of NCOs and lower enlisted is an intolerable cover up of military misbehavior.

This ain't over till they bust the brass.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

You've got to hand it to them...

They're bold. The Republicans have taken to announcing that they're going to lie in advance.
Republicans said they would seek to turn any disruptions to their advantage, by portraying protests by even independent activists as Democratic-sanctioned displays of disrespect for a sitting president.
In fact, many of the activist groups planning to stage protests at the RNC are the same ones that staged protests at the DNC. They're not Democrats, and the Republicans know it.

Republicans. Feh.

They've all got to go. Every one of them.

Speaking of turning tides...

The Swift Boat Liars for Bush story is getting ugly - for them. It's actually starting to look like the truth will prevail in American politics. O happy day.

The story's still getting more notice than it merits, given its shaky foundation, but the notice isn't what the SBLB were looking for. Chris Matthews has been on a pro-Kerry tear (at least regarding this story), and they lost O'Reilly early.

Now we're getting more voices that are generally considered mainstream, like Mark Shields on the PBS News Hour, who was as straightforward as he could be in an exchange with Bill Kristol.
MARK SHIELDS: Bill, let's be very blunt about it, this whole thing. That ad is a fraud.
And David Gergen, who served up a warning for Bushco at MSNBC.
David, when are candidates going to take responsibility for the ads running on their behalf?

DAVID GERGEN, FMR. PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: It would be better to take responsibility, but I think everybody knows these are Republicans who are funding this. And John Kerry is getting the best of this argument. When he says, it`s fronting for the Bush people, the money does come from Republicans and everybody connects the dots. The conclusion is that they are doing the dirty work. The president ought to denounce this ad and move on. It`s a losing proposition for the president.
And the New York Times, Washington Post, Knight Ridder, etc., etc.

And you and I have a role to play, too.

Work hard. Fight for the truth. It's out there, and we need to spread it far and wide.

And, of course, don't panic. It doesn't help.

Known unknowns...

One of the reasons some folks point to when they cancel panic about the Swift Boat Liars for Bush brouhaha is a supposed drop in veteran support for Kerry. A CBS News poll shows that Bush has established a 58 to 35% advantage among those who've served. Now, I have real problems drawing conclusions from the samples of self IDed veterans who are abstracted from general polling samples, since as a fractional element of a poll, the MOE is elevated (though that's often not reported) and the veterans sample, being discovered, as it were, rather than designed, may offer other barriers to accurate analysis.

But if the CBS number is taken as a given, who's to say the SBLB are responsible? Especially when, according to a post at DailyKos, a Rasmussen Reports survey released August 5, before the latest slander had a chance to enchant the punditocracy and panic the blogosphere, produced an identical report.

We definitely have work to do among veterans, and many other parts of the electorate. The measurement of how much work, though, is actually pretty sketch and apparently consistent with the pre-slander situation. And the tide is turning, and swamping the Swifty's raft of lies.

The road to victory is still paved with the same basic steps.

Work hard. Fight back. And, really, don't panic.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Ready for some good news?

WASHINGTON — Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader suffered setbacks this week as election officials in Virginia, Maryland, Illinois and Missouri denied him access to state ballots this fall.

In each case, officials said Nader campaign workers either did not submit enough valid signatures on ballot petitions or failed to follow proper procedures.
Hey Ralph - just because nobody likes you anymore doesn't mean you have a license to break the rules. Give it up.

An injury to one...

...is an injury to all, and when the Swift Boat Liars for Bush slander John Kerry's service in Vietnam, they slander legions of us who also served. When they question the process that awarded Kerry's three Purple Hearts, they question the process that awarded my brother his. When they put a cloud of doubt around the record of anyone's service, they put a cloud around everyone's. And they do it for the basest, most selfish, most egregious reasons. They do it without evidence and without regard for the pain inflicted by reopening old wounds in the minds of our fellow veterans.

It's a sin.

That's what inspired former Swift Boat skipper William Rood to break decades of silence in a Chicago Tribune op-ed today. (Emphasis all mine, as usual)
...Kerry's critics, armed with stories I know to be untrue, have charged that the accounts of what happened were overblown. The critics have taken pains to say they're not trying to cast doubts on the merit of what others did, but their version of events has splashed doubt on all of us. It's gotten harder and harder for those of us who were there to listen to accounts we know to be untrue, especially when they come from people who were not there.


Even though Kerry's own crew members have backed him, the attacks have continued, and in recent days Kerry has called me and others who were with him in those days, asking that we go public with our accounts.

I can't pretend those calls had no effect on me, but that is not why I am writing this. What matters most to me is that this is hurting crewmen who are not public figures and who deserved to be honored for what they did. My intent is to tell the story here and to never again talk publicly about it.


But I know that what some people are saying now is wrong. While they mean to hurt Kerry, what they're saying impugns others who are not in the public eye.

Men like Larry Lee, who was on our bow with an M-60 machine gun as we charged the riverbank, Kenneth Martin, who was in the .50-caliber gun tub atop our boat, and Benjamin Cueva, our engineman, who was at our aft gun mount suppressing the fire from the opposite bank.

Wayne Langhoffer and the other crewmen on Droz's boat went through even worse on April 12, 1969, when they saw Droz killed in a brutal ambush that left PCF-43 an abandoned pile of wreckage on the banks of the Duong Keo River. That was just a few months after the birth of his only child, Tracy.
They're hurting real people, with real lives, by their spiteful lies. People like Lee and Martin and Langhoffer. People like me. People like Del Sandusky.
Although the 15 veterans featured in the attack ad all state "I served with John Kerry," none of them served on the same boat with him. Those who did, such as retired Chief Petty Officer Del Sandusky, 60, of Clearwater, Fla., praise Kerry for his leadership and credit him with keeping them alive to make it home.

"We are really upset at this stuff," Sandusky told Knight Ridder. "They are calling us all liars. They dishonor us and they dishonor all those who died over there. They are getting awfully desperate. Last year many of them were on board with us. Now they are telling outrageous lies."
What's interesting is that once again, the attacks on Vietnam veterans are coming from the right wing. I know there's a lot of popular mythology about rejection by the anti-war movement when we came home - legends of airport spitting incidents and cries of 'baby killer' - but my experience was always exactly the opposite. It was the anti-war movement that placed emphasis on blaming those who walked the corridors of power for the war and supporting the mostly working class kids who got sucked into doing the bidding of the power brokers. It was the right wing that branded us a bunch of dope smoking losers whose benefits could be safely cut, whose injuries could be safely dismissed. And it's happening again.

And it's even worse the second time around.

It's a sin.

Sinking Swifter

As the Swift Boat Liars for Bush get ready to run another round of fallacious advertising, more holes are appearing in the hull of the dingy they're riding to infamy.

Atrios has the story (and Kos has the graphic evidence) that ties the Swifty scoundrels to Republican Party and BC04 committees in Florida. Meanwhile, Digby serves up the goods on Ken Cordier, who shows up in the new ad while serving as a member of the steering committee for Veterans For Bush-Cheney '04. Generous soul that he is, Digby offers the beneit of the doubt, noting that...
...I'm certain this fine gentleman who has chosen to sell out his good name and reputation by joining a filthy smear operaton like Scumbag Liars For Bush would never coordinate with the campaign just because he also served as one of the Vice-Chairs For Veterans For Bush-Cheney National Coalition in the 2000 camapign and then was named to Bush's VA-POW advisory committee.
Right. Certain.


Elsewhere, while The Nation offers new evidence supporting Kerry's case in the circumstances surrounding his Bronze Star with 'V' for Valor and Pacific Views points to a Portland Oregonian story that undermines the credibility of yet another Swift Boat bozo.
In the ad, Oregon Vietnam vet Alfred French says: 'I served with John Kerry. . . . He is lying about his record.' But it turns out that French didn't actually witness the events that led to Kerry's receiving some of his military decorations. Instead, French relied on the accounts of three other vets when deciding whether Kerry has been telling the truth.
Maybe French was just confused. What he must have meant was "...I'm lying about his record."

I'm a firm believer in fighting back, but these guys are making it almost too easy.

Almost. But not quite.

They're down. Keep kicking.

And don't panic.

Math isn't really that hard...

...but facing the facts it reveals can be hard to handle.

Figuring out what's going on in Najaf is a bit of a puzzler right now. There have been a lot of conflicting reports over the last 48 hours or so, but Reuters offers what seems to be a concensus view for the moment.
NAJAF, Iraq - Rebel Shi'ite fighters appeared still to be in control of the Imam Ali mosque in the Iraqi city of Najaf, but the whereabouts of their leader, the fiery cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, were unknown on Saturday.

Police were nowhere to be seen in the area round the mosque, Iraq's holiest Shi'ite Muslim shrine, and police elsewhere in the city told broadcaster CNN they did not control the site.
There's one thing that quite clear, though. This is one bloody mess we're in. Total coalition fatalities for the month to date already stand at 53, including 45 Americans, and exceed the total for the last month before the occupation supposedly ended (though I still haven't figured out what all those troops are for if the occupation is over). The fatality rate of 2.53 per day is edging awfully close to the 2.63 a day we saw in April '03, when we were still engaged in 'major combat operations' (though losing over 2 1/2 lives a day hardly seems minor to me.)

The proverbial 'fog of war' will always obscure some of the action on the ground, but based on the numbers one conclusion is painfully clear.

The situation in Iraq is FUBAR.

Let 'em have Zell...

...he's nuts anyway. We've got Merrill.
WASHINGTON - A retired U.S. Air Force general who endorsed President Bush four years ago says in a new television ad by the Democratic Party that this year he will vote for John Kerry because the Democrat has "a real strategy to make America safer."


McPeak, Air Force chief of staff during the first Persian Gulf War, claims in the ad that Kerry "has the strength and common sense we need in a commander in chief. And, something more: a real strategy to make America safer."
(Credit Susan at Suburban Guerrilla with the catch)

Friday, August 20, 2004

Friday Pierce Blogging

Charles on Michelle via Eric...
You get up there on a national television show and you say without a shred of proof that a decorated war veteran inflicted his own wounds. (By now, I'm sure she's crawfishing, saying she meant he did it to himself accidentally. Yeah, whatever. Go out and buy a new armband or something.) This doesn't make you "controversial" or "colorful." This makes you nuts. This makes you the kind of person that newspapers leave sitting in the foyer in a tinfoil hat, waiting to see an editor who's been ducking your calls for a decade, and listening to the messages from Neptune through the fillings in your teeth. This makes you the kind of person who staples manifestos to the telephone poles in Central Square. It ought to disqualify you forever from the company of serious people, and from the society of the decent ones. And even with that, hell, you can still get a job with Fox.

Resistance is futile...

Eventually most every blogger succumbs to the temptation of Friday pet blogging, and since my will is weak and my pet superb, I present for your viewing pleasure the lovely and talented Audrey Hepcat...

I just want to say...

...that Steve Earle is an absolute American treasure.

Via First Draft
(a trove of American treasures...)
...Sucking on a cigarette, Earle says, "I can deal with losing girlfriends." He has been through six marriages with five wives. But, he adds, "there are two things I won't be able to stand: losing that dog and seeing Bush reelected." He tosses the cigarette and heads back into the booth.
I'm totally devoted to the Brilliant and Beautiful Bride of Upper Left, of course, but I still understand just what he means...


A quick happy blogiversary shout out to World O'Crap, one of the many wonderful if infrequenty mentioned places I go to steal...ahem...read for research when I'm putting this thing together.

Having done this for nine months now, I appreciate how much work is involved in doing it for a full year, especially when it's done as well as World O'Crap. I'll be there for year two, and you should be too.

A sobering concept...

Looks like I'll be keeping the Republican convention off the TV screen at the saloon that provides the Day Job of Upper Left, just in case the regulars get wind of this.

Roger Ailes suggests a RNC "drinking" game that probably merits an AA seal of approval:

Take one drink each time you see one of the following folks on the G.O.P. Convention stage:

Colin Powell

Doctor Condoleezza Rice

Reverend John Ashcroft

John Snow

Donald Rumsfeld

Paul Wolfowitz

Richard Perle

Senator Trent Lott

General Tommy Franks

General Antonio M. Taguba

Paul Bremer

Reverend Jerry Falwell

Reverend "Pat" Robertson

Lt. Crmnl. Oliver North

Ambassador Alan Keyes

Grover Norquist

Nancy Reagan

Former Waterbury, Conn. mayor Joseph Giordano

An openly gay man

Anyone who served with George Bush during the Vietnam War

Any of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth

Anyone who benefited from the Bush economy who doesn't have personal ties to Bush or the Republican Party elite

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Well, no one explained it like that!

Norbizness provides perspective:
When people carp about only 32,000 jobs being created last month, I'm not sure that they're aware of just how large a number that is. That's nearly eight crowds for a Montreal Expos home game! If each of the people were five-and-a-half feet tall and placed end-to-end, they would reach from Orange, TX to Lake Charles, LA! It's astounding!
Hey, maybe it is a recovery!


Swiftly Sinking

It seems like only yesterday (actually, it was yesterday) that the fretting over the Swift Lie Boaters for Bush was spreading far and wide in the blogosphere. Matt Stoller was typical...

The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ad is working. I've heard from several people in the past few weeks who tell me it was effective on someone they knew. Dave Johnson has more:
I just caught a poll reported on MSNBC that says about 30% of independent-swing voters who had been leaning to Kerry change their mind after seeing the "Swift Boat Veterans" ad.

It's working -- big time
Of course, the "poll" in question didn't measure the reactions of independent voters who had actually seen the ad in question in one of the limited markets where it's appeared. Digby dug up the details.
The Swift Vets study used 1,275 participants, including 371 independents, who watched ads and registered their reaction at every second using technology normally used to rate product ads. Half viewed the Swift Vets ad and the other half saw a pro-Kerry ad based on his convention speech, which was rated less persuasive.


The ad planted doubts in the minds of 27 percent of independent voters who planned to vote for Kerry or leaned pro-Kerry. After seeing it, they were no longer sure they'd back him, the study found.
So, 27% of whatever subset of 371 'independents' in the study sample had second thoughts after seeing the ad without context. Wait, only half saw the attack ad. So 27% of Kerry leaners in a total sample of less than 200 were adversly affected by the ad. Let's be generous and give JK 60% of the sample. What you end up with is about 30 people in a sample of 185 or so. Any statisticians out there got the MOE for a national poll based on a sample of 185 respondents handy?

As meaningless as the kind of second hand anecdotal evidence that's got Matt worried may be, it's rock solid evidence compared to the "poll" that seems to have weakened Dave Johnson's knees.

In fact, as I've said, the Kerry camp has been using its surrogates (and, in the case of John McCain, one of Bush's surrogates!) pretty effectively in combatting the story. How effectively? Well, I can't think of a thing that John Kerry could have said himself that would have drawn this kind of response from no less than Bill O'Reilly.
I believe Jim Rassmann when he says that Kerry saved his life by pulling him out of a Vietnam river while under fire. Rassmann is a former Green Beret, a former police officer and a long time registered Republican until earlier this year. If he says John Kerry is a hero, nobody should doubt it. Rassmann has earned the right to be trusted and insulting his testimony is way out of line ...

...I think the Swift Boat political advertisement calling Kerry a charlatan is in poor taste, and if this kind of thing continues it might well backfire on the Kerry haters. Most Americans are fair minded, and bitter personal attacks do not go down well with folks who are not driven by partisanship.
Via Salon

Similarly, Chris Matthews has come to Kerry's defense, slamming Swift Liar John O'Neil on the air and concluding that the evidence shows that Kerry has "done a hell of a lot more" in service to the nation than Matthews himself.

Now major print media have weighed in, with today's Washington Post carrying a story that directly and sharply contradicts the claims of Swift Liar Larry Thurlow. Lambert summarizes the WaPo findings at Corrente.
In newspaper interviews and a best-selling book, Larry Thurlow, who commanded a Navy Swift boat alongside Kerry in Vietnam, has strongly disputed Kerry's claim that the Massachusetts Democrat's boat came under fire during a mission in Viet Cong-controlled territory on March 13, 1969. Kerry won a Bronze Star for his actions that day.

But Thurlow's military records, portions of which were released yesterday to The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act, contain several references to "enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire" directed at "all units" of the five-boat flotilla. Thurlow won his own Bronze Star that day, and the citation praises him for providing assistance to a damaged Swift boat "despite enemy bullets flying about him."
Competing with the WaPO revealations is this new editorial from the New York Times.
It may seem outlandish to launch a campaign broadside by television ad and book flackery devoted to discrediting the respectable Vietnam War record of Senator John Kerry, who has five combat medals. But that is exactly what a Republican-financed group of partisans is doing in presenting itself as Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and tattooing the Democratic presidential nominee with accusations of lying about his service and war wounds. Never in Mr. Kerry's command, but claiming to have served near enough, its members are trying to contradict the firsthand accounts of his crewmates who are vouching for his war record.
And now yet another Kerry crewman, Pat Runyon, has stepped forward after decades of silence to confirm Kerry's leadership under fire, and to endorse the validity of Kerry's first Purple Heart. Roger Ailes has the story...
"Lt. Kerry said, 'I'm going to pop a flare, and when I do, I want that engine started,' " Runyon said. But the outboard would not crank. Meanwhile, the sampan's crew steered it to the riverbank, and people started running on the shore. Runyon said shooting broke out.

Somehow, Kerry's weapon stopped firing. Runyon thinks he ran out of ammunition. He said Kerry bent down to pick up another gun and got hit in the arm.
Digby calls the roll...
Let's add up the discredited Scumbags, shall we?

Nixon hatchetman O'Neill gets caught in serveral lies about his recent Republican ties --- makes complete fool of himself trying to claim that half of the money he gave to the GOP was actually given by someone with a similar name.

Jerome Corsi is revealed as an insane Freeper bigot.

George Elliott can't decide from day to day which affidavit about Kerry's silver star is correct and makes the strong point that his own documentary evidence of 30 years ago was likely wrong because he can't think of a reason why these guys would lie 30 years later.

Now we have Thurlow.
And the Carpetbagger Report chimes in.
So that Swiftboat crew, which Bush still refuses to denounce, sure has compiled quite a team, hasn't it? In addition to the latest discredited hack, we've got a doctor who claims to have treated Kerry but whose name doesn't appear on any medical records, an anti-Catholic bigot, a man who's already distanced himself from his own charges against Kerry, and a GOP attack dog with no credibility. Oh yeah, I almost forgot -- none of these men actually served alonside Kerry.
Still, a lot of folks have been looking for a personal response from Kerry himself, and in a speech he delivered to the IAFF Convention, they g0t their wish, as Kerry took aim at the Swift Liars and expanded the field of fire to include Bush himself.

Over the last week or so, a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth has been attacking me. Of course, this group isn’t interested in the truth - and they’re not telling the truth. They didn’t even exist until I won the nomination for president.

But here’s what you really need to know about them. They’re funded by hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Republican contributor out of Texas. They’re a front for the Bush campaign. And the fact that the President won’t denounce what they’re up to tells you everything you need to know-he wants them to do his dirty work.
Thirty years ago, official Navy reports documented my service in Vietnam and awarded me the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. Thirty years ago, this was the plain truth. It still is. And I still carry the shrapnel in my leg from a wound in Vietnam.

As firefighters you risk your lives everyday. You know what it’s like to see the truth in the moment. You’re proud of what you’ve done-and so am I.

Of course, the President keeps telling people he would never question my service to our country. Instead, he watches as a Republican-funded attack group does just that. Well, if he wants to have a debate about our service in Vietnam, here is my answer: “Bring it on.”

I’m not going to let anyone question my commitment to defending America-then, now, or ever. And I’m not going to let anyone attack the sacrifice and courage of the men who saw battle with me.

And let me make this commitment today: their lies about my record will not stop me from fighting for jobs, health care, and our security - the issues that really matter to the American people.
There's no way to keep a boat afloat when it's this full of holes, folks.

I told you.

Don't Panic.